Some of the land is forested and additional land is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. The timber includes about 836 acres of pine trees and 65 acres of hardwoods. Sawtooth oaks have been planted as borders to support wildlife. They also use a forester to help market the trees. Current plans call for thinning the pines twice before taking a final sawtimber cut.

Annie has improved soil quality, especially soil organic matter, through no-till planting. She has also improved soil quality by adding lime and chicken litter. Roundup Ready technology has boosted control of sicklepod and hemp sesbania.

Annie and Mike also use cover crops to increase organic matter, improve water-holding capacity and improve erosion control. In addition to traditional covers such as rye, wheat, clover and oats, they have also planted radishes and sunn hemp as cover crops.

Beef cattle at Dee River Ranch include about 711 cows and 58 bulls. Annie and Mike increased the number of calves weaned and raised by paying close attention to nutrition and taking a stand against coyote predators.

“We sell cows that do not produce and raise a live calf every year,” says Annie. “We have increased the number of brood cows, and now have a productive and efficient herd.” They’ve built new cattle handling facilities and have stabilized the soil around feeding and watering areas. They use electronic identification on all their cattle so that cattle can be traced back to the farm if there is ever a disease concern. “This is an attempt to give credibility to the cattle producer starting right here on my farm,” says Annie.

After studying agriculture at Clemson University, she started working on the family land in Inverness, Fla., where her first job was sanding and painting rusty gates.

In 1989, the family sold this land to the Southwest Florida Water Management District where it is now used to recharge aquifers that provide water for Tampa and St. Petersburg. After selling their Florida land, the family purchased the land in West Central Alabama where Dee River Ranch is now headquartered.

Annie is active locally in New Era Arts Club, Pickens County Farmers Federation, Pickens County Cattlewomen’s Association, Aliceville Gardeners and Corpus Christi Catholic Church. She and Mike have hosted school children, farm-city groups and others touring their farm.

On the state level, she has won the Alabama Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award. She has partnered with the Alabama Rural Medical Scholars program. She has served on statewide wheat and feed grains and soybean committees. She serves on the Alabama Soybean & Corn Association board. She also served as chaplain of the Alabama Cattlewomen’s Association.

Her farm has been recognized by USDA for its conservation. She has been on an international marketing committee for the United Soybean Board. The farm was also recognized with an environmental stewardship award for the Southeast.