Retired U.S. Army vet Michael Tyler, who was deployed 7 times (5 combat tours, 2 peace-keeping tours), owns Tyler Farms and Ranch in Camden, offering a variety of products from fruit to fresh eggs and cattle to chestnuts.
“They always told you in the military that when you had some down time to think about something that made you happy,” says Tyler. “So, I would lay out fields on paper and think about if I were to breed this kind of cow to that kind of bull what would that look like. I would do research on stuff like that, but I can tell you today that it never turns out the way you imagine. It’s hard to put that into reality.”
Tyler’s 28-year military career ended September 2020 as Covid was cranking up. His wife, Tammy, was already in Camden getting the farm going and in 2022 they were named “Ouachita County Farm Family of the Year.”
The new lifestyle has not only been satisfying and successful for the Tylers but therapeutic. When asked about his previous career, Michael still struggles to speak about things he experienced while serving and in combat.
“The good thing about farming is, when I was leaving the military, they said you’ve got to find something to (help you transition well),” Michael says. “They told me guys who had been in as long as I had, normally don’t make it five years after they retire. So, I thought about it, came home and told Tammy ‘we’re going to do farming.’
“In the army you were always up early, always got off late and I was a logistics guy,” Michael says. “Instead of moving tanks, parts, trucks and personnel, now I move cows, goats, hay and it’s easy for the most part.”
The Tylers started with 12 acres but have expanded to more than 50, raising all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and livestock. They’ve planted more than 100 different plants and trees and laid 1,000 feet of irrigation lines.
“We’re diverse,” Michael says. “We do cattle, goats, honey bees, fruit, and we occasionally sell some hay. We hit a lot of different markets. With the goats, we do milk and cheeses, we sell to different companies that do soap.”
Apples, pears, peaches, fuju persimmons, figs and plums are among the fruits offered at Tyler Farms. Nuts for sale include pecans, black walnuts, and Chinese chestnuts.
Michael and Tammy, who also served in the Army from 1993 to 2003, stay involved with organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Farmer Veteran Coalition.
Together, their veteran-owned, family-operated farm strives to do business “based on Biblical principles (humility, honesty, quality service).” It has an online store and is recognized and/or members of Arkansas Made/Arkansas Grown, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and Homegrown By Heroes. Several national agriculture and food safety leaders, including the American Farm Bureau, support Homegrown By Heroes.
Watch here for more and/or visit tylerfarmsandranch.com.