Lyal Strickland is a singer, songwriter, and farmer who was born and raised, and still lives in the Missouri Ozarks. Ten days before graduating from college with a degree in film, he inherited a run down farm. His great-grandparents purchased the farm in 1944 and it came with nearly 900 acres of fields, creeks and woods, a bunch of herefords, no usable equipment, and next to no fences. Lyal came to it with next to no experience, and then the only hired hand quit the very next day.
Instead of selling the place, Lyal began climbing the steep learning curve he faced. He started reading everything he could get his hands on, and taking classes offered through extension and other programs. That was five years ago and things are looking up. He stopped feeding purchased feed early on and started building the herd, moving it to grass-fed the first year. He’s now selling the beef at a nearby meat market.
About all this Lyal says “There are sometimes other places we’d like to be, that might be easier. It might be easier to trek off to a city somewhere, or trek off to one of the coasts. But it’s just one of those things where, by God, we’re going to make it work, stick it out. Even though it’s tough and it’s hard, it’s almost a point of pride to sit there and say we’re going to make it through this. We’re tough enough to do it.”
Like so many of us, Lyal has an off-farm job. He balances raising beef with songwriting and touring, and he has three CDs out. The latest is called “Balanced on Barbed Wire” and it hit the streets in March of this year. It’s the first he’s released since he began farming 4 years ago, and its songs describe farming and his experience of it. Reviewer Ed Peaco calls it an album of “rural grit and grace.”