Grandpa Greenberry Henry on my mother’s side of the family owned this place,” Roger Ragland, Searcy County farmer recalled. “Then Grandpa Noah Henry, then Mom and Dad wound up with it, then me. I’ve farmed all my life, as far back as I can remember. There’s nine of us kids, and we worked together all our life and never had any problems getting along with each other."
Roger remembered, "We raised strawberries and tomatoes for years, just a family farm. One year we lost our strawberries to a hail storm. We plowed with mules and pulled weeds. Dad had white-face Herefords, but I’ve gotten into Angus. They give a lot of milk and calves grow out better. They’re pretty hardy cattle, too, and take to this country, good on steep hills. Because of all the advertising for Angus beef, they bring more money at selling time, and I’ve learned to go with what makes the most money.”
At the head of Big Creek three miles from Landis, Ark., Roger farms this historic family land, and raises cattle on a total of 120 acres. He and his wife, Sherry, have three children, Jason, Tiffany and Miranda, and two granddaughters, Allison and Natalie.
With plenty of rain this year, Roger got two good hay crops, cutting hay from 15 acres of his property, and put up 100 round bales and 150 square bales. His mixed commercial cattle are mostly Angus, 42 head of momma cow/calf pairs and two Angus bulls. By putting up plenty of hay for the winter, he keeps his feed costs at a minimum, only buying Tindel liquid feed as an additional food source.
Roger stated that he’s always wanted to raise cattle. Despite the challenges such as dry weather and high cost of feed and fertilizer, he enjoys working the land. At one time, for about 10 years, he ran his farm and worked as a stone mason, laying rock, and worked for three years hanging sheet rock, but during the past 13 years he’s only raised cattle as a means of making his living. Most of his cattle sales are at the auction barn.
Living Off Their Land
“We butcher a beef every year, and raise a big family garden. By butchering my own, we have fresh steaks, and we know what we’re getting, grass fed and no additives.”
The last several years of dry weather were also a challenge; Big Creek goes dry in the summer. Roger has a fresh-water spring and one pond to water cattle. “In 2007,” he said, “the spring got as low as I’ve ever seen it and the pond nearly dried up. I have a 1,000 gallon water tank on a log truck, and I hauled water for the cattle for a while. I hauled water for my brother, too, his pond went dry. The water to the house is gravity flow from the big spring.”
Roger said he believes that working together while he was growing up like his family did brought them closer. Hard work and long hours went into keeping everything going, which is still the way he conducts his life.
“I’m proud of my heritage,” he said and smiled. “We have a good family life, love for one another. God gave us this land to work, and I’m just glad that I do enjoy farming.”