The Myers operation is “truly a family farm,” Abbott says.

“My great-grandfather had farmland near here in Mississippi and Arkansas and my grandparents farmed here. My grandfather built the house my wife Sheryl and I live in now. My grandmother raised chickens, turkeys, and ducks out back and sold eggs, and my grandfather looked after the crops. Ransom is the fifth generation of our family to farm.”

But, farming is not what Abbott had in mind when time came for him to go off to college.

“I had worked on the farm for my father — it was hot, sweaty work, with long days, and it was not my dream of a career. I’d always been interested in aviation and went to Mississippi State University with the goal of becoming an aeronautical engineer.

“While there, my father had a detached retina which required that he be inactive for a lengthy period. He asked me to come back and run the farm. I did — and I made the biggest mess you could ever imagine!

“Cotton was our main crop, plus some soybeans. I got the beans planted late (we had almost no herbicides in those days), tried to look after the cotton, had to handle payroll and everything.”

He laughs. “I quickly found out how much I didn’t know about farming. But I also found out something else: I liked being boss and making decisions. I talked with my father and told him I wanted to farm after I finished school. I had expected a reaction from him one way or another. But he, a member of the World War II Greatest Generation, just said somewhat stoically, ‘All right,’ and that was it.

“Years later, my mother told me that he had been very excited by my decision and that he’d told everyone in the family how proud he was. But I didn’t find it out for 20 years.”

Abbott went back to Mississippi State, switched to agricultural engineering, and received his degree in 1972.

“I married Sheryl, whom I had met while in school, and we came back here to live in the house that had been my grandparents’ and my parents’. We’ve been here ever since.”

Ransom earned business and financial management degrees at the University of Mississippi, came back to the farm eight years ago, and he and his wife built a house adjacent to his parents.

“Our daughter, Kathy Bourne, an attorney, and her husband live at nearby Tunica, so all our grandchildren are close by,” Abbott says, “and of course we love that!

“Ransom is a full partner in the farming operation, and we make all our decisions jointly. I made 32 crops with my father, and I know how difficult father-son working relationships can sometimes be, but Ransom and I work well together … although [laughs] sometimes Ransom may not think so.

“My grandparents had 600 acres when they were farming here, only about half of which was cleared. My father was able to add to that during his farming years, when I came back we were able to grow some more, and Ransom and I have continued the growth.

“Most of our land is owned, although we rent some. We’ve been fortunate over the years to buy land when it became available — thanks to the Federal Land Bank. My philosophy has always been, whether you buy your land or rent it, you still pay for it ... and I’d rather buy.”

For the past eight years, Abbott has served as chairman of the Mississippi Land Bank, which serves 32 counties in north Mississippi. He is also a Staplcotn member — “our relationship with them has been very good for our family” — and a member of the Coahoma Electric Power Association board.

“We’ve been through good times and bad times,” he says, “but farming has been good to us and the Lord has blessed us. We’ve also been blessed by the hard work and dedication of those family members who went before us, and by farmer friends such as Dutch Parker and Noel Cannon, who have been generous with advice, and the late Paul Battle, who encouraged me to look at things in new ways and to try doing things differently.

“One thing you learn in this business is to always keep and open mind and an open heart.”