The Big Picture
In northwest Oklahoma’s Woods County, the gravel roads are long and straight as they stretch between fields, pastures, farmsteads and small towns. It is out here where the view goes on for miles that the Budy family farms and ranches while keeping the big picture in mind.
Chad and Danielle Budy and their four children work together as they care for their cattle and grow wheat, milo, alfalfa, canola and sesame. They even plant cow peas on the sand hills that dot the area to prevent wind erosion during the summer months.
Chad and Danielle are proud to have raised their four children – Colton, Tabor, Sagelyn and Davin – the same way they grew up: on the family farm.
“It’s exciting to see our kids come back and help us and want to do what we were raised up doing,” Chad said. “It’s been a good living for Danielle and I, and we just hope they can do the same if they have that interest and love the industry that they have the opportunity.”
Chad and Danielle’s oldest son, Colton, is now farming with Danielle’s dad near Byron in Alfalfa County, with the goal of some day taking over for his grandpa. Tabor studies ag business at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in nearby Alva, and is building his own cattle herd. Sagelyn and Davin, both high school students, help with the farm work in numerous ways. Danielle also works off the farm teaching math at NWOSU.
Chad recalls that farming was the one thing he wanted to do as he was growing up around agriculture. The allure of being his own boss also came with deep responsibilities, which he and Danielle work to pass on to their children.
“If I don’t get it done, it’s my fault so I have to keep going,” Chad said of farming. “That’s what I’ve tried to teach my kids living where we do. If you work hard, you can thrive. Yeah, we have a lot of obstacles thrown at us that are out of our control with prices and mother nature, but it’s just a way of life that I enjoy.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools in early 2020, the family took the opportunity to harness the extra time together to replace fences and build new corrals to improve their cattle handling options well into the future.
While the pandemic disrupted life greatly in both rural and urban areas across our nation, Danielle said it served as another example of the perseverance of farmers and ranchers.
“It just proved how important farmers and ranchers are because their job never quits, no matter what,” Danielle said. “Rain, sleet, snow, hail, their job keeps going. High prices, low prices, no matter what they fling at us, we have to keep going and trudging through this.”
In addition to the full-time farming operation, the Budy family is heavily involved in their local community. From their county Farm Bureau to their church and from time spent on the volunteer fire department to their kids’ numerous activities, investing time to help their neighbors and their local area is a priority for the Budys.
“Our kids are what makes us work hard to keep this community thriving and keep it a place they might want to live,” Danielle said. “If we don’t have our future to look forward to, then what do we have to look forward to?”
As they think about the time spent as a family on the farm, both Chad and Danielle look back to one critical time of year for all farmers that they feel is what being a farm family is all about: wheat harvest.
“I remember my dad saying this last harvest that it was a joy for him to be out there with all my kids, me and him – the generations that are there running the combines – and we were all family,” Chad said. “That meant a lot to him, and I’m looking at it now thinking, ‘Man, that really means something to me, too.’ Even if my kids choose to go off and do other adventures, I think they’ll still come back to the farm and want to help a little bit on days like that.”
“Harvest is a good example of it’s just one big family that works together to accomplish something that is so awesome: being able to harvest the wheat, being able to then take it to the elevator and to be able to feed America,” Danielle said. “If you actually look at the big picture, it’s such an awesome thing that farmers do.”