After having spent a couple of hours with Beverly Eads at her Circle Z Ranch I can assure you, you’ll never meet anyone else like her. At 80 years old Beverly can catch running calves, drive a huge John Deere, and slice open hay bales for hungry, impatient cattle looking over her shoulder. She is three-times widowed, exercises every morning, and plays a grand piano. Beverly even finds time to participate in a Billy Graham Christian chat room, ministering to those who are down in the dumps.
She founded Circle Z Ranch in 1984 with her second husband. Beverly says, “We lived in Wooster about l8 years, running a few cattle on our property there. We were both new in our retirement and thoroughly enjoyed working with cattle.” They eventually moved to Florida to be closer to their two daughters; but after her husband passed away, Beverly longed for her Arkansas land once again. She moved back and now owns more than 400 acres in Greenbrier and hundreds of cows. She says, “Being able to ranch such a beautiful spread is a gift from the Lord, and I want to be found faithful in being a good steward of God’s cattle.”
Beverly is constantly breeding her cattle to produce the best quality meat around. Her cows are grass fed. No artificial hormones are ever used. Beverly only makes money in the fall and spring when the baby calves are big enough to sell. To supplement her income she’s recently opened a retail meat business. For $2/pound you can buy an entire cow. That’ll give you hundreds of pounds of meat. “You need a big freezer for that,” jokes Beverly. “But sometimes three or four families will split the meat and share the cost. A steak can be $14/pound in the grocery store!” she says. Beverly says it kills her to see a cow go to slaughter but she says, “I have to remind myself that I’m doing my part in feeding God’s world.”
You might wonder how an 80-year-old widowed woman can 1) have the physical stamina to work the ranch and 2) how she makes it in what’s traditionally a man’s world. Her day starts around 5:30 in the morning with 30-minutes of exercise. “I’ve got to keep moving,” she says. Beverly will walk to her front gate and back. That’s one mile. Or she’ll swim in her in-ground pool. She also has exercise videos she enjoys on bad weather days. I asked her if she struggles with a bad hip or hurting shoulder; surely I thought at 80 years old something is bothering her. She answered, “I have a little bit of arthritis in my fingers that sometimes gets in the way of my piano playing.” But nothing hurts or aches to perform the hard physical labor required on the ranch. You’ll never meet anyone like her.
Every morning Beverly also does 30-minutes of Bible study and prayer time. She has read the Bible 62 times through and says she always finds something new each morning. One of her favorite things to do is just look out over her land watching for mama cows about to give birth. She uses her binoculars from her front porch. Beverly says, “I often think, ‘God if you gave me all this, what did you save for yourself?”’
After losing another husband to cancer, neighbor and third generation rancher Terry Reynolds stepped in to help. He and his wife, Lori, helped Beverly re-establish and vastly improve her operation and increase her number of cattle. Beverly’s son drives up from Maumelle each Saturday to do her book keeping and pay her bills. “The Lord stepped in and gave me wonderful new help,” she says. “Today we are operating with 220 momma cows and over l00 calves – plus the beginnings of an all-registered herd together with six registered bulls. All our cattle are beautiful slick “Ultra Blacks.” They are mostly angus/brangus cross. This breed is coming to be widely recognized for its capability to thrive particularly in regions that are now experiencing hotter temperatures and drought conditions,” explains Beverly.
In our current drought Beverly and her helpers move cattle each day from paddock to paddock to try to capture any grass areas that still exist. Every day she checks 18 fresh water tanks, and makes repairs on the spot if needed. She checks for new births twice a day, also the health of each momma cow. “I would like to note that there is only 11-percent female ownership in this country that are owners/operators. It’s probably a great deal less than that by women my age of 80 years; and active every day with hands on in all facets of the daily work to be done. There is no such thing as an ‘average’ day! Variety is the name of the game about cattle ranching,” Beverly says.
I asked what her biggest challenge is. She says, “both my priority and biggest struggle is one and the same; making sure my animals have the best nutrition possible, keeping them in optimum health, and working on excellent genetics – sometimes just being a woman in a man’s world. There are not a lot of female owners at the local Cattleman’s Association Meetings – but they are a wonderful group of folks – and most of them attend for the same reason I do – we want learn as much as we can about our chosen profession.”
Beverly’s first herd wore pink ear tags in honor of her being a girl. She calls them her ‘pink ladies, the sweetest bunch.’ Beverly says, “Our young ladies and girls in the society in which we live have a great opportunity to pursue their dreams in ranching if they don’t try to do it too fast – I have waited 80 years and am now living MY dream.”
To order beef visit www.TheCircleZRanch.com.