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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.
Multi-camera security system
Electronics is another of David’s hobbies. He built a computer system for the Union County Heritage Museum at nearby New Albany, serves on its board of directors, and is currently involved in a drive to raise more than $1 million for the museum expansion project.
Another project was installing a security camera system for the farm. Twelve cameras allow their 97-year old mother, Vernis, to monitor goings-on at the farm shop, at her sons’ houses, and the surroundings of her house.
The cameras are motion activated, and the monitor displays only the scenes where action is occurring. As a security measure, the system records and stores output from any camera that detects motion.
“It’s really a simple system,” David says. “It only cost a few hundred dollars and it keeps Mother involved in what we’re doing.”
Colin notes that, "We also have radios for staying in touch and for up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, and of course, iPhones, which help us to track weather for making spraying decisions.
While last year turned out to be a bumper year for most Mississippi row crops, David says their soybean yields were off a bit due to a mid-August dry spell. None of their land is irrigated.
“We averaged about 33 bushels, but prices were good, so we came out OK,” he says. “Many farmers are in much better shape as a result of good yields and prices in recent years. It has been a big relief for us to be in a position to not have to borrow money to make a crop.
“But,” he says wryly, “August is not my favorite month.”
In addition to the family land, Colin says, “We rent land all up and down Highway 30, going 10 miles toward Oxford and 4 miles toward New Albany. It’s mostly all creek bottom and Tallahatchie River bottom land, and about a third of it is subject to overflow. There are some fields where there are floodwater marks on trees as high as 8 feet.”
Of the land they farm, about two-thirds is owned, the rest rented. They just recently concluded the purchase of a 150-ace farm they’d been renting for 20 years. The sale, David says, “was based in large part on respect between our family and theirs over many years, and their knowing that we will be good stewards of the land."
With the rain and cold that were pushing this year’s planting into May, he says, “We like to start planting as early as we can, preferably the last week in April if we can get in the fields. But we’re not worried … yet.”