The Great Depression wasn’t over and severe drouths of the early 30’s had left their mark on everyone. So it wasn’t the best of times when Frank Estes and Lois Thomas got married and started their lifetime in the dairy business. Lois said it best at their 50th wedding anniversary in one of her many stories in verse:
The path was rugged and the going was tough
The grasshoppers and chinch bugs were swarming and the hot weather was rough.
There was precious little money to start our wedded bliss
All we had were dreams and an occasional moonlite kiss.
No bank would give us credit and our cash flow made us scheme
Our only mode of transportation was an old farm wagon and team.
But make it they did and their dairy herd grew and their finances improved to 100 head of registered Guernsey on a 280 acre productive farm in Christian County, Missouri. The herd averages 12,500 pounds of milk and 500 pounds fat after 30 years of DHIA testing and culling and breeding while the 280 acres furnishes most of their hay and pasture.
Frank and Lois had three sons: Jerry, who owns and operates a livestock auction barn in Nixa; Gary, a nationally known auctioneer and dairy judge and main operator of the home place; and Ronald, who was killed in a tragic accident at an early age.
It was the sons’ 4-H and FFA projects that sparked the growth of their registered Guernsey herd and ultimately national recognition to Shady View Farm. They have bred 24 Excellent cows; 7 All Americans and 1 National Champion at Waterloo, Iowa in 1965. They proved the bull Foremost Top Jolly who then went into AI service. According to Frank, this was one of the highlights of Shady View Farm’s many accomplishments.
The Estes Family has always been active in community activities. Frank has served on county ASCS Board; 4-H Leadership Council; White River Valley Electric Coop Board; MFA Oil Company Board and was named Man of the Year in 1994 by the Rogersville Junior Livestock Show. He was inducted into the Nixa High School (his alma mater) Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his prowess as a basketball player.
Lois was always the helping hand on the farm, at the fairs, and any other dairy activities. She was a surrogate mother for all the youngsters trying to get started in youth work. Their RV served as the cook shack for everyone at fairs and shows until her death in 1989.