Two Sisters and a Farm
Don’t expect to get rich, and you have to enjoy it,” was the advice Laura King had for anyone wanting to get into the cattle business.
On their 630-acre farm in Dallas County, two sisters, Laura Carolyn King and Elsie (Toot) Pryor, are perfectly content. Together, they have been running the farm for 22 years. Around 1914 their maternal grandparents purchased the first 160 acres of the farm. Laura enjoyed supplying a bit of history.
“My grandmother was from Iowa and when she was young; she married and went to Kansas. She hated Kansas. She wanted trees. So she talked my grandfather into buying her a place she could stay in the summertime. She hated summers in Kansas. They started out and crossed the border into Arkansas from Parsons, Kan., and thought they would find trees. The tarantulas were migrating across the road. She made him stop the car and said, “I will not live in a place where spiders are that big. You find me another place.” He was taking her to Conway, Ark. "My mother’s maiden name was Conway. So grandpa looks on the map and he sees Conway, Mo. So he found Conway and bought 160 acres.”
That was just the beginning. Laura and Elsie’s father bought adjoining property and the farm kept growing.
Laura and Elsie graduated from Conway High School, married, and were busy with lives of their own when their father got sick. That changed their lives.
Twenty-three years ago, Laura came back to help take care of her dad. “I didn’t know a cow from anything. Dad had Angus cows and those cows didn’t like me. They kicked at me. I looked at every one that kicked at me and I said 'just as soon as dad’s gone, you’re the first one on that truck.' I had almost all of them on the truck.” (At least as far as threats went.)
“Mother just knew I was going to move back and take care of everything, and I thought I’d try for a while. After dad was gone and the cows just had me, they kinda liked me. So then they quit kicking at me.”
With her husband still working, Laura went back and forth between Conway and their home in Lee's Summit. When he retired, they moved to the farm in Conway. Laura’s husband, Everett, passed away two years ago.
The two sisters dearly love their farm and rarely leave it. Elsie’s husband, Bernard, does some of their shopping, if it’s a short list. The three live together and are also caring for Bernard’s 98-year-old mother.
These ladies are happy on the farm they inherited from their father, and caring for their 150 head of cattle.
I came down here and my husband told me he’d retire and he said we were going to do all these things. He told me I could have 25 cows and couldn’t have any more.” Laura kept him guessing by saying, “Well, we sold so many off this place and we kept this many on that place.” With four places, she kept him in the dark.
If they had a breed preference, it would be Angus. Laura said, “Because that’s what dad liked.” But they have a variety of breeds in their herd. Their main requirement is disposition. “We can’t have silly cows. We can’t have cows that don’t behave.”