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Posted: February 26, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Couple cultivate roots of local agriculture

It all started with agriculture.

Crystal Powell was a senior in high school and she was the first in her family to discover a passion in agriculture. Danny Hyatt was also a senior in high school, and was also the first in his family to enjoy the field.

Both had met briefly when Powell would retrieve feed from the Newton County High School feed bin and the Farming Garden Depot, where Hyatt was working.
They became further acquainted at the cow shows featured at the Show Barn in Perry, Ga., where Hyatt had frequented since his freshmen year. It was Powell's second show and it was his fourth.

"He started helping me get the feel of everything when I went to the show," said Powell. "Whenever I would go to get feed, he would help me."
Since then, the new couple dove into the agriculture world.

She started working at the Newton County Farm Bureau; he went to work for a number of agricultural jobs, including Farming Garden Depot and Starsfield Plantation, before his current job at Bricton Farm.

Once Powell became a part of Future Farmers of America (now renamed Future Agriculturalists of America), Hyatt helped her become an officer of the Eastside chapter. She would ultimately become the president of the chapter by the time she graduated.

"The FFA chapter's program at Eastside wasn't as strong as the other chapters, so I just aggravated her enough about it, and she wanted to start doing all the stuff we were doing at Newton," said Hyatt. "And she just started from there."
They graduated at the same time, though she attended Eastside and he attended Newton.

"We have pretty much dedicated our entire lives to farming, especially now that we have cows of our own," said Powell. "We didn't have too much money to start off with, just a couple of jobs."

Eventually, they leased 10 acres pastures and bought two cows to begin a farm of their own. Purchasing their calves while the market prices were low gave them a perfect opportunity-with current market prices considerably higher, their calf sales have been profitable.

Their work and dedication to agriculture has continued to grow over the years.

About five months ago, they started the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Alumni. Both are involved in the Farm Bureau's Young Farmers, with Powell involved in the Women's Committee, which provides agriculture lessons in the classroom. Hyatt is now the President of the Newton High School FFA Alumni.

And just last week, Powell was promoted to office manager at the Farmer's Bureau.

Their farm has also been growing steadily. They now have a herd of 36 cattle. Hyatt hopes the herd will grow 200 strong.

"It really was rough at first," Powell said. "We had to dump a lot of money into it to get it going, with all the feed and hay and everything else. But we tried to do as much as we could by ourselves as possible. It was long, it was stressful, but it's turning out good."

Powell and Hyatt plan to keep expanding their farm, despite the high market prices. However, they are beginning to delve into two areas of the cattle business: commercial (for meat) and competition (for show purposes).

"My two sisters got involved in this after I did, and they show cows now," Powell said. "So we just let them show ours."

Hyatt tags along with Powell's sisters to help groom and maintain the show animals. They travel out of town 10 to 15 times a year to compete. They attended the Junior Nationals in Perry, Ga. yesterday and brought back fourth and fifth place awards.

With all of this on their plate-both work over 40 hours a week-they rarely afford a slow moment.

"We know we don't get to enjoy the normal things 21-year-olds enjoy," Powell said. "We'll have friends come over once in a while, but they usually hang out while we work."

Once they're done with their day job, it's back to work on the farm, from the evening to the early hours of the morning.

"Instead of going out or sitting on the couch and watching TV, we would be going to check on the cows and doing stuff on the farm together," Hyatt said. "That's how we spent our quality time together."

And they still have a September wedding to plan for.

"All the stuff we do wouldn't work without having the same interests," Hyatt said. "And making sacrifices is pretty much the only way you can do it.

Powell will be participating in the Farm Bureau's chicken barbecue fundraiser at Eastside High School on March 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are currently on presale for $8. About 100 tickets have been sold so far.

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