Farming always depends on the weather and can break a farm in a split second. It’s the resiliency of the family that will get them through those times. Joe and Jill Brinkley have faced a major storm that made one house collapse and damaged two others, and they've weathered numerous droughts over the years, but they never quit. Their resiliency and passion for farming are undeniable. Jill and Joe, along with their three children Carrie, Brent, and J.D., are the 2016 Polk County Farm Family of the Year and the 2016 Western District Farm Family of the Year.
Joe and Jill have 287 head of cattle and 10 broiler houses on their 645-acre farm in Grannis. They also have 254 acres of hay and silage, which is produced for use on the farm. To offset the costs of the broiler operation, they have a litter service and do their own house cleanouts. They also operate a land clearing business and are able to use the equipment on the farm to maintain roads, drainage and fence rows.
Recent goals for the farm, included increasing the usage of artificial insemination (A.I.) and planting winter/spring grass to increase weaning weights and reducing the use of hay, both of which have been accomplished. Joe became A.I. certified three years ago and they also purchased a grain drill to assist with planting. In the coming years, they hope to build a livestock handling facility suited for their A.I. program, add irrigation to some hay fields, add/improve farm roads and cattle guards and add more cross fences and ponds to utilize rotational grazing.
Conservation of resources is important to almost every farm family, and Joe and Jill are no exception. They began using LED lights in all broiler houses, which has cut their energy usage significantly. With the help of the NRCS EQIP program, Joe and Jill were recently able to purchase an Ecodrum to dispose of dead birds. This has cut the cost of having to operate freezers for dead birds. Additionally, they have a Nutrient Management Plan, which they strictly adhere to, and have buffer zones around creeks and ponds when applying all types of fertilizers.
Carrie, Brent and J.D. also play a large role in the farm, helping in the chicken houses and offering an extra hand in the hay fields. Carrie and Brent both can run the hay equipment. They are also involved in the DeQueen FFA Chapter. Carrie has served as a Chapter FFA Officer for the last two years and also competes on the Land Judging Team. She has been the high point individual at the Rich Mountain/Cossatot Conservation District land judging contest the last two years. Brent competes on the Poultry Judging Team, where they have advanced to state two years in a row.
Joe and Jill are involved in the community and state serving with the Rich Mountain Conservation District, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and coach of the DeQueen Jr. High Quiz Bowl Team. The family is active members of Kern Heights Baptist Church where Joe and Jill serve in a number of roles, including chair of the Finance Committee, Sunday School class leaders and missions.