Farm Feature Friday: Lindsey Parsley of Rutherford County, Tennessee
Q&A by TCA Spring Intern, Rebekah Brown
Lindsey Parsley of Rutherford County, Tennessee is carrying on the family tradition of raising cattle. She has been actively involved and held several leadership positions in a multitude of organizations to expand her knowledge of the agriculture industry. Read this week’s Farm Feature Friday to learn more about Lindsey and her family’s operation.
How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
My family has been directly involved in the cattle industry for as long as I can remember. The family farm was bought in 1965 by my grandparents, Henry and Mary Parsley, and my grandfather’s brother and his wife, Louis and Becky Parsley. They were also business partners in Parsley Brothers Construction that was centrally located in Murfreesboro. Aside from operating the construction company the brothers raised Angus cattle and Tennessee Walking Horses as a source of secondary income. When my father, Roy Parsley and his brother Hank got involved they changed the focal point to feeder pigs; however, cattle were still a big part of the farm revenue. In 1989 my grandfather decided to put the family farm up for sale; my dad was fortunate enough to keep 60 acres of the land. While my grandparents moved back to Wartrace for their retirement, my dad began increasing the number of cattle that were run on the farm again while getting out of the feeder pig operation. At this point we were running commercial Angus cattle with a bit of Charolais influence. In 1998, I was born into the farm and can remember working cows at a very young age, my mom tells stories of how my dad had me out on the tractor as an infant. Around 2011 I began showing cattle from the farm. A few years into showing I served as a Tennessee Junior Beef Ambassador, we decided to start purchasing registered cattle, with a percentage Simmental being the first registered animal on the farm. Today, I am focusing on building that Simmental herd, along with working with a small Shorthorn herd while my dad focuses on the commercial cow calf pairs.
What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
My favorite part about growing up on the family farm has to be the organizations I have been a part of and the people I have met along the way. The agriculture industry as a whole is one big community and I love that if I ever have a question or need help there is someone there for me. I was very avidly involved in 4-H and FFA growing up. I firmly believe those organizations served as a catalyst for our operation and my personal leadership development. Now I am the first generation of my family obtaining a college education. I am enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University, with a major in Animal Science. Without the influence from my family and the farm I would never be where I am today. I am very thankful for the opportunities this industry has offered me throughout the years in everything from scholarship to the leadership roles.
What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?
My grandfather was truly the roots of our operation and the center of our family. He was very supportive both morally and monetarily when I first began showing cattle and working to improve our genetics on the farm. He passed away February of 2018 and that was a very hard time for our family and those close to us. He was such a role model for many and truly a great example of a hard-working farmer. I can remember Papa being out in the field with us throwing hay on the wagon until he was 80 and continuing to cut and bale hay on some of our leased properties with my dad until he was 85. Though he is gone today, we know he is watching over us and we work hard to operate the farm in a way that would please him.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
Farmers Care. Being involved firsthand in the agriculture industry has made me realize that there is a huge disconnect from pasture to plate. This disconnection allows for misconceptions to arise and as agriculturist we are in charge of conveying the facts to fight for our industry. My goal is to be an advocate for the industry at all times. I see this issue arise a lot throughout my involvement on campus at MTSU. A lot of times consumers are too afraid to ask questions, so as a farmer I make it a point to make my peers comfortable with asking me a question regarding farming. In the end it is very important for them to know that we care about our family, our farms and our animals because we look to pass it down from generation to generation.
What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?
Having the opportunity to be a part of the family farm means the world to me. Some days it is hard but, in the end, I can reminisce on the fact that my grandfather started this “project” and we are here to continue his legacy for years to come.
Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?
My best advice for young cattle producers is to get started with the mindset that you can succeed if you try hard enough and don’t ever let one single discouragement put you down. Living on a farm there is a lot of hardships; yet, in the end I promise it is worth it! For those in high school and even in college I encourage you to get involved and stay involved, participate in shows, breed organizations and attend cattlemen’s events. This is the sure-fire way to learn more and allow your operation to thrive. Furthermore, for those my age, always remember that there are great resources to help you get started in the business; like extension agents, TCA, and other producers. Be sure to fill out scholarship applications, get involved in programs at school and diversify your interest. If you try hard enough, you will get to a point where it doesn’t seem like “work” anymore rather it seems like a lifestyle. The opportunities are endless!
What's your favorite beef dish?
My favorite dish beef product has to be a smoked “just right” brisket. I have had a lot of different cuts of beef over the years but nothing beats my dad’s brisket.