Bob Farmer caring for the trees
Bob Farmer of Manila retired in 1995 after 33 years and four months with the Arkansas Game and Fish. For most of those 33 years and four months, he was out among trees and wildlife.
He and his wife, Sue, were both dedicated to their long careers. She taught elementary school for 34 years.
The couple celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary in August.
They live on Country Club Circle with Big Lake Country Club in their back yard. They moved into their home in 2002.
“We moved next door to Clifford Veach,” Farmer said. “We would sit at the back of our house and enjoy the view of the country club. There was a large area on the south side of the club's property with no trees. One day I said to Mr. Veach, (longtime mayor of Manila) 'someone needs to plant some trees in that area.' He said it was a good idea and that would be a good job for me.”
The challenge was all it took for Farmer to get the ball rolling. He talked to the caretakers of the country club about his plans and called the forestry department and ordered 50 trees.
“Buddy Duncan was managing the golf course at that time,” Farmer said. “He told me if I would mow around the trees, they would take care of the rest of the mowing."
The trees were about knee high when Farmer planted the first row. Once he planted the first 50, he realized there was room for more and he went back to the forestry department and ordered more trees. He planted over 70 trees in the quarter mile area. The majority of the trees are pin oaks. In addition to the pin oaks he planted a couple of cypress trees, four apple trees and two peach trees. He lost the peach trees but is hoping the apple trees survive.
Sixty-four trees all together are living with Farmer tending to them daily. When they were small he would go out several times a day. He has staked, fertilized, watered, trimmed, and mowed around each one. When they were small the country club loaned him their water tank so he could keep the trees watered sufficiently.
He added 10 woodduck boxes he made himself, and a martin house, a gift from his daughter.
Farmer uses his golf cart to go out at least once a day and check each tree.
He once enjoyed golfing at Big Lake Country Club. He said his eyes are not as good as they once were and he gave up the game.
“Manila is fortunate to have this nice golf course,” Farmer said.
Even though he doesn't golf much anymore he still enjoys the view across the course from his back sun porch.
“The trees really have added to scenery from both sides and I think it improves the value of our properties along the street,” Farmer said.
Farmer said he took a disliking to moles several years ago and has managed to get rid of 74. He said it takes a lot of patience. He doesn't track them as much since his eyes are not as good as they once were.
In addition to being dedicated to their careers, the Farmers are dedicated to their family. They have three children, Cindy, Lisa and Brent.
Their daughter Cindy and husband Gene Curtis live in Blytheville. Cindy's son David Hutton and wife Pennie have a son, Hunter. Their daughter Lisa and husband John Kotkovich and son Johnny live in Arlington, Tenn., (near Memphis). Their son Brent and wife Angel live in Manila and have two children, Rex and Lucy.
Even though it takes a lot of time and work to care for the trees, Farmer said he enjoys it and considers it time well spent and hopefully will benefit generations to come.