TYE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – For many farmers, the skills they use today are passed down from generation to generation. Merkel native, Christopher Hart said it was this generational wealth of knowledge that inspired him, helping him push to his successful career, as well as the 2023 Farm Family of the Year award.

Riding along, sitting on the arm rest of his grandfather’s tractor. That was the view that shaped Hart as a young child, eventually graduating from arm rest to his grandfather’s lap where he’d steer the tractor. Then at 12 years old, his grandfather let him take the reins and make a few rounds on his own.

“I’m not sure why, but I was always just intrigued with it,” Hart pondered aloud.

Christopher Hart and grandfather, Robert Stephan

Hart attributes much of what he now knows to his grandfather, Robert Stephan, who instilled that passion for farming in him at a young age. Stephan, who passed away last October, was also named Taylor County’s Young Farm Family of the Year in 1963, and the Farm Family of the Year in 2017.

It’s an award that caught Hart by surprise when he received the call, and as humble as he is, said this about telling his family:

“I don’t really like to talk about myself, so I kind of just kept it to myself. But my wife and I were having supper one night, and I said, ‘oh, we have this thing in a couple of weeks. There’s this luncheon and I’m getting an award.’ She said, ‘what are you talking about?’ And I told her about it.” 

Samantha, Hart’s wife, met her husband in college at Angelo State. She told KTAB/KRBC she never expected to go into farming full time. However, she said it’s been a huge blessing and honor to see all of his hard work and long hours pay off.

The Harts’ oldest son, Ryder also said he’s proud of everything his father has accomplished over the years.

“I’m proud, he’s done a good job,” Ryder said. “All the planters, tractors and spares and all that out there… He’s done a good job, and it’s a lot of acres he’s farmed.” 

That acreage? 8,000 to be exact, no small feat for any farmer.

While those dusk-to-dawn days turned into sleepless nights, Hart said he does everything he can to keep his priorities straight.

“School plays, sporting events, I don’t miss any of that stuff,” Hart added, “Farming or business, or work can all wait. My kids are only young for a little while.”

Christopher Hart will receive the award at the Taylor County Farm and Ranch Expo luncheon on Wednesday, February 22.