Hometown: West Fork, Ark.
Family: Wife Melia; and adult children Cal, Mackenzie and Slater
In Town: “I have worked at Farm Bureau for 40 years as an insurance agent and love it just as much now as when I started because it gives me an opportunity to help people. My wife Melia was a kindergarten teacher in West Fork until she retired five years ago.”
In the Country: “I was raised on a small farm on the east side of Fayetteville but my grandfather John Goucher had a farm on the Kings River in Madison County, a place I spent as much time as possible. Being a country kid, I learned a very strong work ethic from my father Dave, a work ethic that has served me well throughout my life. Between the two locations, I had a rural childhood, but not a complete education on raising cattle so when I started, I had a lot to learn. I remember being only 10 when I was dropped off at a sale barn to buy two heifers with money I had saved. I sat next to a man who understood what I was doing and told me which two to buy. I wish I knew who he was today so I could thank him.
“When I was considering starting my own farm 23 years ago, my dad made all the difference because he told me I would do just fine and needed to jump in and go for it. He knew I would learn what I needed to know when I needed to know it. When Melia and I decided to buy a small farm, we selected 86 acres close to the West Fork. The land has three pastures: two with ponds and one that serves as a hayfield and meets all my hay needs, with a little extra to sell.
“Troy Stout and Donnie Napier have been my friends and cattle advisors through the years. I run a heavily Angus-influenced herd mixed with some Hereford blood. I have 18 mommas that are bred by a Simmental bull that stays with them year-round. At one point, I was without a bull for almost eight months so my herd is somewhat synchronized, with calves being sold usually once a year. I also work my cattle once a year with a typical vaccination protocol. The cattle are grass fed, though I do feed range cubes once a week to keep them easy to manage. Loose mineral is always available in a trough, and I purchase a good supply of fly spray which I use as needed, generally from mid-May until mid-October.
“As I am approaching retirement, I plan to maintain my herd at about the same size, which is enough to keep me happy and not overuse the land. At this point, none of my children really have any interest in the farm so I question whether or not they will keep it, but who knows because that decision will hopefully be a long time from now.”