Chapter 5: Farming & Sheep Operation

Allen joined his father, Will, in the farming and sheep operation. His father and his father's younger brother, Otto, had shared a flock of registered Shropshire Sheep, usual- ly show sheep. Allen would change the sheep operation to commercial sheep of Western ewes. Because of necessity Allen learned to shear sheep and he would shear small flocks for neighbors.

Allen also worked out a partnership with his uncle, David Latschar with the sheep. This partnership would tragically come to an end with the death of his uncle on December 23, 1967. By that time the flock would number over 650 ewes. It was then that his wife, Kay would become his partner in the farming operation. (61)

As Allen began to expand the sheep operation, having a good Border Collie was essen- tial and he always had a special dog. He really enjoyed working with Border Collies. For many years he raised and sold pups. He would spend many hours training the pure bred Collies. It was of extreme satisfaction that he showed off their skills. Richard Ratzlaff, who was minister of the Deer Creek Mennonite Church from 1948-1951, shared a story about Allen. Allen told him that he wanted to show him his two Border Collies and what they could do so, Allen climbed onto a fence and with hand signals, had the dogs divide a flock of sheep right down the middle. Richard commented, "That was the darnest thing!" (62)

Allen truly loved animals. While he was growing up. there were several cats and dogs around the farm. Allen had one cat that would routinely relax on his shoulders and hang around his neck while he was walking around the farm, doing chores.(63)

Allen continued working with his father until Will decided to retire. He slowly began acquiring land, beginning with twenty acres and building his farm to over 600 acres. His operation would include wheat along with oats, barley, row crops, and alfalfa. At one time 100 acres was in alfalfa because the hay provided winter feed for the sheep.(64) Allen utilized the wheat that was planted for wheat pasture for the sheep. Since he lambed in the fall as well as the spring, it was necessary to fence off much of the ground that was in wheat production. It was roughly around 500 acres.(65) In 1977 Allen became a member of the Oklahoma Wheat Grower's Association.

With the farming and sheep operation expanding, it became necessary to have more manpower, beside the help provided by the Moyer sons. Allen would hire young men to help during the summer, especially for harvest. A favorite of the Moyer family because of his good-nature , sense of humor, and work ethic was David Pittman, younger cousin of Allen. David was the youngest son of Ruth Latschar Pittman and Oakley Pittman. The following is taken from a letter by David:

As a teenager and young man I enjoyed working summers in Deer Creek first for Dave and Mary, then for Allen and Kay. Many of my fondest memories are the times I spent with Allen. I remember him climbing to the very top of the barn during hay season to work on the pulleys that lifted a bundle of loose hay from a wagon into the barn loft thinking I would NEVER climb that high. One summer when I was 19 or 20 there was a bumper hay crop and Allen and I spent many pleasant days pitching and stacking bales of hay in barns all over the countryside. Somehow I seemed to do all of the pitching and he just moved the bales around a little. Allen had a machine that was attached to the bed of a hay truck that had 2 clawlike arms that would grab a bale and lift it and throw it into the bed of the truck. Allen drove and I stacked. The machine would throw the bale further and faster depending on the speed of the truck. Occasionally Allen would get bored driving real slow so he would speed up and the bale would be thrown hard enough to nearly knock me off the truck. He would laugh at my attempts to stay upright and tell me to move faster.(66)

David also included a story of Allen teaching him to swim.

When I was 9 or 10 he found out I didn't know how to swim and decided it was time for me to learn. There was a swimming hole on the Chikaskia River and he put me on his shoulders. We got to the middle of the river where it was deep and he ducked under and left me floundering. He told me to paddle and I did so that's how I learned to swim.(67)

David ended with this very touching sentiment of Allen. "Allen was a fine man and a good friend. I treasure my memories of him." (68)

Allen was a very respected farmer. Chuck & Jerry remember area farmers coming to him for advice on farming related matters. He was always willing to lend a helping hand to others.

Innovative would be a word that would describe Allen. He was never afraid to try new things. As a partner with his dad, he brought the farming into the twentieth century. His dad farmed with horses and Allen had worked with them. He harvested with binders and threshing machines, but he experienced the great joy of progress with the introduction of a combine. It was a small tractor driven Allis Chalmers with a six foot header. He would later own an International Harvester 915 with a 24 foot header.(69) Another example of Allen's innovation was anhydrous application. Farmers traditionally applied the anhydrous amnonia to the wheat ground at the time of sowing, because they feared the gas would disappear and not benefit the wheat, if applied earlier. Thinking ahead to using the man-power available, during the summer months, when his sons were home Allen started applying the anhydrous amnonia in August. Soon others followed because this would lessen the already stressful time of wheat planting. This is now the standard practice.(70)

Soon Allen was turning his attention to a newly formed organization that would revolutionize sheep marketing in Oklahoma.

Copyright Rose Moyer, 2015, All rights reserved.