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Together They Have it All

TOGETHER they have it all

STORY AND PHOTOS BY ANDREA HAINES | A SUCCESSFUL BREEDING LINE CAN OFTEN BE TRACED BACK TO METICULOUSLY-SELECTED TRAITS IN THE CATTLE WORLD. DESIRABLE TRAITS OF HARDINESS, PERSISTENCE IN PRODUCTION, AND LONGEVITY (PRODUCTIVE LIFE) ALL PLAY A ROLE IN THE STRENGTH AND CONSISTENCY OF THE FUTURE GENERATIONS.

This concept is also true for many of the agricultural families behind these great animals. The genetic line of the Thomas family is no different, having some of the same traits they look to strengthen their herd, multiple generations of longevity bear the arms of the Thomas family tree.

The resilient line of farmers began with John Carl Thomas in 1949 for his innovation to purchase the property that is based in Boonsboro, Maryland, from a family member. Donald Thomas later obtained the farm from his father, Solomon, in the early 80s to operate with his wife, Esther. Donald and his son, Tracy, named the partnership Thomas and Son Farms, which stands true to today’s namesake. Tracy ran the dairy operation alongside his father, but soon discovered another form of bovine to suit his needs for endurance within a challenging economy—the beef industry.

Tracy has been breeding Limousin and Lim-Flex cattle ever since trialing different breeds and making the decision to focus on them well into the 80s. His interest in these cattle quickly bred attentiveness into Christopher and Lonnie, the sons of Tracy and his wife, Brenda. “Christopher and Lonnie have shown strong interest in pursuing the cattle line,” shares Tracy. “I had four sisters at the time I worked with my father who all helped on the farm doing chores. Not all the children will have an interest in the farm, and that’s okay.” The families, many living in close proximity

to one another, encompass what it is like to be in a family-work setting.

The farm is now home to 140 brood cows and an additional 250 head of cattle, all Limousin, Lim-Flex, Crossbred, and Angus. “Ninety percent of the herd is purebred,” shares Chris. “We have bulls, feeders, fat steers, show heifers, replacement heifers, show steers and embryos for sale year-round.” The family holds an annual sale at their farm on Halloween weekend called “Halloween Hunnies” to sell show cattle. “We have a good time,” explains Tracy excitedly. “We even set up a little Halloween fun for the kids. It’s a real family event.”

The roots run deep in the multigenerational tree of the Thomas family, and the affection of “family warmth” buds through work and play. “We go to many shows throughout the year to exhibit our cattle,” says Chris. “We like to maintain the ‘approachable’ image when exhibiting and marketing our cattle. We like to set up our buyers to succeed and really try to make the time to help the younger generation.”

The Thomas’ have a lot of showing experience to offer. Being experts in their field, they have accepted top honors at nationally acclaimed shows. Most recently, they were honored with the grand champion banner for exhibiting their Limousin female at the National Junior Limousin Show and Congress and also reserve grand champion honors for their Lim-Flex female in Denver, Colorado this past July.

Chris and Lonnie’s partnership has improved their chances at another generation showing interest in the family business. “My fiancé, Allyson, and I plan to continue with the family tradition,” admits Lonnie. “Chris and his wife, Kelsey, already have backgrounds with both of their families having ties to the beef industry.” Chris and Kelsey’s son, Landon, already has all of the equipment learned, which is evident as the toddler sits atop his grandfather’s lap looking over a dealership flyer.

One part of operating whatever the Thomas family decides to do with their farm has remained consistent over the years—their relationship with Farm Credit. “We’ve had a few loan officers over the years, but each one has been able to accommodate our needs at the time,” shares Donald. “From our homes and builds, to our machinery purchases, we’ve always been able to depend on their services. We like the knowledge they share about the farming industry,” adds Tracy.

Farm Credit loan officer Michelle Trumpower shares, “They are the kind of customer that a loan officer would like 100 more of, just like them. Their business is where it is today because of their hard work and knowledge of what it takes to be successful. They are about their community and would do anything to help others in need.”

The Thomas family’s older members are excited to watch their offspring continue to fulfill the traditions they’ve set before them.

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THE THOMAS FAMILY HAS PASSED DOWN THE DESIRE TO FARM THROUGH MULTIPLE GENERATIONS. WHILE CATTLE STILL FEEDS THE INTEREST OF ONE GENERATION, ANOTHER TAKES ON THE ROLE OF MANAGING THEIR EXCAVATING OPERATION. TRACY AND FATHER, DONALD, ARE STILL PROVING THAT THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT OPPORTUNITIES TO KEEP A FAMILY FARM UP AND RUNNING. NO MATTER WHAT THE ROLE IS OF EACH MEMBER, THE DAY-TO-DAY DISCUSSION REMAINS OPEN FOR PLANNING AND ADVICE WHETHER IN THE BARN, AT THE KITCHEN TABLE OR DURING A RIDE TO THE FIELD.

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