This year's Faulkner County Farm Family of the Year does a little bit of everything.

The Bob Schaefers family farms about 2,000 acres at Lollie Bottoms and operates the agritourism attraction Schaefers Corn Maze, which is open in the fall.

Kami Marsh, county extension agent, said of the Schaefers family, "If you're looking for a group that's doing agritourism and sustainable agriculture, this is them."

She said the Schaefers are very involved in the community.

"I needed straw bales for seating at an event ... the Schaefers were there. They're a neat family to work with," she said.

Marsh said the family is "really moldable," staying in touch with new technologies and working to educate youth and adults about the influence of agriculture in their everyday lives.

"Bob has been on (the) Farm Bureau (Committee) and our extension agriculture committee forever," she said. "(His wife) Pat helps with Farm Bureau Women," a subcommittee of the Farm Bureau Committee that, among other things, goes into the schools and educates children about agriculture.

Pat Schaefers said, "I was a 4H leader 22 years."

She said she has two sons, Chris and James, who farm the 2,000 acres alongside their father, and a daughter, Angela Rawls, who helps her run the corn maze every year. Another son, Daryl, operates a pumpkin patch next to the corn maze, Pat Schaefers said.

Regarding being selected Faulkner County Farm Family of the Year, Bob Schaefers said, "It's a humbling thing. You're just farming and you hope someday you might be selected, but you never know. We've got some hardworking kids, and they've got a good mama."

He said he has been farming in the area since 1972. He started with only 350 acres.

"It's gotten pretty big," he said. "With the high water we've had, all the plans went awry. You just work one day at a time, don't look back and maybe we'll get through with it one day. There may be some July beans planted."

He farms rice, corn, soybeans and wheat. The family sells wheat straw and a small amount of horse hay. Schaefers also has a herd of 100 beef cattle, and his sons have 100 as well.

"For a long time, we couldn't get any bigger ... so we decided to diversify," he said, regarding his variety of crops. "It's gotten bigger and bigger, but not as big as we thought it would over here. We're pretty well landlocked on this side of the river."

His sons have rented some land to farm in Perry County, he said, because the land they own at Lollie Bottoms was not enough to support three families, and neighbors were unwilling to sell land. The rented land floods at times, but that is a risk a farmer takes by farming on the river, Schaefers said.

"You know you're going to make some good crops, and then you're going to give something back."

The toughest time of the year, he said, is harvesting wheat and then immediately planting soybeans right behind it.

He added, "I think the weather changes more plans than we can make. You have to kind of draw a business plan every year, but that thing is not workable when things happen.

Larry Marshall, agency manager for the Faulkner County Farm Bureau, nominated the Schaefers family to be Faulkner County Farm Family of the Year.

"They're true farmers," he said. "They don't have any other occupation. They've farmed this land for many years. They traded 10 acres in town for 600 acres out here. They started the corn maze about four years ago. It's grown every year. Last year was their best year.

"They're the salt of the earth. It's a shame to see this kind of lifestyle go away. It's going to be a thing of the past."

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)