Pride in his family’s heritage in agriculture is a driving force for Charlie Brandon as he carries with him each day the responsibility of preserving his family’s farm.
Raised in the same house where his grandmother grew up, Charlie learned to farm and ranch alongside his father and grandfather in Kay County.
“I am the fourth generation to have the ability and the luxury – if you’d like to call it that – to farm and ranch on the same ground as my great-grandparents and my grandparents and my parents,” he said.
Continuing in the tradition of his ancestors, Charlie and his wife, Lindsey, now are raising their three children, Piper, Baylin and Bowen, as the fifth generation on the family’s farm near Newkirk.
“It is great to be able to carry on that legacy and take care of those acres and strive to leave them – at the end of my time – in as good of shape or better shape,” Charlie said.
The family runs a diverse farm and ranch in north central Oklahoma, growing wheat, corn, milo, soybeans and oats alongside a hay business and a cow/calf and stocker operation.
Charlie graduated at the top of his class in high school and college, giving him the opportunity to pursue a career in any field of his choosing. But a deep love for agriculture was instilled in his blood from an early age.
“A lot of people told me, ‘As smart as you are, you ought to be a doctor, you ought to be a banker,’” he said. “Well that wasn’t what I enjoyed doing.”
After earning a degree in animal science at Oklahoma State University, Charlie furthered his education by completing the ranch management program at Texas Christian University. The skills and knowledge he gained are now used to expand and improve his family’s operation.
“They always say the most dangerous words in any business are, ‘We’ve always done it that way,’” he said. “Bringing those ideas home has allowed us to expand and grow and do what we do today.”
Maintaining the family farm certainly is not for the faint of heart, as the Brandons continually face challenges from ever-increasing input costs and never-ending work around the farm while remaining at the mercy of the weather and markets.
“Everything we do costs a heck of a lot more, but it seems like our margins are still about the same as what they have been for all generations,” he said. “The risk to reward is substantially different now than what it would have been in my grandparents time or my great-grandparents time.”
Yet in spite of all the hard work, Charlie and Lindsey remain committed to preserving the family farm in hopes that their children also will have a chance to enjoy the same way of life one day.
“Pride would be best way I would describe why doing what we do out here on the family farm and ranch is worth doing,” he said. “To carry on that legacy, a guy basically has to wake up every morning and think about how you want to leave it to the next generation.”