Farm, equipment business keep Saline County Farm Family members busy

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Originally Published June 30, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 28, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

The McLehaney family of Haskell has been named 2013 Saline County Farm Family of the Year. Family members are, from the left, Bill, Susanna and Betty McLehaney. They raise Beefmaster cattle and hay and operate a farm-equipment business in Haskell.

— Bill McLehaney and his daughter, Susanna McLehaney, have been farming for a combined total of 86 years. At age 84, Bill has farmed for 65 years, and Susanna, 39, has farmed for 21 years.

The McLehaneys, along with the matriarch of the family, Betty, 81, have been named 2013 Saline County Farm Family of the Year. They raise hay and cattle on their 280 acres in Haskell.

“It’s quite an honor,” Susanna said. “We are very happy about it.”

Bill’s parents, the late Herman and Angie McLehaney,

operated a dairy farm in Salem in Saline County before moving to Haskell in 1959, where they continued to run a dairy farm. Bill began helping his parents on the farm in 1948.

“We are still in the same location,” Bill said. “Susanna and Betty helped with the dairy until it closed in 1992. We then purchased Beefmaster and crossbred cattle to start a beef herd.

“Susanna started buying and breeding her own cattle in 1992 and was brought into a partnership. She started using Cattle-Pro [computer] software to keep herd health records and cattle progeny [records].”

Susanna started working on the farm in 1992 right after graduating from Benton Harmony Grove High School, where she was the class valedictorian.

“We sell replacement heifers off the farm,” Susanna said.

The family also sells some younger calves for show calves.

They have worked to improve the genetics of their cattle and to improve pasture utilization. They use electric fencing for rotational grazing. The family also use no-till machines to plant rye and clover for cool-season grazing.

The McLehaneys also own and operate a farm equipment business on their property. Susanna and Betty raise bees to help with the pollination of fruit trees and vegetables. They also grow a family garden each year.

“Dad started the parts business in 1977,” Susanna said.

“It’s a full-time life,” she said. “The equipment business is really busy in the

summer. We have to find time to fit in the farm, garden and bees.”

Bill said he spent the first 20 years of his life in Silver City, N.M.

“My parents moved out there during the Great Depression,” Bill said. “My dad worked in the copper mines. After that played out, they moved back to Arkansas and started the dairy farm in Salem.”

Bill graduated from high school in Hurley, N.M., and attended two years of college at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

Bill met Betty after his family moved to Salem.

“She worked in the bank in Benton,” Bill said, adding that she worked there for 23 years.

The McLehaneys have been married for 48 years.

“We love the farm,” Bill said. “We love the cattle. Susanna keeps us going.”

Susanna has been the president of the Saline County Cattlemen’s Association for several years. She is a board member for Saline County Farm Bureau, where she is chairwoman of the beef committee and a member of the Young Farmers and Ranchers committee. She is also a member of Beefmaster Breeders United.

Susanna and Betty are members of the Lady Beekeepers and Central Arkansas Beekeepers associations. Susanna is vice president of the Lady Beekeepers Association.

Bill has served on the Saline County Farm Bureau Board for several years and is a 30-year member of the Arkansas Forage and Grassland Council Board and a 50-year member of the Farmers Association, a farmers’ cooperative.

The family is active at Traskwood United Methodist Church.

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