Betty Evans of Braman, Okla. Recognized as a Significant Woman in Oklahoma's Agriculture IndustryMon, 02 Apr 2018 12:36:15 CDT
As part of a continuing series of stories on Significant Women in Oklahoma Agriculture, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry and Oklahoma State University are recognizing and honoring the impact of countless women across all 77 counties of the state, from all aspects and areas of the agricultural industry. The honorees were nominated by their peers and selected by a committee of 14 industry professionals. This week Betty Evans of Braman, Okla. is featured this week as a Significant Woman in Oklahoma Agriculture.
“It’s just what farmers do.”
Betty Evans never considered other people may see her as an inspiration, a tremendous worker, or a pillar in their community. Though she is well-known for going above and beyond what is expected of her, she simply laughs and says “I just do what needs to be done.”
She has been a farm girl from the time she was born. Her parents had a farm “3 east and 5 south” of Caldwell, Kansas. When she was very young, her parents purchased another farm just a few miles south of the Kansas line in Braman, Okla. Though they continued to farm both farms, Braman became the home community she would keep for many years to come.
Evans recalled fond memories growing up on her family farm.
“I remember when I was little bitty playing in the wheat truck; I thought I was working to keep it from going over the edge, but really I think they were just keeping me out of the way,” laughed Evans.
Times were different in the farming she grew up in. There was no electricity, no central heat and air, and no propane-fueled stoves. Evans said they used gas lanterns for light, opened their doors and windows in the summer to let a breeze cool the house, and her father chopped wood from old hedge trees to fuel the wood-burning stove.
“I remember when we first got electricity,” Evans said. “I was 10 years old when we got a refrigerator for the first time, and I thought it was the neatest thing that a little light came on when you opened it.”
Even without the numerous amenities we enjoy in life today, Evans had everything she wanted.
“I had pet chickens, ducks, calves, puppies and kittens,” Evans said. “I played outside on the farm, because that’s what you did back then. Nowadays, kids have computers, they wouldn’t understand.”
Those who know her say she works hard just like her mother always did.
“She’s a heck of a hard-working woman,” said Ron Shoffner, a neighbor of Evans.
Until recently “retiring,” Evans has always worked hard in the field. Though her definition of retired seems a little different than most. She can still be seen in a ball cap and jeans moving machinery from field to field, hauling truckloads of grain to the elevator during harvest, and out feeding their herd of Black Angus Cattle.
“She’s one of the most hard-working women in production agriculture,” Jerry Frieouf said. “She can feed bales as fast as someone can unload them.”
Evans and her husband had three children, Steve Evans, Frank Evans and Diana Evans Backus who were raised on their farm.
Farming along the river has come with its fair share of struggles though.
“It has flooded us out a few time,” Evans said, “It hasn’t happened in several years now, but when it did we lost a lot of our crop.”
Weather is one of the biggest unknowns for farmers. Worrying about rain and natural disasters comes with the territory. And so are fluctuating market prices.
“The price of wheat has gone way down,” Evans said, “Last year the crop wasn’t very good, and it hurt everybody.”
She said you just have to save from year to year, you struggle, but you get through it.
Despite the challenges it has brought, Evans has never entertained the idea of leaving her beloved farming.
Her son Frank was paralyzed in a car accident his senior year, and though her husband left soon after, Evans stood strong. With help from her kids, their family and farm not only survived, but prospered.
Those who know her say her unwavering dedication to keep the farm going is perhaps one of her most admirable qualities.
“Her love for the farm, her love for her family, the way she kept the farm going despite the adversity she was facing,” Frieouf said, “She’s an unbelievable person, truly,”
Evans said she couldn’t have done it without the help and support of her family, especially her kids.
Her son Steve now primarily runs the 320 acres of land as well as his own farm, Frank enjoys helping his mother check cattle, and Diana is always there to call on when they need help.
Even though the farm was a large responsibility, Evans always made time to be involved with the community.
“She’s a great lady,” said Shoffner. “I hold her in the highest regard. I imagine she’s done even more for this town than she will tell you.”
Evans served as City Clerk for 20 years before becoming the current City Treasurer. In those roles, she has helped Braman obtain grants for waterlines, a water tower, streets, a swimming pool, and a park.
“She’s a superwoman,” said Jerry Johnston, former Mayor of Braman. “She worked all day with me then went home to work on the farm.”
She also cooked at a restaurant called the Oklahoman, known to locals as “the Okie,” for over 20 years.
Evans is a member of the First United Methodist Church where she is a member of the women’s church group. She is also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, and even manages to make time for some fun card games with what she and her friends call the “Variety Fun Club.”
When asked what she loves most about her small town, she said the people who make it a community.
That support along with her persistence define her dedication to agriculture.
“That’s just the way I was raised,” Evans said, “You keep going; it’s just what farmers do.”
Source - Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry
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