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Future bright at Shiny C Farm in Fall Branch

At Shiny C Farm in Fall Branch, Texas Longhorn cattle graze, corn reaches toward the sun and 7-year-old Cheyenne Cox rides the tractor with her father, Brent, as he works the land.
The “C” is for Cheyenne, Brent and Jeri Cox’s daughter, who has taken her special seat on her dad’s tractor ever since she was a toddler.
The “Shiny” is for her bubbly personality, a happy energy both parents say motivates them as they work to establish a sustainable family farm.
Successful farming nowadays is no small task, says Brent from their Jonesborough Farmers Market booth, where he sells his Shiny C Farm’s signature grass-fed Texas Longhorn beef – especially when you also work full time.
Brent and Jeri both work at Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport. That leaves little time to devote to their long-term goal of building the farm into a self-supporting enterprise.
“If I’m not at work, I’m out there on the farm,” Brent said simply.
For the most part, though, he doesn’t mind. “I used to hunt a lot. And some of the guys I work with like to go out and golf or fish. I just like to farm.”
“To be blunt, it’s in his blood,” Jeri said. “If he lives long enough, he will make this dream a reality.”
That dream has deep roots. Brent spent much of his childhood growing up on his grandfather’s dairy farm, not far from the Fall Branch land where Shiny C Farm operates today. “I grew up milking cows and doing farm work,” he said. “And I’ve always had a few head of cattle of my own.”
That hobby evolved into a business plan shortly after Brent’s grandfather passed away. Soon, the family began taking on different projects at the farm. It made sense, Brent said, to try a variety of farming strategies to see what would work best on that particular land. In addition to raising standard commercial beef cattle, they also began to specialize in direct-to-consumer sales of distinctively lean Texas Longhorns.
“I have high cholesterol,” Jeri said. “But he’s a beef-eater and doesn’t care much for chicken. We needed to find a middle ground.”
Longhorn meat has just a fraction of the fat found in typical ground beef, and about half the calories, according to data from Texas A&M University. It cooks slightly faster, the Coxes say, but otherwise requires no special preparation.
Also on the Coxes’ 700 acres is a second-year crop of corn, another one of Brent’s efforts to diversify the farm’s offerings to build long-term stability.
When that crop nearly failed last summer during a long dry spell, the hard reality of the agriculture business hit home.
“You’re so dependent on the weather,” Brent said. “Even if you’re knowledgeable, it can always throw you curveballs.”
But luck was on the family’s side. “We got rain in our area just in the nick of time,” Jeri said.
The first year’s corn crop was a success. This year, the Coxes have doubled their acreage in corn and added 400 acres of hay.
At home with his animals, especially the Longhorns, Brent sees great reward in the day-to-day work itself.
“It’s relaxing, to me. And [the cattle] are just pretty to look at,” he said. “I’ve had times where they’re looking at me with the sun setting between their horns and I’ve wished I had a camera. And I have some that are like pets. They’ll come right up to me.”
The experience as a whole has been well worth it. “It’s long hours, great risk, and a loss of leisure time, but the end result is great when things come together just right,” Jeri said. “It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while all the dots connect.”
Find Shiny C Farm products, like steaks, roasts, briskets, ribs, and hamburger at the Jonesborough Farmers Market. If they’re not in their big trailer, you will find Jeri sharing booth