Natchez native busy with one-man farm

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 7, 2000

Clarence Pullins thought he was finished working when he retired from GM nearly 14 years ago. But after returning to his hometown of Natchez, buying a little piece of land, and starting a one-man farm, he’s found retirement to be just as busy as a working man’s life.

&uot;I work one hour a morning at Natchez Market, each day, and then I come home and I have to take care of the garden, the flowers, the chickens, the hogs,&uot; he said with a laugh. &uot;There’s no rest.&uot;

That’s not to mention his work as treasurer of Millford Missionary Baptist Church, his work on the Deacon’s Board, his work as a 33rd Degree Mason, or any of the other nearly half a dozen organizations that keep him busy.

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And on Friday morning, he’d just returned home – when the &uot;Price is Right&uot; was giving away the big prize — when he answered a knock on the door from curious passers-by who’d seen his guinea hens outside.

&uot;Oh that’s nothing,&uot; said his wife, Malrea. &uot;We’ve got a whole farm here.&uot;

The Pullinses’ farm includes guineas and chickens, roosters, hogs, a couple of dogs and two enormous Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. &uot;They’re not good for anything,&uot; Malrea said with a shake of her head. &uot;All they do is eat. They like donuts the best.&uot;

Malrea, 69, admits with a smile that farming isn’t for her. A native of Tunica County, she grew up on farm. She met Clarence, 76, in Detroit, where they both worked for General Motors – Malrea in an assembly department and Clarence as head chauffeur.

When he told her he wanted to return to Natchez — his birthplace — after retiring and start a farm, she decided to leave the farming to him.

&uot;I don’t mess with it,&uot; she said with a wink, adding that she takes care of the house and cooks.

But Clarence does &uot;mess with it,&uot; tending to his hogs and his chickens with a patient and knowing eye.

&uot;There’s as much difference in this chicken and a store chicken as between cow’s milk and pasteurized milk,&uot; he said, trying to explain why he prefers his farm-raised produce. &uot;You can’t compare them.&uot;

Navigating amid a maze of coops in his backyard farm, Clarence Pullins explains the hatching cycle of the different types of chickens and guineas he has; the advantages and disadvantages of each; and even stopping to point out the unique blue eggs laid by one of his many hens.

But don’t ask Clarence how many hens, or roosters, or even chicks, he has. &uot;I’m about them like I am about grandchildren I have,&uot; he said with a laugh. &uot;I don’t know how many; I just raise them.&uot;