Fourth generation of Four Corners Farms

Published 8:11 pm Friday, August 18, 2023

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Located in Fort Deposit, Four Corners Farms is a fourth-generation family owned and operated cattle farm which was founded in the early 1970s by Willie Means Jr. Means’ great-grandson, Maurlan Dickerson continues the tradition today, raising registered cattle on the same pasture land.

The 25-year-old graduate of both Fort Dale Academy and Auburn University said he knew from a young age that cattle farming was his destiny.

“I’ve always known that this is what I was going to do with my life,” Dickerson said. “I’ve been on this farm my entire life. Even when I was a baby, my granddad would take me out with him, and I would watch him feed the cows and work the herds. I have truly always had a passion for this industry.” 

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As his time as a farmer came to an end, Willie Means Jr. passed the farm down to his sons, Elbert Means and the late Bo Means. Elbert Means later passed ownership to his daughter, Jennifer Means, who ran the farm with the assistance of her sisters, Madelene Means and Kristen Tolliver, until she passed the farm down to her son Dickerson in 2021.

Dickerson’s grandfather, Elbert Means, began introducing his grandson to the physical work of the farming industry when he was eight years old, and began to phase Dickerson into leadership when he was 16. 

Means said there was never any doubt that Dickerson was the future of his family’s farm.

“He always told me that I had an expensive hobby, and that he felt like I wasn’t doing it quite right,” Means said. “He’s very dedicated, so he jumped into studying and learning everything he could about the cattle. He even went to Auburn so he could learn more than I could teach him, and he blossomed with his studies and his depth of knowledge.”

Dickerson said his time at Auburn was just a stepping stone on the road to fulfilling his dream of owning Four Corners, and that even still he is continuing his efforts to better the farm his ancestors worked so many years to build.

“I graduated from Auburn with a degree in Forestry in 2020 and right now I work in the timber industry so I can sustain myself until farming can do that for me,” Dickerson said. “My goal is to establish a footprint in this industry. I want to expand our farm from the original family acreage and build upon that so I can pass it onto my children and continue my family’s legacy.”

Dickerson is a member of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association’s Young Leadership Program (YCLP), which works to give young and beginning cattlemen exposure to the industry and guidance on how to help them reach the goals they set for their operations. The program provides these farmers with opportunities for networking, farm tours statewide in various sectors of the industry, and insight on how the association partners with state legislators to promote the industry and ensure that farms are sustainable for generations to come. 

Dickerson is also a member of Simmental and Angus associations on national and state levels, playing a part in groups which use high quality genetics and extensive record keeping in order to produce a quality of cattle that is efficient and effective in the southeast to sell to commercial cows and calves.

Dickerson said his family’s farm is special not only because of its ancestral roots, but also because of their reverence for the animals themselves and their careful attention to the way they are raised.  

“We take pride in the cattle that thrive and sustain in Alabama’s unique environment,” Dickerson explained. “We try to raise cattle that are going to be very efficient in that aspect, and we also place a lot of importance on producing quality stock for Alabama’s cattlemen.”

Means expressed pride for his grandson as he discussed how he feels watching Dickerson pour so much hard work and dedication into furthering their ancestors’ legacy.

“Everything he learned over the years that my father and I had been doing, he took it to the next level,” Means said. “He’s putting in the work to turn it into a real business instead of just a family farm. He is doing things I should have done years ago. He is a hard worker, and he beats me to the pasture every morning. He really cares about the cattle and how they’re raised. He wants to raise the best of the best and that’s just what he’s doing. Our whole family is just so proud of him.”