Farming is the enduring first love of both Terry and Lisa Osborne.
Both grew up on farms in Greenup County, which they now own and continue to labor on. Their individual love for their farms and agriculture drew them together and it continues to shape their life as husband and wife.
Terry Osborne, 46, and Lisa Browning Osborne, 50, lived on farms less than 10 miles apart as children and both attended Greenup High School. They never met, however, until 10 years ago when Terry’s father, Ora Osborne, died. Lisa was working at the funeral home and helped Terry to make the arrangements. Farming was a shared endeavor early in their courtship. The couple spent their second date plowing hay fields.
“I needed to have some ground worked up to sow some new seed in — hay seed. And he said, ‘Well I’ll do that.’ Then, the next thing I know, he said, ‘Well I need to do that over at the house, too,’” Lisa recalled. “We went down there and plowed, and then we come down here and plowed. We spent a lot of time riding around on the old tractor.
“Me driving and her riding on the fender or her driving and me riding on the fender,” Terry added.
Farming was a requirement for marriage, too. “I was living in a subdivision at the time. We dated for a little while and we had talked about getting married and she says, ‘I’ll marry you under one condition: That we move back to the farm,’” recalled Terry. Lisa explained: “I still lived on my family farm. Even through my first marriage I never left the farm. Never. I couldn’t live in the city. I simply could not live anywhere but in the country.”
It was a demand Terry agreed to happily. Although he had left the family farm as a young man in the 1990s to work construction, he had always longed to return and become a farmer like his dad and granddad. “I do enjoy it. When I was a young man I just thought that is what I wanted to do, was farm. I have just always had that thought in the back of my mind. So when I had the chance to come back, I was pleased about that,” he said.
The couple moved onto the farm and were married in 2002. Each has two children from previous marriages and have five grandchildren, with one on the way. The Osborne Family Farm, on which the couple now live, has been in Terry’s family for at least four generations.
Terry’s great-grandfather Ora Osborne first purchased his farm in 1902. When he died, it was divided up among his heirs. Freeman “Pat” Osborne, Terry’s late grandfather, inherited a part of the farm and when he died in 1992, it was then divided again and Terry’s father, Ora Osborne, received part. When he died, it was divided again.
Terry and Lisa Osborne have about 50 acres but rent and cut hay on another 50 acres, which were also once a part of the farm. The couple have a herd of 20 cows they breed to produce beef cattle. Calves are kept until they reach about 500 pounds and then sold to feed lots.
There have always been cattle on the Osborne Farm, according to Terry, but his grandfather and dad used to raise other crops as well including tobacco.
“I don’t know when they started farming tobacco,” he said. “All the time I was growing up we raised tobacco until my dad died; growing the last tobacco crop that was grown here.”
Terry and his twin, Larry, both worked the tobacco fields as youths in addition to raising cattle to compete in the Greenup County Fair. “He (Jerry) and I started farming tobacco together about the time we were 12-years-old. By the time we were 16, we had saved enough money to buy a nice automobile but it was more important to us to buy a new tractor than a nice car,” Terry said.
Terry said he began selling the farm’s tobacco base in 2002 as part of the Tobacco Settlement program and has used funds to build hay sheds and purchase livestock and equipment. The farm has also applied for and received Soil Conservation grants to make other improvements.
“We have utilized those and it has made the difference,” he said. “We have gained a lot. Some of the things we would have just not been able to do,” Terry said. The couple also raise chickens and have a pair of sibling pigmy goats named Pat and Margie after Terry’s grandparents. The Osbornes share the farm work — both have full-time jobs — but they no longer share a tractor. Lisa prefers her 1975 John Deere that has been passed down through her family while Terry has a newer model John Deere. Both say they know they are living a disappearing lifestyle but, they say, they love it and are working hard to keep agriculture alive not only within their family but in the larger community.
Terry sits on the Greenup Farm Bureau board of directors as well as the Greenup County Soil Conservation board. Lisa is involved with the Greenup Farm Bureau women’s committee that helps to organize educational programs for children and is a secretary for the federation.
They both hope to inspire another generation to fall in love with farming.