POTTSVILLE — Randy Clark, 46, and his wife, Laura, also 46, have always lived on Crow Mountain. He’s from the Pottsville “side” of the mountain, and she’s from the Atkins side. The two married in 1988 and have been farming on the Pottsville side ever since.
The Clarks have been named the 2014 Pope County Farm Family of the Year. Randy and Laura have two adult children. Their son, Nathan, 22, and his wife, Nina, 23, have one daughter, 14-month-old Alexis. Nathan farms with his dad and is a captain for the Pottsville Volunteer Fire Department. Daughter Ashlyn, 20, works full time at Friendship Community Care and part time at Hair Tech as a nail technician.
“It’s exciting to be named Farm Family of the Year,” Randy said. “It’s a big honor.”
The Clarks’ farm consists of 463 acres. The family raises approximately 720 head of mixed beef cattle in a stocker operation.
“We buy our own stock, mostly locally,” Randy said. “We clean them up, vaccinate and worm them, feed them and sell them off when they are about 700 or 800 pounds.
“We sell them to the feed lots, where they will stay about 130 to 140 days until they reach about 1,200 to 1,300 pounds. They are then sent to harvest.”
Randy markets his cattle through the Superior Livestock Auction, which is a video auction. He uses local auctions and sells to private buyers as well.
The Clarks also raise 230 acres of hay and haylage, which is hay baled at a higher moisture content than dry hay and wrapped with plastic wrap for storage. They normally put up about 900 bales of hay a year, using it mostly to feed their cattle.
Randy also works part time installing commercial lawns. Laura works part time as well. She works two days a week in Russellville for the Leon Anderson Insurance Agency, which is a part of Nationwide Insurance.
The original Clark homestead was purchased in 1903, with additional land being bought throughout the next century. Randy’s great-grandfather, Arley Jones, bought the current homestead in 1918 and sold it to his son, E.R. Jones, who is Randy’s grandfather, in 1941. E.R., 91, still lives in the homeplace.
Randy started working part time after school with his grandfather in 1984. When Randy graduated from Pottsville High School in 1986, he began working full time on the farm.
“I came straight out of high school to the farm,” Randy said. “That’s all I ever wanted to do, and it’s what I like to do. I’ve been on this mountain all my life.”
Randy took over the day-to-day operations of the farm in 1988, as well as some buying and selling. He took over all of the buying and selling in 1998.
Randy hopes to continue to expand his farm “as profit margins increase,” he said. “If the market holds, I’d like to grow more head [of cattle] and more acreage.”
Randy is the son of Bill and Gail Clark, who live about a mile down the road from their son on Crow Mountain. Bill did not go into farming. Randy has one sister, Denise Owens, whose husband, Jason, helps on the farm during hay season; they also live on Crow Mountain.
Laura, who graduated from Atkins High School in 1985, is the daughter of Delbert and Linda Carney, who still live on the Atkins side of Crow Mountain. Laura has one brother, Jeff Carney, who is married to Jannetta, and one sister, Cindy, who is married to David Collins. They all live on the Atkins side of Crow Mountain.
“I’m the rebel,” Laura said with a laugh. “I moved over here (to the Pottsville side of the mountain).”
Laura said she worked “odd jobs” after she graduated from high school.
“I met him and pestered him into marrying me,” she said of Randy, smiling. “I’d come up here at noon, and his grandma (the late Virginia Clark) cooked lunch for everyone.”
Nathan owns his own herd of cattle. “About 30 head,” he said.
Like his dad, Nathan also became interested in farming at an early age. He joined 4-H in 1999 and showed livestock until 2009. He held several offices in 4-H. He showed chickens, rabbits, sheep and cattle at the Pope County Fair. He was also a member of the Pottsville FFA.
Nathan attended the University of Arkansas at Morrilton, where he received his license for heating and air conditioning.
“It’s nice to have this ability to work here on the farm,” he said.
Ashlyn also joined 4-H in 1999 and participated in group activities until 2012. She also held offices in 4-H. She showed chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats and cattle at the Pope County Fair and was a member of the Pottsville FFA. She is a graduate of the Arkansas Beauty College in Russellville.
Randy and Laura still volunteer with 4-H. They formed the Krazy Kritters 4-H Club and served as its leaders from 2004-2012.
“When Alexis turns 5, she’s going to become a member of 4-H,” Laura said, smiling. “The Krazy Kritters is a good club; we’re really fond of it.”
Randy is a member of the Pope County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Pope County Cattlemen’s Association and the Pope County Cooperative Extension Service Agricultural Committee.
Laura is a member of the Pope County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee.
The Clarks are active members of Pottsville Free Will Baptist Church, where both formerly taught Sunday School. Laura is a member of the Women of Valor at the church.