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3rd generation producer continues family legacy
CADARETTA, Miss. -- A 325-acre farm in northwest Webster County has never been owned by anyone but a Pittman.
Fran Pittman has designs on keeping it that way.
She and her husband, Alfred Pittman, have operated Pittman Farms -- part of which includes the land they refer to as “The Old Home Place” -- since they married in 1974.
A third-generation producer, Pittman farmed with her family on their land during her childhood in Cadaretta, where she would later meet her future husband and move over to his farm. She was living in Eupora and finishing a master’s degree at Mississippi State University when she married Alfred Pittman, but she would eventually live a mile down the road from where she grew up.
That was where Sir James Pittman was awarded 2,000 acres by the British monarchy in the 1700s, she explained. Through the generations, the family split up and sold pieces of the land.
“Sir James Pittman traveled from England through territory that is now the Carolinas and Georgia before settling where we are now,” she said. “The Home Place eventually came to Alfred. His mother was a Pittman and married someone else with the same last name, so the farm stayed in the Pittman name.”
The Pittmans produce cotton, soybeans, corn and beef cattle on that property and on more than 4,000 acres in nearby Calhoun and Montgomery counties.
Two full-time employees and some 20 temporary workers will soon be helping them harvest their latest cotton crop.
Cotton harvest season is a sun-up-to-sun-down affair for a month to six weeks. On a typical day, everyone leaves the shop at 7 a.m. Once they get to the fields, they put oil and gas in their pickers, module builders and tractors. They begin running them by 11 a.m. and do not stop until dew begins to form at dusk.
One of the couple’s employees is their son, Craig Pittman, who also recently started his own sweet potato enterprise. Fran Pittman said he will take over the farming operation when she and her husband retire.
Webster County Extension agent Lisa Stewart works closely with Fran Pittman. As a 4-H member, Stewart was on a livestock judging team with members of Pittman’s family.
“I have seen firsthand the amount of time and detail Fran and Alfred devote to their farming operation,” Stewart said. “They work well together, and it shows in their successes. They have a sense of pride, and they set a high standard you can almost feel just by being around them.”
Pittman enjoys simple rituals such as feeding her cows each morning, but she said harvest season is one of her favorite times of the year, even with its challenges.
“I love the simplicity of farm life, even though the industry is far from simple and technology continues to advance,” she said. “Everybody is working hard during harvest and planting season, but it’s our lives, and it’s all we know. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”