The Calling of a Young Farmer
Not every agricultural career is in the field, feedlot or feed store. Some, such as Bodie Carter’s current planned career, can take place in a lab.
Bodie, now 19 and attending the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., remembers his childhood on the 650-acre family farm in Henderson, Ark., with appreciation. One of his favorite memories is being in second grade and having to catch his county fair-winning black-headed wether by shooing it into a calf pen and jumping from the top of the hut onto its back to rope and work with it.
“It was kind a wild,” Bodie said with a smile.
Bodie’s great-grandfather, Ransey, started the farm, raising Simmental cattle.
Fifteen years ago Bodie’s parents, Leah and Lyn, decided to switch to a mostly registered Shorthorn or Shorthorn Plus herd using AI and ET to control and improve genetics. Lyn is a certified AI technician while others manage the ET process. Those cows not successfully impregnated are turned out with one of three registered cleanup bulls selected for low birth weight combined with strong growth.
The herd currently consists of 100 mommas, 20 of which are Bodie’s. He pays for his own cows and trades feed for work.
The success of the Cotter breeding program is showcased by a pair of Bodie’s calves. He selected a young heifer that ended up being the State 2012 Grand Champion Shorthorn Female followed two years later by her bull calf winning State Grand Champion Shorthorn Bull. “I will always have my cows,” Bodie explained, “but my career interest is really in weed resistance research.”
Bodie’s grandparents, Dale and Carol Smith from Beebe, Ark., were rice, soybeans and cotton farmers until his grandfather turned 65 when he went to work for Armor Seeds in sales, test plots and general farm assistance.
Working with his grandfather opened up Bodie’s vision to what he saw as an exciting career in research. The first step was embracing and absorbing crop sciences. During his senior year in high school, Bodie placed first in the state in the FFA agronomy contest with a score of 99 percent. The contest is highly specific and diverse. Competition areas include grain grading, plant seed identification, machinery identification, pest identification, classic crop judging, a general knowledge test and finally crop disorders.
Bodie chose to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville because their wheat program is the best in the nation and has prestige that opens better networking potential. Looking just like a college kid, Brody smiled widely and said, “Besides everyone wants to be a Razorback.”
Though Bodie entered in the honors program, he declined living in the honors dorm in favor of being part of Bumpers College and having a fellow future agriculturist as a roommate and learning partner. This, he believed, would be of more benefit to his education and also offered early enrollment, smaller class sizes and more money for overseas studies.
Not surprisingly, Bodie plans on earning a master’s degree with weed science as his specialty. Bodie feels that pigweed is currently the biggest issue in weed science. Recent multi-pronged pigweed ratification research includes deep turning, proper timing of herbicide application and creating selection pressures.
“Research is moving toward a more economical solution to the problem which could change by the time I enter the research arena as a career. Six years of education, however, will always provide me with agronomy opportunities,” Bodie said.
On the homestead Bodie and his father seed with wheat or turnips in the fall and then drag it in with a harrow. They currently have a “a good bit” of clover and have added a few beehives to help maintain clover presence.
Bodie currently works for Dr. Nilda Burgos on the university farm by doing anything that needs to be done, such as helping prepare harvest test plots to entering data on the computer.
Now that he’s not home as much as he used to be, Lyn sometimes has to hire help. When Bodie’s sister left for college, he could pick up the slack, but now no one else is left to help. Bodie said, “My parents understand and support me and want me to go into what I like and what will help me be successful rather than pressuring me to return to the farm, something I deeply appreciate.”