Stress can take a lot of the fun out of farming over a 30-year career. That’s why every family farm needs a shot in the arm every now and then — a rejuvenation of sorts, to make things interesting again.

The pick-me-up for the Fincher family farm began in late 2007, with Hunter Fincher’s decision to return to his Alamo, Tenn., farm to work with his father, Henry.

Earlier that spring, the younger Fincher had graduated from Crockett County High School and entered the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s pre-medical program, much to the delight of his parents.

But after one semester, he had changed his mind. Some of it had to do with him figuring out that a medical career was not for him. But a lot had to do with the fact that it didn’t rain much in west Tennessee that summer, which had put his father’s dryland cotton farm in dire financial straits.

Average yields were off 344 pounds from the previous year across west Tennessee, and cotton prices were hovering around the cost of production. Henry was wondering if he would ever farm again.

A concerned Hunter left UT, moved to a college closer to home, changed his major and pitched in after school and during the summers to help his father put 2007 behind him. When he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University this May, he committed to becoming a partner in the operation.

Hunter’s return to the farm is paying off for the farm, and best of all, it’s made farming fun again.

On a recent morning, the Finchers sat in their farm shop office, with rain and hail beating an all too familiar refrain on the roof. But neither seemed too worried about the excessive rainfall this June has brought to the area. “Our other partner is God,” Henry said. “We could not do it without Him. We get up every day believing that we’re going to be taken care of. We have to do our part and not worry about the rest. We let Him take care of that.”

The family farms about 3,200 acres of cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans and is related to the family of Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee’s eighth congressional district. “We’re proud of him,” Henry says. “He’s tried to fulfill all his promises, even though he’s stepped into a bit of a hornet’s nest.”

Hunter, 22, has known little else but the farming life. As a child, he spent hours in tractor cabs with his father, and learned how to drive hauling water around the farm. In the seventh grade, he started cutting stalks after harvest. Soon he was running the module builder and sprayers.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to farm because it was what my father did.”

When Hunter graduated from high school, his father discouraged his son from farming for a living. “Input costs have increased so much,” Henry said. “We were risking, and we still are, everything we have every year. I told him he had the opportunity now to take a different road. I told him it was strictly up to him.”

Hunter took his advice. He was off to UT.

But when it stopped raining in west Tennessee in 2007, crops shriveled, profits shrank, and young Fincher transferred from UT-Knoxville to UT-Martin, “to be closer to home. UT-Martin is also a really good ag school.”

For his sophomore through senior years, he transferred from UT-Martin to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and earned a degree in agricultural business in May 2011. The day after graduation, he was disking fields on the family farm. His mother, Brenda, a college professor, was happy to see her son earn a degree. For Henry, having his son on the farm for good was like a breath of fresh air.