2017 Master Farmer Inductees: DeGeer and Minnix

(Jim Shroyer) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. We’re in luck because Eric Atkinson will be introducing us to the DeGeer and Minnix families, newly inducted into the 2017 Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker class. It’s going to be a great show so stay tuned after these words from our sponsors.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

(Jim S.) Welcome back, to That’s My Farm, now let’s meet Jim and Terri DeGeer from Neosho County. (Jim DeGeer) We had been interested in getting started in a seed stock operation. I’d say I had learned the seed stock business from George Schlika. We looked over our options, the Gelbvieh breed at the time was just getting going good and we decided that there weren’t very many Gelbvieh breeders down in this area. If you’re going to try to sell something you want to sell something that nobody else has so we get started in the Gelbviehs. We liked what the breed offered and it was also an opportunity that we could breed up our commercial cows through artificial insemination and take those half-blood calves and register them. Then continue registering progeny out of them and building up to a pureblood herd that way. (Eric Atkinson) The size of your operation of your herd now is what, roughly? (Jim D.) We run about 140 cows, and then the various and sundry bred heifers that we have, there’s generally around 200 head on the place any one time. We sell 10 to 15 bulls a season, that’s what we keep and try to merchandise. We’ve tried to maintain very high-quality cattle, keep improving in the last five or six years. We’ve started doing some embryo transplant work, had a liquid nitrogen service servicing AI tanks and AI technician service for 13 years. Once we got off the road and sold the nitrogen service while we were able to start doing some embryo transplant work and identified one of our cows that we felt was good enough to put an embryo transplant, so we did, and then I purchased a cow here a year ago that was out of a well-known cow family in the Gelbvieh breed. We’ve been using her as a donor cow also, but as we could we’ve increased the number of cows we AI. When we started out we were doing six or ten a season. Well, then, we made the decision that if we’re going to get serious about it we needed to AI everything. The synchronization protocols that we have these days make it a lot easier to do that. I try to AI all the heifers that we put into production and as many of the cows as we possibly can. We probably AI 85% of our cowherd, the other 15% we use clean up bulls on, just turn in with the bulls and run about a 60 to 90-day calving period. Our cleanup bulls, we’ve gone out and try to buy the best bulls we can possibly afford and use them as much as we can then. (Eric) But you have embraced technology along the way, which is important part of your success. (Jim D.) We have. With the AI synchronization we have these days, we also use what’s known as a heat watch system. With the ET program, the biggest hassle is the recipient herd. We use our own cows for recips, generally cows that have EPDs that don’t work real well for raising bulls out of them I just make into recips. (Jim S.) Stay tuned after the break as we wrap up with the DeGeers.

(Jim S.) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, as we wrap up with Jim and Terri DeGeer. (Jim D.) When we first moved back here exploring what we could do, we started out trying to do some feeder cattle, stocker cattle, and I really didn’t enjoy it. I mean, I appreciate the people that do that for a living but to me, that wasn’t where the fun part of the cattle business was, the genetics is. (Eric) On top of all of this, the both of you have been very involved in various community and civic activities, and Extension, 4-H most assuredly, Farm Bureau. You’ve been very heavily involved in those activities. What drives you to keep up with all of that? (Terri DeGeer) We laugh and say it’s in our DNA; both of our families were very involved in their communities ever since we could remember. That’s just how you grow up and you were raised to serve. (Eric) Let’s talk about your youngsters, the two daughters. Let’s take up Melissa, first of all. (Terri) Melissa’s our oldest and both girls went to K-State. Melissa, she had her heart set on marrying her childhood soldier sweetheart. We did say, “You need to get your degree first and then you can get married.” And we were able to hold that bluff, she finished her degree in animal science. They have served around the world and have one little boy. (Eric) Stacey, as well, went to Kansas State, as you noted, and she has forged a career in food science? (Jim D.) Yes, she got her Bachelor’s in food science and then decided to get a Masters in food microbiology at K-State, and then finished up with PhD in meat science from Auburn. She’s currently a research scientist for Nestle Purina in St. Louis. (Eric) Lastly, we’d like to ask both of you about the significance of being named Master Farmer, Master Farm Homemaker. Terri, we’re going to start with you in that not only your parents but also your grandparents have also been so honored. Correct? (Terri) That’s right, and it may be a little unique in that we’ve all done it off of the same acreage. As Jim calls it the rocking knob, there’s a lot of rock here. In fact, what used to be farm ground here is now all back to grass. It’s much more profitable as grass than it ever was as crop ground, but my grandparents had more of the diversified farm. They certainly had a small dairy and had a few hogs and, of course, crops and hay. Then my dad and his brother were here it was a quality grade A dairy that they increased and ran that direction. They were able to achieve that honor as Master Farmer/Homemakers, and now we’re here as a cow/calf operation. (Jim D.) I don’t know if we’re the first third-generation Master Farmer/Homemaker but I know there are not very many that has been three generations and that’s neat. The family farm is definitely significant here, we’re proud to be part of it. (Eric) Congratulations to the both of you, thank you. (Jim D.) Thank you. (Jim S.) Stay tuned after the break as we meet the Minnix family.

(Jim S.) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, now let’s meet Jim and Eilene Minnix from Scott County. (Jim Minnix) I’m fourth generation actually on both sides of my family. I had one grandfather come to Hays, Kansas on the train in 1873 and homesteaded originally in Ness County, who was later in Smoky Hill Cattle Pool and eventually moved to this area in southwest Scott County. I do have his last homestead quarter still in the family. It really wasn’t a homestead; he bought it from a homesteader. It’s one mile south of our current home, and the other side of the family moved here from Scranton, Kansas and Lebo, Kansas in the late 1890s. They bought a patent quarter, the proceeds of the $200 of the sale for the 160 acres went to support the local school and everyone has descended from those two basically on both sides of my family. (Eric) Jim, talk about the state of the operation today. 6,800 acres roughly you manage, is it predominantly crops, is it crops-cattle mix what is out there? (Jim M) It’s a crops-cattle mix, there’s about 900 acres of grass. The rest is cropland, I raise wheat, dryland corn, and sorghum, and irrigated corn generally. We do no-till and so I’ve had a challenge over the last 10-15 years. Actually, my dad was no-tilling back in the ’70s. We sprayed wheat residue for years. I’m trying to incorporate the livestock with the no-till operation. We’re currently grazing our irrigated corn stocks and I’ll try to get one operation in a vertical tillage but predominantly minimum till on the irrigated ground and no-till on our dryland farm ground. I haven’t really been optimistic with the cattle market the last three or four years and our cattle numbers are down. I do buy cattle from several herds in New Mexico and have a long history. (Eric) You’re backgrounding those calves? (Jim M.) I background those calves. (Eric) You’ve been adopting of progressive management techniques over the years, it sounds, and you were also one of the original members of US premium beef. Correct? (Jim M.) Yes, I’m a firm believer in Kansas agriculture but in economic terms, we need to value-add our product rather than sell commodity wheat and commodity corn. I wanted to sell the beef I produced in carcass data results and be paid the premium for what we’re producing. I thought it was a great economic decision at the time and stayed with it and I still have. (Eric) You mentioned value-added, on the crop side, you also raise a bit of food grade sorghum now. (Jim M.) Yes, we’re currently shipping some sorghum that is headed for the popping machine and it will go to a local mill here in Scott City, New Life Market. They are a gluten-free facility and produce quite a few of the products that go to Kellogg’s or General Mills or some of those companies. To be sustainable in agriculture, you have to be efficient and I think picking up new innovative ideas I have some fence-line feed bunks that my dad put in late 1960. That was prior to commercial feed yards in western Kansas, prior to that people– silage and grain was shoveled onto trucks and delivered to the bunks in the middle of the bins. My dad instilled in me the idea that to survive you need to be efficient. (Eric) You don’t shy away from new technology, it doesn’t sound? (Jim M.) No, I’ve been involved with RTK, and synchronization, and artificial insemination, and things like that for years. (Jim S.) Stay tuned after the break as we wrap up with Jim and Eilene.

(Jim S.) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, as we wrap up with Jim and Eilene Minnix from Scott County. (Eric) Eilene, we’ll let you start on the segment about the community service that you and Jim have engaged in. It’s a long laundry list but what stands out to you when that topic comes up as far as your accomplishments? (Eilene Minnix) 4-H has been big, Jim and I were both 4-H members when we were young and naturally our kids were in 4-H. 4-H, especially in Scott County, is just fantastic. Teaches a lot of responsibility to kids, our kids had great opportunities in 4-H. (Eric) The two of you hosted an international exchange student under the 4-H program. (Eilene) We have hosted two. The first year, we hosted Iain Thomas from Wales, last year we hosted Mohit Sing from India. (Eric) We want to know, Jim, your civic service, if you will, as a county commissioner for quite a while here in Scott County. (Jim M.) I served 24 years. (Eric) You were able to bring an agricultural perspective to the county’s business, right? (Jim M.) Yes, we recently applied for and received a water permit for industrial use well to county road department. A farmer’s perspective on things such as that come in handy, I believe. (Eric) Both of you are very proud of your involvement in various missionary activities abroad and you might spend a few moments talking about what inspired you in that direction and the kinds of things you’ve supported. (Eilene) Jim’s been a member of the Prairie View Church. It’s a small country church that we attend and our church has been active in an orphanage in Mexico. We made quilts to send down and things like that, involved in that orphanage. We are also involved with Lybrook on the Navajo Indian Reservation in western New Mexico. (Jim M.) Northwestern. (Eric) Let’s talk briefly about your youngsters and we’ll start with the eldest, Katherine, what is she up to these days? (Eilene) We call her Gail; she was named after my mother. She graduated from K-State, Early Childhood, worked at Stonehouse, started her master’s, did get married in ‘14 and Chris is from Scott City also. Chris is in Pharmacy school so they did move to Lawrence. (Eric) Let’s talk about Carl, one of your two sons; he’s in the service? (Eilene) Yes. (Jim M) Carl’s in the Air Force at Wichita Falls Sheppard Air Force Base. He’s about 40% through ENJJPT, which is European NATO Joint Jet Fighter Pilot Training. He went through ROTC at K-State and got his history degree there. (Eric) He’s married, correct? (Jim) Married to Lauren Hough from Bonner Springs, they’re expecting their first in late May. (Eric) Not to mention the last one, Luke who is currently a student at Kansas State. (Eilene) He should graduate in May; he plans to come home to farm. (Jim M.) With the delay, he’s getting married in July and his girlfriend is in her sophomore year veterinary school. (Eric) How important is that to you to have another generation returning? (Jim M.) It’s important if that’s what they want, If the kids want to come back, it’s available to them. I’m just a transition generation from my parents to my kids. (Eric) Well, in conclusion, we always like to ask the honorees what it means to be designated as Kansas Master Farmer, Master Farm Homemaker, your thoughts? (Eilene) I think it’s an honor. There’s an awful lot of wonderful people out there and I think Jim’s folks, my folks, that there’s a lot of people that deserve the honor. (Jim M.) As a reflection on our parents, I think it is as much more about them. (Eric) Congratulations to the both of you. (Eilene) Thank you. (Jim M.) Thank you. (Jim S.) I hope you enjoyed today’s show, and special congratulations to these outstanding families. Don’t forget, next week about the same time we’ll have another show of That’s My Farm. See you then.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

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