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The Great Tractor Giveaway

Greene Farmers Co-op member Gary Rector is sweepstakes winner
Story by Glen Liford, Photos by Sarah Geyer, Glen Liford, and Chris Villines 10/1/2018


Greene Farmers Cooperative member Gary Rector, sitting on the tractor, was the winner of Co-op’s “The Great Tractor Giveaway” mineral promotion. Celebrating with Gary are, from left, son Dustin, brother Dwayne, wife Linda, and twins Austin and Katelynn. Dwayne’s wife Mary and children James and Geordyn are not pictured.
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When Gary Rector received the call notifying him that he was the lucky winner in Co-op’s “The Great Tractor Giveaway” mineral promotion, he thought someone was playing a joke on him. But after Greene Farmers Co-op’s Gary Shelton convinced him that he was indeed the winner of a brand new John Deere 5055E utility tractor with a H240 loader, he couldn’t believe his luck.

“I went back and looked at the ad in The Cooperator to read the details about the tractor,” says Gary, who says he saves back issues of the magazine for reference. “I called Dwayne [his brother], but we were afraid to tell anyone until the tractor got here. It just seemed unreal.”

Gary says he was well aware of the contest, but figured he and Dwayne didn’t have much of a chance to win.

“I really thought one of those farmers with hundreds of cattle would win it,” he says. “We were shocked when it was us.”

Only one entry was drawn for the tractor out of the thousands that were entered, says John Houston, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative feed and animal health sales manager.

Since August 1, 2017, each bag of Co-op mineral has earned its purchaser a chance in the drawing. Other folks who sent in their name and contact information were also included in the drawing. The John Deere tractor was the grand prize, but there were also three other winners — one in each of the state’s grand divisions — who received a 165-bushel creep feeder made by Tarter Farm and Ranch Equipment. The winners of the three creep feeders were Wendell Williams, Manchester, Coffee Farmers Co-op; George Akans, Rutledge, Grainger Farmers Co-op; and Casey Little of Hazel, Ky., Henry Farmers Co-op.

In an odd turn of events, Gary wasn’t the only person affiliated with Greene Farmers Cooperative to win a tractor in August. Co-op Manager Matthew Horne also won a red International tractor at the Greene County Fair. He got the call just a week before being notified of Gary’s good fortune in the Co-op mineral contest.

“When they called me, I couldn’t believe it,” says Matthew. “But my prize was just a toy pedal tractor. I have a 22-month-old son, and I thought I was incredibly lucky to win that for him. But then we learned about Gary winning the contest. I couldn’t imagine winning a real tractor.”

Gary says the new John Deere will be put to good use. He and Dwayne, along with their father, James, farm the family’s 122 acres along with 80 leased acres where they have a herd of 50 commercial brood cows and 25 or so calves. They also raise hay. The Rectors have both received their Advanced Master Beef Certification and made improvements to their operation using Tennessee Ag Enhancement Program funds. The

Rector’s mineral program includes Co-op Foundation Cattle Mineral (#663MA), Foundation Hi Mag Cattle Mineral (#675MA), and Foundation IGR Cattle Mineral with Rumensin (#96254MA).

Though they hadn’t yet gotten the tires dirty on the new tractor, Gary says the family is itching to give the new machine a try.  It joins an existing John Deere and a Ford tractor the brothers currently own.

“We may get so used to that green paint that we have to trade in the old blue one on another John Deere,” he says.

Surprise was a common theme among the creep feeder winners, too, and each one is looking forward to seeing the increased benefits their herd will receive as the feeders allow them to more easily get their calves off to a good start. 

“I’m pretty excited about winning this,” says Henry Farmers Cooperative customer Casey Little, who notes that this is the first year he has fed Co-op Supreme Cattle Mineral (#678). “I think [the creep feeder and the mineral] will make a big difference in my operation. It should help my calves, and my older cows with body condition and take stress off of them while they’re milking.”

Casey has been raising livestock for his professional rodeo business for eight years. He does eight Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) and two college rodeos each year. He raises some 300 head of livestock for the venture, and he also has about 40 brood cows. He grew up on a farm in Illinois and came to Murray State University in 2001 to attend school, where he also competed on the rodeo team. After graduation, he ended up buying a farm of his own in Hazel, Ky.

“I had been just grazing my cows on grass and weaning their calves off of them,” says Casey. “Now I can give them a head start before weaning and transition them to feed. They should be able to gain a little more weight.”

Wendell Williams learned of his good fortune after TFC Livestock Specialist Rick Syler called Wendell’s wife Renee to tell her the family had won.

“She just told me that we had won a feeder,” says Wendell. “Since it had to do with minerals, I just thought it was a mineral feeder. When Rick told me it was a creep feeder, I was tickled to death. I only had a small 600- to 800-pound feeder. This will save me a lot of time. I can get the Co-op to fill it up and be done with it.”

Saving time is important for Wendell, who has a cow/calf operation with 29 mama cows and 52 acres to farm. When he isn’t farming, he works full time at the Nissan plant in Decherd. And with daughter Brittany attending Middle Tennessee State University and son Tyler going to Motlow State Community College, farm help can be difficult to come by.

“It can get hard at times, especially during hay season,” says Wendell. “And in the winter months when you feed, it’s always at night with a flashlight.”

He uses the Co-op Supreme Mineral (#678), and says his cattle “slick off real good in the springtime on that mineral.”

“They do very well with it,” he says.

Grainger Farmers Cooperative member George Akans, the East Tennessee winner, uses Co-op Foundation IGR Cattle Mineral with Rumensin (#96254 MA); Supreme Cattle Mineral (#678); and Supreme Cattle Mineral (#96622) and Supreme Hi-Mag Cattle Mineral (#96623) both with Altosid. His herd consists of 68 black Angus mama cows and around 36 heifers. He also raises hay and haylage.

“The mineral does a good job for us,” says George, who also has a construction business in addition to his farming interests. “The heifers are really looking good this year.”

George says he appreciates winning the creep feeder and all the help he receives from his local Co-op and Manager Burl Matthews.

“I was aware of the contest, but didn’t give it much thought,” admits George. “Some people don’t think you can win these contests, but you can.”

For those who weren’t among the lucky winners in this year’s contest, take heart. In August, Co-op launched a new mineral promotion entitled “The Golden Ticket Contest.” From now until July 31, 2019, a “golden ticket” will be placed in 36 select bags of minerals throughout the year. Ticket holders will receive a special Co-op gift pack worth more than $500 that will include a 26-quart Orca cooler and a chance to win a John Deere Gator. All purchasers of Co-op cattle mineral, the 36 ticket winners, and anyone who sends their name and contact information will be entered to win the John Deere XUV560E Gator valued at $10,000. The Gator will be given away by Aug. 15, 2019. See the mineral ad on pg. 2 of this issue for more details.

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