The family that farms together stays together — at least in the Aday family.
The 2013 Van Buren County Farm Family of the Year has its roots in the 1940s when a young couple named Clifford and Opal Aday bought 80 acres of land in the Chimes community, about 30 miles northwest of Clinton.
Throughout the years, the family has added more than 1,000 acres and now owns 1,200 and rents 520 more.
The family operates the acreage as a cattle and forage farm, and brothers Guinn and Allen own Aday Lime and Fertilizer Co. in Clinton.
In the early 1960s, Clifford, frustrated in attempts to get anyone to travel the long distance to his farm to spread the lime he needed to grow grass, bought an old spreader truck and began to take care of his own acres.
His neighbors wanted him to spread their lime as well, so he bought a newer truck and Aday Lime and Fertilizer was born.
Sons Guinn and Allen grew up helping their dad, and when Clifford said what he really wanted to do was raise cattle, the sons took over the business. Allen drives to Morrilton, Harrison and Little Rock to pick up the lime and fertilizer, and Guinn spreads it for their customers.
Clifford “put his whole life” into raising cattle and the family business, says Guinn. “He got all this going.”
“We’re just trying to carry on what Dad got started,” says Allen.
Clifford died in 2009.
His widow, Opal, is 92 now. She’s happy to be recognized for her family’s efforts, but she says, it’s not the first time — the Aday family won the county distinction in 1964. “The boys were just little then,” she says.
The family also raises hay, which is a Bermuda grass mixture, and sells about 100 calves a year.
From Opal to Zack, who at 7 is the youngest family member, everyone has his or her role on the farm.
Opal fixes Sunday dinner for however many family members drop by. “That’s how I can help out,” she says, “by cooking for my family.” Among family favorites are Opal’s dumplings and fried pies.
She also gardens and mows her own lawn.
Guinn, 62, retired from teaching at Witts Springs to run Aday Fertilizer when Clifford stepped away. Younger brother Allen, 57, had left UCA after two years to return home and work with his dad in 1975. He and Guinn became partners in the fertilizer business in 1979.
Allen is married to Tamie, 55, a Leslie native and owner of Part-Time Flowers, a business she runs out of her home. Her floral arrangements and wreaths are also available to purchase at Thriftway in Clinton. Allen is a member of the Van Buren County Cattlemen’s Association and Tamie is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary at Ozark Health hospital and nursing home.
The couple has one child, Justin, 22, who recently graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a degree in finance and economics. He works for First Service Bank and has always helped out with the summer hay crop on the farm. Justin is engaged to Kristine Pruitt, and the couple plan an April wedding.
As well as farming, teaching also runs in one branch of the Aday family.
Guinn spent eight years at Witts Springs elementary. He also is on the Van Buren County Board of Governors, which oversees the county hospital, and is a member of the Van Buren County Cattlemen’s Association.
Guinn’s wife, Peggy, 61, a Tilly native, is also retired from teaching. She spent her career teaching at Witts Springs and Alread, and now volunteers at Clinton and Marshall schools.
She and Guinn are members of Archey Valley Church, where she is treasurer. Guinn is a first responder and firefighter with the Chimes Volunteer Fire Department.
Their daughter, Kristy Eastridge, 41, teaches at Clinton Intermediate. She has helped out in the hay fields since she was 10 years old. She remembers raking with a small tractor her grandfather bought just for her.
Her husband, Doug, 50, helps out in the fields, too, when he’s home. He spends a lot of time traveling the country — “wherever there’s a nuclear plant” — working at nuclear plants whenever there is an outage.
Guinn and Peggy’s son Brent, 32, is close by the homestead to do whatever is needed. He and his wife, Kristina, 31, own a rock crusher and quarry in Chimes. Kristina takes care of the cattle whenever the fertilizer business gets busy. The couple are also volunteer firefighters and responders.
Brent and Kristina’s three children — Tyler, 12, Lyndsey, 11, and Zack, 7 — also work on the farm when they aren’t at school in Marshall, and they own their own calves. Optimus, a camera-shy border collie, is the family dog.
Grandparents Guinn and Peggy make sure the kids are involved with the farm, dropping by to pick them up to check on the cows. Zack likes to help his great-grandmother in her garden. The kids are the fourth generation of Aday family farmers.
The Adays live within a mile of each other, except for Allen and Tamie who live in Clinton.
Though not the first time around for the Adays to be the county’s Farm Family, this time they’ve moved a step closer to the state title this round. In July they were named Farm Family in the North Central District. This December in Little Rock, they will meet seven other competitors for the title of state Farm Family.