‘Farmer of the Year’ honored

The San Saba-Brady Soil Conservation District has selected a 30-year-old farm boy down at Voca as the district’s “outstanding conservation farmer of 1958.” He is Marion F. (Peanut) Deans, who helped turn a worn-out 251-acre sandy land farm into a highly profitable organization. In recognition of the honor, the Brady Lions Club presented Deans with a plaque during the club’s weekly luncheon Thursday. More than 100 Lions Clubs throughout the state cooperate in recognizing outstanding cooperators in the state’s soil conservation districts. Through the program, outstanding conservationists are honored, and at the same time businessmen are given a chance to become acquainted with the work of soil conservation districts. Deans farmed in partnership with his father, John F. Deans, until buying out his father’s interest last year. His dad bought the Voca farm for $11 an acre back in 1940, but Marion “would not sell now for $200 an acre’I might not find at buyer at that price, but I wouldn’t sell.” Even the Soil Conservation Service admits it’s not very good land: “coarse textured top soil with slowly permeable sandy clay subsoil, hilly and susceptible to wind and water erosion.” But Deans and his Voca neighbors are making it some of the most valuable farm land in the county. Graduating from Brady High School at Mid-term in 1947, Deans started college but quit after a month, got married (Betty Landry of Mason), and began farming with his father. Things are looking up now, but Deans and his family have weathered some rough years since 1947. “One year all we sold was eight bales of cotton and three to five calves. We were just living,” he says. Voca’s sandy soil has been farmed for more than 50 years. Deans’ grandfather came to Voca from Arkansas more than 80 years ago, and Deans and his father were both born at Voca. With no capital, Deans took the sandy soil’rolling and hilly’and began trying to build it up. Soil samples sent to the Extension Service helped some, but of course, could indicate what was needed only in general terms. To supplement the Extension Service’s test, Deans ordered a “tissue testing kit” he found advertised in a livestock catalog and started careful experiments with fertilizers, keeping detailed records of the types and quantities of fertilizer and the yields he got. The record keeping is something he learned back in his high school Future Farmer days activities, which won him the Santa Fe Award in 1949, the FFA’s coveted American Farmer Degree and a trip to the National FFA convention in Kansas City. His work has paid off in bumper crops: ‘490 pounds of ling per acre of cotton in 1957 (The county average is 125 pounds.) ’60 bushels of corn per acre “and I don’t see any reason why I can’t produce 100 bushels.” (The county average is 10 bushels.) ‘1,650 pounds of peanuts per acre. (The county average is 500 pounds.) ‘400 bushels of sweet potatoes per acre. “We don’t pick up everything or it would run up to 600 bushels.” Irrigation was the turning point in Deans’ success’and the success of other Voca farmers. He drilled his first well in 1954 and began pumping in March 1955. “That was the first year he had a good crop. We had nothing until we got water. ” The first well produced 135 gallons per minute’a fair well but only enough to irrigate about 20 acres at a time. He solved that problem by digging two tanks which gave him a supply of water big enough to irrigate 50 to 70 acres. Deans keeps the tanks stocked with fish, too’to provide recreation and food’a fair trade for the loss of the land the tanks occupy. * * * Pre-dawn fire damages house The home of Mrs. Ben Strickland at 505 West Walker, was badly damaged by fire about 5 a.m. Thursday. S.P. Tomlinson Jr., was on his way to work, saw the flames and turned in the alarm. The back porch and the kitchen, where the blaze apparently started, was gutted, but the other rooms suffered only severe smoke damage. No one was at home at the time. Mrs. Strickland, whose husband died recently, told firemen she had been staying with friends about two weeks. * * * Houston signs Brady fullback Dan Gandy, Brady High School’s great fullback last season, has signed a letter of intent with the University of Houston. Hank Watkins, UH assistant coach, got Dan’s signature on the dotted line last Saturday. Gandy amassed a fabulous yardage-gained record last season as the Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to the Liberty Panthers on Kyle Field at Texas A&M College. He was chosen on the all-district team, and received all-state honorable mention in Class AA. At the University of Houston, Gandy will join another Brady High School athlete, Bobby Weise, a junior student and track star for the Cougars. Last fall for the Bulldogs, Gandy had an average of 7.68 yards per carry in 228 times with the ball for a total of 1,751 yards gained’probably an all-time record at Brady High. He is the grand son of Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Duncan of Calf Creek. * * * Fife News We are getting showers this morning and have hopes for good rains before it is over. This area received from one-half to an inch of rain last week but the high winds soon took out most of the surface moisture. Mrs. W.L. Robinson and Miss Minnie Kelley of Brady visited last week with Mrs. L.M. Farmer and Mr. and Mrs. Tom Hickman. They enjoyed fishing one morning at the Carroll Hodges Lake on the Colorado River. * * * Rochelle Club to hold Spring dinner The Rochelle Study Club will hold its annual Spring Dinner Tuesday evening, May 12, at 8 o’clock at the Community Center. Homemaking students of Rochelle High School and their sponsor, Mrs. L.A. Bryson, will have charge of serving. Officers for the next club year will be installed by Mrs. Richard Moseley, president of the 6th District Federation of Women’s Clubs. Mrs. H.E. Price, club president, will announce and present awards. The MacDowell Music Club of Brady will furnish the program for the evening. * * * Lohn News The high winds from the south Monday gave us hopes of rain to follow but only sprinkles had come Tuesday morning as this was mailed. The sliding door on the Fred Lohn barn was blown off Monday and damaged due to the winds. And probably other minor damages occurred which we have not learned. Mr. and Mrs. John L. Slaughter Jr., Jimmy, Randy and Kay of Angleton were weekend guests of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Browning. Calling Saturday night were Mr. and Mrs. G.R. Browning and their guest, Arnold Browning of Amarillo. Mrs. H.W. Huie accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bratton to Lubbock for a weekend visit with Mr. and Mrs. Gene Bratton and baby daughter, Helen Elizabeth. * * * PERSONAL MENTIONS Here from El Paso Mr. and Mrs. Warren Burns and children, Cindy and Towny of El Paso, left Wednesday after visiting his grandmother, Mrs. Bob Burns and aunts, Misses Jennie and Dorothy Burns and other friends. They plan to visit friends and Mrs. Burn’s relatives in Eden before returning home. * * * Here from San Angelo Mrs. J.D. Branscum and Mrs. Joe D. Miller had as guests Sunday, their aunt, Mrs. David H. Moore, and daughter, Mrs. Lillian M. Newman, of San Angelo.

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