Rancher's book depicts authentic cowboy lifestyle in Florida

nwilliams@bradenton.comOctober 8, 2012 

PARRISH -- Alvin Futch won't describe himself as a good storyteller.

But as it turns out, he has quite a knack for it.

The 81-year-old Plant City rancher recently released his second autobiography, "Saw Mill," a sequel to his first autobiography, "Wild and Wooley." The book is on sale at Come See, Come Save in Bradenton and Parrish General Store.

In both books, Futch retells his experiences as a cracker cowboy in Florida, from his early beginning in the late 1930s into the 1990s, and documents the development of urban and rural Florida through family photos.

"You get people saying,'I remember growing uplike that' or 'My grandfather used to live like that,'" Futch said. "I wrote what I knew."

The authenticity of his writing, which includes several cowboy phrases and retelling stories that portray hardships of life as a cowbo, has resonated with Manatee ranchers and farmers and others across the country.

"He's got experience most of us only dream of," said Jason McKendree, cattle manager for SMR Farms and vice president of the Manatee Cattlemen's Association.

"He was definitely a tough individual. He wasn't scared to make an investment. Some of his experiences, they take a lot of nerve to go out on a limb like that and invest in a time like that."

Futch said his autobiographies preserve an era some have forgotten or know little about.

"A man from Missouri called me last year and he said, 'I thought people in your area lived on a beach and lived off the yankees,'" Futch said.

The book includes a preface from Jim Strickland, Manatee's agricultural property appraiser, who also owns agricultural land in East Manatee.

"What I like about both books is he tells a story from somebody that has been there and done that," Strickland said. "That's a great perspective from an older gentleman. He was in the mud. He was in the cattle business and timber business. It's an inside look of how we came to be by him being right in the middle of it."

Futch's first publication, which was released in 2010 and has since sold over 4,000 copies, are tales of his journey through Florida's developing agricultural business, including working on his uncle's farm in Parrish, from his birth in 1931 through 1962. Futch said the book was selected for Gov. Rick Scott's collection of publications that represent the history of Florida.

"Nobody is writing this stuff," Futch said.

"Saw Mill," released in April, is a combination of experiences of Futch's life from 1962 into the 1990s, which include parenthood, hunting, owning ranches, becoming a grandfather and life after serving his country in Germany.

Futch, a former board member of the Hillsborough Farm Bureau, owns 300 acres in Plant City, 60 of which are used to grow strawberries. Though he never owned property in Manatee, he knows everyone can relate to life on the farm.

"When you get out of the city limits, it's all the same," he said.

"If I learned anything from it, he wasn't scared to take chances to make a buck," McKendree said.

For more information on Alvin Futch or to order a copy of one of his books, visit www.alvinfutch.com.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.to be by him being right in the middle of it."

Futch's first publication, which was released in 2010 and has since sold over 4,000 copies, are tales of his journey through Florida's developing agricultural business, including working on his uncle's farm in Parrish, from his birth in 1931 through 1962. Futch said the book was selected for Gov. Rick Scott's collection of publications that represent the history of Florida.

"Nobody is writing this stuff," Futch said.

"Saw Mill," released in April, is a combination of experiences of Futch's life from 1962 into the 1990s, which include parenthood, hunting, owning ranches, becoming a grandfather and life after serving his country in Germany.

Futch, a former board member of the Hillsborough Farm Bureau, owns 300 acres in Plant City, 60 of which are used to grow strawberries. Though he never owned property in Manatee, he knows everyone can relate to life on the farm.

"When you get out of the city limits, it's all the same," he said.

"If I learned anything from it, he wasn't scared to take chances to make a buck," McKendree said.

For more information on Alvin Futch or to order a copy of one of his books, visit www.alvinfutch.com.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.

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