MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Last summer, a popular local family destination was hit hard by an overnight fire. Tate Farms lost part of their playground, their entire animal barn and four brand new pigs in the blaze.
Instead of focusing on their loss, owners considered the fire a blessing in disguise. They decided to not only rebuild but to expand. After a lot of hard work, Tate Farms opened just in time for the fall season.
Thursday was a special day for the owner of the farm. Homer Tate celebrated his 90th birthday. He took over the farm at age 18 and raised his entire family on it.
As a young boy, Homer Tate was always a hard worker. "My daddy was disabled and I had to start working like a kid, well a man really," Homer explained.
Seventy-two years later, Tate Farms became a family business. "It's hard to believe it. It slips up on you because I don't see him as being 90 because he's been right here with us shoulder to shoulder all these years," Homer's son, Steve Tate explained.
Steve said life growing up wasn't like everyone else's. He said if he and his three brothers weren't at school or playing ball, they worked.
"That is a privilege. Working with family is challenging, but at the same time it's very rewarding," Steve said.
Farming comes with its onset of problems. Homer's wife has health issues and he suffered a stroke not too long ago. While some people may throw in the towel, that's just not something Homer would do. It's a quality his son looks up to.
"Everybody has a hero. I just want to be like him. That's all I want to do. If I can be half the man my dad is, I'll be alright," Steve said.
It's something the 59-year-old is still striving to be. "I still get up every day not wanting to disappoint my dad," Steve said. "He has built a name and I don't want to tarnish that name."
Homer knows his sons will not disappoint him because he raised them the right way in his eyes.