Keith Branscum of Fifty Six has been involved in farming virtually all his life, having started helping feed his family’s cattle, hogs and chickens at age 6.
Growing up in the Culp community of northern Stone County, he owned a sow and eight pigs in partnership with his brother by age 11. They sold four and kept four sows, eventually building up to 50 sows before getting out of the business when he was 16. Keith said he used money from the sale of those first two pigs to purchase a pump shotgun that he still owns.
He acquired his first cow and calf at age 13, and by the time he was 18 he owned eight cows and was in the logging business, which he continued for about 20 years.
He purchased 80 acres of land of his own at age 22 as a young family man, having married his high school sweetheart, Cindy Balentine. The two have been married 40 years and have two children and four grandchildren.
They are Stone County’s Farm Family of the Year for 2021.
The Branscums now farm about 1,300 acres, 1,000 of which they own. There are five locations in and around Fifty Six and three from Sugarloaf Mountain toward Culp, including the land around Branscum Cemetery, where Keith’s gg-grandfather homesteaded property.
A five-generation history is a strong influence that Keith has never questioned.
“My family has always logged and farmed,” he said.
His grandfather owned about 2,000 acres and had a large family. Most of his males cousins have been loggers and farmers.
“I was raised from a small child learning to care for and respect the land,” Keith said. “Our parents worked and depended on our help, and we never let them down.”
The Branscums say teamwork makes their operation successful.
“It hasn’t always been easy, but we have never once considered not raising cattle,” Keith said. “I was born a farmer and I will die a farmer. Generations before me paved the way, and I hope to do the same for my children and grandchildren.”
Read the full story and see additional photos in the June 2, 2021, issue.
Editor's note: The name Branscum was mistakenly printed as Balentine on several references in the print edition.