MOUNT VERNON — Jonathan Wallace said he had been looking for a farm/ranch to buy for about 15 years when he saw an advertisement for a place near Mount Vernon.
“I read that and thought, ‘This sounds perfect,’” he said. “I’ve always liked Mount Vernon.”
So in 2005, Jonathan, 47, and his father, William Thomas “Bill” Wallace, 81, bought a 137-acre farm on Arkansas 36 between Naylor and Mount Vernon. They call their operation Braveheart Cattle Co.
The Wallaces are the 2014 Faulkner County Farm Family of the Year. They have a cow/calf operation and a replacement-heifer program and raise hay on 70 acres of their farm. They also have horses, which they use to work the cattle.
“It’s an honor to receive this recognition,” Jonathan said. “This county has so many good farmers. You can just look across the street, and there will be one.”
Bill said he, too, is honored and that he once served on the committee that selects the families each year.
“It helps you get your place cleaned up before the judges come,” Bill said with a smile. “I don’t think we’re quite where we want to be with our farming program. We’re not finished.
“We started on a mission to supply good-quality, genetically sound beef cows to the producers in the state and are still working toward that goal.”
Jonathan and his wife, Kelly, 45, live in Maumelle. They have two children.
Their son, Cody, 20, is a graduate of Catholic High School in Little Rock. He attends the University of Arkansas, where he is majoring in agriculture business. He is spending his second summer at a ranch in Cody, Wyoming.
Cody became involved with 4-H and showing cattle when he was 9. During high school, he competed on the National Championship Fitness Team and was captain of the wrestling team.
The couple’s daughter, Courtney, 12, is a student at Arkansas Baptist Schools, where she is a cheerleader. She is also a member of a competitive cheer team and has shown and competed in hunter jumper horse shows.
Bill has two other sons: William Thomas Wallace III, who lives in Conway and is associate pastor at Family Bible Church; and Tim Wallace of Powell, Missouri, who has an Internet business and preaches at a cowboy church in Siloam Springs.
Jonathan, who is a fire investigator with the Arkansas Farm Bureau, said he comes to the farm every day.
“I travel the state and know every back road to this farm,” he said with a smile. “I sometimes start my day here, sometimes end my day here and sometimes do both.”
Bill said he, too, tries to get up to the farm on a daily basis.
Jonathan said they usually buy a group of heifers in the spring, breed them using artificial insemination, then sell them as bred heifers. They send them to local livestock auctions and use the Internet for marketing.
Jonathan said their goal is to “provide quality heifers to commercial producers in Arkansas to improve the genetic quality of their herds.”
He said they select superior bulls and use artificial insemination to get good-quality calves.
“Top genetic bulls produce great calves,” he said.
Jonathan said he and his father attended artificial-insemination classes about seven years ago.
“Our first three years, the average conception rate (using AI) was 38 percent,” he said. “We now have averaged 75 percent for the last four years.”
The Wallaces are also working to improve forage quality and grazing management.
“We are going to try to graze everything and not cut hay, but buy hay if we need it,” he said, adding that they do use rotational grazing practices.
“We inspect the pastures daily,” he said. “The cows will tell you when it’s time to move them.”
“We keep about 15 cows to use to advertise our calves,” Jonathan said. “We breed them to the same bulls.” He said the cattle are mainly Angus-based.
“We use a purebred Angus bull and a Red Angus bull for cleanup (in cases where the artificial insemination technique did not work),” he said.
He said they lease a bull from Winrock Farms on Petit Jean Mountain.
“We keep it for 90 days and then ship it back,” he explained. “We’ve been leasing the bull for four or five years. Before that, we used a Black Angus bull.
Bill said he suggested the name of their farm — Braveheart Cattle Co.
“Are you familiar with the movie Braveheart?” he asked visitors to the farm. “Do you know who William Wallace was?
“I am William Wallace,” he said with a laugh, adding that some of his ancestors did come from Scotland. “And I did manage to name one of my kids William Wallace.
“My grandfather was Williams Thomas Wallace, and my grandmother was Georgia Ann Boyd. They named one of their kids William Wallace as well.
“But my dad was Jesse Wallace,” Bill said. “And he had a brother named Frank.”
Bill said his father farmed.
“As a kid, we lived in Columbia County and farmed 200 acres,” Bill said. “Dad raised cotton. I swore if I ever got off that cotton farm, I’d never chop another piece of cotton.”
After graduating from Magnolia High School, Bill began rodeoing. After traveling around and attending two colleges out west, Bill returned to Arkansas. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition.
Bill worked for the University of Arkansas and was director of an experimental station at Batesville for 17 years. After that, he farmed privately for a few years. He retired from his position as a beef-cattle specialist with the U of A Cooperative Extension Service in 2002.
Jonathan graduated from Heber Springs High School in 1985 and from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 1990 with a degree in physical education.
“I wanted to be a coach,” he said, “but I got a job right away with the Farm Bureau and have been there for 24 years.”
Kelly was born and raised in Little Rock and is a graduate of UCA with a degree in psychology. She is now in medical sales.
“My job on the farm is to buy the horse treats,” she said, laughing, “and I did decorate this house.”
Jonathan and Bill are both involved in community activities.
Jonathan is a member of the Faulkner County Fair Livestock Committee and was chairman of the beef committee in 2011. He is a member of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, the Arkansas chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators and the state chapter of the International Association of Special Investigative Units.
Kelly has been a member of the Relay for Life committee and chairwoman of its silent auction committee. She was also a member of the Hearts and Hooves fundraiser committee.
Jonathan and his family attend New Life Church.
Bill was selected to the Alpha Zeta honorary scholastic fraternity at the U of A in 1956. He is a member of Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway.
He is president of the Area V Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and was president of the Cleburne and Faulkner County chapters of that organization. He is also a member of the International Cattlemen’s Beef Association.