When we started farming cattle more than 60 years ago, it was to use land that was too rough or fragile to grow crops on. Cattle have always provided us a way to use our farm’s resources to the best ability. Our management and breeding practices have evolved since we started, but we have always had a focus on using scientifically backed information to make sustainable decisions. One thing that has stayed the same is our commitment to raising cattle that provide safe, nutritious, wholesome beef products to consumers. This is only achieved by providing humane treatment to every animal and using production practices that conserve and enhance our soil and water resources.
What do you call a barn that looks like it has half a roof? A monoslope. While this futuristic architectural structure may seem unconventional for a cattle barn, it incorporates everything currently available to enhance a cow’s comfort:
The barn structure allows for maximum sun penetration in the winter, while providing a cool area protected from the sun in the summer.
The roof design promotes air flow through the barn during hot weather, keeping cattle cool, comfortable and healthy.
We grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa, raise a 59-head cow herd on the farm’s pastures and operate a feedlot that feeds about 1,800 cows each year. Our farm is able to use byproducts from ethanol plants, sweet corn plants, and sugar refineries as feed sources for our cows. In turn, our cows contribute to sustainability effortsby providing manure that is used as fertilizer on our fields. Sustainability is not just a buzzword, if I can minimize someone else’s waste by using it as a resource on my farm, then everybody benefits.
Established in the 1840s, our farm has been home to our family for seven generations. My wife, JoAnn, and I run the farm alongside our son, Ross, and his family. Being a family farm is unique because we get to work with the people we love. Even though our whole family is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm, our two other sons, Jeremiah and Matthew, understand our passion. They have taught their children about growing up on the farm, and they understand that farming is a not just a livelihood, but a way of life.
ABOUT MY FAMILY
We farm with our son Ross near Sandwich, Illinois, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. Ross and his wife, Jessie, have two daughters, who are the seventh generation to live on the farm.
We also have two other sons: Jeremiah and Matthew. Jeremiah is an attorney whose wife, Megan, teaches at a local school. They have one son named Graham. Matthew is a teacher in Wisconsin and his wife, Wendi, works for the Wisconsin State Crime Lab.They have three boys: Gideon, Cyrus and Asher.
For us, growing up in agriculture and the beef industry is not only our livelihood or income, but also a way of life.