ALFN loves our growers, and we want to take every opportunity to share their stories! L.C. Ratchford of Ratchford Farms is a long time member of our market, and a well-known figure in the Arkansas farming community. Ratchford Farms is located in Marshall and known for its amazing buffalo meat (their buffalo sticks were the official campaign snack for Mike Huckabee back in the day).
How did you get into raising buffalo?
L.C.: When I was just a teenager I was watching TV and saw a short show about raising buffalo, at that time I knew it was what I was meant to do. I graduated high school and went on the get a welding degree. I knew that the buffalo had to have extremely extra heavy duty fences and holding pens so as I was rebuilding my cattle fatalities I built them with welded steel pipe. Which is ongoing even today.
Why did you get involved with ALFN, and how has it positively impacted your business?
L.C.: I got involved with ALFN so I had a direct market my products. This has drastically impacted my business by increasing my sales and allowing me to get to know my consumers on a personal level, as well and getting to know their wants and needs for my products.
If you weren’t a buffalo farmer, what do you think you might be doing?
L.C.: I know that I will always be involved in buffalo ranching in some capacity or another. I am strongly considering seeking an elected political office so that I might be a voice for the small family farmer\ rancher and business owners that choose to operate differently than some of the large factory farms . I believe that this can be another way that I can have a positive on the world around me.
Do you have any heartwarming stories from your time farming?
L.C.: A few years ago on a very cold January morning I was out on the farm feeding hay and checking the cattle when I noticed a young calf that had the misfortune of wondering out onto the snow covered ice onto a frozen pond. The poor calf had fallen on the ice and was unable to stand. The big problem was that he was about 30 feet from the edge of the pond, on the ice. I drove to my mother’s house (she was about 85 years old at the time ) and requested her assistance and expertise in dealing with this time sensitive and dire dilemma. It was decided that I would take a rope and secure it around my shoulders and chest and that I would take another rope to be placed around the calf. The other ends of the ropes would be secured to the bumper of the truck. I walked out onto the ice and put the rope on the calf but I soon found that I could not stand on the ice and pull the calf, so I just laid down on the ice and held onto the rope that was that was tied to the calf and instructed my mother to drive forward. She pulled both the calf and myself to the safety of dry ground, and the calf was reunited with his mother. The point of this story is that I as a farmer\ rancher put the animals welfare first with little regard for my own safety or well being. I never stopped to think about the possibility of falling through the ice into the deep, dark cold water where I might drowned or die from hypothermia. This is not just a job to me but a way of life and a commitment to the animals and the land.
Which of your products would you recommend to new customers?
L.C.: I would encourage everyone that reads this to join ALFN so that they can try all of the high quality, nutritious and tasty products that are offered (which changes from season) on the site, and not just from my farm but from all of the many growers. Being a member also gives you a chance to meet and interact with a lot of like-minded people, know where and how your food is being produced \ grown, and at the time support local economy.
To learn more about L.C. and his farm, visit him on Facebook.