"I Have Big Dreams for this Place"Posted on Jun 23, 2022
To say Catlin Young wears many hats would be an understatement. This recent Murray State University (MSU) agri-business graduate/first-time farm owner/University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment Weed Science Technician/social media blogger/animal lover is blending these many roles to accomplish her mission of carrying on a family farming tradition.
But it is her title of “granddaughter” that she seems to be the proudest of. Because it is her grandfather, Henry Birrell, who is helping to guide her through the art of growing crops, tending animals, and taking care of the land that has given her a love of agriculture and the farm life.
“At first, when in middle school, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but decided to go into the agribusiness track at MSU,” she said. “From there I applied for an internship at UK’s Grain [and Forage] Center of Excellence research farm, which turned into a part-time job while I was still in college, and just recently it has become full-time.”
Young said she has learned so much in her research job and uses that knowledge on her own farm, but it is the family farm, and working with her grandfather every day, that has been the real learning experience.
“As soon as I’m off work, I head to the farm to work with Papa,” she said. “He has taught me so much and I really love working with him and beside him.”
Birrell hails from Zimbabwe, where he operated a large farm before coming to this country in 1983 to carry on the tradition.
“I’m very proud of Catlin and what she has accomplished,” he said. “But the whole thing about being on the farm is, it has its ups and downs, and you have to remember the downs and cherish the rest. She certainly has the right attitude for it and is enthusiastic about farming. She will do well.”
Young recently purchased her first farm and is utilizing the lessons learned at work, in school, and especially from her grandfather to manage it properly.
“I have about 35 acres of tillable land here on my farm and my Papa is teaching me how to grow the crops,” she said. “I also have about 30 sheep and lambs, and we have cattle on the farm, as well.”
Young’s love for her animals is likely second only to her family and is easy to see when she heads out at feeding time.
“I want to grow my flock of sheep to 200 someday,” she said. “They’re my babies and I love being with them.”
While working beside her grandfather and being involved in agriculture has taken precedence in her life, Catlin regularly shares the experience on various platforms through her “A Growers' Granddaughter” blog and social media posts.
“One of the reasons I started my blog is because you see so much misinformation about agriculture online so, I wanted to get the real story out about farming and explain why we do certain things the way we do it,” she said.
Young also shares those special moments on the farm such as photos of newborn calves or lambs. With her excitement about sharing the farming life with others, she may have to add “teacher” to her long list of job responsibilities.
As for the future, Young wants to continue in her grandfather's footsteps while achieving the dreams she has for her farm. In one of her blog postings, she writes about her grandfather, “I have seen how much he has grown on his own for the last 22 years of my life. I see his love for his cattle, his crops, and his farm and family.”
Young possesses that same love, perhaps learned but most likely inherited and she wants nothing more than to continue this long-standing family tradition.
“It’s incredibly important to me to work with my grandfather, and my grandparents have been so supportive,” she said. “I have a long list of things I want to accomplish on my farm, and I think you have to dream big. And I have big dreams for this place!”
To learn more about Catlin Young and her family farm, go to agrowersgranddaughter.com.