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For the love of farming
by Christina Rowland
Mar 13, 2013 | 3638 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Farmer Dane Elliot drives a cultivator through a portion of the field before his farm assistant Javier Elias drives the planter behind him to finish the spring planting in Elliott's fields.
Farmer Dane Elliot drives a cultivator through a portion of the field before his farm assistant Javier Elias drives the planter behind him to finish the spring planting in Elliott's fields.
slideshow
Javier Elias drives the plants through farmer Dane Elliott's field trying to get the last of the corn planting for the season.  Elias has worked for the Elliott family three generations, and Dane calls him his "right hand man."
Javier Elias drives the plants through farmer Dane Elliott's field trying to get the last of the corn planting for the season. Elias has worked for the Elliott family three generations, and Dane calls him his "right hand man."
slideshow
Dane Elliott is a fourth generation Texas farmer who still plants corn and milo in his family's fields in both Live Oak and Bee Counties.
Dane Elliott is a fourth generation Texas farmer who still plants corn and milo in his family's fields in both Live Oak and Bee Counties.
slideshow
It happened either by accident or luck but Dane Elliott became a fourth generation Texas farmer.

Elliott was adopted in Houston by a farming family from South Texas and learned from an early age what it means to work the land.

Now, when he speaks about his work, you can see the pride on his face.

This time of year it is all planting. Elliott has 1,000 acres that spans across Live Oak and Bee counties that must be planted in a short window of time.

“We can plant 1,000 acres in two weeks,” he said.

They typically start in mid February but due to the rains that came then planting was pushed back and Elliott along with his farmhand Javier Elias were still planting last week.

Despite the delay in planting Elliott said, “We are a little bit better right now, we actually have some moisture in the ground.”

This year Elliott will plant 200 acres of corn and 800 acres of Milo (grain sorghum).

He plants this way because he said the Milo is cheaper to grow and has a shorter planting season. It will be harvested in June while the corn will not be ready for harvest until July.

All of the farming he does is dry farming which means they do not rely on irrigation to make their crops go but rather on natural rainfall.

Sometimes it rains and sometimes it doesn’t . There is nothing he can do except wait and see.

“You go to church on Sunday and pray real hard,” he said. “You have to love it (farming.) It is a labor of love.”

In the past seven seasons of planting he said there has only been enough rain to harvest three times.

“If we get 70-80 bushels, that is average,” he said. “You hope you can break 100 bushels.”

Once the product is harvested, he has to save enough money back to pay for fertilizer and seed for the next year.

Farming is changing yearly due to technology upgrades in equipment and the type of seed that is available.

He said all it use to take be a farmer was a tractor and a field but now they need a mechanic, chemist and wide array of other skills to be successful.

Changes to the industry can also be discouraging to new farmers. The land and equipment are more expensive than ever and the returns the first couple years can be disappointing.

Elliott said they have insurance that protects them if they are unable to harvest but sometimes the federal reimbursement for farmers will not come until a year or more after a bad season.

Farming is important to him and not just because he was raised on it. According to Elliott, farming is what feeds America.

“We are feeding the planet on a whole lot less acres and a whole lot less farmers,” he said. “We are losing so many acres every year.”

Some people whose parents were farmers chose not to follow in the family footsteps, but that was not the case for Elliott.

He started driving a tractor at age 8.

He went away to college for his degree but when he was done, came back to farm the family land.

Elliott has a 2-1/2-year-old son that already rides the tractor with him.

When asked if his son would be the fifth generation to take over the farming he said, “hopefully he will see what I see in it.”

Elliott also said he has a wife who is very supportive of him.

Elliott believes in what he does. He shares his knowledge and passion through volunteer work. He is the Live Oak County Farm Bureau president.

“We do a lot to protect the interests of the farmers and ranchers,” he said of the organization.

Besides farming, Elliott also ranches and has a trucking company, Elliott Trucking Service, based out of Pawnee.

With the seed already in the ground, Elliott is done with farming until harvest time.

Now it is time to sit back, wait and pray for the rain.
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