Sandra Wright and her family continue the family tradition in White County, Ark. Photo courtesy of Mark Buffalo/Paxton Media
Photo courtesy of Mark Buffalo/Paxton Media

Sandra Wright and her family continue the family tradition in White County, Ark.

STEPROCK, ARK. – For more than a century, the Byrd family has had a picture-perfect view of the their farming operation. The lasting impression motivates Sandra Wright to continue her family legacy. 

By her own strength and determination, Sandra finds the ability to balance raising a family and raising her cattle. 

The Byrd Ranch started in 1879 with 84 acres, It now operates on 1,363 acres, including 833 acres that are owned by the Wright family and 530 acres that are rented.

Sandra grew up on the farm, and from an early age, she helped where her father needed. 

“When I was a young child, I started going with my father every day and helping him. I grew up on the farm and ran cattle with him. That is how I got started,” Sandra said.

In 2022, the Wright family was named the White County Farm of the Year. It was the third time, and the third generation of the Byrd family to earn the honor. Sandra’s grandfather, Isom Byrd, was honored in 1963. Her father, Charles, was honored in 1969.

Calving season is a big time of year for the ranch. With 160 cows, including Red Angus, there is plenty to always be done around the ranch. 

“Every morning I start by riding and checking all five pastures I keep my cattle in,” said Sandra. “Then I do that again in the afternoons starting at two o’clock.”

 In addition to these daily tasks, comes other miscellaneous tasks around the farm. 

“Then I got a little calf that is on the bottle, and I must feed it twice. Then I feed our heifers we are keeping to breed, and our first-class heifers,” said Sandra. “Fix the fence because there is always something torn up,” Sandra said.

The ranch itself is one of 532 Century Farms in the state of Arkansas. According to the USDA, Sandra is part of the 13 percent of female producers in the United States running an operation alone. Making her unique and setting her apart from other operations. 

“It’s mainly myself right now. My father and I ran it together up until he passed away a little over a year ago. So, I bought his cattle out and continued to keep running it,” said Sandra.

The Byrd Ranch is one of 532 Century Farms in the state of Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Mark Buffalo/Paxton Media
Photo courtesy of Mark Buffalo/Paxton Media

Maintaining an operation as large as Sandra’s comes with many hardships. In busy and demanding times, Sandra looks to her husband, Rickey Wright, for help. Rickey is the owner of Bald Knob Animal Hospital. His skills as a veterinarian help aid Sandra in keeping the cattle healthy and at their best performance.

Sandra will look to her son, Charlie Wright, if more help is needed. Other than the occasional two to three days help Sandra receives, she is found to be able to get things done by herself. 

With overcoming everyday obstacles on the ranch comes the difficulty of finding balance with work and being a mother and wife. 

“It just all runs together,” Sandra laughed. “You have some kind of supper, and I’m grouchy and I wash clothes and I hang them around. There are times of the year that are not as busy, and it is not as bad.”

Rickey refers to her as the “energizer bunny” due to her ability to stay on the go. Some might call it “Girl Power.”

“I’ve always done it, so I haven’t thought very much about how my gender influenced me. I just always wanted to learn.”

While rising to the challenge has always come naturally to Sandra, she finds inspiration from her mother, Frances Byrd. 

“She just could do it. She worked off the farm for a few years and worked nights. My grandmother lived right across the road from us, so she helped babysit and cook for us,” said Sandra. “Momma could just do everything.”

At age 85, Francis has a lot of grit and strength. Sandra still finds pride today in her mother’s abilities to preserve and accomplish any task around the farm and at home. 

“She was the ‘cooker’ as my son called her one time. She cooked our meals, she helped with the haying. She baled hay for us in the past. She’s helped us all this past summer. She, age 85, helped me pull a calf just last calving season,” said Sandra. “And just the year before that, she helped me when I was at home by myself. She rides with me in the truck to go check fields and wants to go and help hold the gate, so I let her go. She’s always here and getting involved in some way.”

While Francis’ life choices have contributed to Sandra’s inspiration, those who know Sandra are influenced by her actions as well. 

“I think most of the people that know her admire her as to what she has been doing. And people see what she does when they come by this farm every day,” Rickey said.

Sandra encourages the younger generation of women to join the 13 percent. 

“Do it,” said Sandra. “There is no reason you can’t do it. Just get out there and do it.”

The Byrd Family Ranch is the very result of the hard work and heart Sandra has poured into her operation. Her role as a producer, mother, and wife is a source of inspiration for others and her execution in those roles portrays some of her most admirable characteristics. Sandra paints a picture for our future generation of women in agriculture and creates a view that lasts a lifetime.


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