Father and son work together to keep their family farm and heritage thrivingChallenges come in different shapes and sizes for Jeff Parrish and his 14-year-old son, Cameron.
On March 12, 2006, a tornado hit their family farm near Montevallo, Mo. A decade later, Jeff is still rebuilding and improving the farm his great-grandfather, Hose Parrish, settled 100 years ago.
The tornado may have destroyed several buildings and miles of fence, but one special heirloom was left intact; a David Brown Selectamatic 880 tractor that remains on the farm today. Jeff’s grandfather, Albert Parrish, purchased the tractor new in 1966 and it continues to serve as a reminder of the Parrish farming heritage.
The challenge of rebuilding the farm has been a successful endeavor, even when Jeff and Cameron were faced with family tragedies.
“In the last five years, my father Cap; mother, Anna; wife, Kim; and my cousin Kevin passed away from cancer,” Jeff shared.
Jeff and Cameron rely on each other to keep the family farm going.
“Cameron is a big help. He can feed calves, rake hay and run all the tractors,” Jeff said.
Jeff owns 65-head of crossbred pairs.
“I retain around 12 heifers per year as replacements. This gives the herd longevity. The ones I don’t retain, I sell at weaning,” he said. These heifers must have a calm disposition to make the cut as a replacement on his farm.
Since Jeff works off the farm driving a delivery truck for Henry Kraft, calving ease is the top priority when selecting bulls. He owns a black Balancer bull and recently purchased a black Hereford bull to run with his cows.
Jeff follows the philosophy of his late father when it comes to keeping cows on the farm.
“Keep her as long as she will raise a calf. If they do well they have a long life with us,” Jeff said.
Each year, Jeff and Cameron put up 600 to 700 fescue mix round bales and 300 native prairie grass square bales. He feeds hay throughout the spring until the first of May. This management method allows the grass to grow and he has seen a decline of grass tetany problems in his cattle. Jeff will supplement during the winter by feeding cubes and providing mineral tubs.
He also backgrounds around 30 calves per year.
“Part of the steers I purchase and part are ones we have raised,” he said. Most of the calves are Holstein, Jersey or a beef cross. They are grain and grass-fed until they are sold. During the summer, they graze millet pastures.
“The calves gain well on millet. Years ago we planted it in the sow lots and now we do the same for the calf and heifer lot,” he said.
Jeff will plant 150 to 200 acres of soybeans and wheat each year. He has been implementing conservation till and no-till practices with his soybeans on land that spent the last 20 years in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
“The best beans I ever raised were no-till. I don’t own a combine or a truck so I have the crops custom harvested,” he said.
Jeff has been active in the Missouri Young Farmers/Young Farm Wives Association for 35 years and served as state president from 2000-2001. He enjoys participating in the annual tour and visiting with other farmers across the state. He serves on the Montevallo Road District Board, Vernon County Rural Water Board and is a member of the Cedar County Cattleman’s Association.
Cameron is in the eighth grade at El Dorado Springs R-2 School. He is an active member of the Union Hall 4-H Club, plays sports, and enjoys hunting and fishing. He has a flock of 30 chickens and fattens two to four market hogs each year. He exhibited market hogs and hens at the 2016 Land O’ Lakes Youth Fair in El Dorado Springs.


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