Spirit of Conway July 2016READ ONLINE
For more than century, Lucas family farm growing strongOriginally Published February 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 13, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
DAMASCUS Family traditions can evolve as the years pass, but for Gary and Terry Lucas of Damascus, their tradition of farming hasn’t changed for more than 100 years.
The Lucases received a 2012 Century Farm recognition from the Arkansas Agriculture Department for their farm, which has been in the same family for more than 100 years. To receive this recognition, a farm must contain at least 10 acres of the original land acquisition and make a contribution to the farm income. The Lucas farm was established in 1901.
There are seven Lucas siblings, but Gary and Terry, identical twins, run the farm together.
George Henry Lucas, their great-grandfather,
bought the farm in 1901 for $600.
“[The farm] started out in cotton and corn to feed horses,” Gary said.
The Lucas brothers’ father, James Don, took over the farm in 1958, from their grandfather R.J.
The Lucas farm was a dairy farm until 1967, when James Don died.
When their father died, Gary said, the youngest child was 1 month old, and the oldest child was 18 years old.
“My mother offered [the farm] to my older brother first, and he decided that there wasn’t enough land for him to expand and do what he wanted to do,” Gary said. “She offered it to us in 2002.”
The farm is now primarily an Angus cattle farm, where the Lucas brothers have about 75 cows.
Lisa — Gary and Terry’s sister — said the farm is still going strong today because of their mother, Joyce.
“We really wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my mother’s sake,” Lisa said. “After my dad passed away, she kept it all together. It was a lot of work and financial pressure on her to raise all of us and keep the farm intact.”
Throughout the years,
financial strain caused the farm to be mortgaged three times: in 1948, in 1958 and in 1962.
“They always managed to get up the money and start again,” Gary said.
One of the buildings on the Lucas property is a house that has been standing since the farm was initially purchased in 1901. Lisa is currently in the process of remodeling the home.
The Lucases said they hope the farm stays in the family as long as it possibly can.
“There really is a lot of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice [here],” Lisa said. “Once you’ve had a place this long, most everything has a story.”
Although Gary and Terry don’t have children, they have nephews who they hope will take the family farm over someday.
“I hope they’ll take interest in it,” Gary said.
To the Lucases, farming isn’t about the money they make doing it; it’s about the lifestyle.
“Family farms are just a dying breed,” Lisa said. “So much of the stuff from the grocery store is from corporate farms.”
In addition to their cattle farm, Gary and Terry have a logging business that they run. The brothers always find a project to work on, whether it’s restoring an old car or building a barn. There’s always something to do.
“We don’t know what our next project will be,” Gary said. “The plans are just to keep plowing forward.”
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at email@example.com.