Town & Country
Name: Sharon Atkinson
In Town: In addition to the demands of raising goats and cattle, Sharon, Jerry and Kathryn Atkinson operate Atkinson Transportation, their private trucking company. "With three drivers and just two trucks, that means there’s at least one of us home all the time," said Sharon. "The trucks also help on the farm because we have a couple of flatbeds we can use to haul hay, and we can move our equipment between the two ranches with them."
In the Country: Sharon Atkinson has ranched 300 acres spread over two large plots just west of Mansfield, Ark., since 1985, when she and her husband Jerry sold their trucking company in New Mexico and headed east, looking for farmland closer to family. Sharon and Jerry made their mark quickly on local agriculture, being chosen as the Sebastian County Farm Family of the year only two years later in 1987. On her farm, Sharon runs a herd of about 70 Boer goats, along with three llamas, and herds of grass-fed beef cattle. "We have Angus-based cattle," said Atkinson. "We have Red Angus bulls, and the cows are Angus crossbreeds." The current star attraction of the Atkinson goat herd is Peabody, a baby Boer that weighed only two pounds at birth, and stood only seven inches tall on very shaky legs. Sharon spends part of each day feeding Peabody with a bottle.
Family: Husband, Jerry; eldest daughter Kathryn who helps manage the goat and cattle herds; middle son Kerry; youngest daughter Megan.
What would you improve on your ranch?
Sharon wants better fencing to contain the goats that have much stronger and more agile legs than Peabody. "At an ag panel years ago, I heard a guy say the way to tell if your fences could hold goats was to throw a bucket of water at the fence," said Sharon. "He said if the fence held all the water, it would hold goats, too." The fences that used to contain about 250 head of sheep several years ago barely contain the 70 goats. In addition to rotational grazing strategies, Sharon plans to bring sheep back to her farm as part of a multi-species grazing plan. "With cows, sheep, and goats all on the same pasture, you get higher yield, because they all eat different things," said Sharon.
By Roy Hillhttp://www.ozarksfn.com/2009/06/01/town-a-country-33/Arkansas / Oklahoma Town & CountryArkansasName: Sharon AtkinsonIn Town: In addition to the demands of raising goats and cattle, Sharon, Jerry and Kathryn Atkinson operate Atkinson Transportation, their private trucking company. "With three drivers and just two trucks, that means there’s at least one of us home all the time," said Sharon. "The trucks...Melissa FullerMelissa Fullermelissa@ozarksfn.comAdministratorOzarks Farm & Neighbor Newspaper