Mountain View family honored for farming

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published August 23, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

Hinkle Decker grew up on his family’s farm in Mountain View. Today, he and his wife, Nancy, continue to work the farm, raising cattle and hay. They no longer use square balers for hay but use round balers such as this one.

Farming is a way of life for the Hinkle Decker family.

Hinkle, 68, and his wife, Nancy, 64, raised their four children on the farm. All of the children have their own careers and families now; three of them live on the family farm, and one lives just a few miles down the road.

The Deckers are the 2015 Stone County Farm Family of the Year.

They farm 420 acres just outside the Mountain View city limits. They have a 120-head cow/calf operation with three Simmental bulls and three Black Angus bulls. They also raise hay on 110 acres of their farm. They feed the hay to the cattle, which are sold at local auctions.

Hinkle traces the family farm back to his grandparents, the late Andrew Cumming

Hinkle and Dora Haynes Hinkle, who moved to Mountain View from Haskell, Texas, and bought the farm in 1919.

“They loved the fact that the farm had a creek running through it,” said Hinkle, whose parents, Hubert Decker and Ruby Pearl Hinkle Decker, gave him a family name as his first name. Hubert and Ruby also had a daughter, Donnie Jean Decker (now Donnie Whitfield) who lives in Nixa, Missouri.

Hubert and Ruby Decker and Ruby’s brother, A.C. Hinkle, and his wife, Juanita Hinkle, became partners and raised their families on the farm. They started with a cow/calf operation and also raised cotton, cucumbers, corn and a large garden.

“My sister Donnie and I, along with my cousins, Ann [Bridges of Little Rock] and Kay [Roberts of Russellville], helped in all the chores that come along with living on a farm,” Hinkle said.

“We also always had a milk cow, and my mother, Ruby, spent hours milking our cow,” he said.

“In 1958, we added four poultry houses to help supplement the family farm. I used to catch chickens late at night when it was time to sell.

“Donnie, Ann, Kay and I all graduated from Mountain View High School, where we enjoyed sports and lots of close friends. I continued to work on the family farm as I grew up, and even during school breaks while away at college.”

After receiving a college degree in agriculture in 1969, Hinkle began a teaching career that started with high school science in Clinton and continued for the next 31 years. He coached basketball at Fifty-Six for six years, then was hired as the basketball coach at Mountain View, where he coached for five years. He then stepped down from coaching and began 19 years of teaching agriculture at Mountain View. He retired in 2000.

He and Nancy married on July 8, 1972.

Nancy is the daughter of the late Alvy Mitchell and Betty Mitchell of Mountain View. Nancy has one brother, Steve Mitchell of Benton, and two sisters, Joyce Wait and Cathy McCarn, both of Mountain View.

Nancy grew up in Fifty-Six and graduated from Mountain View High School. She worked for a while at Mountain View High School, then worked for 36 years for the U.S. Postal Service. She retired as postmaster at Pleasant Grove in 2006.

“Nancy is a tremendous worker and a real go-getter,” Hinkle said. “She is involved in every activity on the farm, and the farm wouldn’t run nearly as smoothly as it does without her hard work.”

When the Deckers aren’t working on the farm, they enjoy playing tennis. Hinkle built Nancy a tennis court in the backyard shortly before they retired. They play with some couples from Mountain View and with a senior team at Mountain Home.

They also enjoy going to the various sports activities of their grandchildren.

Hinkle and Nancy have four children and 14 grandchildren.

“Our four children were raised helping on the farm,” Hinkle said. “It taught them responsibility and hard work. When we worked cattle, we used quarter horses for years to round up the cattle. The boys and girls would ride, and it was like the wild, wild West at times.

“Our children also helped us bottle-feed calves, bail and haul hay, and work in the chicken

houses,” he said. “The boys spent summers hauling hay on our farm and other local farms in the community.

“All four children graduated from Mountain View High School and went on to pursue college degrees,” Hinkle said. “The farm helped pay for college and buy vehicles for the kids.”

The Deckers’ older son, Tim, 40, is a 1996 graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture with a minor in physical education. He lives in Mountain View and works for White River Insurance. He has four children — Macey, 15; Avery, 13; Brody, 11; and Jesy, 9. Tim and his children live on the family farm. Tim has several head of cattle, and his family is involved in the farm daily.

The Deckers’ younger son, Bob, 39, is a 1997 graduate of ASU with a degree in zoology. He received a doctorate of optometry in 2001 from Northeastern State University. He owns and operates Decker Eye Care in Bentonville. His wife, Susanne, is his office manager. Bob and Susanne have three children — Hailey, 12; Hope, 10; and Hudson, 7.

The Deckers’ older daughter, Christy Newton, 37,

graduated from Lyon College in Batesville in 2000 with a degree in psychology and a minor in education. She and her family just moved back to Mountain View from Dallas and are living in the original Decker homestead on the family farm. Christy and her husband, Jake, have three children — Mackenzie, 11; Jack, 9; and Tyler, 8. Christy teaches sixth-grade math at Mountain View. Jake is an attorney and is learning to work on the farm.

The Deckers’ younger daughter, Kelly Akins, 35, is a 2001 graduate of Lyon College with a degree in English and a 2004 graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock with a Master of Science degree in speech language pathology. She works at Mountain View Elementary School. Her husband, John Akins, is an orthopedic surgeon at White River Medical Center in Mountain View. Kelly and John have four children — Ellie, 10; Emma, 7; Erin, 5; and Eli, 2.

Christy and Kelly both played basketball at Lyon College, as did their husbands.

“We never missed a game,” Hinkle said.

“It is such a blessing to be able to raise our children on the family farm,” he said. “It’s a bigger blessing to spend time with our 14 grandchildren. We spend a lot of time riding horses, checking cows, playing tennis, playing basketball and chasing grandchildren. Being raised on a farm has brought our family closer together, and we look forward to many more great memories.”

The family is active at Flatwoods Baptist Church, where both Hinkle and Nancy have been Sunday School teachers.

Nancy said they thought it was a “prank call” when they received the news about being named the 2015 Stone County Farm Family of the Year.

“But we’re so proud to have gotten this honor. We’ve known people who got it, but we never thought about getting it,” she said.

“I’m glad we got it,” Hinkle said. “Uncle A.C. got it back in the 1970s.

“I’m so thankful for my Uncle A.C. Hinkle and my father, Hubert Decker — godly men who loved their families and left a great legacy on this farm.”

Hinkle said he and Nancy would “like to continue the farming operation and pass it to our children.”

“Our kids, along with their families have started to raise their own cattle herds. Nancy and I are looking forward to watching our children teach their children about the farm life. God has blessed us and our family. We love living on a farm in Mountain View, Arkansas. Life is good.”