Perry County family receives recognition

Carol Rolf Originally Published July 25, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 24, 2013 at 1:46 p.m.
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Carol Rolf

The Robert M. Hill Jr. family of the Union Valley community near Perryville has been named 2013 Perry County Farm Family of the Year. Jaclyn and Robert, back row, from the left, are shown here with their children, back row, right, Braydon, and front row, from the left, Rush, Brylee and Trey.

UNION VALLEY — Robert M. Hill Jr., 34, has owned cattle since he was about 6.

“I helped my dad and was encouraged by him,” he said. “It got in my blood, so to speak.”

Today, Hill, along with his wife, Jaclyn, 36, owns 250 mama cows and about 200 calves, which he buys and backgrounds each year, on the couple’s farm near Perryville. They also raise hay, corn and timber, farming a total of 1,641 acres.

The Hills have been named the 2013 Perry County Farm Family of the Year. The family includes their children, Braydon, 13; Brylee, 10; Trey, 9; and Rush, 4.

“It’s good,” Robert said of the Farm Family honor. “My wife has been wanting to be a Farm Family of the Year, but I never thought much about it.”

Jaclyn said, “When I see other people [being recognized] in the paper, I thought I would like to be that, too.”

Hill raises Angus/Brangus crossbred cattle. He buys about 200 calves in the fall, gives them their shots and feeds them until they reach a certain weight, and sells them in the spring at open-sale auction barns.

He grows corn for silage, which is mixed with hay and then fed to the cattle.

“Growing our own feed is cheaper and makes an excellent product,” he said. “My main goal is to grow exceptional feed for my cows and background operation. The corn-silage approach has helped my operation produce a better calf and helped the older cows perform better.

“I can mix the feed to my needs, such as desired protein. This seems essential to producing good healthy stock.

“I want to have as many cattle as I can. My goal is to have 500 mama cows.”

The Hills also raise timber on 359 acres.

“If the land won’t grow anything, if I can’t graze [cattle] on it, then I plant it in pine,” Robert said. “Even if [the land] is shale rock, it will grow a pine.”

The couple also have about 30 acres of oak, “Grade A timber,” Robert said.

“I sell the timber to the best benefit for my operation,” he said. “I consider this very important because it makes all my land producing a crop.”

Jaclyn also helps out on the farm.

“Jaclyn is real good to help feed the cows,” Robert said. “She’s also good at opening gates, which is very important so I don’t have to stop and do that. She also helps me work the cattle, but her full-time job is taking care of the kids.”

Hill is the son of Robert M. Hill Sr. of Perryville and the late Shirley Hill. He is a 1996 graduate of Perryville High School and attended college “a little bit.

“I’m about 16 hours short of graduation,” he said. “I quit college and came to work on the farm. I’ve been doing this full time for about 13 years.”

Jaclyn is the daughter of the late Jim and Brenda Faulkner of Perryville. She is a 1995 graduate of Perryville High School and attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, graduating as a surgical technician. She worked for a plastic surgeon before she and Robert were married.

The Hills plant a garden each year.

“We have a raised garden soiled with a dirt/cow manure mix,” Robert said. “It is covered with plastic to keep out the weeds. We usually have tomatoes, yellow squash, peppers and okra. The kids like to have watermelon and sunflowers. Jaclyn cans the tomato juice.”

Jaclyn said this year’s garden is “a little smaller” than usual.

The Hills’ children help out with farming chores as time allows. They are all involved in activities, and in their spare time, they enjoy riding horses.

Braydon is in Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and basketball at Perryville High School and has just finished a season of competitive cheerleading.

Brylee plays softball,

basketball and is a peewee cheerleader at Perryville.

Trey attends Jim Stone Elementary School in Conway and is involved in baseball, basketball and football.

Rush attends Perryville Preschool and plays baseball.

In his spare time, Robert enjoys fishing and hunting. He has participated in the Big Buck Classic, shooting a 21-point buck. Trey also hunts with his father. “He’s killed a few,” Robert said with a smile.

The Hills are active at Perryville United Methodist Church.

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