Hidden Arrow Farms When David Huff was 8 years old, his parents, Mark and Debbie, wanted to provide an opportunity for their son to learn the valuable lessons that come from caring for and showing livestock. Ten years and three more sons later, the dairy goat operation at Hidden Arrows Farms near Brandon continues to be a Huff tradition. “We saw the goats as a way to expand the boys’ education,” says Debbie Huff, who has homeschooled David, now 19, twins, Alex and Andrew, 17, and John Mark, 12. “When the boys were young, it was a learning curve for all of us. I did the initial research, and gradually they would master a skill or responsibility and I would turn it over to them.” The boys learned how to show their animals. They learned about feeding, pasture management, the milking process and how to diagnose illnesses and keep the goats healthy. They also learned the importance of sanitation and health when working with a raw product being put into the food chain. But the education didn’t stop there. As the Huffs realized they had more milk than customers, they took on a new challenge. This time they learned chemistry, accounting and marketing skills by producing goats’ milk soap and lotion, and selling their products at farmers markets and retail locations in the Jackson area. In the meantime, they’ve learned some other lessons, too, like responsibility and perseverance and developing a strong work ethic. “Waking up every morning to take care of animals, no matter what, repairing electric fences when they are down, treating goats when they’re sick and making sure everything is thoroughly taken care of in my absence teaches me responsibility and hard work,” says Alex Huff. “Problems on the farm are hardly ever convenient. They tend to occur at the worst possible times; frequently causing me to drop everything I am doing to solve the problems. Through all of this, I have also learned patience. Well, some patience.” David Huff, a freshman mechanical engineering major at Ole Miss, agrees. “Even though the work is hard and quite repetitive at times, the skills I learn today on the farm will be helpful and applicable to my future. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that honesty and integrity are to be valued above all else.” Some Work, Some Play All four of the boys will tell you that showing and caring for their goats isn’t all work either. John Mark Huff especially enjoys checking on the goats and having the chance to play with them. His brother Andrew says the goats are a way to step away from the hectic pace of life for a little while. Plus, they have given him the opportunity to work in 4-H. “4-H has been key to the enjoyment of my work because it gives you the chance to put work into action,” he says. “4-H also provides excellent opportunities to help others and share the work we do.” As they look to the future, the Huff boys know that their experiences on the farm will play a big role in their career decisions, whether they follow a path into foreign missions, engineering, medicine, ag economics or even politics. “There will always be times in life, in work, or any other aspect of life when I might feel ready to quit or give up what I am doing,” says Andrew Huff. “That is when perseverance comes in. And it’s a lesson I am glad to have learned on the farm.”

See Also:  Weathering the Storm

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