To get a true understanding of how we got to this point you have to know the people behind it. I am Chad Ray, son of George and Betty Ray. My wife is Jodi, daughter of Butch and Beverly Harris. Both of these families are local to Wake and Franklin Counties NC. When I say local, I mean over 9 generations within 50 miles of each other. Each of our parents was born into families that were sustenance and career farmers. Meaning they grew their own food and sold what was left and tobacco to make a living. Most would say that “living” was poor. However, they would say that they were all rich beyond imagination with a love and devotion to their respective family. Both Jodi’s and my father raised tobacco in our childhood. Both our mothers worked outside the home but worked all year helping raise the crops as well.
Several generations of our families have always been interdependent of each other at the same time. It’s the roots that grow deeper than a 200 foot pine that holds one together in tough times. We were all raised to appreciate God’s blessings no matter in what form they came. I myself have never been a “dirt farmer” as we say. I am a homebuilder by trade. A craft I have been taught by my parents also. We all still work together building wonderful sustainable and energy efficient homes today as well. Over time the pieces began to fall into place with everyone’s help. My love for family farming took a while to catch up to everyone else’s.
My father in law passed away in February 2014. What he taught us will never be forgotten. Mema beverly lets us use some of his farm machinery and we have purchased some of our own. We raise hay and a few vegetables about 10 miles away at the Harris’s home. Our farm is located in Bunn, NC. Bunn is a typical southern small town where neighbors check on each other from time to time and always when someone needs a hand. Our farm here is about 220 acres. Our farm is small to some, large to others, but just right for us.
All of the fields have been converted back to pasture after row crop tobacco for a long time. We are now able to raise our own hay and have good rotation for our livestock. our goal one day through intensive grazing is to not need hay at all. We have reduced all nitrogen and soil run off through our extensive conservation practices we have in place. We keep about 10 acres tilled for our produce although always stabilized year round. We have 20 acres planted in native switch grass and wildflowers around our property borders. This provides year round nesting and cover for all types of wildlife.
We still have so much to do, but we know it takes time to do things right. Jodi and I are very thankful to be raised by such wonderful people. We are all building something special at Ray Family farms. This bible verse is something we have always tried to live by.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it, When you have it with you.
Proverbs 3: 28