Hometown: Hartford, Ark.
Family: Wife, Valerie; daughter Fabri and granddaughter Allie, 16; daughter Candi and grandson Gus, 4; daughter Nikki and grandson Cash, 10; and granddaughter Harper, 3
In Town: “I have worked at Hartford High School for 38 years as the ag teacher and FFA advisor while my wife Valerie has taught second grade at Hartford Elementary. She is the Arkansas 2016 Economics Teacher of the Year, even though she teaches second grade. This is partially because her students sell things in a little business every year, something unusual in grade school. We both have family in the area close to Hartford, one of the main reasons moving here after college. Two years ago our district, Hartford, merged with the Hackett School District in order to maintain legal enrollment levels. We share administration and policies, but the schools have remained much the same and the transition was smooth. I have maintained about 20 students showing animals in FFA for the last 20 years, but now have more town students. Our school built a 40-foot by 60-foot barn on two acres of campus land to help those town students participate in showing. These students must feed, water, and care for their animals twice a day, even during the summer.”
In the Country: “I was raised on a farm in Mansfield, Ark., which was started by my grandfather J.E. Harp and passed down to my father, E.J. Harp, before I purchased it to continue the tradition. Along with this farm in Mansfield, I own farmland in Hartford where we currently reside. My wife and I own 172 acres and lease another 600 to support our commercial beef operation. My 100 momma cows are bred by registered Angus bulls and are a mix of Angus, Limousin, and Brahman. My father started this cross and I have continued with it after he passed from a four wheeler farm accident in 2003 when I continued working with my mom, Lucille, until she passed two years ago. This particular cross works well because when I sell at Wister, buyers like a style different from those in Fort Smith. Crossing these breeds help meet the desires of both types of buyers. I keep about 10 replacement heifers a year and sell groups of 3-12 calves, usually at 500 pounds. This flexibility depends how well the beef market is at the time. I use the 600 leased acres for hay ground and harvest enough round bales of fescue and mixed grasses to meet my needs.”
Future: “My biggest challenge is time, with school coming first. This being said, some of my cattle methods are not the best practices. For example, my bulls are with the herd all of the time and I sell bull calves rather than steers. I hardly ever see a calf born but pick my bulls for low birth weight combined with growth ability and milkabilty EPDs which solve many issues. I look forward to retiring soon which will mean more time to better my farm. My family and I have been blessed by God with happiness and financial stability.”