When I first heard about the Noble Research Institute's Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program, I was skeptical about moving to a small city. But with what I know now, I shouldn't have been.
When a sizeable group of individuals who have lived in a state their whole lives question the existence of a destination, it generally does not bode well.
Boarding the airplane to Ardmore, my knowledge of Oklahoma was largely provided by Rodgers and Hammerstein, as I think is the case with most upstate New Yorkers. Indeed, mentioning my voyage to this state invariably prompted an off-key, although hearty, rendition of the "Oklahoma!" theme song.
One of the many projects we had the opportunity to partake of kicked off last weekend as Morgan, Helen and I headed to Tulsa on Friday afternoon. Our destination the next morning was the Cherry Street Farmers' Market, one of the largest farmers markets in Oklahoma.
Aghast and jaws dropped, Livestock Consultant Bryan Nichols, Seth Pratt and I watched a set of two calves disappear over the hill into the next grazing paddock accompanied by the heart-dropping sounds of stretching fence and popping insulators. Such was the situation as we attempted to herd the calves into their designated grazing pen for the grazing research project.
Steve Upson, a soils and crops consultant and greenhouse guru, approached me about a farm visit he thought would intrigue me. I happily accepted his invitation, and the next day I climbed into a Suburban with him and his wife, Jeannie. We drove deep into the Sulphur countryside and turned onto a gravel driveway lined with free-range guinea fowl. Steve was right. I was intrigued.
"We don’t have any financial restrictions…but we want to make money," Bryan Nichols, a livestock consultant and one of our acting "cooperators," instructed us a week ago as our team met to begin our rural life plan project, which will be the focus of our presentation at the end of the summer.