By Louie Graves
On a manicured hilltop about a mile south of the highway intersection in Umpire, and surrounded by an explosion of colorful landscaping plants, sits the magazine-worthy home of the Howard County Farm Family of the Year.
Selected for the annual honor is the Randall and Kelly Pugh family — including son Cameron and daughters Aspen and Presley.
The Pughs have possibly the most diverse agri operation in the history of the Farm Family award in Howard County: They have four laying breeder chicken houses; they have a delivery company which takes hog semen to southwest Arkansas area hog operations; and they have a portable metal building business with an office headquartered to the north in Glenwood.
Kelly Pugh says that the responsibility of the chicken operation is mostly hers, although Randall works with her in the morning before he leaves for work in the Glenwood office.
The lush, colorful landscaping around the home is also reliant upon Kelly’s eye and hand. It is striking.
The couple met while cruising ‘the strip’ in De Queen, her hometown. Randall says he and his friends from north Howard County like to go to De Queen because it was the closest big town and because the girls were so pretty.
They spied each other one night, and Kelly admits that she chased him down in order to meet him. “But he came back the next night,” she says with a laugh.
They were both raised on farms, and for awhile after marrying they worked at a swine operation near Nashville. And then they had the opportunity to buy the 60 acres about a mile south of that highway intersection in Umpire.
They also rent 60 more acres, and have added two laying breeder houses to the original pair. Their plans are to expand their acreage and get into cattle, along with poultry improvements.
Their children attend Dierks schools, and husky son Cameron, 17, is on the Outlaw football and basketball teams. The girls — Aspen, 10 and Presley, 8 — are both involved in dance and in gymnastics, taking classes at Glenwood and at Ashdown.
The family is active in the nearby Mountain View Baptist Church, and they are also members of Farm Bureau.
Family also means ‘extended family,’ and on a weekly basis many more family members all gather at the Pugh palace for a big meal. Kelly says that her father says it “looks like Thanksgiving,” not a little meal.
Judges from the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program visited the Pugh acres, Tuesday, June 12, on part of their tour to look at honored farm families in southwest Arkansas. Also present were family friends, representatives of Pilgrim’s, Diamond Bank and Farm Bureau, and Kelly’s father, a retired railroad man.
After the judging of local county award winners, tdistrict winners will be named, and in December the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year will be honored.
The Pughs already have one award — presented by the Mine Creek Conservation District, saying “2018 Howard County Farm Family of the Year.” The gleaming plaque will hang somewhere in the Pugh home — about a mile south of the highway intersection in Umpire.