Firefighter to Farmer: A Childhood Dream Turned Reality

Listen to how this North Carolina farmer says he “got lucky” and became a farmer on this week's episode of The First Years podcast. ( Farm Journal )

Russell Hedrick didn’t grow up on a farm. His grandfather had 20 acres of pastureland and a few cows, but from a young age he was intrigued by agriculture and dreamt of being a farmer. 

When it came time to graduate from high school, Hedrick considered being a police officer, but because you have to wait until you’re 21-years-old, he decided to go to the fire academy. He started a career as a firefighter but the desire to be a farmer still burned in his heart. In 2012 he had the opportunity to farm 30 acres. Since that time, he has slowly grown his operation to just over 900 acres and a few years ago he traded in his firefighting helmet for full time farming. 

Today, Hedrick’s operation is diverse. He grows corn, soybeans and small grains using no-till and cover crops. He also raises hogs and cattle. In addition, he’s ventured into the distilling business, leaning on a family history of making moonshine.   

His biggest challenge? Having enough time in the day. 

The worst advice he’s received on his journey? That you have to own a 150-horsepower tractor and a 20 ft disc. Neither of which he could afford at the time he was given that advice. 

Listen to how Hedrick says he “got lucky” and became a farmer.