The Way It Was: And Is
The original 153 acres, where Sam Massey runs part of his cattle, once belonged to his grandfather. That farm in the Campbell community was homesteaded in 1875 and stayed in the Massey family. That’s where Sam grew up, and farmed, as far back as he remembers. “Back then,” he said, “all we had was horse-drawn equipment and we raised most everything we ate. We had apple and peach trees, part of that was a cash crop. Dad raised sweet potatoes, another cash crop. We had chickens and eggs, and milk cows. Until I got big enough to go to the field, I’d help Mother in the garden. She dried fruit and canned fruit and garden vegetables for winter.”
When Sam and Jo Ann married in 1949, they lived and farmed on the home-place in the Campbell community. “In 1955 I bought my first tractor, a Ford 8N, and equipment,” he said. “In the 60s, and prior to then, the biggest part of the cattle in Searcy County were horned Herefords, but on our place I had Polled Herefords.”
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE
For years he was with the Forest Service and in the National Guard, then in 1968 he went into fulltime service, the Army, and retired in 1990. During those years he served two terms in Vietnam, and time in Germany and Korea. His dad had passed away and John, his brother, moved onto the place and farmed and ran cattle while Sam was gone.
“When we came home from Geronimo, Okla., I’d been stationed at Fort Sill at that time, we moved into our house in Marshall, Ark. We'd bought a mobile home and intended to travel,” he said. “The first Monday back I went to the sale barn and bought several head of cows and calves, then had something I couldn’t go off and leave. So, the traveling idea went on the back burner.”
He bought property at Canaan and Hill Top and at the present time has 350 acres. He has his own baler and cuts and bales hay from 85 acres for winter feeding. “I have Charolais, too,” he said. “And crossbreed from Charolais to Polled Hereford. Two bulls I sold last year were the biggest bulls I ever saw. The highest priced calves I ever sold came from those crossbred bulls.”
Sam has a small sawmill and cut trees from his property, milled the lumber with which he built hay barns and outbuildings, and most of the lumber needed for repairs.
CHOICE OF BREEDS
Another reason he has for crossbreeding, Angus bulls improve meat quality. His choice of Polled Hereford bulls gives him an alternative to dehorning. All together he has 65 momma cows; some are cow/calf pairs with more calves coming all the time. He has three Black Angus and two Charolais/Hereford bulls. Sam prefers a spring calving season and said most of the calves are born around that time. He also has Black Angus cows. “Angus give birth easily, because the calves are small,”he said. “They’re good-natured, easyto handle.”
Polled Herefords are his preferred breed, adding, “They’re real gentle, an old man’s kind of cows.”
Sam stated that he cannot imagine how farming will change in the next hundred years. They have four sons and nine grandchildren and he knows the land, especially the home-place, will stay in the Massey family.