Tucked behind the massive rock formations of central Jackson County, six generations are tending to the land while juggling family life, careers and a growing family.
“I grew up in a farm family,” said Renee Howard. “My dad did a lot of custom hay baling and swathing, and I swore I would never marry a farmer.”
Renee found herself marrying an agricultural instructor, who was teaching at the nearby school.
“I met Bob and married him, and he was an agricultural teacher at the time,” Renee said. “I thought a teacher would be a good. He taught for those first two years, and then he decided it was time to farm.”
Renee was still not sure she wanted to become a farmer’s wife, but she stepped into the role and worked the land near Headrick alongside Bob and his family.
Bob passed away in April 2022, leaving Renee and their adult children – Chrystle, Ryan and Brent – to care for the wheat, hay and cattle the family is known for in the community of Navajo.
“We were so fortunate that the boys came back to the farm,” Renee said. “It’s a family farm, and everyone participates.”
Ryan and Brent are both practicing attorneys, but they involve their young families as they tend to the farm and ranch after their regular work hours with help from Renee.
Family is at the center of everything on the Howard farm and ranch. On any given day, the granddaughters can be seen helping round up cattle on the UTV while a tractor is off in the distance working the land.
Even though Chrystle and her family has moved north to Enid, they still find time in their busy schedule to help on the operation when needed. And the entire family often gathers together for a shared Sunday meal, just as they have for years.
“I think the thing that has kept us going is the work ethic,” Renee said. “Bob was pretty much a workaholic, and from sunup to dark, he was working. He taught the boys that. Whenever they are able to leave their jobs after the work is done, they are out here helping.”
From working cows to harvesting wheat, the family carries on the exceptional work ethic instilled in them from generations past. Keeping the legacy of farming and ranching with integrity is something Renee instilled in her family from the very beginning.
“They learned about what they need to do and know that the cattle come first,” Renee said. “Now, to watch the grandkids grow up here and see them doing the same things, it is good to see that.”
Even though Renee did not see herself becoming a farmer and rancher, she stepped into the role with grace and continues to press on in the way of life she has come to know – providing food and fiber for those in her community.
“It is just in your blood,” Renee said. “I am proud that I married a farmer now. It has been a good life.”