Gene Huff began running the family farm when he was just 16 years old

Huff Farms is a four-generation family crop and cattle farm in Reeds, Mo.

Gene Huff, his son Randy Huff and grandson Ethan Huff together farm about 1,200 acres. Gene and his wife Jan Huff have two great-grandsons, Easton and Kyler Huff, who are growing up learning the ways of the farm life.

Gene grew up on the family farm that was originally bought by his dad Alvin Huff in the 1950s. Gene started helping on the farm the moment he could start driving a tractor.

The farm started out as a cattle operation with registered Polled Herefords until the mid-1970s when they started crossbreeding. Later, they grew corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. As time went on, they did a little more grain farming and started raising hogs, which they continued for about 25 years. The grain farming was added for some diversification to bring in other income and raise feed for the cattle and hogs rather than buying it.

Gene’s dad became sick and passed away when Gene was only 16 years old. Being the only child still at home, he stayed and helped his mom run the farm. When his dad passed away at the age of 53, he was farming 600 acres.

“I had other opportunities to go to work for registered cattle breeders, but if I had, the farm would’ve been sold,” Gene said.

He learned at a young age to hold on to what you’ve got rather than looking for something else.

“My dad never gave more than $120 for an acre for any land,” Gene said with a laugh.

Randy remembers the days of picking up rocks on a flatbed wagon and laying irrigation pipe when it was 100 degrees outside.

He stayed on the farm until he and his wife Dawn had an opportunity to get into the parts business with NAPA Auto Parts in Sarcoxie, Mo.

Through those 19 years, Randy continued to help his dad on the farm part-time, but in 2009 when they sold the business, Randy jumped at the chance to come back to the farm full-time as it was his ultimate goal.

The Huffs crop rotation includes 200 acres of corn and 100 acres of soybeans, rotating every other year along with making a lot of hay. Their yield goals are 50-bushel soybeans and 150-bushel corn. The Huffs store about 15,000-bushels on the farm and market it themselves. They keep track of their local markets, which are generally about 50 cents above the Chicago Board of Trade.

They started using poultry litter about 10 years ago and five years into it decided to start conducting soil testing to find out what they needed to add instead of guessing. The Huffs purchased a lime truck and tried to get the pH of the soil up to where it would utilize what nutrients they put out there. They generally use both poultry litter and commercial liquid fertilizer.

GPS alone has given the Huffs the ability to do much more and save money in the long run. They use a small GPS system when spreading lime and fertilizer.

When purchasing seed, they look for traits that give them options for weed and pest control. They prefer no-till but plant into conventionally tilled ground during a wet year. With 75 percent of their crop ground in the flood plains, they’ve lost a lot of soil the last few years with all the rain.

Most of their equipment is from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

“The nice thing about it is it’s paid for and it does the same thing as this new equipment, it’s just that we don’t have a bill for it at the end of the year,” Randy said.

With running older equipment comes repairs, but they are generally able to do about 90 percent of the repairs themselves.

“It saves a lot of money in the grand scheme of things because eventually we’re all trying to turn a profit and it gets harder and harder to do,” Randy said. “Last year was one tough year on the farm.”

Small family farms like Huff Farms are becoming rare.

“Take care of what you’ve been given the chance to take care of,” Gene said.

Gene had a John Deere 40 square back, one of the first self-propelled combines around the area, and it didn’t have a cab on it. Randy remembers as a kid his dad coming in from combining and all you could see were the whites of his eyes.

“I think of the toughness even before him that kids don’t understand,” Randy said. “I don’t even know if I have the appreciation that I should have for it. Technology has come so far in the past 50 years that the young farmers don’t know what had to transpire to make the way for them now.”

Gene, Randy and Ethan were all involved in FFA growing up. Gene graduated in 1965 and in 1967 received his American Farmer Degree, which is now known as the American FFA Degree. He was only one of 13 FFA members in Missouri and one of 267 in the United States who received the degree that year. Ethan is also a recipient of the American FFA Degree.

The Huffs now raise Gelbvieh-Angus cross cattle and have about 150 head of momma cows. Ethan helps with farming and works at FedEx, while his wife Jennifer is a stay-at-home mom. When the time is right, they have hopes of Ethan coming back to the farm full-time. Though Ethan and Jennifer’s sons are still very young, Easton and Kyler enjoy checking cows. Easton says he wants to be a farmer when he grows up.

Randy believes, farming takes patience and faith.

“All we can do is plant the seeds and God grows it. You just have to trust him and do your best,” he said.

Randy hopes the opportunity is there for his grandchildren in the future if they chose to continue farming. HarperMissouri NeighborsNeighborscattle farm,crop farm,Ethan Huff,Gene Huff,Huff Farms,Missouri,Randy Huff,ReedsGene Huff began running the family farm when he was just 16 years old Huff Farms is a four-generation family crop and cattle farm in Reeds, Mo. Gene Huff, his son Randy Huff and grandson Ethan Huff together farm about 1,200 acres. Gene and his wife Jan Huff have two...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma