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Boots, Spurs & Ballet

Boots, Spurs & Ballet

by Robin Rogers

It’s a Wednesday afternoon, and Texarkana Parent has stopped in to visit with one of the few family farms in Miller County. The Lazy Colt Ranch has been in the Smith family since the 1950s. Clay Smith is father to bright-eyed, Morgan, who is 10-years-old and attends Trice Renaissance Elementary Magnet School in Texarkana, Arkansas, where she participates in the Discovery Innovation and Gifted and Talented programs.

Morgan promises to be the fourth generation to run this family-operated ranch when she finishes college someday. This father-daughter bond is unique, as Clay and Morgan seem to finish each other’s sentences. As Clay drives the horse-drawn buggy and Morgan rides on her beloved gelding “Gallo,” the two enjoy discussing what they will do with an old bull, the rules of the ranch, and shenanigans that sometimes occur living a ranching life.

Riding out, Morgan exclaims that when she takes over the ranch, she will paint the corral pink. Clay laughs and explains that his plan is to eventually turn the farm over to Morgan, like his dad, Phil, did to him. Preserving the stories of the past, they enjoy living and working for the future.

Looking over some of the cows, Morgan says that they do need “more fashionable and fabulous cows,” to which Clay explains that this year, he is letting her pick the breeding bulls, as the herd they are raising are Morgan’s “sooner than later.” Currently, they have about 250 cows, 30 bulls, and a couple of hundred baby calves. Clay says he has to watch out when he leaves Morgan with others in the business, as she is already trading cows with others. Morgan points out the red speckled Brahman bull that she traded one of their Angus bulls for with family friend Burt Clem.He finally remembers Morgan’s first bull purchase from her uncle Howdy (Clay’s brother, Howdy Smith). They speak of alligators they find, hogs they hunt, horses they ride, and the cattle and land that are the Smith’s livelihood. Clay speaks proudly when he tells of Morgan feeding cows or driving the tractors or dump truck on the ranch, which makes her beam.

Life at The Lazy Colt Ranch is an everyday business, so hard work has been ingrained in Morgan naturally. For fun, Clay and Morgan will sometimes head to Texarkana to a movie or dinner. They really enjoy visiting Books A Million together. Morgan is currently in the middle of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Clay is a history buff and finds that listening to books during long periods on the tractor makes for a great way to pass the time. He has just finished listening to Geronimo’s autobiography. Clay looks at Morgan and catches her by surprise. “What was the date of the Battle of Hastings?” She quickly replies, “1066!” “When was the Magna Carta signed?” Clay asks. “1215! Daddy, tell her about our treasure hunts!” Clay smiles as he explains that he creates treasure hunts all over the farm for Morgan to solve by looking up history dates and facts, finding certain places with a compass, and doing some mathematical equations. It is obvious that Morgan enjoys learning, and Clay loves history.

This father-daughter duo has a joy of the ranching life and neither seems to think about what the future will hold for the ranch; it’s for sure Morgan’s. Years ago, women would have not been given the chance to run an operation like The Lazy Colt, but Clay brags about how Morgan can do it all. Very few 10 year olds (boys or girls) are being taught to learn a family business that is focused on the land and its bounty. “Business skills are what she needs,” Clay says, “and the cattle are really secondary. She has to be able to make forecasts, read a profit and loss statement, make a plan and work that plan.” Morgan agrees, as if she was born to run a ranch and go to business school.

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About the time you wonder if this pretty little girl in cowboy boots with spurs is really an adult trapped in a child’s body, she says, “You wanna watch me do my ballet?” Well, of course. When asked where she takes dance and gymnastics, she proudly replies, “At my school. Trice is the Performing Arts School, and Mrs. Torrans has taught me all of this.” Morgan has been cordially showing off her riding skills and the ranch for almost three hours now, and she is ready to play with her cat “Lulu,” do backbends, and dance. Soon Clay will take her back to her mother, with whom he shares joint custody. He brags on Morgan’s mother, who speaks three languages fluently; Morgan and her mom speak French to one another at her home.

Day in and day out on a ranch is hard work, but Morgan Smith 

undoubtedly appears up for the challenge one day, probably sooner than her family realizes. The Lazy Colt is home to three generations of Smiths now, as Clay’s dad, Phil, lives in his cowboy quarters down the drive near the barn. Morgan seems to already have a good lay of the land. She has obviously been well raised by both parents and taught the values of integrity, perseverance, and hard work. Clay Smith says that his mission in life is to leave the family farm healthy and productive to Morgan so that her grandchildren may someday live and love this wonderful life that the Smiths enjoy. What a wonderful plan.

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