A long established Ozan cattle operation earned Clovy Keaster the title of 2017 Hempstead County Farm Family, joining a select group of family farms that were honored in ceremonies last week.

A long established Ozan cattle operation earned Clovy Keaster the title of 2017 Hempstead County Farm Family, joining a select group of family farms that were honored in ceremonies last week.
The Keaster Farms held a special luncheon and were visited by a group of state district judges last Wednesday, June 14. Functioning almost as a farm CEO, Clovy Keaster gave a personal tour of the farming operation with the judges as members of her family celebrated the day with guests at the luncheon held in one of the family barns. Present for the celebration were Keaster’s two daughters, Tammy Young and Alicia Patrick, along with several grandkids.
According to the official packet, Keaster owns and operates 335 acres of land outside of Ozan after starting off with just 60 acres.  The primary enterprise of the farm operation, which was originally established in 1947, is cattle with a secondary crop of hay.
In her packet statement, Keaster said “I have a very gentle commercial herd of cattle.  They consist of Angus and Brangus herds with registered bulls.  I have one registered polled Hereford Bull that I use to breed all black cow herds to get BMF and BWF calves.  This year, I purchased a Semi-Angus, Black bull that I have grown to really like.  I also have a registered Angus herd. I raise all of the bulls that I use to breed my heifers. I currently have 18 bulls – various sizes and ages.  The bulls are intentionally given extra feed to keep them healthy and in good shape.”
Keaster also said, “I have approximately 430 total head in my cattle operation. I have 4 fall herds and 4 spring herds.  I have  various ages of heifers – some just weaned, some growing to breeding weight, some being bred, some with their first calves and some are considered 3 in 1.”
Similar to other farms in the region, Keaster trades cattle at the Oklahoma City stockyards, but Keaster sells thought the southeastern United States.
“Because I manage the sale of my heifers, I often chose to load them in double decker trucks.  These little girls get to see the United States; often going on to Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.  Some customers that come to my farm just want to purchase a few cattle.  If they prefer, I let them tour my farm and make their own selection, because they are all high quality heifers,” Keaster said.
The Keaster Farms are members of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, and Keaster also said, “I attend all of the workshops the U of A offers relating to farming operations.  I always learn from the workshops.  My operation has grown to a very large one and I need daily advice in the operation.  The University has asked my permission in the past to bring some of their agriculture students out to see my farm.  I really enjoyed being able to do this.”
In stating her entry into farming, Keaster said “At age 10, I took water to my father’s farm hands that worked in his radish, cucumber and watermelon patches.  He paid me 5 cents for the little jugs of water and 10 cents for the bigger jugs.  Over a period of time I earned $50. I finally had enough money to buy a heifer calf from my Dad.  When she had a calf, and the calf was not a heifer, I was allowed to trade it back to my father for a heifer.  When my herd grew, I was able to use the money I had earned for furthering my education.  I then married and my husband, Clyde Keaster, was attending Med College in Little Rock.  My father maintained my herd during this time then when I returned to Nashville after college.  I continued to grow my herd of cattle.”
Keaster assumed total control of Keaster Farms operations when her parents passed 27 years ago.
“My cattle are very gentle and often trail behind my vehicle wanting attention.  Either I, or my farm workers, are in the pastures with them every day.  I have many repeat customers looking to buy from me again because of the gentle nature and quality of my cows.  Word of mouth around this area helps to keep customers coming back.  I always sell my heifers either bred or with calf by her side.  When people come to see my heifers, they also get an opportunity to see their mothers on the farm,” she said.
The Farm Family of the Year awards established in 1947 also recognize leadership and community service.