Melissa Eaton of West Fork, Arkansas has taught second grade for 14 years and hopes to retire from there and move to the farm. Photo by Terry Ropp.
Photo by Terry Ropp

Family: Uncle Gene Still; and cousin John Smith

Hometown: West Fork, Ark. 

In Town: “I have taught second grade in Elkins for 14 years and hope to retire from there, then move to the farm. My favorite part of teaching those light bulb moments when I can see that the students ‘get it.’

“My cousin, John Smith, is a farm foreman for a cattle farm owned by Terri McNaughton. We both live with our 87-year-old uncle at his farm in West Fork.”

In the Country: “Uncle Gene Still owns the land that houses Tenx Farms. It is a 200-acre commercial cow/calf operation featuring Angus/Braunvieh cattle. The Braunvieh influence puts more frame on the smaller Angus carcass. We maintain a herd size of 42 mommas with two bulls who run with the herd all of the time. We rotate through pastures as needed and set aside a few acres for hay production. The grasses are mostly fescue and Bermuda with rye for colder weather. We produce about a third to half what we need and purchase the rest locally if possible. We maintain cattle health by vaccinating twice a year, in the spring and fall, and providing salt and all-purpose mineral year-round in order to keep input costs down. The cattle have pond and spring water that is supplemented with rural water when necessary. Because black is so favored in the market, we not only sell calves at the sale barn, but have also developed a farm-to-table market that is typically booked two to three months ahead. Farm-to-table customers care less about the color of the calf and more about how it is raised and is a natural fit into our operation.”

Future: “An idea for the future is looking toward better land usage by adding sheep or goats. We may even add pork though we plan on keeping our cattle herd genetics as it is because our current system and marketing work well. The land is beautiful and will be a perfect place to retire.”


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