By Toni Stauffer
On Saturday, members of the Lamb family, along with friends, celebrated the 90th birthday of patriarch C.C. Lamb. The day was hot and sunny as Lamb sat beneath a shade tree in a semi-circle of chairs fondly called “The Bull Pen,” where he caught up with his male family and friends.
Before becoming a farmer, Lamb worked as a pressman for St. Regis Paper Company in Cantonment, Fla. He owned a farm in Cantonment, Fla., on 153 acres he’d bought in the early 1950s for just $30 an acre. He purchased land in Hurtsboro in 1970 and made it the new family home, naming it Cattle Valley Farm—now a massive 900 acres.
Lamb’s rough, muscular hands are a testament to a lifetime of hard work. When he started out, Lamb grew soybeans and corn, and he raised some pigs in addition to cows. He later decided to put all of his focus on cattle, raising Angus, Simmental and Limousin (Limousine in France) cattle breeds, the latter a highly-muscled red beef cattle with origins in the Limousin and Marche regions of France. Lamb still works every day, but now he is leasing land to a family member, and he sold the cows in the last year.
He is the father of seven adult children who worked on the farm while growing up. In order of birth, they are: David Lamb of Omaha, Neb; Doug Lamb of Seale; Steve Lamb of Seale; Sue Brown of Cantonment, Fla; Teresa Tipton of Cantonment, Fla.; Robert “Ted” Lamb of Cantonment, Fla., and Mary Mathews of Hurtsboro. Lamb has 29 grandchildren, and 75 great-grandchildren (and growing); there are even several great-great grands running around. Sadly, his beloved wife Joe Anne passed away in 2008 after 61 years of marriage.
His daughter Teresa told a story of the family home, a five-bedroom house built by Lamb using two Army barracks and later modified using the timber from an old log cabin. One bitter winter, the house caught fire underneath from a stray ember. Since the house had been made of barracks, the wooden floors were exceptionally thick. Fortunately, the fire took a long time to burn. The Lambs called the fire department in Hurtsboro, but their equipment was new and they didn’t have it ready. The Lambs then called the fire department in Hatchechubbee, but when the Hatchechubbee department showed up, their hose valve had frozen shut and Lamb had to help pry it loose.
While all of this was going on, the high society ladies from town decided to bring refreshments. What happened next is comedy gold. The Lambs had put a newborn calf in the bathtub to keep it warm, a pig slept in a box near the stove, and the kids had left a large, rubber snake coiled up on a chair. One lady went into the bathroom and saw the calf in the tub, one saw the pig in the living room, and then another sat on the rubber snake. In hysterics, the screaming ladies ran out of the house and fled the farm as the fire still churned beneath the house.
His daughter Sue told the story of another fire that happened later, when their mother Joe Anne had left the tea kettle on the stove while she had gone to tour the farm with her husband. There had been substantial damage, but the Lambs cleaned up the mess and fixed the house good as new.
At the party, guests and family enjoyed a hearty meal of ribs, pork barbecue, Brunswick stew, and sides like slaw, all cooked to perfection. Afterwards, Lamb sat in front of a birthday cake, loaded with 90 candles. He blew out every one, except the trick candle that, much to his amusement, refused to be extinguished—perhaps symbolic of Lamb himself and the Lamb family spirit.
Family and friends signed the guest book and looked through memory albums, pictorial and written histories of the Lambs–a strong, hardworking family forged from strong, hardworking parents.