Combs' parents, Fred and Velma, instilled the value and joy of farming in Eddie. Eddie and Tammy were married in 1975, and bought their first 80 acre farm in 1976 which joined Eddie's family's farm on Highway 142 in the Myrtle area. In 1984, they bought the Phillip Wilkerson place off of Highway H in Myrtle, and that is where they currently reside and farm on 320 acres. They raise beef cattle keeping anywhere from 60 to 70 beef cows on the farm and, during normal summers, they bale 350 to 400 round bales of hay plus a couple thousand square bales.
Combs is retired from installing sprinkler systems and is now a full time farmer. Tammy has always been a full time farmer's wife and mother. Combs gave credit to his wife, Tammy, and two kids, Brian and Jamie, for keeping the family farm up and going while he was away working. When first starting out, Combs had other farming interests than just beef cattle. "I've always had an interest in milking. On our family farm, we milked cows by hand all the time. From the early 1990s, we were a busy family. We were milking cows, raising beef cattle, raising hogs and I was out working installing sprinkler systems, staying gone during the week."
Along with farming, the couple finds time to make wagon trail rides. Tammy said, "We also still like to ride our horses. Eddie still likes to mess with young horses when he has the time." The couple's favorite down time activity is spending time with their grandchildren. Their son and oldest child, Brian Combs of West Plains, Mo., has one son Tucker, who is six. The couple's daughter, Jamie, is married to Jason Perryman, and they have two children, Cash, who is five and Maggie Jo, who is two. They live in Viola, Ark.
Combs said, "We've had some bad years, but the good years have outnumbered the bad years." This summer is the driest that he has seen it since 1980. "This is the first time since 1980 I can ever remember having to buy hay. We've always been fortunate enough to raise enough of our own hay." Even though this dry, hot summer is tough on farmers all over, he wouldn't give up on his farm.
The biggest change that they have seen in their years of farming is the decrease of the small family farms. "Back in the early 1990s when I milked out of my dairy barn, there were a lot of small dairies, and small farms still raising hogs. Now you see the small farms really fading out," said Combs. Tammy added, "At one time we had 40 hogs and did the hog thing until it started fading out. So far, raising beef cattle has held pretty strong." Combs said, "Back in the early 1990s, you could take a small dairy like we had with 40 or 50 cows and make money with it. I think there are only two dairy farms left in the whole area now."
Even though there has been a decline in the small farms, Eddie would encourage young farmers starting out to keep going. "We still need small farms, they are very important," said Combs. Tammy said, "It is a good thing for families and for children growing up. Everyone has a job, and it teaches them responsibility." Tammy believes that a family farm is the backbone of the country.
The Combs' children, Brian and Jamie, have fond memories of growing up on the farm. They enjoy bringing their children out and letting them experience life on a large family farm. "Growing up on a farm you have a lot of responsibilities. It has its ups and downs," Brian said about growing up on the farm. Eddie added that Brian gave up playing ball in high school because of his desire to help out more on the farm.
"You gain a lot of respect for your parents when you learn how hard they work to supply for their children. You learn responsibilities growing up on the farm which teaches you values that you appreciate as you grow up," said Jamie. Jamie was especially thankful for the opportunity to participate in rodeos as a youth. "You get the opportunity to do so much more living on a farm in the country, than you do in the city. We always had horses and we got to do the rodeo thing," Jamie said. The family farm also holds a special place in Jamie's heart. "I loved it. Being married and away from the farm, we only have five acres and I miss being on a big farm. I always liked it, and when Cash and Maggie Jo grow up, they will be Poppy's hired hands," said Jamie.
Even though Brian and Jamie have moved away, they still come back and help on the farm. Tammy said, "The kids still come back and help with the hay. Jamie will rake the hay, and Brian is always here helping his dad."
The grandkids are particularly proud of the farm. They each have their favorite thing to do while visiting their grandparents. Tucker enjoys working in the hay with his Dad and Grandpa, and especially likes fishing in the pond. "One time I was cutting hay and Tucker rode with me for eight hours and he cried when they took him down," said Combs. Tammy commented, "Cash and Tucker love riding the tractors. Maggie likes to ride the gator."
The couple is active members of The First Baptist Church of Myrtle where they have been members for 20 years. Tammy has served on the Farm Service Agency Board for nine years, which reviews farmers' applications for government programs and assists the farmers in getting assistance from the programs.
The Combs family has never been recognized as the Oregon County Farm Family or received other awards. They feel very honored to receive the recognition.