IT is a given when a cowboy moves on to better days in higher places, the next in line steps up to the gate ready to lasso in and put their raising to test. Often times it leaves a mother and son working hand in hand to carry-on and when there is no son, it falls to the grandsons, nephews or the youngest male left carrying the name according to the Bible.
IN TEXAS, there is no argument, be it sons, grandsons, nephews, or a neighbor, when work is to be done they step up to the plate.
“My dad was the cowboy, I just raised cows,” said Troy Harvey. “I always said he was raised150 years too late to be the type of cowboy he wanted to be. Growing up, I never could see what he got out of it until he became ill. Now, since his passing it is my therapy. Having cows is a lot of work. Some days go good, they can all be counted for when feeding and all are well; other days they can work you to half to death. If you’re lucky on the good days, the fences don’t need mending,” he added.
“I don’t consider myself a cowboy,” he continued although his herd ranges from 50 to 90 head depending on the time of year. “To me, our cowboys are a rare set and there is not a whole lot of what I consider real cowboys. Those are the ones who have a saddle horse and know how to catch and rope. Being in the feed store business, there were some we called professional cowboys that we could call up and could get anything done. Times have changed many of them have died.”
Troy started first grade in Kilgore in 1975, having moved from the Greggton area with parents Debbie and Charles Harvey. Charles and Debbie met when he was in the Marines and was stationed in Debbie’s home state of North Carolina.
“I always thought I could get him to stay in North Carolina but he brought me almost kicking and screaming back to his roots,” she said. ‘His Pappy Dad and Big Mama had lived in tents where Kilgore City Park is, following the oil boom. Charles was the youngest of five siblings and while the oldest remember their mother sweeping dirt floors of the tent with a broom, Charles did not,” she said.
“Charles worked different jobs but basically the oilfield,” she continued. “While he was working at Acid Engineering, we acquired a couple of horses, a couple of cows, goats and chickens,” laughed Debbie. “That was our herd. In 1986, Hollis Lee decided to sell his feed store that was out on Highway 259 and we bought it. It was Labor Day weekend and we moved everything practically overnight.” The “we” also included a daughter Amanda.
“I was sixteen at the time,” interjected Troy. “I remember it well. The store closed on Saturday and we moved all the stuff here (on Stone Road) and we had to be open on Tuesday. We worked ourselves half to death to get it done, but, we did it,” he said proudly.
“Dad and I got into team penning some, but it was mainly him,” said Troy. “Dad was actually the first one to bring team penning to Kilgore. He enjoyed riding so much. Mom would work in the office and I would work in the pens. It was hot, sweaty, and dusty work and the only time we got off is when it rained too hard for them to ride. But, we also had cowboys who would ride in the sleet.”
Knowing he was better at numbers than with horses, Troy attended Kilgore College to gain better knowledge of accounting practices. “I knew I could put it to use in the store,” he said.
Troy’s home is built where the old arena once stood and fondly called Harvey Hill. He married a lady out of Indiana by the name of Chris White and has managed to keep her close to his roots, too. Together they have one daughter, Megan.
“She is married to her work as an RN at Good Shepherd,” said Troy. “She received her degree from UT at Tyler and is working toward her Masters degree on-line from UT Arlington. It keeps her too busy to do anything else.”
“It has been eight years since Charles passed away. It is still tough, but Troy has been here every step of the way. We pray for hard winters so people have to buy feed,” she readily admits. “But, springtime is your Christmas and it must carry you through the hot summer months,” added Troy. “That’s when people buy plants, seeds, fertilizer and lawn supplies.”
Currently, the wood stove at Stone Road Farm and Garden Center is idle, but wood has already been purchased for the upcoming winter. At the wooden benches and table close to it you’ll find farmers and ranchers huddled, drinking coffee and eating roasted peanuts during winter months.
“We don’t gossip, we just talk about people,” laughed Troy. “We have a good time around that ol’ stove and we have customers from all walks of life coming in.”
“I am happy doing what I am doing,” said Troy. “I don’t have a horse to work the cows, but, I have a four-wheeler. You can’t get in the same places as a horse so I do a lot of walking, but, I am happy doing just what I do.”
If you go to the feed store, don’t leave without getting words of wisdom from this mother –son team. Right now, the blackberries are almost ready to pick, but strap bacon around your ankles before going to the pastures. It makes sense to me, but, you will have to get them to explain it to you.
Happy Mother’s Day! May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. We may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-984-2593.