(Jim Shroyer) Good morning folks. Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host and we’re in luck because it’s that time of the year that we honor the KSU Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemakers. Today we recognize Craig and Tamara Gigstad, and Kevin and Barb Alpers, inductees into the 2016 class. Make sure to you stay tuned after this break from our sponsors.
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(Jim Shroyer) Welcome back to, That’s My Farm. Now let’s meet the Gigstads. (Craig Gigstad) Well, I was fortunate to be raised on a farm. My dad was a multi generation and saw the importance of involving his sons. Their brother and I were involved like most farm families from early on, and so then he was very supportive in our early endeavors. We were both raised in Atchison County, and she on a farm family. We both saw the importance of work and family involvement and working together and the success that brings. (Eric) Let’s talk about how you build up the operation over the years, and concentrated on both crops and livestock, mostly crops at this point though. (Craig) Yes, we had hogs until eight years ago, we were farrow to finish and we sold our hogs grade yield through a marketing group – a producer group, and so that allow us to stay in business longer than most small farm operations. We were the last farrow to finish operation in Jefferson county. I guess I don’t know if that’s hardheadedness or exactly what that amounts to but we did. We were fortunate to sell direct and always tried to raise the quality and then received a premium for it. (Eric Atkinson) You’re exclusive cash grain now? (Craig) We’re exclusive cash grain, soybean and corn. (Eric) Have you expanded acreage over the years steadily or what was your philosophy there? (Craig) Well, we did expand acres all along trying to focus on the better soils in the area and improve on conditions that they were in when we bought them. The big buzz word these days is sustainability, and so maybe we didn’t know what that word meant back in 2002. We were grid sampling back then and variable rating our inputs for phosphate and potash and lime, and balancing the pH on our soils and it’s all the benefits. (Eric) Really that fits into the motto that more or less goes with your operation, you’ve been forward thinking in many respects really throughout all phases of the operation it sounds. (Craig) Well, we like to think so and definitely we’ve seen the benefits from being forward thinking, and with the yields we’re seeing, and marketing techniques that we’re using. It’s created an expanding operation that we’re proud of. (Eric) Tammy, you’ve been involved in the farm for sure, but on top of a full time career as a teacher, correct? (Tamara) Yes. I taught off and on for 34 years, the last 16 years, I’ve just taught a half a day. Which works out great for the agricultural scene. I get home in time to get on the two-way radio or the phone and see what fields they’re at and I kind of meals on wheels. I start delivering meals and I get home and go for parts. I’ve driven semis before and helped move machinery around and grain cart operation, and such as the – yes. (Eric) As you grew up and you were conducting all of those activities, so too were you as a farm wife? (Tamara) Yes. (Eric) Okay. It all matched together nicely. (Tamara) It did, it’s been a great occupation. I tell people, I got to do the two things I love the most, and I love to teach music and I love to work on a farm. Craig and I both can’t expand enough on what it’s been for our kids and that opportunity they have had, and just the good work ethic that they’ve had here. They all love the outdoors they respect animal industry, and they respect agriculture and have been good stewards also of the land. (Jim) After the break, we will finish up with Craig and Tamara Gigstad.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, Now let’s finish up with Craig and Tamara Gigstad. (Eric) Well, your agricultural activities off the farm had been very supportive in particular of the soybean industry. Craig you’re very much a leader in the Kansas Soybean Association and most recently in the United Soybean Board, correct? (Craig) That’s correct Eric. I started out on the Association site, kind of worked my way up to the ranks, got comfortable with a little bit of a leadership role, opportunities to become an officer. It seemed like the more I got involved, the more rewarding it was. (Eric) Let’s talk about something more local and your local leadership. A great deal of involvement with Extension activities and 4-H activities. Tammy, would you speak to that? (Tamara) Yes, I will. Our children were involved with 4-H over the years, about 16 years between the three of them. Craig and I were County Swine Leaders and then our Local Swine Leaders of our club. I’ve been a community leader, I was a community leader for eight years at the end, and gardening leader, and had a really viable active club and we still do. We put a lot of emphasis on community service, which is very important to me. 4-H has given our children a lot of opportunity. (Eric) The two of you have gone beyond 4-H and Extension in your community commitments. A number of local fundraisers you might visit about those as you have involved yourselves. (Tamara) Well, we have a great small community and I have been on the Hospital Foundation Board for over 25 years, and in the Hospital Board of Directors for the last five years. I am the chairperson of the fundraiser, have been for the last 11 years for the hospital. Craig and I have both been involved in a couple of their local fundraisers for a family who was in a severe car accident. We believe just to give back and so much as we’ve received and we teach our kids that also. (Eric) You have again said that you tend to be forward thinking progressive in how you approach you farming and your activities. You have had ownership of in a corn processing venture here over the last 15 years or so, right Craig? (Craig) That’s correct. There was a number of producers that bought stock into Quaker Oats Plant in St. Joe, Missouri. Saw the opportunity there to add value to our corn. If you don’t invest in your operation there in some facets, you’re not going to be profitable in my mind. (Eric) Well, let’s talk about the children, three and we’ll talk about the son last, because he is engaged in farming with the two of you. Your daughters, Danae is actually involved in an ethanol plant now in Iowa. (Craig) That’s correct, Fort Dodge, Iowa. It’s in my mind a very large plant, they’ve processed about 260,000 bushels a day. She’s the co-manager for the ethanol side of the plant. (Eric) Your other daughter Devin, she’s in the medical field in nursing at the University of Kansas Hospital, right? (Tamara) Yes, she’s an RN, she was a cardiac nurse for two years and just recently she took a new position with the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic at KU Med. (Eric) Then there’s you son Derek, and we didn’t know earlier that you’re also farming with your brother Kevin or partnered together in this venture. Was there contending to come back here from the get go? (Craig) No. (Tamara) At about age four. (Craig) You could say early on he had the passion for it and of course as we all know, if you don’t have the passion you won’t be successful. It was very rewarding to us to watch him develop and take responsibility and have the drive. That definitely spurred us on to do what we thought necessary to involve him in the operation. (Eric) Lastly, to ask the both of you what this recognition means as Master Farmer, Master Farm Homemaker. (Craig) Eric, this is in my mind the highest reward possible for a lifetime of farming and what an honor it is to be chosen. (Eric) Tammy? (Tamara) Very appreciative, very honored and humbled. I’m proud that our accomplishments are noticed. I’m proud of what we do and what we’ll continue to do. (Jim) After the break, let’s meet Kevin and Barb Alpers, see you in a minute.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, now let’s meet the Alpers. (Kevin Alpers) My great, great grandfather Brensing on my grandmother side came out here from Alhambra, Illinois in a boxcar heads with his mules and some equipment. This is where he chose to unload and own some different property in the area. Eventually ended up trading for this place and that’s how our family started in this place here. The original part of the house was probably pre-1900 and they got here in early 1905/6 somewhere in that area. (Eric) Present day, the two of you and with Tyler are running roughly 11,000 acres owned and rented? It’s pretty much half and half isn’t it? Isn’t pasture and crop ground? (Kevin) Yes, we had the opportunity a year ago to rent a ranch out by South of Kinsley; it’s close to 3,000 acres of grass. That allowed us to make our last expansion in the beef herd. We are running around 550 mother cows now and then plus the heifers that we retained for replacements. Then quite a bit of dry land, cropland and then we have four center pivots that we irrigate. (Eric) I want to talk more about the operation in a moment, but Barb, in addition to being a farm partner all this time, were you involved in special education. Is that correct? (Barb) Special education, coop as a para for speech and language. Throughout the years, I think it was about 17 years total. (Kevin) Barbara wears a lot of hats in this family and is kind of the glue that holds everything together. She’s driven a hay rake, grain car, trucks and brings a lot of meals to the field and helps get a mother cow in at night with me when no one else was around and – (Eric) In terms of nuts and bolts of farming and ranching, you stay progressive with technology, with things come along or are you an early adapter, or how do you go about it? (Kevin) Yes, we try to do keep up. Especially since Tyler has come back from Kansas State. He’s brought a lot of new ideas and of course GPS. We’ve been doing that for quite a while with the auto track and we’re now variable rating some fertilizer and have a planter that will variable seed rate, map, our combine will map, harvest map, yield map. It’s an ongoing process, acquiring the data and applying it to where we need it. (Eric) You have a unique marketing outlet for at least part of your grain; very much you’ve local agents down the road. Visit about that a bit. (Kevin) We grow both hard red winter wheat and also white wheat for the Stafford County Flour mills, which is only a mile and half from us. Our family has a lot of ties to it. My brother in law is President and General Manager, and my nephew is the Assistant Manager, and my son-in-law is very actively involved in the flour processing and packaging. We’ve been growing white wheat for them in addition to the red for probably about 10 years now and that’s wheat they don’t have to ship in from somewhere else and they like it because they know where it came from and what kind of quality they are getting. We also haul our corn, milo, and soybeans are also. (Eric) From the producers’ side, that’s a paying proposition for you? (Kelvin) Yes, we get a premium for growing that white wheat for them and also if our red wheat has some extra protein, we get paid a premium on that. Because as you know, the Hudson Cream Flour, they demand the best because it is one of the best flours out there. That Jersey cow and the cream rising at the top, there’s a reason. (Jim) After the break, we will finish up with Kevin and Barb Alpers.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. Now we are going to wrap up with the Alpers.
(Eric) Now the two of you as one looks over your life story if you will on the farm, so much of it is off the farm and your civic and church activities. You’re neck deep in both of those things. We could go through a whole laundry list here. As you reflect on that, let’s start with civic activities. What are the stand out activities and moments and achievements there do you think? (Kevin) FSA board, I’m still on the Soil Conservation Board. I’ve been on Farm Bureau Board. One of the greatest ones was being on the School Board. I was on it for eight years and one of the unique deals with being on that board was when I decided to step down, there wasn’t anyone to run in my place, so guess who went? (Eric) Somebody stepped up. (Barb) A tag team. (Kevin) She is still on today. Anyway, so that been a real passion for both of us. (Eric) Barb, speak to 4-H for just a moment. You’ve occupied leadership positions, both of you locally here. You’ve hosted young people from Japan as part of the exchange program. Correct? (Barb) Yes. (Eric) Talk about that a little bit. (Barb) By chance somebody started talking to us about the Japanese exchange and we said, “Okay, we will try it”. It was through Barton County that we had our first boy here and he was 12 years old and stayed with us. Then state co-coordinators said, “Why don’t you become a state program with us?” Then we started finding placement homes to place Japanese exchange in. (Eric) Community in general is huge for you. The Hudson community and the broader community here in this part of the Stafford County. (Kevin) The Hudson Club Community, Barb is the chairman of that. For a small town, we have quite a few activities. (Barb) I’m on Economic Development Board now. (Kevin) Yes, she is the chairman of the Development Board for Stafford County, so she’s very involved. Some people say she is the heartbeat of Hudson. (Barb) No, there are a lot of people that are the heartbeat. I’m just kind of a resuscitator maybe. (Eric) Let’s bring in a word about your kids, and we will finish with Tyler since he is involved in the operation. Tabra, she is? (Barb) Food Sensory Scientist and she works for ConAgra. (Eric) Then Taci, your youngest, is a pre-school teacher? (Barb) Early childhood teacher at St. Johns. (Eric) Then of course Tyler. After going to Kansas State University and obtaining his education there, has returned to farm full time with you. (Kevin) Barb and I talked and said, “We’d like you for the summer to go and do something else other than this.” Which he didn’t know about. He started checking it out and took an internship with Cargill at Dodge City at the packing house. When he graduated, we already had him involved, like my dad did. Had some cows and a little bit of land and then he became a full-fledged partner. (Eric) We’ll finish up by having you reflect on what these recognitions, Master Farmer, Master Farm Homemaker, means to each of you. (Kevin) Myself to be nominated and to receive this award I’m very humbled and honored. (Barb) Well, I follow a lot of his sentiments. I’m very honored and sometimes you feel your daily routine is just kind of monotonous. Then when you put it in a piece of paper and see your achievements and things like that, you do feel blessed that you’ve had that opportunity. Taking care of the land and showing our children what it’s like to take care of the land, I think it’s just been an amazing adventure and then to have the award on top of that. (Jim) Thank you for joining us on That’s My Farm. Don’t forget next week about this same time, we’ll have more stories from farmers and ranchers from across the state of Kansas. See you then.
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