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Sisters take on the family ranch and a father’s legacy

Though both ladies have had a bout of the wandering spirit, they jokingly say everything they need, except broadband internet, is within a mile or two of the ranch.

One sister manages the ranch  full time and is expecting her first baby. You might recognize the other sister’s name. She works the ranch part time and is a writer pursuing a doctorate. They are both bound to the land and a way of life their father left  them.

Rebecca Bearden and her sister, Rachel Bearden Yeargan, grew up and still live on the ranch just outside the small rural town of Maplesville in the heart of Alabama, nestled between Birmingham and Montgomery.

Rebecca has for many years been a popular contributing writer to Southeast Farm Press, monthly chronicling the entertaining adventures of the family ranch. The stories now often star her sister and many of the ranch’s named cows and bulls (and dogs). Their father, Gary, had his own starring role in the sagas until his unexpected death three years ago. Their mother, Peggy, lives just down the road.

Rebecca and Rachel both graduated Auburn University in 2007. Rachel has a B.S. in Animal Science. Rebecca has two B.S. degrees, one in Agricultural Communications and the other in Wildlife Science.

Though both ladies have had a bout of the wandering spirit and like to do some traveling, they jokingly say everything they need, except broadband internet, is within a mile or two of the ranch.

When you visit the ladies on a mild late-February day, you immediately see they’d rather be no place else. Their laid-back but earnest attitudes are infectious. The ranch has no official name, but because Rachel’s cattle brand is Blackjack, “we jokingly refer to the crew as Team Blackjack,” Rebecca said.  

The house they grew up in, which is the one Rebecca still lives in, was built on a ridge that once had Blackjack Oaks. “Hence the brand, which looks like a 21, the Blackjack poker hand,” Rebecca said.

Their grandfather, Joseph Reuben Bearden, started farming in the area in the 1920s after serving in WWI. “My grandmother, Mae Bearden, taught him to farm. He cleared the land we're on today and tried everything from cows to pigs to chickens to peaches. And was successful and well respected,” Rebecca said.

But their grandfather had another calling as a Baptist preacher. He started several country churches in Chilton and Autauga counties. “Much of the rural population was uncomfortable worshiping with the ‘city folk,’ so he provided an outlet for them to do so in their element,” Rebecca said.

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