Moores keep tra­di­tion go­ing strong in Red Oak com­mu­nity

The Sentinel-Record - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID SHOW­ERS

The gen­tly rolling pas­ture land near the White Oak Creek mouth has sus­tained four gen­er­a­tions of the Moore fam­ily.

Alonzo Moore staked the fam­ily’s claim in the late 19th cen­tury, long be­fore the for­ma­tion of Lake Hamil­ton en­croached on the prop­erty.

He and his de­scen­dants have been busy ever since, first as dairy farm­ers and now as the pro­pri­etors of Oak Hill Hay Farm. The care his prog­eny has shown in sus­tain­ing his legacy is re­flected in the hay farm, which takes pains to pro­vide the best prod­uct pos­si­ble.

“Most an­i­mals, you get what you put into them,” said Donny Moore, the prin­ci­pal of the hay con­cern and pa­tri­arch of the 2017 Gar­land County Farm Fam­ily of the Year. “If you feed them right, and if you feed them well, they’ll per­form bet­ter and do bet­ter.”

The sup­ply chain the Moores re­lied on to pro­duce grade-A milk from their dairy cows is now the lifeblood of a hay op­er­a­tion that beds and feeds the elite thor­ough­breds that so­journ to Oak­lawn Rac­ing and Gam­ing ev­ery win­ter for the live race meet.

“We’ve al­ways been in the dairy busi­ness and pro­duc­ing milk,” Donny said. “You have

to feed your cows high-qual­ity feed. We al­ways fed the pre­mium al­falfa to our dairy cows.

“There’s lots of horses around Hot Springs. Peo­ple would ask us about sell­ing horse hay, be­cause we were feed­ing it to our cows to pro­duce the milk. We had peo­ple ask­ing us for years. That’s how it evolved, and it’s just grown ev­ery year.”

Alonzo, Donny’s grand­fa­ther, be­gan dairy­ing on the prop­erty in the 1930s, us­ing White Oak Creek to cool the milk-laden con­crete vats that held the fam­ily’s liveli­hood.

Donny’s daugh­ter, Mandy Jack­son, and her hus­band, Mor­gan, live on the site were Alonzo built his log cabin.

When the house he later built was lost to a tor­nado, he re­built it. When the new house suf­fered the same fate, he built the con­crete home on Farrs Land­ing Road where he lived un­til he died.

“He said that wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen again,” Donny sad. “That house is all con­crete block ex­cept for the roof. We used to spend hol­i­days there.”

In the 1960s, Alvin, Donny’s fa­ther, took over the dairy. He and his wife, Maria, were rec­og­nized as the county’s farm fam­ily of the year in 1970.

Alvin built the tow­er­ing blue si­los that com­mand the White Oak Creek basin and Red Oak com­mu­nity. The road where Donny and his wife, Gina, live is named af­ter him.

Donny part­nered with his dad un­til they cashed out in the late 1990s as one of the last hold­outs among the string of fam­ily dairy farms that once dot­ted south­east­ern Gar­land County.

The prop­erty is now home to the hay farm, which also sup­ports about 80 black-and-red An­gus beef cows.

Ber­muda grass is grown there and at other prop­er­ties the Moores lease, but the nu­tri­ent-rich al­falfa and Ti­mothy-grass that pow­ers Oak­lawn’s thor­ough­breds are sourced from the sup­ply chain the Moores de­vel­oped as dairy farm­ers.

“We buy it out West, be­cause you can’t grow good al­falfa in Arkansas,” Donny said. “We grow some Ber­muda on site, but we buy lots of it too. We just don’t have enough acreage to grow every­thing we need to sell.

“Most of our cus­tomers are thor­ough­bred race­horse peo­ple. They’re real par­tic­u­lar. Their race horses are their hobby, and peo­ple get par­tic­u­lar about their hob­bies.”

Sourc­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion are ver­ti­cally in­te­grated. Donny is the pres­i­dent of DMT 2 Inc., the fam­ily owned truck­ing busi­ness that con­nects the hay farm to its out-of-state sup­pli­ers.

“If you can con­trol your truck­ing and haul­ing it makes it a lot eas­ier than de­pend­ing on some­one else to haul it,” Donny said.

Donny’s son, Kevin, de­liv­ers 300-bale loads to Oak­lawn dur­ing rac­ing sea­son. The pay­load in­cludes round rolls, three­string bales and big squares — the 900-pound be­he­moths bun­dled into dense 3-by-3-by-8 bales.

In ad­di­tion to high-per­for­mance for­age, the Moores also pro­vide wheat straw from Kansas and Ne­braska for horse bed­ding.

“The horse peo­ple want long stalks,” Donny said. “It fluffs up and makes a pret­tier bed.”

Mov­ing bales has be­come so in­grained for Kevin that he in­cor­po­rated it into his mar­riage pro­posal.

The elab­o­rate set piece he had ar­ranged re­quired his fi­ance, Allyson Dun­bar, to as­cend one of the blue si­los, as the bales con­fig­ured to form the words that asked for her hand could only be ap­pre­ci­ated from a bird’s-eye per­spec­tive.

They plan to wed in Oc­to­ber.

McMan­sions and tony gated neigh­bor­hoods are now part of the scenery near the creek mouth, which has tran­si­tioned from sleepy pas­ture lands to sought af­ter res­i­den­tial lake prop­erty.

But the mon­u­ments to moder­nity haven’t punc­tured the bu­colic bub­ble that en­velops the Moores’ world, which has re­tained the rus­tic al­lure that drew Alonzo to it more than a cen­tury ago.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Richard Ras­mussen

A FAM­ILY AF­FAIR: From left, Allyson Dun­bar, Gina Moore, Donny Moore and Kevin Moore are the 2017 Gar­land County Farm Fam­ily of the Year.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Richard Ras­mussen

HAY FARM: From left, Allyson Dun­bar, Gina Moore, Donny Moore and Kevin Moore are part of the Oak Hill Hay Farm that sup­plies for­age and bed­ding for thor­ough­breds that com­pete at Oak­lawn Rac­ing and Gam­ing.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Richard Ras­mussen

CAT­TLE CALL: Some of the farm’s red-and-black An­gus herd mo­sey down the pas­ture.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Richard Ras­mussen

MA­CHINE OF BUR­DEN: A trac­tor sits idle wait­ing to move hay bales.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Richard Ras­mussen

HAY APLENTY: Bales await de­liv­ery in­side one of the Moore fam­ily farm’s barns.

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