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Half a year ago, I received the call. I was heading to Oklahoma, a place that I only knew through the stories of my grandmother. She grew up in the oil fields of the Southern Plains. Her dad moved the family from town to town, oil rig to oil rig, during the same time that Lloyd Noble was building his reputation as one of the best drilling contractors in the area.
As a digital clock counted down the hour we had to escape, the five of us scrambled to find clues in the books from a glass cabinet, underneath the baskets sitting on the ground and on the map of Oklahoma City that hung from the wall.
Conner and I got off to an early start this morning, along with Noble Livestock Consultant Bryan Nichols, Agricultural Economist Dan Childs and Research Associate Josh Gaskamp. When 5 a.m. rolled around, we loaded up in the car and made our way toward Combine, Texas.
Growing up in southwest Oklahoma, I had little appreciation for pecans. My grandparents have a few trees on their place, and I remember them gathering pecans for Thanksgiving pecan pie when I was a child, but overall my perception of the industry was that it was small, perhaps nonexistent.
My first week at the Noble Research Institute has flown by and has been packed with meeting new people, learning about a new state and settling into my summer home in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
As I watched this ballet of wind and water elementals I thought quietly to myself—actually I had to scream-think it because of the noise of the maelstrom – "Boy, was this Iowa boy ever ignorant. How could I ever have thought that this place was a desert?"
Before I left home to head to Ardmore, I was told numerous times that I needed a boat in order to get around. I didn’t take much heed to this advice, though I almost needed to.
Even if just for a summer, it took a lot for a true, native Texan like me to cross the Red River and move to Oklahoma. However, I was excited to begin my summer at The Noble Research Institute in Ardmore.
"So you made a theoretical plan for raising theoretical goats for a theoretical cooperator?" asked Luke Braswell, Noble Research Institute photographer, one evening as we were doing a Rural Life Team photo shoot. Though the plan and goats may not have been real, the time, effort and lessons I learned this summer from the Rural Life Plan project were definitely real.