Vol. VI, No. 4, Spring 1993

A Medley of Change In Ozarks Farming

Two miles east of Omaha, Arkansas, on the end of a point, the Seals' chicken houses hold a hundred thousand chickens at a time, and they're finished for market in under two months. Five, or even six, batches of chickens per year are grown here--500,000 to 600,000. If a family eats two chickens a week, at home or in restaurant, that's roughly enough to supply chickens, annually, to a city of 5,000 families. Across northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, this scene has become familiar. Ozarks farmers alone who produce chickens for the Tyson system, supply a good percentage of the world's demand for chickens fried, baked, grilled, barbecued--in filets, nuggets, bits, and finger-lickin' whole pieces--southern fried, Tangora curried, stir-fried, or cordon bleu-ed.

Among the rolling green pastures near Bolivar, Missouri sits what appears to be a traditional American dairy farm, the Calbert place. But here, as on all modem American dairy farms, a series of concrete-floored holding lots are built near the dairy bam. And nearby, there's a waste lagoon large enough to serve a fair-sized city. The Calberts live traditional farm values, but their operation is about as traditional as a brain surgeon making house calls.

North of Springfield, Missouri five or six miles, just off of Highway H, is what appears to be a miniature dairy farm. The milking parlor is almost large enough to hold a Toyota, a small one. Each raised milking station provides about enough space for two light people to sit, close. The holding pen is large enough to provide ample parking space for two Toyotas. It's a goat dairy, one of many in the Ozarks. The milk is turned into goat cheddar and mozzerella in Stockton, Missouri or condensed and canned in Yellville, Arkansas.

In northeastern Oregon county, Missouri--it might be more accurate to say it is northeastern Oregon county--the Shaw ranch spreads across 14,000 acres, 22 square miles of beef farm and managed timber.

Ozarks farming has changed. The following articles tell a small part of the story. DRH


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