For many years the Cindy and Doyle Buxkemper stayed mostly away from genetically modified seeds. They saved their own seeds, reducing the costs per bag to 15 $ instead of 350 $ for some GMO variety. But over time all of their neighbors switched to Round Up Ready cotton - plants genetically modified to survive exposure to glyphosate, the worlds most used herbicide that lets all other plants wither. Regular chemical drifts from their neighbors fields started to reduce the Buxkempers’ yield. So in 2013 they were forced to change to the much more expensive genetically modified seeds. And this year they had to invest 25000 dollar just for the seed on their 700 acres.
Doyle Buxkemper prides himself of being a very conservative farmer using his equipment for a long time and doing most of the repairs himself. This has helped him to keep the costs down and run a profitable business in most years. The four-row-stripper that was old in 2008 when I first visited still runs well. Last fall though Doyle bought another stripper with a guidance system, that keeps the machine on track with a higher precision and never gets tired. Again this stripper harvests four rows and Doyle bought it used. For their small farm a larger more expensive machine wouldn’t be financially viable.
Cindy Buxkemper runs the family’s module builder at night after a long day of work at her job in town. Like many small family farmers, Cindy needs to subsidize their farm with her job as a legal secretary. Although the farm turns a profit in most years, the town job is the safety net the Buxkempers’ need to live a comfortable life. It also provides health insurance that would be too expensive otherwise. Cindy started the town job after two bad years in a row had pushed the farm to the edge.
Cindy and Doyle Buxkemper run a small family cotton farm. In 2008 they farmed 900 acres but since have lost their lease on 200 acres. The Buxkempers’ decided to stay small without hiring labor or buying new, expensive machinery. During the harvest season Jimmy Angerer, a long time family friend of Cindys’ parents, helped the Buxkempers’ to bring in the harvest as Cindy was working a day job in town to supplement the farm income. Jimmy stoped working with them four years ago, when his Alzheimer became more severe and passed on in February of 2017. Now the Buxkempers’ son Drury helps on the farm, whenever he finds time besides his job as a lieutenant at the fire station.