Bailey and Blair Buchanon carry on family traditions as Junior Cattlewomen
In most households with teenage girls, the focus is typically on things like boys, clothes, and music. In the Buchanon home, it’s a little different, as agriculture garners a lot of attention. For Bailey, 16, and Blair, 14, living the Ag life is just as normal as the usual teen pursuits. It’s no wonder; in their daily routine, there is a lot of agriculture to go around.
The daughters of Danny and Leslie Carlton Buchanon, Bailey and Blair are the eighth generation in a proud line of farmers and ranchers. Their roots are in the Costine Family, which helped to shape the county and the beef industry here in Polk, and the Carlton Family, which raised cattle and citrus in Hardee and Sarasota. The girls are involved in agriculture way beyond simply loving the gentle-eyed calves or the fluffy chicks that grace most farms in the spring. Leslia Buchanon, a Polk County Cattlewomen’s Association member and their proud mama, says the girls are just as adept at the tough stuff—like spraying soda apples, helping build fences, working cows, operating tractors and equipment, and baling hay—for the cattle operation left by their late grandfather, Marcus Buchanon.
According to Leslie, both Bailey and Blair have been involved in agriculture pursuits “since they were old enough to go along.” The agriculture groups the girls and family members belong to reads like the ag Listing section of a phone book, which demonstrates the family’s commitment to the industry. Both girls are members of the Polk Jr. Cattlemen’s Association, 4-H, and Polk Future Farmers of America (FFA). They have shown or participated in just about every fair or rodeo held in the area, from the Strawberry Festival to The Florida State Fair.
Bailey started exhibiting market hogs at the Polk County Youth Fair when she was eight and is on her fourth and final market steer. She also has a passion for raising and exhibiting Maine Anjou heifers. She is involved in the 4-H and FFA programs at Lake Gibson High School, holding officer positions, and a 4.0 grade point average to boot. She participated in Ag Literacy Day, a Florida Ag in the Classroom, Inc. event that is largely supported by community organizations such as the Polk County Farm Bureau. As a volunteer for this annual awareness event, she read to kids at Churchwell Elementary in Lakeland. She’s also attending the FFA Washington Leadership Conference this summer.
Blair is on her last market hog and her first steer for exhibition. She too shows commercial heifers at livestock shows and fairs and is a member of 4-H and Polk FFA. Blair and her partner Katie Harwell have also blazed a winning streak through various FFA agriscience competitions. Last year, they won the Consumer Use division in the Ornamental Horticulture competition and went on to place third in the State; last month they placed second in their division with their OH project and fourth at the state level; and they are currently busy working on an agriscience project for the State FFA Convention this summer. Recently, Blair won April’s Star Discovery and will be recognized at the Polk FFA Federation Banquet in May.
Agriculture is also in the family’s conversations about the future, as Bailey is pretty sure she wants to pursue a career in either agricultural education or wildlife conservation, and Blair is also interested in an ag career. With the world’s population continuing to grow, it is young ladies like the Buchanon girls who will be instrumental to agriculture’s future success.
story by ERIKA ALDRICH