Hi, we are Phillip and Dena Parham, owners and operators of Parham Pharm, located in Swink, Oklahoma. We know people interested in purchasing healthy, naturally raised foods would like to hear more our background of how the product they purchase comes to fruition.
This is our story.
Dena is a trained nutritionist who seeks only the healthiest foods for our family and animals. She conducts extensive research on any products we or our animals ingest. It is her continuing goal to add the best quality to our diets and spends hours evaluating each product and feed before approving it for our farm. Dena has single-handedly managed the farm while Phillip worked overseas to financially support our endeavor. She also orchestrated the move from Arizona to Oklahoma with the help of some loyal and trusting friends. Dena maintains the Parham Pharm Facebook page, where she regularly discusses diet, food preparation, farm activities, new arrivals, impending births, and anything else she deems important to the Parham Pharm and maintaining a healthy living lifestyle.
Phillip is a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major. He has a MBA in Business Management and is a Certified Project Management Professional, PMP. worked overseas from Oct 2010 to March 2015 to fund the purchase and establishment of the Parham Pharm in its current location, Swink, Oklahoma. Phillip is an avid amateur astronomer, running enthusiast, Harley rider, and local real estate agent. Dena is the pretty accessory on the back of the Harley.
We love to travel and our favorite vacation spot is Jamaica. Ya Mon. We are considered Jamericans. Any regular visitor to Jamaica knows what this means.
Our journey to a healthier lifestyle began in 2002 while Phillip was still serving on active duty. This endeavor was accelerated upon his retirement in 2005 when we purchased a modest 5-acre mini-ranch in the high desert of southeast Arizona. Our first venture into a healthier lifestyle was with the addition of poultry and a large garden, with the sole purpose of providing healthy food for our family. During these initials steps, we made many novice mistakes, which led to new methods to do things smarter and simpler. We discovered chicken pluckin' was a no fun, smelly chore. After some research, we discovered the Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker and purchased the instructions to build one ourselves. No, Phillip did not build it. Instead, we found someone who had better carpentry skills to build one for us. This incredible tool made the task of chicken harvesting a more productive, less time-consuming chore. It was during this time that we also began experimenting with raising pigs. We also planted quite the little orchard and Dena began experimenting with growing grapes..
We stayed on the original homestead for approximately two years. In 2007, we moved closer to Fort Huachuca, Arizona and Phillip's place of employment, and continued to fine-tune our farming techniques. Dena immediately began developing the infrastructure on the new homestead, planting another grape vineyard, fruit trees (again), and Phillip even tried growing hops to brew homemade beer. The soil turned out to be not favorable for our orchard or the hops.
We soon ventured into raising cattle for our own table. We went to an auction in Willcox, Arizona. What an experience! We had a great time with our new adventure raising our own beef. We quickly discovered some challenges with Brahma’s when we attempted to load the first one for market day. Brahma’s have an incredible ability to jump tall fences in a single bound. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense, because they are traditionally used as rodeo bulls. Oh, we never thought of that aspect. The decision was made, no more Brahmas.
We learned a valuable lesson concerning loading animals for market day. After our first dramatic loading experiences with the hogs and cows. We discovered it is much easier to feed animals destined for market their final week in the stock trailer. It takes a few days but they learn to go in and out with no pain on our part or stress for them. This creates a self-loading experience and all we have to do on market days is toss in some feed, close the door, and drive off to the market. Easy peasy.
In 2008, we realized that our current location untenable for our purpose and plans to expand our farm. We lived 6 miles from the Mexican border in SE Arizona in the high desert, water was scarce, and 350 feet down. Hay was expensive, at $20 a bale for number 2 Alfalfa, with no grazing available on our small 5 acres. The average Cattle Equivalent Unit (CEU) in our area was 1 CEU per 40 acres, which was than optimal for what we were planning to do. We determined that a move was necessary if our intent to be self-sufficient and raise beef, pork, poultry, and produce for profit was to become reality.
Dena did most of the research for potential locations that would meet our needs. Phillip had a few constraints. Being from the South,it had to be in the South, and the property must be at least 1/2 pasture and 1/2 wooded. Dena's main requirement was that the property MUST be below the snow line. She self-proclaims herself as solar-powered and would not consider any locations where snow stayed on the ground more than 48 hours.
It was at this moment that we decided the only way to make this move happen and start be self-sustaining and profitable was to become completely debt-free. This decision set in motion a change in income requirements that were necessary to make this move realty. With the help of an old friend, Phillip took a job in Afghanistan in October 2010.
Our requirements were no simple feat; minimum of 40 acres, private well for water supply, secluded road, half pasture, half wooded, ponds, and no restrictions. While Phillip was working overseas, Dena made multiple trips from Arizona to Oklahoma to view prospective properties. Bob and Nancy at Territorial Realty patiently showed her multiple properties, and Phillip was able to participate in three of these excursions during his R&R visits. Finally, in August 2013, we found the ideal property and submitted an offer. We closed on the property in October 2013. In Phillip’s absence, Dena was able to complete this process with a Power of Attorney and completed the first in a series of three moves in December 2014. This was the year of the great ice storm. We lost all power and everything was frozen rock solid. In January 2014, Phillip came home for another R&R to help with the second move. Upon our arrival, we discovered the primary well pump had burned out when the electricity came back on after the big freeze. This gave us an opportunity meet the local well expert, much sooner than we had hoped for. Nonetheless, he was great. He came out the same evening and was able to switch us to one of the other wells. Fortunately, we had three wells on the property to choose from for primary or backup use.
Dena began another active period of building the required infrastructure of animals and equipment for the farm. She found the Dexter cattle from two different sellers and closed the deals. She hooked up the gooseneck stock trailer and picked up the first stock on her own. Phillip came home for another R&R just in time to help go pick up the second load. This gave us our starting herd of heifers, four of which were bred. The first calf born on our property was a bull calf by Frisbee in September 2014.
We decided to find a Sire Bull at this time and discovered Aiden for sell in southeastern Missouri. Dena closed the deal on him and again, hooked up the gooseneck stock trailer and headed North to pick him up. When she returned and off-loaded him into the pasture he immediately made his acquaintance with the "ladies" and Frisbee was quickly bred. We knew Aiden was the guy for the job.
Dena continued searching and found sellers of Large Black Hogs that we wanted for the farm. This time, she was able to put the animal cage in the truck to pick them up. She did this a few times and now the farm has six sows and one boar. The plan is to keep two gilts from the first litter of each sow to bring the breeding stock to 12 sows. We will be seeking to trade our boar, Jebbie, for a new bloodline before the new breeding stock comes of age.
Dena has purchased an extremely nice poultry brooder to go with our commercial-grade incubator for hatching out a variety of poultry. We currently have a wide variety of laying hens. We have Pilgrim Geese on order and expect them to join our farm in March 2015.
We are continuing to build infrastructure to the property, which included: upgrading our tractor for a larger model, adding additional storage facilities, repairing fences in the hog sleeping area, constructing birthing areas, poultry pens, building a garden area, installing electric fencing for our bull and general farm improvements. We purchased more fencing for the next job, early 2017 work, perimeter fencing. This will allow wider ranging for the pigs into the trees closer to the edge of the property for acorns and grubs. Hopefully it will deter our build from venturing into the neighbor's pasture.
Our first serious improvement was the installation of a patio and fence with our hot tub. What is a farm in this age without a hot tub to relax after a long day of hard work?
We recently converted one well to a hand pump as a backup and in early 2017 a second pump to solar power. We had new well houses built in 2017 and all the wiring updated to code. The next phase will be updating the tank system to a commercial variety which eliminates all the solenoid switches.
We have a new building for the feed mixing and fermenting installed next to the replacement barn which burned down in 2015. It will attach to the building and gutters will channel the water to a storage tank which will provide water to the upper garden area.
We planted an orchard with a variety of fruit trees, including apples, peaches, nectarines, and pears. Dena already has Pomegranates in the yard to have them close to the house. We also planted another grape vineyard and blackberries for her third and final time.
I had the opportunity to acquire cuttings from my grandmother's (mom's mother) original fig tree she had in Oakdale, La. She took cuttings when she moved to Lafayette, La and they thrived beyond belief. Aunt Vonna contacted us and was able to acquire cuttings from these trees. We went to Louisiana and went with Aunt Vonna and her daughter, Maria, and got our cuttings. We left a few with friends in SE Louisiana to spread Mi-Maw's legacy. We now have them in our orchard in Oklahoma. We will continue planting more and sharing future cuttings with other interested people to keep the legacy of Mi-Maw alive.
As with any farm, we have a few animals who are active participants and some who are simply for fun. Our Great Pyrenees are there to earn a living. Our three goats are there for mischief and provide laughs on a daily basis.
The farm is constantly growing and things change rapidly. It is our plan to keep our friends, family, and customers up-to-date on these activities.
The historical journey taken by the owners of Parham Pharm. Describes in complete detail our awakening to GMO and the path to owning their farm and growing healthy animals and produce.This is our story of how we came to own our 40 acres in southeastern Oklahoma. Our saga of discovery concerning chemical laden foods and how we determined we wanted a healthier lifestyle and diet. Hope you enjoy our trip to the Parham Pharm. Welcome to our farm.
Livin' the Dream in Jamaica