Larry Parker and Son Raise Outstanding Charolais
on Fourth Generation Farm
looking for the stereotypical farm family, there’s no need to look any
farther than a farm just down the road from Perry Store Community and just
out from Kinston in southeast Alabama.
Parker and his family own and operate a 1,200-acre farm that dates back
four generations to 1891. The sheepskin deed has a prominent place in the
home of Larry Parker, Jr., and his wife, Angela. The young couple is
extremely proud to be carrying on the family farming tradition that was
started before the turn of the 20th century.
Parker, Jr., proudly shows photographs of how the old home place has
evolved since its meager beginnings so long ago.
is also proud that his mom and dad, Larry and Walkanita Parker, both have
farming in their blood and that they passed it on to him.
Larry Parker and Son Farms is located near Kinston in southeast Alabama. The Parkers are well known for the quality of Charolais cattle that they produce. They run about 700 head and their 18 bulls are a source of great pride. Larry Parker, Sr. said Charolais are prime beef cattle because of their lean, flavorful meat.
I tried something else," Larry Parker, Sr., said. "I worked in
the sewing factory for 14 years but I wanted to get back to what I
really love – farming."
grew up on a farm in the Basin Community just a hoot and a holler from
where his wife grew up on the 160-acre family farm they now work along
with their other farmland.
The Parkers are a true American farm family. They turned a barn into a gathering place for family and friends and spend much of their time there. Walkanita Parker said the men are at the farm much of the time, so that’s where they want to be, too. Pictured are Larry Parker, Sr. and his wife,
Walkanita; Larry Parker, Jr. and his wife, Angela; and their daughter, Mila.
Jr. never wanted to do anything but farm. His parents understood his
love of farming and were happy that he wanted to stay on the farm with
Jr.’s wife, a city girl, grew up in Opp but quickly adapted to the
four of the Parkers are involved in the family farm and the women are
vital to its operation.
are the go-fers. We drive the trucks, haul hay, open gates, vaccinate
and do all the cooking," said Walkanita, who retired from teaching
after 30 years to devote all her time and energy to the farm.
takes all of us," Larry Sr. said. "We do hire a few things out
but we do most of everything that’s done here. That’s the way we
like it and that’s the way we want it. This is a family farm."
Parker and Son Farms is primarily a cattle operation, although they do
grow 200 acres of peanuts, 75 acres of corn, 75 acres of grain sorghum,
oats and rye.
grains are to put meat on the bones of the cattle and the peanuts are to
put a little jingle in the pocket. However, this year Larry Sr. said
they didn’t make anything on peanuts because of the drought.
had droughts before but this one was the worst," Larry Jr. said.
"We didn’t have anything to feed to the cows. What little corn we
had blew down in a little ol’ thunderstorm that came through. This was
a bad year all around."
the Parkers – all four of them – accept the fact that there will be
good years and bad years in farming. And, there is no quit in any of
is what we do," Larry Jr. said. "I wouldn’t know how to do
anything else and I wouldn’t want to do anything else."
they "do" that brings recognition to their farm and respect
from other cattle farmers is produce an outstanding quality of Charolais
cattle. Charolais cattle originated in France and were brought to the
United States in 1936 from Mexico and in the mid-1960s from Canada. The
large white cattle breed are popular cross breeders because of their
size, their heavy muscular system and the rapid growth of their calves.
Charolais cattle originated in France and were brought to the United States in 1936 from Mexico. They are known for their great size, heavy muscular system and the rapid growth of their calves.
all of those reasons, and just because he likes the breed, Larry Sr.
chose Charolais cattle for his farm. He started his herd in 1968 with
seven Charolais heifers. Today, the herd numbers 700.
usually sell about 100 bulls a year and we have 18 two-year-old herd
bulls that we rotate in and out," Larry Sr. said, as he looked out
toward the pasture where two bulls were butting heads. "The bulls
will fight and sometimes one of them will get killed. That bull over
there by itself… well, they’ve crippled it. Now, they know that it’s
weak. You have to be careful with your bulls."
Parkers put six to eight bulls in the same pasture. Usually, they don’t
butt heads that often but, if a new bull is put in the pasture, it’s
almost a certainty that it’s going to be put to the test.
bulls weigh up to 1,700 pounds, maybe more. "They are big animals
and very strong, a good breed of cattle," Larry Sr. said.
of the Charolais cattle that are raised on Parker and Son Farms are sold
to Laura’s Lean Beef Company based in Kentucky with its feed yards in
we like about Laura’s Lean is that they come down and look at your
calves and give you a price per pound for the steers and a price for the
heifers. That way, you know what you’re going to get for them.
market, you might get $1.10 a pound for one and 90 cents for the next
one. I’d rather know what I’m going to get per pound. And, if the
cattle do good out of the feed yard, you get a premium payment. We’ve
been fortunate that we’ve gotten a premium payment every year that we’ve
been with Laura’s Lean for five years, now."
cattle business has been good for Parker and Son but there have been
times when the going has been rough.
it’s hard when you don’t get rain when you need rain and your cows
are hungry and there’s nothing to feed them," Larry Sr. said.
"But we’ve never given up. And we won’t."
Jr. said he is on the farm to stay as long as he can make ends meet.
got to keep families on the farm," he said. "If we don’t, we’re
going to be like a third world country and have to depend on some other
country to feed us. And, there’s not one that can do it. As long as we
can stay afloat, I’m going to farm."
Parkers give credit to Opp’s Co-op for helping them to stay afloat.
really depend on the Co-op," Larry Sr. said. "We get
everything over there – feed, salt, seed, fertilizer, fencing, gates,
whatever we need. Ben Courson (manager) does a great job. He’s been in
farming so he knows all about it.
do an excellent job at the Co-op. Ben’s daddy and me are friends and
so are Ben and Larry. We depend on them. They have been good to us and
we hope that we’ve been good customers for them."
Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.