Blessings of family and home

Published 10:32 am Thursday, April 5, 2018

It has been said home is where the heart is, but for Emmett “Tubby” Ferguson, you could also turn the phrase around. For almost all of his 79 years, his heart has been content with his home where he grew up — a farm in Prince Edward County.

He said when he and his wife, Gracie, first got married, they moved away to northern Virginia for about a year, but it was more or less a part-time thing, and they were back the next year. He built a new house on almost the same spot as his childhood home on the farm he has named Rolling Acres.

“When we first started off, we moved back here, we were tobacco farmers, more or less,” he said. “… I expect it was 10 or 12 years that we fooled with tobacco. And then I gradually went on into beef cattle, and from then till now, we’ve raised Black Angus cows.”

Email newsletter signup

He said the transition to beef cattle happened sometime in the 1970s.

Gracie, his wife of 60 years has worked both in the school system and as a registered nurse but is retired now, giving them more time and opportunity to do things they have never done before.

The most important work Tubby and Gracie poured themselves into in the earlier years of their marriage was the raising of three daughters. Deborah Francis, Rebecca Thompson and Cheryl Midkiff still live close by, making it easy for the Fergusons to see their eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

“We always have all of them here for Christmas and all,” Tubby said. “They open their Christmas presents here on Christmas Eve night. We just fill the house up with them.”

When it came to naming his proudest achievement, Tubby said, “It’s got to be all these grandkids and all. I’m just so proud of all of them. I really can’t say we’ve got a bad one in the bunch, and I’m real lucky and blessed there.”

As far as farming is concerned, he still does some work as a beef cattle farmer.

“I keep roughly about 40 head of cattle,” he said. “And we keep a whole lot of pets. We have goats and llamas and alpacas, and we’ve got a riding horse and a donkey and chickens. The kids think it’s a zoo. We have goats, baby goats, and all that sort of stuff. So, we’re kind of a little bit of everything now, ‘hobby farm’ I guess you’d call it, but I still farm some.”

To neighbors of the farm, which has a Meherrin address, Tubby is well-known, and by that specific, distinctive nickname. He explained how he came by it.

When it came to his birth, “my momma had me here at home,” he said. “… Most kids were born at home then, and this was in 1939. And the reason I got my name Tubby is I weighed 13 pounds when I was born. And like I tell people all the time, ‘I think my momma might have called me something else,’ but anyway, (people) wound up calling me Tubby. … If you ask for Emmett, they might not know who you’re talking about.”

Asked to provide three words that describe him best, Ferguson said, “Let me ask my wife. Tall, dark and handsome, I guess.” He said this in jest, then offering three distinctive things about himself.

He has a significant role at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Meherrin.

“I’ve been going to that church since I was big enough to go,” he said. “… I don’t know whether you’d call me a leader of the church or not, but anyway, I’m a chairman of the church council, and I’ve been church treasurer. We’re right involved in church, so I would like to be remembered for that.”

His wife offered that he is a take-charge person.

“My wife says I like to run things,” he said.

He also noted being outspoken.

“I have a loud voice, and I do make a lot of noise when I sing in church,” he said.

Asked to list best childhood memories, Ferguson recalled swimming in the creek with the fish and the frogs with the neighbor kids. He also remembered going to Worsham High School.

“We didn’t have but 12 people in my graduation class, and it was just two boys — me and one other guy,” he said.

Ferguson also cited the best decision he has ever made in his life and the secret to happiness, and his answers were linked.

As for the best decision, “You know, that’s got to be marrying my wife,” he said.

And when it came to the secret to happiness, he noted the importance of having a good partner.

“I’d say my wife,” he said. “We’ve always had a good marriage, and you have to have a good partner. You can’t do all this stuff by yourself.”