White County family earns farming honor

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published August 31, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

The Lyndell Wyatt family of Albion is the 2014 White County Farm Family of the Year. Members of the family are, from left, Lynlee, Lyndell, Donna and Logan Wyatt, and Hunter Mason, who is engaged to Logan. The family farms 750 acres and raises row crops, Bermuda hay and purebred Black Angus cattle.

ALBION — Lyndell Wyatt’s roots run deep in White County.

His great-grandfather, grandfather and father all farmed the land, and he continues to carry on the family tradition.

Lyndell, 50, and his wife, Donna, also 50, along with their daughters, Lynlee, 24, and Logan, 21, have been named the 2014 White County Farm Family of the Year. Logan’s fiance, Hunter Mason, also helps with the farming chores.

Lyndell, who is the only child of the late Sonny and Kathleen Wyatt, said he is “very humbled” by the recognition.

“We are just out here, working the land, trying to take care of ourselves and our family, and then out of the blue, we get this honor,” he said. “We are very, very humbled. I just wish my mother and dad were here to see it.”

Kathleen Wyatt died in 2011, and Sonny Wyatt died in 2012.

“One of the biggest challenges in all of this is trying to adjust since my mom and dad passed away,” Lyndell said. “I’m not too naive to know I’m riding on their coattails. It all belongs to God, anyway; I’m just working it for him.”

The Wyatts farm 750 acres, which include 230 acres of row crops — corn and soybeans; 200 acres of Bermuda hay; and 100 acres of pasture for their 30 head of purebred Angus cows and calves.

“I am the third generation on this farm,” Lyndell said. “My granddad, Willie Wyatt, started with 56 acres. He swapped a ’29 Chevrolet car for the 56 acres.”

Lyndell now grows hay on that original 56 acres.

He said his granddad was renting land at the site of the present-day Harding University football field in Searcy before he acquired the 56 acres, which was near the land he worked on as a child.

Lyndell said his great-grandfather, Jim Wyatt, farmed 40 acres in the area until his death in 1918.

“My great-uncle, Carthel Wyatt, was given that land upon my great-grandfather’s passing,” Lyndell said. “Being the oldest son, he kept the farm in the family and continued to farm into the early 1930s. Carthel later became a respected pastor in the White County area.”

Lyndell said that during the Great Depression, his grandfather was able to build a barn on the 56 acres he had acquired and start a small cattle herd.

“In the 1940s, he was able to purchase more adjoining land totaling 280 acres,” Lyndell said. “My dad and grandfather raised cotton, cattle and soybeans into the late 1950s.”

Lyndell said it was during this time that his parents began raising chickens. They also purchased additional land, and by 1979, they had purchased 440 acres.

Lyndell grew up on the farm, helping his dad.

“I started driving a tractor sitting in his lap when I was about 10,” Lyndell said. “I was driving on my own when I was 12.

“Farming quickly got in my blood.”

Lyndell said his maternal grandparents, the late Ray and Minnie Faulkner of Pangburn, were also farmers.

Lyndell said he did work off the farm “some,” but he is now a full-time farmer.

Donna was born in Searcy, the daughter of Darrell and Charlene Head of Rose Bud. Donna has one brother, Ray Head of Rose Bud. Her sister, the late Deborah Gee, also lived in Rose Bud.

Donna is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in early-childhood education. She taught at Pangburn Elementary School for 28 years.

“She retired to help me with the farm,” Lyndell said, noting that they have been married for 30 years. “She does all the paperwork, which my mom did before she died. I tried to do everything, but keeping up with the office work put an extra load on me.

“Donna told me up front that she was not a farm girl, but she’s stepped right up and has been a big help to me.”

Both Lynlee and Logan also help on the farm when they can, and Logan’s fiance, Hunter, helps with the hay. Hunter is a graduate of Arkansas State University with a degree in physical therapy.

Lynlee is an instructor of cosmetology at the Paul Mitchell Partner School in North Little Rock. Logan is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas, where she is majoring in nutrition.

Lyndell said he hopes to continue to improve his farming operation.

“We are currently in somewhat of a transition period,” he said. “My dad and I didn’t agree on what kind of cows we should have.

“Dad just liked cows,” Lyndell said. “I, on the other hand, preferred Black Angus. We have sold 31 cows and cow/calf pairs totaling 45 head. We replaced them with Black Angus. We have started a replacement heifer program to improve our herd quality.”

Lyndell said the 2012 drought taught the family many things.

“We are implementing an irrigation program this year,” he said, adding that he also plans to practice rotational grazing. “We hope to begin soil-testing each year to improve fertility of our row crops, hay and forage.”

Lyndell said he also hopes to expand his cattle operation.

Lyndell and Donna are members of the White County Cattlemen’s Association, the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, the White County Farm Bureau and Valley Baptist Church in Searcy, where both are Awana leaders and members of the Fellowship Sunday School class. Lyndell is also a deacon in the church.

Lynlee and Logan are also active at Valley Baptist Church.

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