All in the family: Hawkins Farms of Bolton
Today, Hawkins Farms of Bolton encompasses more than 200 acres and is home to three breeds of cattle. Roosevelt Hawkins, Sr. and his son, Roosevelt Hawkins, Jr., say they love the fact that they can call the sprawling acreage their home.
The family-owned business began with a wedding gift to Roosevelt Hawkins, Sr. and his wife, Lucindy Hill Hawkins, from Hawkins’ parents, Mae Lillie and Eldridge Hawkins, Sr. It was a registered Angus cow. The couple also received forty acres of land in Bolton from Lucindy’s parents. Both had been raised on a farm and had learned a good deal about livestock during their early years. But, at that time, Roosevelt and Lucindy were enjoying their careers as school teachers and looking forward to starting a family of their own.
Roosevelt taught school for thirty-five years, with thirty-two of those years spent in the Clinton Public Schools, teaching technology to seventh-, eighth- and ninth grade students. He retired in 2011. “I had some of the greatest co-workers and schools to work in that you can imagine. I had a great life then, and I’m having a great life now. I love running into my former students. When I left teaching, I wanted to help care for my ailing father. He passed in 2011.”
Lucindy, who taught chemistry and biology, has retired from teaching, as well. Teaming up with Roosevelt’s brother, James Hawkins, they have acquired several additional pieces of land and have bred and built up their herds, bringing Hawkins Farms to where it is today.
Hawkins’ father had urged his children to have a back-up source of income, such as cattle. For big life events, Eldridge would give him the gift of a cow, beginning with that first black angus. Thirty generations later, Roosevelt still has cows and calves from that blood line: descendants of that special first gift from his Dad.
When asked for the name of the cow that started it all, Roosevelt said, “I don’t give names to any of them. I would get too attached if I named them. When I call them, they come running and line up like kids. It is hard not to get attached.”
“Now we have three different herds, three different breeds of cattle: registered Black Angus, Brangus and Ultra Black. The Brangus are 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Angus. The Ultra Blacks are a cross between Brangus and registered Angus. The herds have grown over time, and, even with the help of my son, Roosevelt, Jr. and my nephew Jason, it is still a full-time job. Many evenings, Lucindy and I take our ‘honeymoon stroll’ going around to each pasture, checking on the cows. Then we head to the store and treat ourselves to a snack.”
“My father and mother were both interested in cows and land. As long as I live, I will keep building on the family farm, and keep it going. When my time comes, it is my hope to pass it on to my son, Roosevelt, Jr., and nephew, Jason, and that they can keep it going and pass it on to their children.”
Says twenty-six-year-old Roosevelt, Jr: “I was ‘the country boy’ back in my school days at Clinton High. Farming is pretty popular now, but, back then, my friends made jokes about me being a country boy.”
Formerly the curator of educational programming for two Mississippi museums, Roosevelt, Jr. has recently gone to work for Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson. “I love the farm and like to help Dad as much as I can, but it is hard to make time for everything,” said Roosevelt, Jr.
“At one time I also had twenty-seven head of horses,” said Roosevelt. “When Jr. was young, we went to a lot of horse shows. During his teens, we went to horse shows every Saturday.”
Roosevelt Jr. dreams of one day, “taking Hawkins Farms one step further. I want to take it out into the community and share some of the important things we learn from farming. We can go to college and get a degree, like the liberal arts degree that I have; but, if things go south, no matter how bad things get, the things you learn from farming can help keep you alive.”
Serving the community is very important to him, he says. “I represent Mississippi in the NAACP Next Generation Leadership program, and I am also a 2021 graduate of the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute. ‘Working hard and serving the Lord’ is my motto. Part of serving is reaching out and helping others. It is hard to find the time and balance everything, but one day I hope to make the family proud and take over and run Hawkins Farms.”