Tanner Heffington, left, talks to Jimmy Drake. Drake passed on his farm and equipment to long-time neighbor Heffington last year, making this the first time in more than 70 years that a member of the Drake family didn’t harvest the land. 
Credit: Mark Rogers / The Texas Tribune

LITTLEFIELD, TEXAS — Jimmy Drake started farming when he was 18.

He had grown up learning the intricacies of agriculture alongside his father under the unforgiving West Texas sun. He would come home covered in dirt that is good for little but growing cotton.

He has managed the land for the last seven decades. There has been abundance. There has been devastation. Through it all, Drake was propelled by a sense of family and purpose. He belonged to the land as much as it belonged to him.

And then, last year, a longtime employee resigned. Working 2,500 acres — more than three times the size of the State Fair of Texas — alone was suddenly daunting. At 85, Drake had to call it quits. But unlike his father and grandfather before him, Drake’s […]

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