NC Farm Family Faces: A Desire to Farm as a Family

Meet the Gray Family! Brandon is a CPA and his wife, Jessica is a part-time nurse and full-time mom to their 5-year-old twin girls, Delaney and Emalyn. They are also hog farmers. They weren’t born hog farmers, and they didn’t inherit the business. They made the decision to buy a pre-existing hog farm in Wayne County a few years ago.DSC_2772“We purchased this farm as a family endeavor, and it’s been really nice. The community has been really receptive and the neighbors have been great. It’s been a really good thing,” said Brandon.In addition to pigs, the family also grows collards and sweet potatoes on their 125 acres.There is no doubt this is a family endeavor. Jessica keeps most of the books, and Brandon, with help from his dad, Rayburn Brown, cares for all the pigs and crops.DSC_2794Even at 5 years old, Delaney and Emalyn help out too. Special trips have to be made to visit the pigs for the girls.DSC_2785DSC_2819

Brandon came from a farming background. His grandfather was one of seven, and they were all farmers. Many of their children (and grandchildren) also became farmers. Jessica, on the other hand, is not from a farming family. She married into it, but she loves it!

“The pigs are my favorite part. I like watching them grow and get big. The girls enjoy the pigs, and whatever they enjoy I try to follow behind and support them,” said Jessica.DSC_2840While the Gray family loves their farm, it isn’t always easy. They live about 20 minutes away from the actual farm. This doesn’t mean they don’t have to visit as often. Rather it means a lot of extra miles on their vehicles.“We check the pigs at least twice a day, every day. We eat dinner as a family, then go to check on the pigs once more to make sure everything is alright,” said Brandon.Of course, the normal uncertainties that accompany farming are also hard. One never knows what the weather will do or when equipment must be fixed. There are also finances. For the Grays, the decision to purchase the farm was both easy and hard. The desire was strong, but the burden of finances was also strong. Ultimately, they decided to go for it.One aspect that does help the Grays is their relationship with their integrator, Maxwell Foods. The integrator provides a support system for the family to help them with things like providing the best healthcare for the pigs. Without the integrator, the farm would not have the resources they do.Although owning a farm can be stressful at times, the Grays enjoy being part of something bigger. They may not have the largest farm, but it does feed people, and the Grays love being a part of that.A full-time CPA, part-time nurse, full-time parents, and full-time farmers (because farming is never part-time)…life is busy for the Grays, but it is fueled by a  desire to farm as a family.DSC_2813Photos by: Marisa See