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Earth & Sky

As a U.S. Navy fighter pilot, David Garfrerick jockeyed a rocket while helping to protect his country. He broke the sound barrier and mastered the art of aircraft carrier takeoffs and landings, piloting a 20-plus-ton jet loaded with ordnance and fuel on and off a football-field-size runway.

“It was a thrill, a challenge,” Garfrerick says, after a little cajoling on the subject. “It’s like being thrown off into the wild, out of control, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Even while flying high, Garfrerick says he’s always been fascinated by something decidedly more down to earth: gardening. While still in the Navy, he raised a variety of vegetables and other plants. “I’ve just always loved growing things and wanted some land to retire on, and bought this land, and just started growing things. It got bigger and bigger,” continues Garfrerick about the property near Alpine, Ala., “and at some point, I guess, I just had to start calling it a farm.”

All told, he and wife Dede own about 200 acres of rolling hills, including 80 acres of timber, 80 acres of pasture for his cattle, and about 5 acres of crops and orchard, from which he grows fruits and vegetables.

His produce and meat have a starring role in his latest “adventure,” a restaurant he owns and runs in Oxford, Ala., about a 45-minute drive from his home and farm. Opened in 2008, the philosophy behind the restaurant, Garfrerick says, is that “fresh, healthy food can be delicious.”

With so many responsibilities, Garfrerick counts on his MF275 to help him get the job done. The MF275 performs a multitude of chores on the 200-acre farm. It’s used to operate a vertical tiller, move hay for cattle, maintain the roads on his land, work a front-end loader, pull a wagon—and that’s just a sampling.

“The Massey is the only thing I’ve ever used, and I find it very convenient,” says Garfrerick. “It’s easy to change out implements and maintain. It just saves a whole lot of physical labor, having a good-size tractor like that.”

It’s also reliable, he says. “We don’t have to do a lot of repair work on it, which is a surprise because it’s old.” Garfrerick, who bought the tractor used, hazards a guess it’s at least 30 years old.

Because of the tractor’s age, maintenance is all the more important. “It’s the only one we own, so it’s critical we keep it running,” he says, adding that his dealer, Bannister Tractor Co., in Oxford, Ala., “keeps me advised on what to do.”

Listen to Garfrerick talk about how his Massey Ferguson helps him grow produce for his restaurant.

“They’re familiar with the parts and the typical things that will solve issues when I need maintenance and repair. And they’re familiar with the preventative maintenance I need to keep up with. They’re just knowledgeable about the tractor itself.

“That’s a huge help for me,” says Garfrerick, noting that, with running a restaurant and farm, he’s got a lot going on. “Taking care of the tractor is one less thing I have to worry about.”

Read more at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/earth-and-sky/.

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