where taking care of your herd is a way of life
For Donnie and Bricklee Miller of Starkville, raising beef cattle is not just a hobby but a lifestyle. Born in the cattle business, Donnie learned the ropes of raising cattle from his father, who operated the stockyard in Starkville. Since then, the Millers have grown their operation to nearly 1,000 stocker calves and 250 cows at its peak.
Along with Donnie’s strong roots in the cattle industry, Bricklee grew up in the business. Her grandfather built an order-buying barn and the largest stockyard east of the Mississippi in Meridian. It was only natural that she and Donnie make a fitting pair.
“We bonded over our love for cattle,” Bricklee said. “We share the same passion and enjoy keeping the family business going.”
Just as producing any agricultural commodity, raising beef cattle is a complex business with many challenges. The Millers understand it is a trying job that is so much more involved than people realize. From getting up early to study markets to evaluating their herd health program, the list goes on and on.
“It’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing cattle market,” Donnie explained. “Along with everyday duties, you have to know when and where to market cattle, the timing of planting grass, when to fertilize, the best time to cut hay, how much hay you’ll need for a season, and where will it come from?”
“With cattle being our main source of income, we depend on this for our family’s livelihood,” Bricklee said. “ It’s really important to have a valuable partner that believes in us and knows the effort we put in. We have that trust in Mississippi Land Bank. It’s only because of their partnership and belief in us that we have been able to be so successful.”
where building your home and starting your business intersect
Meet Michael and Andrea Gibson, owners of RAW Furniture Co. in downtown Tupelo. They were first introduced to Mississippi Land Bank in September 2014 when Michael built their barndominium-style home.
“He didn’t even own a hammer at the time,” Andrea said. “But once he bought some tools and the materials, he learned how to build the barn using YouTube videos.” This sparked Michael’s interest in woodworking and working with his hands.
“Andrea and I talked about the possibility of making a living out of this, and RAW was born,” Michael said. Since their first loan five years ago, the Gibsons have bought more land and built another barn where he builds custom furniture and household items.
“When I first thought of Land Bank, farming came to mind,” Michael said. “I didn’t know it was possible for them to help us build a home in the country. The guys at the Tupelo branch have gone above and beyond to make this an enjoyable process for us and to make sure we were doing what was best for us and our business.”