Work and warmth

Judy rides with her husband, Wayne, in his truck to get dinner on her 64th birthday. When the couple first married, they lived in a small house before moving into their current house. "We didn't have running water or nothing. I must've been in love."

Before sunrise, Judy Northcutt is up and on her feet. She fixes herself a cup of coffee; her husband Wayne joins her at the kitchen table, watching the news. 

It's a 15-minute drive along winding roads to Bullard, where she has worked for 43 years. The Cynthiana-based company, which says it invented the hard hat in 1919, manufactures personal protective systems sold worldwide.

For eight hours a day, Judy, 64, cuts fabric and other material for safety equipment and clothing. She works alone but finds time to interact with co-workers, who have become dear friends."They're all good people. It's just like a family," says Judy, who often bestows nicknames – Weasel, Dolly, Bubba and, for her granddaughter, Butter.

She's been through a lot, happy and sad, in her four decades at the factory. “I've had two kids since I've been there and paid for a house  . . . Then I lost my mom and dad and three brothers since I've been at Bullard." She says it's a good place to work. "They’ve been good to me.”

After her shift ends around 3 p.m., Judy heads home and helps her husband at his wild game slaughterhouse and processing business next to their home. The Northcutts cut up, grind, process and label deer meat for their customers. 

Every Monday, Judy spends two hours cleaning Beaver Baptist Church, where she's been a lifelong member.

"We didn't have much when we were kids. I always knew I had to work just like I've done. Got married and bought a house. Raised my two kids here, bought animals and cows."

Wherever she goes – Walmart, the dentist, restaurants – Judy greets friends. Drivers passing her house beep their horns and wave. "I just like to talk to people . . .  The way you meet people, when you grin and stuff . . . I don't see a stranger, I'll talk to anybody. I just like being around people. "

"Everybody tells me that and they say, 'Judy you know everybody in Harrison County.'" She says that's an exaggeration. But she's still making friends.

“Everybody asks me when are you going to retire . . .  I don't know. I don't know if I could stay home because I like to be on the go, doing this and doing that.”

Neighbors Remy Crum, 4, and his mother (left) visit the Northcutts' house on Halloween. The Northcutts have a close-knit relaionship with many of their neighbors. Judy has lived in Oddville, a rural section of Harrison County, her whole life. "It's a good place," she says. "If someone in your family is sick, they'll look after you"
Judy participates in the daily exercises at Bullard, required before the 7 a.m. shift starts. The two-minute exercise helps the workers stretch and strengthen so they can maintain their dexterity.
Judy gets material prepared at her work station at Bullard. It sometimes takes her an hour to roll out material to be cut for various safety equipment and garments. She has worked in many different departments in the factory, but has been cutting for the past 20 years.
Once material is cut using a computer and a machine, Judy snips off the extra pieces and pushes them into the trash bin.
Judy shows off a finished nylon cape for which she cut material. She's proud of her work at Bullard.
Judy stands in the Bullard factory next to a window where someone has written in the dust, "Today is a good day to have a good day." The quote embodies who Judy is – outgoing, friendly, welcoming. She seems to find joy in everything that she does.
While shopping at Walmart, Judy runs into an old friend, Etta Roberts, whom she has not seen in a while. The two share a laugh as Judy is always cracking jokes and making people smile.
Judy Northcutt and her husband, Wayne Northcutt, walk through Johnson Creek Covered Bridge in Blue Licks State Park on her birthday. She says the bridge is nicknamed Lover's Lane because the inside is covered with graffiti by couples who wrote their names on the walls.
Judy and Wayne settle down for the night and relax on their couch while watching TV. Married for 44 years, they have a loving relationship. Wayne grew up in a different county than Judy. "Wayne used to come through Oddville and he would stop at the store and get a soft drink, and I would be over there. It's funny how you meet each other, ain't it?"