The love of farming is, in many cases, passed down from generation to generation. Each new farmer carries on the legacy of previous farmers from years past. While they may work towards expanding the farm, or making improvements in various ways, they tend to have one thing on their mind—make them proud. The them is the generations of farmers that came before. For Joshua Coombs, generations of his family have passed down the love of the farm, and it doesn’t seem that it will stop with him.
Josh’s great-grandaddy grew hogs on the ground where soybeans are now planted on the Coomb’s farm. His dad built hog houses in 1995 to be able to take the pigs from the ground and move them inside.
“My great-grandaddy started it and my granddaddy expanded it. Then, my dad built upon that expansion,” said Josh, “I was here when they built those first four houses. I was here during the whole process. I knew I never wanted to leave,” he continued.
And he hasn’t left. Josh is continuing in the footsteps of previous generations in many ways. He is not only a farmer, but he is also a paid fireman with the city of Clinton (a role he’s played for 16 years), something his dad also did. Working nine, 24 hour shift days a month, Josh serves the citizens of Clinton, Sampson County and anyone commuting through Clinton. Josh is a captain for Clinton Fire, he is an EMT, and he is a pig farmer. Perhaps the two biggest reasons Josh has taken on these roles is his love of helping others and being inspired to be like his dad.
“My dad was a fireman. He started the farm. He also made it to fire captain. I’m basically following his footsteps and doing what Dad did,” said Josh.
When it comes to the farm, Josh is making his own stamp on things. Josh is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and hunt. His love for the outdoors is one reason why protecting the environment is so important to him. He protects the environment in many different ways like following regulations. He has also worked with the NC Forestry Service to manage the wooded areas on his farm. When it was time to clear-cut acres of timber from the farm, Josh thought it was important to not just let the areas grow back with brush, so working with the Forestry Service and guys who specialized in planting trees, he planted 166 acres of Loblolly pine to provide habitat for wildlife. He hopes to do the same thing to other tracks of land on the farm.
“ I see a lot of wildlife here. Just about every afternoon, my boys and I will watch the deer around the bean field and the hog houses. They’re so busy munching on the soybeans, they don’t even care that we are there,” said Josh about the wildlife he sees on the farm. He also sees turkeys, quail, dove, and more on the farm. Farms are many times a quiet, peaceful place with open spaces for wildlife to enjoy.
Being a farmer isn’t just about enjoying the outdoors or carrying on the heritage of generations to come, for Josh, it is also a great place to raise a family. Josh and his wife Jessica, have two little boys and just recently announced a third baby on the way!
“I love raising the family on the farm. It’s relaxing. It teaches my little boys to have a good work ethic and it also teaches them the values of life like how to be a good neighbor, how to be a friend, that hard work pays off, and always put God first-- family second,” said Josh.
The Coombs boys love being on the farm. They are full of energy, and the farm gives them wide open spaces to run around. They also love to check on the pigs and watch for wildlife with their daddy.
The Coombs’s farm family extends beyond just Josh, Jessica, the kids and immediate family, though. It also includes their integrator, Prestage Farms, and the entire pork industry. In 2017, Josh had to have open heart surgery. Many people called to check on Josh and offer to help on the farm, even though they didn’t have to. But, that’s just how the farming world works. We are one big family.
Today, you can find Josh at the fire department, at home, or on the farm. He’s doing what he loves—helping others, feeding others, and leaving a farming legacy for others. Who knows, in a few years, we may be interviewing those little Coombs boys in the pictures here, and they say, “I followed in dad’s footsteps. I’m a farmer too.”