It’s Monday morning and I watch the time as it gets closer and closer to that 8 a.m. hour. I can feel my body tense up and the headache coming on. I know the phone calls will start coming in and questions will come up that sometimes I just don’t have answers to. There will be the dreaded calls that I am to make to try and explain to someone what needs to be done and be able to direct them to the right place while I’m 200 miles away. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining but this past year has taken me out of my comfort zone and has taught me so much. Let me explain… 

I grew up spending my weekends and summer months in the teeny tiny little town of Greenwich, Utah. I always explain that it’s by Fish Lake and then everyone understands the location.  

My grandparents, Rolland and Elsie Bagley, had a farm, raised their family, and just made a comfortable living doing what they loved. I remember the hours spent picking rocks from the fields and riding on the tractor with either my dad or grandpa. There were mornings that I would wake up early and be in my grandpa’s back pocket as he headed on the Monroe Mountain to check the cows on his permit. Greenwich always felt like home to me, and I hold onto those memories that raised me. 

Times change and loved ones move on. I got married and moved away and only came back to visit. My grandpa was getting older, and my dad was working on the place when he wasn’t at his full-time job. Then the day came that I never thought possible – the Greenwich place was going to be sold. That gnawed at me. I just couldn’t let it happen, so I stepped into this journey of preserving our family farm.  

Our family had a good relationship with Western AgCredit – an agricultural lender – for many, many years. We made a call to the banker and explained the situation. It turned out that purchasing the farm was like it was meant to be – everything fell into place. The agent came out and met with Grandpa and we signed the papers at the kitchen table. 

At the signing, Grandpa mentioned there was a water filing (a water share you buy into that comes with your land) out of Clear Creek that hadn’t been put in his name, but that he paid it and used it every year. Our amazing banker investigated the claim, and sure enough, it was still in my great-grandpa’s name. We transferred the water rights to Grandpa and then Grandpa signed the water rights over to me. It happened just in time because my grandpa passed away less than a month later. 

Efficient With Time and Water

Fast-forward to my dreaded Monday mornings. I was able to buy the farm, but now we needed to figure out how to manage a farm 200 miles away from home. We needed the farm to be more efficient. I couldn’t be standing there or paying someone else to stand there to make sure the water was turned on and off at the right times, and I wanted the place to be efficient in the water we used and how our cattle grazed on the land. 

So, this is where the fun began. I first went and applied with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to get some pivots put on the place. Pivots are a method of crop irrigation that consist of radial pipe that pivot around a central point. Nozzles are spaced along the pipe to give the best water efficiency and coverage. As it rotates, water is released from the nozzles and irrigates the crops. Pivots lower labor costs and reduce the amount of soil tillage. I understood that applying for the pivots was a long shot, but I had to try. 

The NRCS application came with some challenges. I called to get basic information and was told that I had a better chance of getting troughs put in than pivots. That didn’t stop me, I got to work filling out the application. When I got stuck, I called the Sanpete County NRCS office and the agent there took almost an hour of his time going through the application with me. 

The day came when I received the call that my project was chosen and that I needed to come in and sit with the engineer to begin the planning. I will forever be grateful that I was given this opportunity and that they believed my project was where they wanted to invest their time and resources…but I still had work to do. The NRCS funding was great, but only represented a fraction of what was going to be needed to complete this project.

Then a miracle occurred. I was sent an article featuring the new Water Optimization Program that the State of Utah was going to implement. I took a deep breath and got to work filling out the application. I locked myself in the office for a couple of days knowing that the due date was near.  

I got to parts in the application that I didn’t understand what they wanted and would cry thinking it wasn’t going to end well. I finally called Jay Olsen, an Environmental Program Manager with the Department of Agriculture, who was heading up the program, and without a beat, he helped explain the questions I was stuck on. I turned in that application not expecting to hear back.  

A couple of months went by and one day, as I was going through my emails, one email, in particular, stood out – it was from the state of Utah. I must admit, I cried like a baby when I began to read the email and saw that my project had been chosen. That email changed everything for me, I was going to be able to better my grandparent’s farm and provide a place where my children will be able to carry on the family legacy.  

All That’s Left is the Work

Then the real work began. I started with getting bids from local pivot dealers and eventually felt good about a place in little old Beryl, Utah. One day, driving back from a Farm Bureau conference in St. George, I took a detour and met Jack Moyle. 

Jack listened to everything I needed, and before long my pivots were on their way. The planning of the pipeline, troughs, and culinary line were all in motion, not to mention getting power to where I could run the pivots. I had to wait on some parts due to Covid, as we all have, but now all three are completed. I will never forget the day I saw the first pivot turned on and wishing my grandpa was by my side to see what had been accomplished.

My family has been beside me on this journey the whole time. Their involvement has given me strength. There have been days when I’ve been so discouraged, but they have listened to me and given me words of encouragement that helped me keep going. My dad has been the person I’ve called when something new was happening. The look of joy on his face, knowing that I love the farm as much as he does, gives me the courage and drive to keep moving forward. I am so thankful my family trusted me in this process. 

The farm is still in the family and my children will be the 6th generation to have the opportunity to work and fall in love with a piece of dirt that raised many generations before them. I hope when my daughters see those pivots, they will be reminded that their mom learned and did hard things, that they can do hard things too, and that they’re capable of anything they put their minds to. (If you’ve met my girls, you know I have nothing to worry about).  

Your challenge may not be buying and preserving your family farm, but the lessons I’ve learned apply to any uphill climb. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Talk to people who have gone through something similar. Find your “people”. They will help you achieve your goal. When you are told “No”, don’t give up, just find another path. The challenge will help you stretch, and you will find strength you never knew you had.