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Cummings NC Farm Family of Year

By John Miller, 06/7/22 7:23 PM

PRESCOTT – Living the good life means different things to different people.

Some require mountains of money, while others have to travel. For the 2022 Nevada County Farm Family of the Year, it basically means living the life they want, the way they choose to live it. For  them, this means working their ranch, following the Razorbacks and Curley Wolves and spending time with family and friends.

Chance and Haley Cummings started with 40 acres, buying another 100 acres and renting 200 more. They operate four broiler houses and have 100 head of cattle. The cattle is either sold through the local auction or via private treaty, while the chickens are grown for Tyson Foods.

Their goals are to reduce mechanically harvested forage for cattle while implementing more rotational grazing with warm and cool season grasses. They also want to reduce weeds  and brush in their pastures. So far, they’ve divided pastures for rotational grazing and added rural water to the pastures. This was done with a grant from the NRCS. Using the grant money, they laid three-quarters of a mile of two-inch poly-pipe and three 250-gallon troughs with automatic float valves. They also added 1.25 miles of cross fencing for the rotational grazing.

While many ranchers prefer only raising one breed of cattle, Cummings has a mixed bag with Angus, Brangus, Charlet and Hereford. The idea, he said, is to get better results through cross-breeding.

As far as the chicken houses are concerned, plans are to go solar to help cut down on utility costs. Cummings said he’s been talking with NRCS about this, adding there’s a grant he can apply for when he’s ready.

Cummings went through the Prescott school system, graduating in 2006. He spent two years at the University of Arkansas Community College in Hope where he earned certificates in HVAD and industrial electricity. After graduating from UACCH, he worked for three years with GP in Gurdon as an electrician. However, ranching is in the blood as both sides of his family raised cattle, crops and hay.

Haley is also a PHS grad, getting her degree in 2008. She spent two years at UACCH and finished at Southern Arkansas University with a Bachelor  of Science in Elementary Education. She teaches second grade at Prescott Elementary School and is excited about moving to the new facilities.

Oddly enough, the two didn’t meet in high school. They were attending Bible School at Shady Grove Baptist in 2004. Chance asked Haley out and they’ve been together since. Though they met at Shady Grove Baptist, they attend Park Baptist Church in Prescott. They have two daughters, Payton, 10, and Adeline, 5. The girls enjoy helping out around the farm, driving trucks and four-wheelers, checking on the chickens and feeding cattle.

Chance served as president and vice president of the Nevada County Cattleman’s Association, is the secretary for the Nevada County Conservation District, and cooks brisket each year for the ad County Fair’s premium livestock sale.

He said there are two main problems with ranching for the family, fighting the brush and having enough water for the livestock. “We have to bush hog constantly,” he said. “I’ve partnered with the NRCS on brush control, but it’s expensive. A gallon of Remedy herbicide is $80.” All the land they own, he added, was once covered in timber, which was cleared out for pastured. They bought the house they’re in and years later purchased 40 acres behind the house, which was covered in timber. It was cleared for pastures. Another 50 acres was bought across the road, also covered in timber,with half of it cleared. The Cummings lease 160 acres not covered in timber. “It’s always been my dream to have a farm in one location.”

“We wanted something to have four our children someday,” Haley said, “and not lease.”

When not working the ranch, the Cummings family enjoys camping with family and friends, primarily going to White Oak Lake State Park. However, Chance plans his Saturdays in the fall around college football, primarily the Razorbacks.

Haley’s hobby, on the other hand, is hanging out with friends, watching the Hogs and keeping up with the Curley Wolves. The family attends home games and close away games for the Wolves. This last season, though, they made the trip to Fayetteville to watch Arkansas play Mississippi State. “It was an experience to go to Fayetteville,” Chance said.

Pets aren’t a problem either, as they have several dogs, a few cats and a calf named Ferdinand. Chance said “Ferdy” was born the night Arkansas lost in March Madness this spring. While checking the cows, he saw one with a calf halfway out. He briefly debated on pulling it then or  waiting till after the game. He chose to pull it, only to have the mother cow abandon the newborn. He took it home and they bottle fed it. Now, it’s a family pet.

The cattle raised on the ranch aren’t used for food unless one gets injured. “We support the Milams and Shane Meador,” Haley said. “That way we don’t have an attachment to the animals.”

Chance said his favorite times are when the chickens are removed and cattle goes to auction. “That’s payday.”