Farm Family of the Year: Flowers family continues legacy of caring for animals
Kevan Flowers has never known life without farming, and it certainly shows. Flowers and his family were recently named Carroll County’s 2018 Farm Family of Year. Flowers said he’s honored to see his family’s hard work recognized in such a major way.
“It’s an honor … that would be the main word to describe it,” Kevan said. “It’s an honor.”
He shares the honor with wife Lynn, daughter Shelia and 11-year-old granddaughter Mandy. Shelia and Mandy live in North Dakota, but Mandy returns to the 825-acre family farm in Oak Grove every summer to help take care of the chickens and cattle. Altogether, Kevan said, the family takes care of six herds of cattle and countless chickens.
“We run about 125 yearlings a year with four chicken houses,” Kevan said. “Just cattle and chickens are our business.”
Born in Harrison, Kevan said he’s been farming since he was a toddler. He worked at Tyson Foods as a construction manager for a few years, followed by a stint at AQI Electric in Berryville. That was when he decided to strike out on his own, Kevan said.
“I’ve farmed all my life,” Kevan said. “So I started my own chicken business and went to work as a contract grower for Tyson.”
For Lynn, working on a farm wasn’t really in the plans. She remembered growing up near the city, saying that all changed when she met Kevan. They’ve been together for around 18 years, Kevan said, and married for five.
“Anything and everything I do with him is awesome,” Lynn said.
She loves working with the animals, Lynn said, and seeing how much Kevan cares for them. Lynn remembered how Kevan rolls out hay for the cattle when it’s cold outside, saying the animals love it.
“I say, ‘He’s putting the blanket out for you!’ and they go and lay on it,” Lynn said.
“When they lay down on it, it means they’ve got their bellies full,” Kevan laughed.
It’s easy to develop relationships with the cattle … maybe too easy, if you ask Kevan.
“When you’ve raised them from a calf, you become more attached to them than you really should be in a business,” Kevan said. “You do form relationships with the cattle.”
Mandy said she’s drawn to the chickens. She once loved a chicken so much, Mandy said, that she painted its nails.
“It was so I’d always remember it, because I loved that one chicken,” Mandy said. “I love being with the animals and being able to bottle feed some of them.”
Kevan said he’s dedicated to treating all the animals well. That’s more important than anything else, Kevan said.
“You have to have animal welfare awareness. We try to be good with the environment,” Kevan said. “The animals are our business, so that’s what we’re going to protect.”
Another part of farming he enjoys, Kevan said, is being his own boss. Lynn said she enjoys that part, too.
“We like to go to the racetracks. Instead of having to ask your boss to go somewhere, you just do it,” Lynn said. “That’s the freedom of the farm itself.”
The reason he’s so dedicated to farming, Kevan said, is his father’s commitment to caring for animals. Kevan remembered buying his first three cows when he was 15, saying his dad encouraged him through it.
“I just started that and I’ve had cattle since I was 15,” Kevan said. “I’ve lived about two miles from the farm my whole life, except about seven years when I lived in Green Forest.”
Part of his farm was homesteaded long ago by his ancestors, Kevan said, and he’s determined to keep that land in the family.
“That’s one of my father’s wishes, that it stayed in the family,” Kevan said. “There’s been a lot of trials and tribulations between the Depression and everything else for it to stay in the family.”
He continued, “This is not something I just started from scratch. Had it not been for my father being there to help me through, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
His father passed away a few years ago, and Kevan said he’d be proud to see the farm’s success. That’s something everyone in the family can agree with.
“He would be glowing from within big time,” Lynn said. “He’d be tickled pink.”
“Proud,” Shelia said.
“Honored,” Mandy said.
Kevan said he didn’t expect to be named Farm Family of the Year.
“We don’t do anything more than a lot of people in this county do,” Kevan said. “A lot of people probably do more than we do, but we’re honored to represent the county this year.”
Olivia Foster-Curry, the Carroll County agriculture extension agent, said she’s excited to honor local families each year.
“We just have so many amazing producers in our county. It’s nice we get to recognize the cream of the crop,” Foster-Curry said.
Kevan and his family work hard, she said.
“They’re being modest right now. It’s a lot of work to run a farm, and there’s a lot of time invested,” Foster-Curry said. “When you’re a farmer, you’ve got a lot of times where you don’t get to do the fun things you want to do, because you’ve got to come home and take care of the animals.”
With summer getting closer, Kevan said he’s excited to work with Mandy on the farm.
“She’ll help us move equipment, and before too many years, she’ll learn how to rake hay,” Kevan laughed.
That’s fine with Mandy.
“I love it,” she said. “I just love working on the farm with my family.”