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Retiree Improves and Diversifies Kentucky Farm for Future Generations

Left: Larry Woods checking for growth a few weeks after the first field seeding this summer. Right: Larry in the same field just a few months later.

Left: Larry Woods checking for growth a few weeks after the first field seeding this summer. Right: Larry in the same field just a few months later.

Larry Woods dedicated 36 years of his life to education in Kentucky. After a successful career as a teacher, coach and administrator, last year Larry retired to his Garrard County family farm, which he plans to develop into a full working operation for his children and grandchildren to enjoy.

Woods was raised on the 100-acre farm, and a love of farming, hunting, fishing and living off the land comes naturally for him. But when he returned to his farm, he quickly realized that keeping track of his 30 head of Charolais cattle was a next-to-impossible task. He spent countless hours rounding up the herd from ridgetop pastures and steep valleys full of tree and brush.

In addition, the seven ponds that were part of his father’s dairy farm were failing and there was no consistent, quality source of water for the cattle.

With these challenges facing him, Woods contacted USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and was approved to receive assistance through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Larry Woods with the fencing installed through the EQIP program. Now the cattle are kept out of the wooded valleys.

Larry Woods with the fencing installed through the EQIP program. Now the cattle are kept out of the wooded valleys.

Since then, Woods has completed the installation of a new cattle watering system, including 1,155 feet of pipeline for two water trough and tanks. He also added 6,765 feet of fencing to help him better control the movements of his cattle and planted 9.1 acres of forage for them to feed on. Two additional fields will be planted with forage, which will improve the quality of the pasture and, in turn, the cattle. Woods plans to add a feed pad near the central barn for winter feeding and easy access to the three pastures.

Now there is time to realize some of the other dreams he has for the land, like improving the forests and creating wildlife habitat. Woods also plans to fill in six of the seven ponds (reserving one for fishing), fence a smaller area for calves, designate a portion of the farm for sheep, improve his chicken coop, enlarge the garden, and add a beehive, all in the hopes of teaching his children and grandchildren about the importance of diversifying the farm for long-term sustainability.

Relying on more than one crop helps conserve and protect natural resources and can generate much-needed extra income. Woods added, “I’ve invested a lot already in equipment to begin the work, but this is not a hobby farm, I intend to have a productive operation.” And NRCS will continue to be there to assist him as he pursues this dream.

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