Don’t be fooled by his stature. Those who know him say Jeff Essary’s heart is bigger than he is.
Although farming is what he knows and loves, the 40-year-old has put his hand in nearly every thread the Floyd community is made of.
In addition to being a volunteer firefighter, Essary serves on Floyd’s school board and is a member of the Floyd Lions Club.
But perhaps his most recent venture into literature has gained him notoriety for his staunch support of people’s Second Amendment rights.
Essary surprised people when he took the time to pen a military fiction novel, but Essary reminds those he’s a family man and the father of four would felt he wrote something that needed to be said.
The 1992 Floyd High School graduate grew up on a farm. He said he attended college at Eastern New Mexico University and Clovis Community College and his children are the third generation to attend Floyd Municipal Schools.
What inspired you to write your book? In November of 2012 I began writing my book called, “The Republic,” after the recent presidential election. It was during an elk hunting trip up in Mora on our family’s ranch there when I came up with the idea of the book. My Dad, uncles and cousins feared for our country as I do and we’re deeply concerned as to where our country was headed.
As a young adult I read a lot of military fiction. As a kid I watched several military-type shows and let my imagination fly. The two movies that I would watch over and over again were, “The Final Countdown,” where Kirk Douglas went back in time on the USS Nimitz to Dec. 6, 1941, in a storm and almost changed history by taking on the Japanese before the raid on Pearl Harbor.
The second was, “Take the High Ground” with Richard Widmark and Karl Malden. They were drill instructors during the Korean conflict. I would read about planes, tanks and guns. There armament, size capabilities and all. I was well read in the topic.
How did you find the time to write a book with farming and your other civic responsibilities? I feel if you are passionate about something, you make the time. There was a lot of late nights where I would put a lot down on paper or computer until four in the morning. Some nights I would write 30 pages on (Microsoft Word). I think my record was 34 full pages.
I would feel better after getting feelings down on paper. During times where I would drive my truck or tractor, I would speak into a recorder or jot down notes on a note pad on my phone while waiting in line for loads for my truck. At night I would put my notes down on my computer and “The Republic” was born.
Where was the best place to hang out after high school sports events in Roosevelt County when growing up? Like I illustrate in my book, we always hung out at Pat’s (Pat’s Twin Cronies) or at Sonic in Portales.
During my high school years, we county kids would join the Portales kids in town and made great relationships which I have today.
Kids from Elida, Dora, Floyd and Melrose would hang out in Portales and we would always have a dance, usually at the Memorial building or on the fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday nights after our games.
How old were you when you first started farming and what has kept you farming this long? I started farming going with my dad while I was still in diapers. I rode the tractor learning how to work growing up. I started driving by myself the summer I was 8, driving a John Deere 4010LP during the summer. It had no air conditioning and had a steel cab that was worse than having nothing at all.
I started farming on my own in 1997, buying my first farm where I currently live south of Floyd. I started farming on my own getting funding through the (Federal Housing Administration) beginning farmer guarantee loan program and buying farm equipment from my father.
Rough times throughout the years made a memorable life. Several winters were spent driving a milk truck for (multiple companies). These last few years I have bought my own truck and have been manning a one-man trucking company called J Essary Enterprises LLC. I haul rock or dirt material, hay, commodities, manure and grain. Trucking puts food on the table during the drought and for the past few years, I have been going from truck to farm, which is very hard to do juggling both.
As a school board member, what is one hope you have for the younger generations you serve? Being a Floyd graduate my main concern as a board member is to keep Floyd schools alive and to keep tradition in our school.
Several outsiders have tried to steer away from the Floyd traditions and I feel I need to keep them in check as to our traditions and activities.
I also hope to provide the students a good, clean learning environment, where they will hopefully get the best education possible. The rural schools offer a tighter-knit classroom where more of a one-on-one learning environment with the instructor can be achieved. I feel Floyd has an all around great school and provides a great place to learn for my four children.
Being a Lions Club member, name one favorite or funny memory you have of a Floyd jamboree? I guess the funniest one that comes to mind is when President (Bill) Clinton was in his Monica Lewinsky scandal and I dressed up like Clinton and did a skit on stage all three nights in front of all the crowds. I had a mask on and it was a good, funny time. Other members dressed up as my secret service and one performer dressed up as Hillary and one as Monica.
We talk about that still today.
What was your favorite part about growing up in Floyd?
Growing up in Floyd I always liked the people.
We have a great community. During funeral services we have a lot of community women who provide meals for the families. It never fails for them to work hard to show the families and friends good citizenship.
Our walls of the community center are filled with pictures of past Floyd Lions Club Citizens of the Year. That is proof that we all have large shoes to fill in becoming good airs of Floyd. Many in the community take you in like you are family. Like I say in my book about Floyd, “A community is not just a bunch of buildings, it’s the people who fill them that makes a town.”
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I love to cook a lot of dishes, but breakfast burritos or hamburger gravy are my favorites.
What’s one thing you’d like to cross off your bucket list in the next five years? Wow, I guess the best one would be to ride in a military fighter jet and do barrel rolls and loops.
The thought has crossed my mind a lot through the years. I loved attending the air shows at Cannon (Air Force Base) in the old days when they had the F111 or the F16.
Wish they would bring them back.
— Compiled by CMI staff writer Christina Calloway