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Proclaiming themselves "just country farmers," Colin Collins and his brother David, along with Colin’s son Clay, run a 1,500 acre soybean operation, plus timber land, in Union County, Miss., and in the best Jeffersonian tradition, lead lives of myriad interests, community service, neighborliness, independence, and self-sufficiency.
DAVID COLLINS, from left, his brother Colin, and Colin’s son, Clay, grow soybeans, and sometimes corn, in Union County, Miss.
They do it themselves
If it can be made, they make it; if it needs fixing, they do it — outsourcing only equipment engine overhauls. “Our newest tractor is a 1992 model,” Colin says. “Our combines are ’85 and ’96 models. They’re good machines, we maintain them properly, they do the job for us, so why buy new ones?”
Colin put his welding skills to use to build a 200-gallon fuel tank for their service truck. “It was a challenge to make a tank that big that doesn’t leak. But I managed it.”
He has been “teaching myself to weld aluminum” — a different technique from regular welding. “I made aluminum doors for our Polaris side-by-side ATV. It was a lot cheaper than buying them.”
A voracious reader on wide-ranging topics, particularly those of the natural world, he also is a dedicated gardener, keeping the family freezers stocked with veggies, including the purple hull peas that, with corn bread, “are mighty fine eating.”
June, his wife of 41 years, babysits their grandson, Graham, and granddaughter, Jovie, on weekdays while their daughter, Anna Claire, teaches at nearby West Union school. She laughs that her husband, Shane Hall, “married me just so he would have a good place to hunt – he once bagged two turkeys with one shot on the farm’s 40 acres of bottomland woods.”
He has been president of the Union County Farm Bureau organization since 1981, and is actively involved in its issues. “I keep thinking they’ll talk someone else into taking the job,” Colin says, “but so far, they haven’t.” One of his current goals is getting support for state regulations controlling non-native animals that pose a threat to agricultural operations. He also serves on the Producer Advisory Council for the Northeast Mississippi Extension and Research Center.
David’s interests include civics and current events.
“Some of my opinions aren’t popular,” he acknowledges. “For example, in recent years I’ve come to believe that it’s a good idea to require people to have health insurance. Yet, I never got health insurance for myself, because my health has always been excellent.
“Even though I never expected to get sick, the new Affordable Care Act forced me to buy health insurance. Then, a month ago, I began having symptoms that resulted in a heart catheterization and stent. Having that insurance saved me $40,000.”