Starting from scratch is the theme of our 14th Soil Heath Hero in our series in Tennessee. This series features Jim Malooley and his wife Deanna. Jim was an engineer by trade and is a son of a dentist from Indiana. Deanna had some farming in her roots from Arkansas. They moved from the state of Washington almost three years ago. They bought 25 sheep the first day that they arrived and immediately they became farmers. Jim contacted Matt Feno, NRCS District Conservationist, McMinnville, Tennessee, about terminating the entire farm of endophyte infected Kentucky-31 fescue. Matt seeing the potential in Jim called in Area Resource Conservationist, Andy Neal and State Grazing Specialist and Soil Health Specialist, Greg Brann to assist with a grazing plan. The original grazing plan was four pages. NRCS developed a conservation plan to meet all of Jim's objectives and did not have to kill the existing fescue. The plan conserved all of the benefits previously achieved by growing fescue, but also met the nutrition of the proposed sheep and cattle. Jim and Deanna were on their way. They also became close friends with Greg and share grazing experiences on a regular basis.
Their farm consists of 206.8 acres, 160 acres in pasture, and 41.1 acres in forest, with remaining acres in buildings and small fenced lots. The farm is relatively flat. When Jim and Deanna were selecting a farm, they wanted a farm with mild winters, and the capability of the most forage production possible. These reasons factored in them selecting Tennessee and Warren County where they would become farmers. The soils are predominantly Waynesboro and Guthrie silt loam and are predominantly flat with a few fields ranging 0-12% slope.