This post was sponsored by Veal, Discover Delicious, funded by the Beef Checkoff. I appreciate their contribution to the Humans of Agriculture series.
“My parents aren’t farmers. My Mom is a nurse and my Dad sells insurance. But growing up, my great-grandfather and grandfather were dairy farmers. So I was very involved with that throughout summers and after school. As time progressed, I got into high school and the dairy industry was in a slump so, long story short, there was no opportunity for me to have any part on the farm.
I went to college and pursued a business degree. After college I decided that I really wanted to get back to agriculture, production agriculture somehow, someway. So I started working for a seed company. I worked there for about a year in sales and then just overall management responsibilities. Then from there, I moved to a large soybean processing facility and that’s where I’ve been for the last almost 15 years. I’m in maintenance. I do a lot of project work, I run a crew of mechanics and electricians and oversee a very large part of our plant. I am also a single Dad. My boys Skylar and Keaton are 16 and 8.
I bought this place in 2006, it was my great grandfather’s brother’s farm. Then in 2010, we built this veal barn. I still work my job at the soybean plant so I begin my day 4:00 in the morning, do chores here in the barn, then go to work. I get there about 6:30 in the morning and work until 3:30 or 3:45 and come home and get my boys situated after school. Then I start chores, do dinner and I start it all over again the next day. In addition to raising these veal calves and my job, we also have a custom manure application business. We have over 100 farms in the area that we work with.
Skylar is already very involved in our farm and wants to go to college to learn diesel mechanics. He says he would like to continue raising veal calves. Keaton is just getting involved in 4H and showing animals. I see a future for our farm in them. In 10 years I see us having a larger, more robust manure hauling business. We hope to improve our equipment each year and grow our business. We see a lot of opportunity there. We may get deeper into growing more crops or expanding our veal barn. So we’re going down the same path just broadening those horizons, especially as these boys get bigger and able to take on more responsibilities themselves.
I could just work at my regular job and not farm, not do all of the extra work. But I grew up wanting to farm and I’ve got these boys that want to farm. As a single Dad, I get through life one day at a time and I see a lot of value in this lifestyle. The manure business and raising calves, we don’t see as work. This is what we choose to do with our time and how we spend time together as a family. They are our hobbies, because we want this lifestyle. Not to say I don’t enjoy my job at the soybean plant, because I do, but this is different. I’ve got a 180 calves to take care of here. They’re glad to see me, they depend on me, I depend on them.”
Carrie here! I wanted to share a little more about modern veal production. Alex and his boys farm in accordance with Veal Quality Assurance standards. In fact, about 95% of veal farmers take part in the VQA program. I have had the opportunity to tour veal farms, both larger group housing farms like Alex’s and some of the smaller group housing barns like I shared in THIS POST, and see firsthand the different ways of raising veal calves. After seeing how veal calves are cared for firsthand, I wish more people understood that since 1990 when the VQA program was introduced, the veal industry has completely changed how they do things. The goal of the program is to not only provide the best care for the veal calves but also to build trust and confidence in veal with consumers. You can learn more about what Veal Quality Assurance means for calves and farmers by checking out THIS website.