HADDOCK, Ga. -- While living and working away from home, Jane Haddock says she realized she wasn't doing what she had always wanted to.
It was 1950, and she had graduated from college in Milledgeville. She was working for the American Red Cross, a job she enjoyed, but she was homesick. So, Haddock says, she returned to the Jones County farm she grew up on, and decided to follow her calling - to raise cattle.
Now, 60 years later, Haddock continues to raise cattle on her farm in Haddock, Jones County.
Jane Haddock just turned 93.
She feeds her 75 cows, repairs fences and does just about any other job required on her 220-acre farm almost completely on her own. One Friday afternoon, she climbs into her tractor with ease, and starts hauling hay to a storage shed. Haddock is 93 years old.
Spend just a few minutes with her, and it won't take you long to realize Haddock's wit and strength. It's clear she values her independence. What is not immediately apparent, is why cattle farming means so much to her.
"It's just a feeling that you get here that you don't get anywhere else," Haddock said. "It's exactly what I dreamed of doing all my life."
Haddock raises her cattle for beef, and sells them at Duvall Livestock Market in Greensboro, Ga. These days, friends help her load calves onto a trailer and drive them up to the sale for her, but, she'll tell you, she has handled the job on her own.
"See these hands," Haddock says, "They tell you what kind of work I've done."
Haddock says her work ethic keeps her moving forward. She says as a child, she learned the value of manual labor. During the Depression, she remembers doing chores with her brothers to earn money for her family.
"We separated milk and sold it for sour cream," Haddock says. "That was the cash crop during the Depression."
Haddock bought land her family owned, and more, to build the farm. She started with just 8 acres, all that her father had left after losing much of what he owned during the Depression, she says. Haddock says she bought her first cow in 1950. She lives in the house she grew up in, and says she never wanted to marry or have children. While working, she spent weekends and days off with her cattle.
"I have had one of the most satisfying careers that any individual could have," Haddock says.
She says the town is named for her great-great-grandmother, Milbry
Barnes Haddock, who, according to Haddock, gave land to the Georgia
railroad to cross through the county and spurred development of the
In 1982, Haddock retired from Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, where she worked as coordinators of volunteer services for thirty years. She says she was treasurer of her church up until about four years ago. She started her career working for the American Red Cross after graduating from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, which at the time, only admitted women.
Haddock's received dozens of awards for her work. She says she was twice named "Conservationist of the Year" by the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District. In 1993, she earned the Baldwin-Jones Cattlemen's Association's "Distinguished Service Award" and in 1996 the Baldwin-Jones Chapter of the Georgia Cattlemen's Association named her "Cattle Producer of the Year."
In 1988, Haddock says she contributed $50,000 to establish a scholarship fund to cover tuition for students to attend her alma mater. More than thirty students have received scholarships under her fund. Haddock says she's met many of the students helped by her contribution. She says she holds dear a collection of thank you notes and gifts she's received from her former patients at Central State Hospital.
When speaking about her farm, and the hundreds of cattle she's raised since first following her dream 60 years ago, Haddock puts in quite simply.
"They're just my life," Haddock says. "Yes."