Cody and Ashlee Askew were named the Hempstead County Farm Family of the year for the 74th annual Arkansas Farm Family of the year program.
The Arkansas Farm Family program has been around since 1947 and has recognized outstanding farm families throughout the state of Arkansas. The Farm Family of the Year program aims to give recognition and encouragement to farm families in Arkansas who are doing an outstanding job as well as recognizing the importance of agriculture in the community.
“I’m excited and I’m honored to be recognized for it,” Cody said.
Cody has dreamed of being a farmer as long as he could remember and he’s spent his entire life trying to pursue it.
“I grew up farming,” he said. “My grandpa was a farmer and I was passionate for it. It’s just something that I’ve always loved doing and I’ve just tried to pursue, even when I was 12 or 15 years old.”
Cody spent his childhood working for other people during summer vacation when he was old enough so he could save up money.
“That’s what I would do, I’d work for other people, save my money and I’d try to buy me a cow or two every summer,” he said. “It was the money that I worked to save for.”
Cody says that he was never good at school, but that didn’t bother him since his passions were elsewhere.
“I knew I didn’t like school,” he said. “I would’ve quit school when I was in the 5th grade, but my dad, and ma and whole family wouldn’t let me quit. I knew I wasn’t going to go to college, that was for sure not going to happen, so I knew that I had to work to save my money and try to build my cow herd so I could make a living one day. I was able to succeed and do that.”
And only a couple years after he got out of high school, Cody bought his first chicken farm. Today his business has grown and he now has roughly 10 workers working for him, including his own wife Ashlee.
“I work at the farm also,” she said. “I do all the paperwork for the hog farm, I do the paperwork for the cows, and then I help out at the hog farm during the two busy weeks.”
Cody and Ashlee met all the way back in Kindergarten, as if it was meant to be.
“I was trying to scoop her up for 20-something years,” Cody said.
Ashlee originally was a psychical therapist assistant, but started working full time on the farm when Cody built his hog farm.
“I got into it whenever I met Cody,” she said. “I started helping in the hay field in high school. After we got married, I would help him some on the weekend when I wasn’t working”
Now she doesn’t only do paperwork but helps out around the farm as well.
“I enjoy working on the farm because it gives us a lot more time together as a family,” Ashlee said. “It allows us to have our boys up there to help with us during the summer time. It gives me more time to spend with my family.”
Cody and Ashlee got married in 2006 and today have two boys, Levi who is 12 and Eli who is 7, both of whom help out on the farm as well.
“Levi can load a trailer better than some of my workers here,” Cody said. “He cut, rakes and bails hay and even helps work on the cows. Eli is just now learning to drive tractors and stuff. He’s on the road to learning.”
Working on a farm isn’t an easy process. As Cody says, it’s not a traditional 9-to-5 job and you have to sacrifice a lot to do it.
“You can’t control the weather and you can’t just drop what you’re doing to go celebrate a holiday or anything else,” he said. “For Memorial Day, we had planned to go to the lake. My wife and kids got to go, but I had to stay here and finish bailing hay. I think some people don’t see that you have to make sacrifices if you’re going to own a farm.”
Despite that, Cody loves his job and sees tremendous growth in his future.
“Ten years from now I’d like to double my farm size in the hog facility,” he said. “I’d like to be a 5,000-7,500 facility. I would like to have another 200 cows.”