Marjorie Fleming has been cattle ranching since she was a teenager. Now, at age 87, she has no plans of quitting anytime soon.
“I haven’t thought about stopping,” said Fleming. “I like ranch life, I like being outside and I can get out on my four-wheeler and get around most places and do what I used to do with a horse.”
Growing up in San Andres, N.M., Fleming and her brother used horses to round up goats and cattle on the family ranch. Both parents were disabled — her father with a hip injury and her mother with polio — leaving Fleming and her brother to do the heavy lifting and chores.
When her brother left to serve in the military, Fleming’s father sold the goats, leaving her to care for the cattle. She later married a cattle rancher, taught her children to ranch and now her grandchildren join her regularly on her 1,400-acre operation, learning to raise registered Black Angus bulls.
“I’m very proud of my cattle,” said Fleming. “I believe people know they can come to me for good, quality bulls and that makes me feel good.”
So when she needed assistance to purchase a new storage tank and repair a fence, she turned to the same agency that has helped her operation throughout the years — the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Working with Shyanne Tremmell, a farm loan officer with the Otero County Farm Service Agency, Fleming was able to secure a microloan, suitable for her small Piñon, N.M., operation and able to meet her needs.
The FSA microloan program is available to all farmers, including beginning, small and mid-sized farmers, providing up to $50,000 in loans using a simplified application process. Since the program began in 2013, more than 20,000 farmers have received microloans. About 70 percent of microloans are issued to beginning farmers and 55 percent to first-time FSA borrowers.
With the microloan Fleming was able to purchase a water storage tank and pump for livestock watering and fix a worn-down fence that separates her property from her neighbor.
“Mrs. Fleming shows a great deal of compassion for her animals and pride in her operation,” said Tremmell. “I admire her enthusiasm and it is clear she takes great pride in know she is producing good quality breeding stock.”
For Fleming, it’s nothing special, just her everyday work. But people are starting to take notice.
“One young lady who lives east of here said that I’m an idol for women. She said if I can do it, she can do it too,” said Fleming. “Sometimes you set a goal for others that you don’t even realize.”