Two tornadoes in 10 years and back-to-back droughts may cause many decide to throw the hat in and move on, but that was not the case for Roy “Pee Wee” and Carolyn Ham of Clark County, the 2015 Clark County Farm Family of the Year and the West Central District Farm Family of the Year. The Ham’s roots run deep on this farm and there was no way that Roy and Carolyn would leave those behind. Those roots run so deep and so long that the Possum Hollow Family Farm, a cattle, swine, goat, timber and hay operation, was named an Arkansas Century Farm this year.
Carolyn’s grandfather, Jefferson Freeman, purchased and homesteaded the original 80 acres in the early-1900s. Later in the years, Carolyn’s father, Evert Freeman, and Uncle Torance Freeman purchased an additional 40 acres that joined the original 80 acres and began farming the land. Roy and Carolyn married in 1961 and started helping on the farm with the cattle and hay and even helped grow corn for cattle feed for a few years.
Roy and Carolyn began farming on their own in 1978. A portion of the bottomland was rented out for soybean production until the late 1980s while the other portion was used for hay. The family also operated a sawmill until they were no longer able to run it. All three of the houses on the farm were built from lumber they sawed themselves.
Roy and Carolyn have two daughters who were active in 4-H and showing hogs, which is how the Hams got their start in the hog business and eventually, the goat business as well. Their granddaughter Kristin was also active in showing where she experienced success at county, district and state fairs, jackpot shows, as well as the American Royal in Kansas City, The North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville and the World Pork Expo in Des Moines. Their hogs and goats are sold across the state to 4-H and FFA members who have ended up experiencing the same success.
In addition to the hogs and goats, the Hams also have 95 head of beef cattle, 145 acres of hay and 125 acres of timber. All calves are marketed at an average weight of 500 pounds at the Hope Livestock Auction. Goals for future expansion include, building a new hay barn to reduce damage to hay, establishing clover in the fields and building a new farm shop.
Roy is an active member of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and Clark County Farm Bureau where he serves as a county board member. Carolyn is also active in Clark County Farm Bureau having served on the County Board and the Women’s Committee. Both are members of Shiloh Baptist Church.
Grandma Helms’ Cake
2 cups sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Let eggs and milk come to room temperature. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, shortening, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs and beat well. Add the flour mixture and milk and beat about three minutes. Pour into greased cake pan coated with flour and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Note: Recipe can be cut in half and baked in a greased 10” iron skillet. Let the cake brown slightly on the top and around the edges. Toothpick should come out clean. Let cool 5 minutes and turn out. Serve warm with fresh peaches or strawberries.