With June and summer just around the corner, many “row-crop” acres have not been planted across America.

The next decision is where to plant the planned crop or let this be a “no-plant” year and accept the crop insurance, if that is an option.

You cannot make a living and pay the bills in agriculture with the funds received from crop insurance. This is not a major decision for most of the Ark-La-Tex as the row (cash) crops are limited in acreage to the valleys and the Delta area.

Livestock and forage producers make up most of our cash crops for agriculture and that must be addressed.

I visited with one of the area’s best lady ranchers last week and she was having troubles with pink-eye and growths on the beef cattle eyes. She has a good herd of cross-bred cows that normally have enough “pigment” around the eyes to have problems with the eyes not showing up.

She had recently sold some calves with the NETBO Group in Sulphur Springs and had been pleased with the prices. Niche markets are becoming a major marketing tool for area cattlemen and should not be overlooked. The calves she was marketing were in the 800-900 weight class.

“The definition of failure is succeeding at the wrong thing.” — Adrian Rogers

John Wayne stated, “I would like to be remembered well. ... the Mexicans have a phrase, ‘Feo fuerte y formal.’ Which means he was ‘ugly, strong and had dignity.’”

Should we go through summer with the same weather pattern we have had this spring, fall gardens should be great producers, but gardeners need to be alert to the new varieties we have for our garden vegetables.

If you are not a Master Gardener, become one at the first opportunity. Your local county agent can direct you to the needed information. Not all, but many of our “older varieties” have been replaced by those that perform better and can be more tolerant of our harsh weather here in East Texas.

Are family farms a business or a lifestyle in the Ark-La-Tex?

Your answer will depend on whether you have the farm paid for or are paying the farm/home off on an annual basis. In this area, a person’s past can have a lot to say about the approach taken.

Personally, I always viewed my farm as a home that we work to get paid for so we could do our best to make it profitable, and you could in the years we have owned our place.

If you are living on a farm that is costing you (purchased in the last five years) $3,000 to $8,000 an acre, your plan for your job to pay for the farm is about the only direction.

We have had our place 51 years and if we don’t have it paid for, we never will. Are their opportunities to purchase land today and pay for it with agriculture? Yes, but it must be by niche farming or specialty cropping.

Three times in my lifetime I have seen a time when acreage could be bought and “worked-out” or get it paid for. We have an advantage here in our area with the “minerals,” and they can assist with the payments.

Yet, in my case and many others, I wanted to live on a farm and enjoy the lifestyle that rural living provides. The generation that I arrived in was able to work and pay for our wants and needs.

Not sure about that today, however. I view today differently from my age than the young folks do their position today, and that is as it should be.

A major factor when I was young was getting the financial backing, and that has not changed. The big change, as I see it today, is when we were building our lives we depended on one income in the family, and today most families must depend on two incomes. That’s not a problem; just a different situation ... and all will work out.

School is out and summer jobs are being filled. I have always thought that boys (when old enough to do it safely) could cut wood for fireplaces and mow lawns.

When you ask for work, be sure and give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. There will be plenty of grass to mow at least for a few weeks this year.

Put out fire ant baits now; the ants are returning to the surface of the soil.