BY RICK WRIGHT –
As most farmers will tell you, it’s not always about the money you make, but about the lifestyle. Families such as Duane and Dotsy Webb are living proof that sharing a passion brings a life full of time well spent on the things that really matter.
Duane has been in farming his entire life, and admits it brings him great joy and satisfaction. He was born in Hope, Arkansas and raised in a little town called Columbus, which is 15 miles from Hope. He lived there his entire life until he went to college. “I was raised on a farm,” said Webb. “My dad and uncle were partners and had chickens and cows. I was raised there working and it was just a way of life for me.”
Duane went to Southern Arkansas at Magnolia and that’s where he met his wife Dotsy, on the farm at SAU. “I graduated in 1996 and went to work for Tyson in the Swine Division. I worked in Oklahoma for about a year before Tyson moved me to Russellville.” During that time Dotsy graduated from college and we got married. I was a field technician for Tyson in Russellville,” said Webb.
Besides sharing two children, Brody and Josey, the couple also share a passion for farming, a passion that has carried through to their family. “Dotsy is very supportive in everything I do,” said Duane. “Sometimes there are no words to describe how hard she works and she’s an awesome mom. She has done a good job raising Brody and Josey.”
Brody and Casey Falls plan to rope together at this year’s Polk County Rodeo, which is scheduled for August 11th through 13th at Andy Risenhoover Arena at the Polk County Fairgrounds. Josey has a steer to show in this year’s Polk County Fair.
“We decided we’d rather be closer to family, so we moved back here,” said Webb. “My in-laws, Raymond and Gloria Falls, had laying houses for years. We came back and started running their laying houses and working on the farm. In that process we built a laying house. We were running all of them. Now we just have one. The older laying houses were shut down. We help manage Raymond’s cattle and we have our own cattle. We lease some land from a neighbor and we lease some from Gloria, her home place down at Cove.”
Duane manages about 400 acres owned by his father-in-law, and he leases about 230 acres. “Raymond has about 100 momma cows, and I’ve got about 75 and we keep replacement heifers,” said Duane. “They are commercial cattle, but we have a few that are pure bred, some that were registered, but not very many. They were for sale and we bought them.”
Living on the farm or ranch is about the life, not about making a lot of money, because about the time you think you’re making money you have to go fix a tractor, or you have some stuff to buy,” said Duane. “It’s just a cycle. It’s about the life.”
“Dotsy and I don’t work off,” said Duane. “We’ve got to raise our kids here. We didn’t have to take them to a babysitter. Dotsy pretty much takes care of gathering the eggs and so she’s been able to take care of the kids there while they were little. They pretty much grew up in that chicken house. Now they’re big enough they can help. They drive tractors and help in the hayfield all summer.”
“Our chicken house has the automated belt gathering system that brings the eggs in from the nests,” said Duane. The Webbs gather eggs for OK Foods, out of Heavener, Oklahoma. In the old ones, we went in and gathered the eggs out of the nests. Raymond’s houses just went out of date, but he moved those houses. He tore one down, hauled them to his place and rebuilt them on his place. He grew chickens in those houses for close to 30 years, maybe a little more.”
Duane is President of the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association, on the Polk County Farm Bureau Board, and he is a member of the Rich Mountain Conservation District Board. Duane is also on an advisory committee to assist Polk County Extension Agent Carla Vaught in planning events. The Webbs are also members of the Mena Church of Christ.
Investing in the next generation of farmers, the Webbs openly share their farming skills and knowledge. Not everyone is cutout for this lifestyle and the strong commitment, work ethic and rigorous work it entails but as Paul Harvey once said, that’s why “God made a farmer.”