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A man's reflection

Dan Smith relishes the past while embracing the future.

Shelley E. Huguley, Editor

February 28, 2020

3 Min Read
Shelley E. Huguley

It's High Cotton! This is one of our favorite times of the year at Farm Press. Annually, we honor U.S. peanut and cotton growers for not only their yields but how efficiently they produce those crops. The Peanut Efficiency Award is presented in July. But this month, it's cotton's turn. Four cotton growers from across the Cotton Belt will receive the Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton award.

As agricultural editors, we visit with countless growers each year. We know firsthand this nation is farmed by the best of the best. So, when we get to spotlight one grower in particular, it's an honor!

See, High Cotton winner has seen 45 years of change

The 2020 Southwest winner is Dan Smith. As I sat around his kitchen table in the home where he's lived since he was one, he and his wife Reeda Cay talked about their 45 years of farming near Lockney, Texas. We discussed everything from the past to significant changes throughout his career to the future.

See, 2020 High Cotton winners exemplify faith and family

Prior to lunch, the couple walked me through Dan's office, formerly Reeda Cay's sunroom. As they pointed out different items, they explained their significance. For example, he has shelves filled with model tractors. Each of the "toy tractors" represents a tractor Dan owns or owned, including those his father, Bryan Smith, once owned.


Reeda Cay and Dan Smith pose in front of the model tractors in Dan's office. He has one for every tractor he has owned, including some his father owned.

On the wall, Dan points to a photo of himself as a child with his father, standing by their 1963 Chevy pickup; his dad with his arm wrapped around Dan's young shoulders. Within the same frame, is another photo of Dan and his father standing in the same spot, only 25 years later, in front of a 1988 Ford.


Next, Dan directs me to a picture frame that includes his father's 1961 stock certificate in the Sterley Gin, along with one of his bale tags. Dan's father owned the gin along with nine other men. The plant, which ginned 8 to 10 bales per hour, was a half-mile from Dan's home. "I grew up bicycling back and forth." All that remains today is the foundation.

But also, on display in Dan's office is an antique clock that once hung in the Sterley FW&D Railroad Depot. The railroad, built in the late 1920s near his farmhouse, was a junction of four lines from Fort Worth to Denver. Following our interview, as I looked at the picture I took of the clock, I not only remembered its poignant tick-toc, but I noticed Dan's reflection in the glass covering the clock.


How telling. While Dan is a history buff about Lockney, agriculture and his restored 1969 Chevy Chevelle, he also embraces the future. Change is inevitable. But rather than demand time stand still, Dan has welcomed it, even adopted it, something that has not only yielded success on his farm but paved a path for generations to come. Congratulations, Dan and Reeda Cay! Job well done!

To learn more about Dan and Reeda Cay, see their photo gallery, Cotton: 'lifeblood' for Lockney, Texas farmers.

About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife, she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such as Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

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