The Reed family brings new meaning to diversification on the farm Nestled in the Southwestern corner of Texas County lives a family of more than one generation that is much like all the rest of us in some aspects, but is also different in some very important ways. Bob and Sherry Reed and their daughters along with Bob’s father, Lyle Reed, all work together with many other people to make a living from the land.
The Reed family lived near Mountain Grove, Mo., during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Chester Reed, Bob’s grandfather, was a cattle dealer and bought livestock throughout the Ozarks. In the early 1940s he purchased the first “cattle-truck” in the area – a two ton 1941 Chevrolet – and hauled cattle to the stockyards in St. Louis, Mo., and brought grain and feed back to Mountain Grove.
Lyle Reed recalls the drought in 1954, 1955 and 1956. Hundreds of cattle went to market because there was no pasture. He said, “USDA offered drought relief in the form of hay brought in from Canada. Each farmer had an allotment, but hay couldn’t be brought in fast enough to save the cattle. Lyle said, “My father bought three more trucks just to keep up with all the cattle going to market.” He also remarked, “After the drought when people were trying to restock their farms cows were 50 cents per pound. Old timer’s were saying, ‘How will we ever afford such prices?’”
In 1998, Bob Reed (son of Lyle Reed), and Eric Wolfe formed a partnership and set up a sawmill, Reed & Wolfe Lumber, Inc. Cattle and farming later became a subsidiary of this corporation. Their goal was to make a living for themselves, support their families and provide a service and workplace for others in the Mountain Grove area. Their words to live by are – be honest and fair. If you can’t do business straight up and straight forward, don’t do it. This attitude has served them well. They work from daylight to sunset and still have more work than they can do.
The cattle operation consists of 140 mixed breed momma cows. They use exclusively registered Black Angus bulls. Bob said, “All the cattle we own have been raised on our places.” He further stated, “We have a closed farm with very little problems or disease. It is a lot easier to prevent disease rather than treat it later.” Herd bulls are tested and vaccinated for everything before they come on our farms. All calves are backgrounded on the farm and are sold as short fed feeders at 800 to 900 pounds.
Replacement heifers are on pasture and fed very little grain because they want to see how they grow on their own in these conditions. The hardy heifers that thrive on grass make good cows and are kept for breeding stock, the remainder are sold as feeders. Bob commented, “We have virtually no calving problems.”
Bob and Eric raise all the feed for their livestock which is green graze, barley, corn and rye as a winter crop. They bale alfalfa into square bales and grind with barley and corn to make a 14 percent ration which is used in their feedlot. The livestock have free choice to all the salt and mineral mix they want. The mineral mix is custom blended in Hartville, Mo., from a recipe Bob created himself.
Bob and Eric cut very little of their own hay because they do custom baling in Texas, Wright and Douglas Counties. They offer all types of hay services all the way from the old fashioned square bales to the round bales wrapped in plastic film for haylage. Their hay equipment is very impressive with several tractors of all sizes for different jobs, hay bines, rakes, tetters, loaders, trucks with commercial hay haulers, bobcats, wrapping equipment and a full crew to operate all this equipment. They work fast and efficiently, keep a watch on the weather, and have enough man power to get the job done. They have baled over 4,000 big round bales this year. If Bob and Eric cut your hay you can pay by the bale or they will do it on the shares for part of the hay. Bob said, “This works out good for us because we don’t have to use our ground for hay.”
Reed & Wolfe Lumber is on the western edge of Texas County. They cut and sell about 40,000 board feet of hardwoods, Oak and Walnut, per week cut on their Woodmizer electric mill. Their biggest contracts are railroad ties and hardwood flooring. It takes 11 men to run the mill and they double as part of the hay crew when needed.
The philosophy of these two men and their families is to be as self-sufficient as possible, to grow, raise or produce everything themselves not only for their livestock, but for their own consumption. Their economy is based on their own enterprising abilities. The food they eat is clean and toxin free from their garden or from beef and pork raised on their farm, eating grain produced from their soil. Their income is year round with custom farm work, bulldozing, livestock and the sawmill. All products are hauled on their own trucks and trailers.
Bob summed up their lives by saying, “We are not rich and don’t expect to ever be wealthy, but we are blessed to be able to make a living for ourselves and provide jobs for several other people in the area. We are fortunate to live where we want to live, eat what we grow and get to spend every day doing what we love.”


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