By Dixon Land
The Billings family began farming 21 years ago, when Bryan’s grandparents financed his initial cattle.
“My grandparents got me started by financing my first 30 heifers in 1994. The first two calf crops were payment for those heifers. In 2001, they also financed the first 100 acres I bought,” Billings said. “They financed it for 15 years and I make my last payment in 2016.”
Billings now owns 372 acres and rents 465 more. His total land, currently 837 acres, hosts over 200 commercial cows and calfs. With nine broiler houses on the land, Bryan estimates that about 1.05 million broilers are produced per year. He also has 80 steers on the property.
“The first broiler houses were built in 2001,” Billings said. “In 2003, I came to the farm full time.”
But, what makes the Billings so unique is their family style of work. Bryan works early in the morning to make sure that everything is taken care of. His boys are out there themselves, working with him most mornings.
“We usually get up around 6 a.m. and try to be at the chicken houses by 6:30 in order to pick up the dead before it gets hot. If nothing is broke in the chicken houses, we then start on any other projects that are of most priority. These could include spraying fields, fertilizing, putting up hay, feeding hay in the winter time, fixing fences, etc.” Billings said.
His boys, Dalton and Dillion both are highly involved in cattle, both on the farm and at school.
“Dalton and Dillion are both members of FFA, the Show Team and the Trap Shooting Team. They also are members of the Crosspoint Cowboy Church youth group,” Billings said. “They are both avid deer, turkey and duck hunters.”
Dalton, 16, plans to farm according to Bryan. He already is an active member of the FFA at Nashville High School and owns his own herd of cows. Dillion, 15, who also has his own herd of cattle, plans to attend college in the future.
“I am very proud of my kids,” Billings said. “Being able to raise them on the farm, I was able to teach them good work ethic and responsibilities.”
Chloe, Bryan’s youngest daughter is an honor student at Nashville Primary School and Morgan, Bryan’s oldest, is a recent graduate of Henderson State with a B.G.S. in Sociology and Psychology. At Henderson State, Morgan is a member of the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority.
“Morgan plans to work with people with special needs,” Billings said. “My youngest daughter Chloe is eight. She plays basketball and enjoys riding four wheelers.”
Bryan said that farming is not always easy, but being able to overcome obstacles is part of the job.
“Right after I bought my first set of heifers the cattle market dropped. My grandparents helped by taking payments as the first to offspring from that set of heifers. I hung in and worked hard for my grandpa and did what I could do,” Billings said.
He also discussed drought situations.
“During times of drought, I have been able to keep my cow herd numbers up by using broiler littler to supplement cattle,” Billings said.
Billings said that he would like to continue to grow and improve his farm by possibly purchasing adjourning land as it becomes available, as well as adding watering systems on the land that he just purchased and adding in some cross fences to the land.
He also is in a partnership which owns about 40 acres of land in Dierks, where they are building cabins and selling them as vacation homes/rentals. As well as being a full-time farmer and builder, Bryan also is a part owner of a “bounce house” business where they rent and set up bounce houses for parties and festivals.