Barham’s Ozark Beef turns two years old this month! It all began with Charlie and Lynda Barham and Ed and Mariana Linck agreeing in the summer of 2019 to process six beef over a period of three months to see if there’s a market for a farm-to-table beef business in the Conway area. It was a big risk for all of them. Ed’s dad and stepmom, John & Susan Linck, were their first customers. Soon after, Cecilia, Danny, Jeff, Pamela, and Wendy claimed the remainder of the initial two beef that were delivered in October 2019. Two more beef were delivered in November and a final two in December. The interest they saw in those early days gave them enough confidence to continue the down the path of becoming a “real” business.
2020 saw substantial growth. With the Covid-19 pandemic in full effect, the way people ordered food shifted. Shopping for groceries online became normal. Beef shortages due to supply chain issues shined a light on the local meat and vegetable producers. Having your own “beef guy” became a thing. Word quickly spread about Barham’s Ozark Beef and the phone started ringing. In all, Barham’s Ozark Beef sold thirty whole beef in 2020. The momentum going into the new year was off the charts!
The new year brought an increase in production. It was a risky move, but the number of customers gained the previous year inspired them to make the jump. Four whole beef every month during 2021 was the commitment. Did you know that the beef industry is seasonal? Well, it is. And it runs from January through early Spring. Who knew? Enter the genius idea from Mariana Linck, Ed’s wife and co-founder of Barham’s Ozark Beef. She recognized that many Arkansans fill their freezers with deer meat during the winter. She suggested that people still eat beef and would consider purchasing a smaller amount than a quarter beef or a half beef, which is the only way someone could purchase Barham’s Ozark Beef at that point. Within days, the Beef Snob Sampler was introduced to the market. The launch was an immediate success!
What’s a beef snob? Where did that come from? Mariana and Ed had a few pounds of ground beef from another cattle farm. Mariana wanted to try it and see how it compared to Barham’s Ozark Beef. She made spaghetti with it and the Linck family sat down to dinner. Everyone took their first bite. All of a sudden, Mariana is spit her bite out followed by a disgusted “YUCK!” Ed and their daughter, Catalina, couldn’t believe their eyes. Mariana had been spoiled by a year straight of eating Barham’s Ozark Beef that a lesser quality beef just didn’t suit her anymore. The term “beef snob” was born and is now a big part of the “beef snob” culture.
With the initial shock of Covid-19 starting to subside, people were going out to eat again and the quarters and halves were lasting much longer than before. Order frequency declined, again, just as inventory had increased. It was time to pivot once again. Enter the Conway Farmer’s Market. The team created a price sheet, bought a tent and other items needed to be a presentable vendor and prepared themselves for the first day of market. The following months would be some of the best in the history of the company. The beef snob community grew exponentially over the summer with dozens of new customers each Saturday at the market. Thanks to a young man who wanted a Father’s Day gift, the Mini Beef Snob Sampler was born. He said, “I have $100. What can I get as a gift for my dad?” The answer was two steaks, a roast, a fajita meat and five pounds of ground beef. The Mini has become the most frequently ordered item on the Barham’s Ozark Beef bulk menu.
It’s October 2021, two years after their first delivery. The team has been reminiscing about the progress that has taken place since the summer of 2019. What started as a fingers-crossed, hopeful idea has become a “we may have something here” business. Charlie and Ed, after discussing with Lynda and Mariana, have decided to take another big leap of faith and commit to six whole beef every month starting in April 2022. With Barham’s Ozark Beef’s increased product offering and potential growth through shipping, the team is thrilled about the future! As it turns out, people truly appreciate all-natural, sweet potato and corn fed, pasture raised beef. The “beef snob community” is real and growing. The Barham’s and the Linck’s are forever grateful for the continued support they receive from their customers and look forward to serving the beef snob community for many years to come.
Studies show the taste of beef can be directly related to their diet. In general, red meat has a more acceptable and intense flavor when fed high-energy foods versus low-energy grass diets. Many of our customers claim Barham’s Ozark Beef tastes better than any beef they have tasted before. The pasture raised calves in the Barham’s Ozark Beef program enjoy a unique diet consisting of approximately 50% sweet potatoes, 25% chopped corn, and 25% Bermudagrass.
Why sweet potatoes? For the calves, sweet potatoes are a very palatable and highly digestible feedstuff. The tasty treat is high in energy and contains protein and vitamin A. Thanks to a consistent supply of sweet potatoes throughout the year, our calves have access to this “super food” from the day they are born until harvest.
When beef snobs order a quarter beef or more from Barham’s Ozark Beef, they have the option to customize their cuts. Since many of our clients are new to this, we have created a photo gallery of each of the cut options. We still have a few cuts we need to capture on camera, but this is a great start! If you have questions or want to order, please contact Ed Linck at (501) 733-4801.
Arkansas cattle farmer Charlie Barham has been in the beef business for nearly 40 years. Now the self-proclaimed “good ol’ country boy” is the subject of a short film documentary that gives a behind-the-scenes look into his sustainable and humane farming operation in Ozark, Arkansas.
Produced by Twist Creative Studio, “Tender Touch: Nurturing Ozark Cattle,” examines Barham’s life on the farm – from the early days to today – and his role as co-founder of Barham’s Ozark Beef, the family business he started with his stepson Ed Linck in the fall of 2019. The 20-minute documentary premiered on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.
Barham’s Ozark Beef owner Ed Linck was interviewed on Newsradio 102.9 KARN with host Kevin Miller on the morning of December 18, 2020. Ed was a guest on the “Open for Business” segment. If you don’t know much about Barham’s Ozark Beef, this is a great introduction!
The Beef Snob Blog is our attempt to keep you in the know about all things beef snob related. We’ll post events, news, updates, recipes, and anything else we hope you find interesting. Enjoy!