Name: Rodney Sullins
In Town: Rodney commutes 40 miles to Sullins RVs Etc., in Ridgedale, Mo., where he and a staff of five sell new and used Keystone RVs and a variety of horse, livestock and cargo trailers (that’s the Etc.). The RVs range from the top-of-the-line Everest model to Challenger, Laredo and Bullet models. He’s been in this location for eight years, but the original RV business he and his dad started in 1985 is still in operation south of Harrison, Ark.
In the Country: Rodney has 50 Charolais cow-calf pairs on 200 acres near Valley Springs, Ark. About half are spring calvers and half are fall, to catch at least one good market.
What management techniques do you use at the farm?
Rodney said he generally manages the entire operation himself, rotating cows between 10-acre, permanent-fenced pastures of primarily fescue but including 20 acres of bermuda grass. He has a center lane separating the pastures, and the cows readily come to him because they know they’ll be moved to greener pastures.
“I can holler at my cows, and if I open the gate, they follow through the gate like trained puppies. They know something good is going to happen,” he said.
He’s found bermuda (he prefers bermuda hay as well), to produce “unbelievable” summer pasture: he’ll run 25 pairs for three weeks on and one week off, for four months at a time. The 10-acre pastures also allow him to easily separate older calves from younger, heifers from cows, as needed.
How do you manage both farming and owning a business?
“My deal with farming is it’s a lifestyle. It needs to be something you love because the rewards are only there if you do. It’s a great life for families, and we have great memories of the girls [he and his wife, Judy, have three grown daughters] helping on the farm. You develop a rapport with the cattle, horses and other livestock, and that’s better than going to a psychiatrist once a week,” he said.
Farming teaches patience, too. “If you have a cow that’s a little ornery, she’s still going to be ornery after you’ve yelled and thrown a fit,” he added. “Farming is a down-to-earth experience.”
By Jennifer Ailor