Aleena Brammer has faced multiple obstacles, but she has never given up her passion for cattle
Aleena Brammer of Mountainburg, Ark., represents how much Arkansans deeply loved their cattle.
Beverly, Aleena’s mother, fondly remembers and treasures a picture of Aleena as a toddler licking a salt block. Beverly always knew where to look to find the adventurous and cattle-loving little girl.
When Aleena was 9 or 10, she saved $435.17 to buy a show heifer and went with her father Harlan to see what she could find. Willard Walker, one of the early investors in Walmart, bought a $20,000 cow/heifer pair at a sale in the Carolinas. Willard and his manager, D.A. Davis, showed Harlan and Aleena their cattle.
When it came time to talk business, Willard asked Aleena, “Which heifer did you like?”
Harlan reminded Willard about Allena’s speech impediment but Willard said, “I can understand her just fine, so let us talk together by ourselves.”
He asked Aleena which heifer she would like and she mentioned the number of the heifer he had just purchased with the expensive cow. Willard asked her how much she had. Aleena said she knew she didn’t have enough money but could borrow some from her father to make an even $500.
“You just bought yourself a heifer,” Willard smiled and said.
Aleena comes from a solid agricultural family. When Harlan and Beverly married, Harlan had a 78-acre home place where they raised their two girls, Aleena and Chris. Harlan and Beverly developed a 400-acre spread that now contains pasture, some hay ground and some woods. Harlan learned his love of animals from his mother, who had come from a large farm. He would often tell young Aleena, “It’s like my mom said, ‘if you’re gonna have cattle, you will lose some, and you need to accept that because it’s a fact of life.”’
Aleena had a strong start and built up a herd of 75 mommas that produced show calves, with Maine Anjou, Angus and Simmental being her favorite breeds.
Her herd produced winners in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and California. She bred by AI and had a lucrative herd until 2000 when she injured her knee during a farming accident. That year began a severe personal trial with a total of 10 surgeries for a variety of issues during the next 19 years. Each took a cumulative toll on her stamina and recovery time.
Not surprisingly, emotional issues also cropped up, but like her grandmother and mother, she was a determined lady, who loved her cattle. Though her herd declined in numbers, she continued raising good calves and began using Stabilizer bulls from Leachman Cattle of Colorado. She liked Stabilizer bulls because they are easy calving and produce easy fleshing calves. She believes calves out of the Leachman bulls are just as good as those out of the club calf bulls, if not better.
In early 2018, she was ready to give up. She called Kent Reading from I-40 Livestock Auction with the intent of selling her whole herd. Kent told her he knew her and her heart and that dissolving her herd was a mistake. He advised her to sell her calves and cull down to her best cows and begin growing her herd again. Aleena did just that.
Though she only has 16 mommas with calves at this time, she is now well healed and eagerly looking forward to rebuilding her herd. She plans to max out at about 50 mommas.
For a number of years, the land has not been well cared for and the list needed to begin the process of developing her herd again is long.
Among the first steps is soil testing followed by combining commercial fertilizer with an herbicide for one application with a 2019 goal of harvesting her own hay with family help. One of the farm’s water sources is Frog Bayou. Her goal is to fence the cattle from reaching the Bayou and adding automatic waterers.
In addition, the farm was hit recently by a tornado so that the barn needs to be repaired. She hopes to continue herd health care with Hubbs Veterinary Clinic in Van Buren and to begin performing AI again.
A longer term goal is going back to raising club calves and perhaps moving toward registered cattle though she is not sure which breed. Before she became ill, Aleena not only sold club calves but she also helped teach the young people to show and clipped hair. She hopes to do that once again as well.
One thing is for sure, her happiness is tied in with her cows, and she will never give them up.