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Off the Clock: Sommers balances medicine with the farm life

Jack Sommers, M.D., has taken care of patients since he started practicing family medicine in 1981. Now, even when he leaves the office, his bedside manner is still valued by another form of life.

The Utica Park Broken Arrow provider and his wife, Mary, run an organic farm on their sprawling 75 acres of land. Known as the “manual labor” of the duo, Sommers takes care of 22 head of cows, a dozen chickens and two Great Pyrenees that keep watch of the place.

The ranch life can be therapeutic, according to Sommers.

“Coming out here on the back porch in the evening and watching the cattle graze, it’s very relaxing. It’s like being at your own resort,” he said.

The Sommers lived in Tulsa for several years before deciding to move out to their rural east Broken Arrow residence in 2013. Wagoner County’s lower property taxes made the location particularly appealing for Mary, an accountant.

The farm life has certainly been an interesting journey for Sommers.

He did not grow up around farming or agriculture, but the idea was appealing. Sommers took a livestock course for first-time landowners offered through the Oklahoma State University Extension Office.

“It was a very helpful class,” Sommers said. “I learned that if you want to make money in livestock in Oklahoma, you should have goats.”

The couple purchased six goats. Unfortunately, within a week, all of them fell prey to neighboring coyotes. That’s when the Sommers added the two Great Pyrenees, a canine breed known for their ability to protect other animals and provide a presence that deters coyotes.

Mary raised sheep at one time. She learned how to sheer and graze them and even sold lambs. But, as their own three children began to have offspring, not as much time could be dedicated to care for the sheep. Instead, the sheep were sold off.

Since that time, the focus of the farm has been on raising grass-fed cattle.

“They’re lower maintenance,” Sommers said. “All they need are grass.”

Sommers’ life as a farmer has taught him many lessons and helped him better connect with his patients.

“I have a lot of my patients involved in livestock,” he said. “They appreciate it when I talk about it. I know what they’re going through. It helps build that trust and I think that helps a lot in health care.”

For Sommers, the atmosphere around the ranch provides for a unique perspective on life.

“It’s just really peaceful,” he said. “It helps you destress from the day.”