Yell County family honored for farming operation in Ola

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published July 16, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

Judy and Michael Dixon of Ola are the 2017 Yell County Farm Family of the Year. They raise cattle and poultry on their 400-acre farm. The Dixons built a shop, complete with heat and air, about two years ago that includes a small apartment where they display this artistic installation that Judy designed.

OLA — Michael and Judy Dixon were high school sweethearts and will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this year. Recently, they celebrated another milestone in their life together — they were named the 2017 Yell County Farm Family of the Year.

“Being named Yell County Farm Family of the Year is an honor,” said Michael, 52. “I don’t consider myself a full-time farmer, but it is certainly an honor to be recognized. I’m happy with what I have been able to do.”

Michael also works full time in the family business, Dixon Poultry Equipment Co. in Russellville.

“I have no plans to expand my farming operation. … I’m too old,” Michael said, smiling.

Judy, 53, said being named Farm Family of the Year “is definitely an honor.” The Dixons own 400 acres. They raise 140 head of commercial cattle, a mixture of Angus and Brangus cattle. They also own four broiler houses and raise hay, which is used to feed the cattle. They use the chicken litter as fertilizer on the farm.

“We raise about 84,000 broilers at one time,” Michael said. “We get them as chicks and raise them for 30 to 35 days. … They will weigh a little over 4 pounds when Tyson Foods sends a truck to collect them and take them to the [Tyson] plant in Waldron.”

Michael said he sells his calves and cattle at local livestock auctions.

“I raise my own heifers for replacement and market some for sale,” he said. “One major problem we had was finding replacement heifers to buy, so I started raising my own.”

Michael is also a part owner in Dixon Cattle Co. with his brothers.

“We operate 18 broiler houses in that operation. We also run 350 head of commercial cattle,” he said.

“I started farming with my father. In 1989, I built two poultry houses. In 1999, I took over the farming operation,” Michael said.

“My dad owned this farm, which he bought in 1980,”

Michael said. “I started farming with him after I graduated from high school, and when he passed away in 1999, I took over. I did go to college — Arkansas Tech — for two years and studied agriculture.

“Dad owned Dixon Poultry Equipment, where I now work full time, along with my brothers. Dad started the business in the early ’60s. We sell equipment to poultry farmers.”

Michael said weather always presents challenges for a farmer.

“Weather is always a factor,” he said. “It’s probably the biggest thing we deal with, … from droughts to floods to blizzards and everything in between.”

Michael is a son of Ina Dixon of Ola and the late Don Dixon. Michael has two brothers, Greg Dixon of Ola and Steve Dixon of Russellville, and one sister, Jan George of Dardanelle. Michael graduated from Ola High School in 1983.

Judy is a daughter of Harlan and Nancy Porter of Ola. Judy has two brothers and two sisters — Jerry Porter, Tommy Porter, Pam Porter and Vicky Walker, all of Ola. Judy graduated from Ola High School in 1983.

Judy is a retired registered nurse who worked in the medical field 26 years, including 15 years in the labor and delivery department at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Russellville. She started college at Petit Jean Vo-Tech (now the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton) and transferred to Arkansas Tech, where she received a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Judy said she now enjoys collecting vintage furniture and refinishing it.

“I take old stuff and bring it back to life,” she said.

The Dixons enjoy traveling whenever they can.

“We’ve been on several cruises,” Michael said. “We plan a trip to Canada in August.”

The Dixons will have been married 25 years on Sept. 7. Their trip to Canada will be in celebration of that anniversary.

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