GREENSBURG, LA — It’s not every day that you get a retiree from IBM, another from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a third from General Motors returning to the family farm to continue a legacy that began years ago.
But this is just part of the excitement that Chris, Bernell and Allen Muse have brought to Louisiana 4-H in St. Helena Parish.
LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Angela Myles Bickham said the owners of Muse 3 Farm have been a dream come true for her parish 4-H livestock program.
“These three brothers grew up here and went off to college and on to professional careers, but decided to return to the farm following their retirements,” she said.
Bickham said the brothers approached her with the offer to sponsor two beef animals for livestock shows. Word got around, and those two animals morphed into six.
“We’ve had livestock in shows before, but goats and sheep were the largest animals,” she said. “We had a lot of interest, but the kids just didn’t have the place to keep an animal.”
Now the parish livestock program has an official place to handle their animals, hang out and occasionally have a fishing tournament, Chris Muse said with a chuckle.
He explained that he and his brothers had been telling the students about the fish in his pond. So one day they took off from the farm chores and took the group for casual fishing, which quickly tuned into competition.
Bickham said one 4-H’er immediately started to complain about how she didn’t like it outside.
“I tell you, Muse 3 Farm brought it out of her. She caught the first fish and now she’s showing beef cattle,” Bickham laughingly explained. “This is what it’s all about. It’s really a teachable moment.”
She said this farm represents a great educational opportunity.
“I tell them this is about communication, innovation, the connection to the land and improving lives,” she said.
Chris, retired from IBM in Atlanta, is the farm project manager. Allen, who retired from General Motors, is the production manager, and Bernell, who retired from USDA, is a Southern University extension agent and the agriculture specialist on the farm.
Allen Muse said though he went away to college and to work, he never got farming out of his system.
“I used to walk all over this place and I have just always liked farming and being around animals,” he said.
The things he did for GM in production and materials management transfers nicely to his job on the farm, he said.
“There I was growing a business, but now I’m growing a business along with animals, crops and good citizens,” he said.
He has always liked working on the farm.
“My granddaddy taught me how to plow a mule when I was seven years old,” he said.
The Muse 3 Farm is anything but typical.
According to Chris Muse, the plan when the farm launched in 2017 was to start an angus beef cow-calf operation.
“But now we have added goats, lamb and we are getting ready to add rabbits,” he said. “We want to have a place for kids to come to and work with their show animals and to experience a variety of farm animals.”
Bickham said Muse 3 Farm has provided new energy to her parish 4-H livestock program.
“I told Mr. Allen and Mr. Chris that my goal was to get them to the parish show in Tangipahoa Parish,” she said. “I wanted them to get the full experience of being in control of an animal in a show ring.”
Not only did she get them to the show. Demyron Self, a seventh grader, walked away with the grand champion steer and Javianna Franklin, a seventh grader, came in third place.
“I was nervous at first, then I saw that it was easy,” Self said. “I already had experience roping, but I want to ride bulls when I grow up.”
Bickham’s son, Kason Bickham, is in the eighth grade and is a returning member of the livestock project club in St. Helena Parish.
“Kason has shown goats and commercial heifers at Southern University’s Junior Livestock Show in previous years, and has had an enjoyable experience with it,” his mother said.
Muse 3 Farm is helping open the eyes of these young people to the careers available to them in agriculture.
Bickham said her next goal is to get the kids’ parents to understand the use of the USDA loan.
“I understand that when you mention loans, people back up,” she said. “But I have to educate them on the dynamics of this loan.”
Chris Muse said when he was starting his Muse 3 Farm beef private label, he consulted both LSU AgCenter and Southern University animal science departments for advice.
“We give a lot of credit to both the Southern University Ag Center and the LSU AgCenter,” he said. “I like to tell people that we have two of the best agricultural universities within a 40-mile radius. And we rely heavily on both.”
Muse 3 Farm hosted the St. Helena AgDay, and they are looking in the future to host other events of interest to mainly underserved or small farmers.
"Our mission here for the next couple of years is to educate other farmers and ranchers in the area as we learn new things," Muse said.