Rural living


Is it spring yet? I have been busy working on a project for several months. This project had me on the road in southern Washington and Crawford counties. I have had the most wonderful opportunities to meet people who live in rural Arkansas. Many of these folks are also raising children and farming. I have had an opportunity to speak to fellow Arkansans about taxes, education and of course agriculture.

My husband and I have lived on Round Mountain near Elkins for almost 17-years. He grew up in Northwest Arkansas, out in Goshen. I grew up in Southwest Missouri. When we returned to Northwest Arkansas, we lived in Springdale in a subdivision. For two years after we got married, we looked high and low for a place to call home out in the country.

His mother was our Realtor and we had made offers on properties that slipped away because a higher offer had come in ahead of us. We were getting frustrated with the market at the time. We had grown up in the country raising cattle and horses and wanted the same environment for our children.

When my husband’s mother told us about a place with 40-acres and a shop with a creek running through it, we did not waste any time. We loaded up the 4-wheeler and took it out and drove around the property. We never really inspected the house. The two of us knew it was older and would need some fixing up, but we were enchanted by the beauty of this little farm near Elkins. We made an offer that was accepted quickly, and we were ready to get moved.

When we finally got inside of the house, we discovered it would need some work to prepare to live there. We were waiting for the people who purchased our home in town to sell their place, so we felt like we had some time. Little did we realize, their home sold quickly, and we were going to move into the little farmhouse while fixing it up. We were also surprised with the news that our first baby was on her way.

I am sure I have shared this adventure before. And it was just that – an adventure. Our well went dry and the central air conditioning quit working that first summer. We persevered like a couple of pioneers. We have grown to love our Elkins and Round Mountain community very much. We have wonderful neighbors all round us. It is a blessing to be raising our family here.

I did not know too much about the differences in school zones when our first child went to kindergarten. Where we lived, we were zoned for Fayetteville Public Schools. That would be where we sent them, we did not question it. As our children have gotten into the older grades, we have discovered some things that are taught in their district that do not align with our family values.

Thankfully, in the state of Arkansas, we have a school choice law in place to allow for students to transfer to the school district of their choice. We are hopeful about a transfer to a more rural school district this spring for 2022-23. We have had so many wonderful teachers for our children and hope this continues in a new school close by our farm, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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