In Conversation with AMSG: Farmer, Army Veteran, and Knowledge Management (KM) Specialist Scott Munn on Owning a Farm
Oklahoma native Scott Munn has lived life. At one point, he was a cowboy out West and a Reserve Deputy for several years, and until retiring in 2009, he served in the U.S. Army for over two decades. He provides specialized knowledge management skills on AMSG’s U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Knowledge Management (KM) contract. But what’s even more special, Scott and his family own more than 1,300 acres of farmland combined with Scott owning his own 20 acres.
In our conversation series, Scott shares what it’s really like to be a farmer and the hard work and dedication that go into working the land. His story is ripe with wisdom and advice — read his story below.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
AMSG: Tell us your story.
Scott Munn: Farm life was always a lifestyle. It’s what I grew up in. After high school, I was restless and went West to cowboy for a bit. It didn’t pay the bills, so I came home and went to school. But school wasn’t for me, so in 1986, I joined the Army. I found my place in the Army, stayed, and retired in 2009 after an improvised explosive device (IED) ended my career.
I had already come home and bought my place, and after my recovery I worked with family on our family farm and as a Reserve Deputy until 2018 when I got a call from an old friend who said he had a job I should apply for that fit my background. I applied and was hired by People, Technology & Processes (PTP) under TRADOC’s G3/5/7 as their Knowledge Management Analyst. In 2020, I had more heart issues and had to retire from the Sheriff’s Department. But in 2022, AMSG won the TRADOC contract. Now I work for AMSG and hopefully they will keep the contract for some time.
AMSG: How did it come about for you to purchase a farm?
SM: I knew that after I retired from the Army, I wanted to come home to Oklahoma, have my own piece of land, and be away from people. I knew of a small piece where my nearest neighbor would be at least a mile away in any direction. When it became available, I bought it in 2005, before I retired in 2009.
AMSG: What is it like owning a farm?
SM: It’s like owning something special because they don’t make more land and its value is always rising. When I wake up in the morning it’s just me and the world is as it should be.
AMSG: What are the rewards? Challenges?
SM: Getting to work with your hands and be a part of the land. Watching heifers grow to have their own calves. Getting to eat vegetables from my sister’s garden that the family helps with.
The challenges — time, drought, money, and severe weather.
AMSG: How do you balance your full-time job with owning and managing a farm?
SM: That’s the hard part. In the spring and fall, I just do what I need to after work or on weekends. But during the winter when the grass is gone, that’s when it’s challenging. During that time, I must wake up by 3:30 a.m. to get out and feed the cattle so I can be back to the house to clean up and be at work at Ft. Sill (40 min away) by 7 a.m. When it gets really cold and the ponds freeze, I have to go out and bust ice so the cattle have water. I also have to make sure to identify any new calves born during the day or night and see if they are stressed. This happens both before and after work.
AMSG: What advice do you have for someone wanting to purchase a farm?
SM: First thing is, are you prepared for hard work? If you have no experience in farming or ranching, then you need to learn before you invest because it is not a poor man’s game and every penny you can save means the longer you get to keep what you have.
I would then tell them to go see their county extension office to find out what they can offer and what services they have that are state offered and use those services. Next, I’d recommend the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Office. One is state and the other is federal, but both have programs that can be applied for. You will need to apply for a farm number and an Agriculture Tax Exemption.
Get to know these people and the extension office. They are there to help and are a great source of information and program support. The most important thing to know is that farmers and ranchers are a close-knit society. New people are not always welcomed, so find out where they drink their coffee in the morning and go introduce yourself as the new person (they will already know you’re new).
If you’re prior service, tell them that — we are really pro-military. If you don’t know about farming, tell them you don’t know jack and any help would be appreciated. Buy them a cup, shake their hands with a firm grip, and look them in the eye (it’s a respect thing). Answer their questions and answer them honestly, because there will be many. These people can smell BS, so shoot straight (you know what you know and don’t know what you don’t know).
AMSG: Is there a funny memory you have to share from working on the farm?
SM: While teaching my youngest son, who was maybe 12 at the time, how to break ice in the ponds, he wasn’t looking where he was stepping. He stepped on the ice that he just broke (not where you step) and took the plunge.
The look on his face was hilarious. I can say this because when I was his age, I did the same thing and probably looked the same. After I stopped laughing, I got him out, put him in the truck, and took him home. His Granny didn’t think it was too funny and took care of him. When my little brother asked what happened, I told him, “Same thing that happened to us the first time we learned to break ice,” and we laughed.
AMSG: Is there anything else you would like to share?
SM: Farming and ranching are not for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work, and time and dedication to the land. Further, it does not pay that well. You must do it because you love being a part of the land. Not everyone grows crops or raises cattle, so you will have to find your niche. If you love what you do it’s not work, just hard fun.
One last thing, hug and kiss your wife and kids daily and thank God you have them every night.
Written By: Juania Owens