Ken and Linda Coffey
In the Country: The Coffeys own the 50-acre Maple Gorge Farm, named for the prevalent maples and the rugged terrain of the woodlands. Since their move to northwest Arkansas, they've added a barn, fencing, cross-fencing and 40 acres of scenic, rocky woodlands. "We use the more level land to graze our flock of Gulf Coast Native sheep (a heritage breed featuring parasite resistance and hardiness) as well as French-Alpine and Saanen dairy goats. A few hens and three guardian Great Pyrenees mixes (Rosie, Duke and Bandit) round out our family farm. We enjoy raising our lambs and milking the goats. We have succulent lamb, delicious raw goat milk, fresh eggs and soft hand-spinning fleeces for sale," Linda said.
In Town: Ken is an animal-sciences professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Linda works part time at the National Center for Appropriate Technology as a program specialist for the ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas) project.
Family: The Coffeys have four children – Jim, 23; Kerri, 21; Hannah, 19 and John, 17; and they are custodians/guardians of Cameron Elam, 7 and Kayliee Spratt, 3.
What is the farm's No. 1 improvement to date?
Ken believes the fencing has helped the farm manage its resources better, as it provides flexibility with grass-fed practices. Linda sees the barn as the most tremendous improvement, because it allows for comfort in adverse weather conditions when she and the children milk, feed and care for the animals.
What future improvements are planned?
"We're making progress on our forage program, but we have to improve our grasses and get more out of our grazing season," Ken said. Except for wet-weather springs, there's no water on the property. "We're looking at adding a water-collection system and large water tanks to give us even more flexibility in how we even out our forage practices."
By Jules Miller