I'm kicking off my blog series on ISU's land grant legacy families today! I could not be more excited to tell you about this first family. Whether you farm, or just eat the food, you'll be inspired by the Butcher family.
I remember the day well, it was a perfect September day. Sunny and warm; not too hot, not too humid. It was fortuitous circumstance that gave me the pleasure of meeting Bob Butcher, and ultimately the rest of his family.
He was at the Clay County Fair on the day of the ISU Land Grant Legacy Project launch and stopped by to check it out. He looked at the Iowa state map of ISU's land grant farms and was excited to learn that his family owned land from the land grant. This is particularly special for this family, not only because the land grant property has been in their family for many generations. It's also special because they have been very active Iowa State supporters for decades, giving back to the university that has given them so much through their education there.
Weeks after meeting Bob, Ray Hansen (with ISU extension) and I were invited to the Butcher's home when all four of Bob's children were home for an early holiday celebration.
And you know what?
I am so thankful to have met them all.
This family is serving others and giving so much back to farming and to their community.
I don’t know how much you, dear reader, know about farming. But there’s this thing about farming…. it is remarkably time consuming. Which is part of what makes the Butchers a particularly inspiring farm family. It's nearly impossible to meet a family more dedicated to serving agriculture across the board (literally in every way possible), and they all do it in their own way. Bob Butcher and his wife, Connie, do this in some incredible ways, which in turn has inspired the next generation. Bob's grown children, Katie, Wendy, Andrew, and Ben, support ag too, from literally across the country.
Bob’s oldest, his daughter Katie, lives in Florida with her family. You'd better believe her Iowa roots are still a part of her daily life. She'll talk about food truths when a good opportunity arises.
Katie also brought four people home to Iowa with her from Florida, people with no exposure to farming or farm life or raising cattle. Even the stars at night, they never really see the stars and were blown away by the stars in Iowa. I mean, are you letting it sink in?! She literally brought friends home to Bob and Connie's place to experience a farm first hand! Oh how I would love to see more former farm kids inspired to follow her lead and invite people home to "the farm" to stay at mom and dad's.
Wendy is Katie's younger sister, and she lives in Minnesota with her family. While talking with these two sisters I realized that they both are very aware of the conversations around food today, and Wendy also talks about these topics with her friends. She will share articles about food and farming on social media, and on that front, the more the merrier.
Andrew, the third-born of Bob's children, moved back home after college to farm. Andrew and his wife Melissa have two kids, and in addition to farming, Andrew serves as Ida County Cattleman’s President and he's on the Ida County Extension Council.
Ben is the youngest of the four siblings. He lives just down the road from Andrew, where he and his wife Brianna have two young children. Much like his brother, the influence of their father is evident by the time he gives back to his community. He's currently the President of Ida County Farm Bureau. Brianna manages the event center in Holstein and has organized ag-focused events for various groups.
In fact, after I met the family, Brianna and Melissa kicked off plans for a farm event this winter! It's coming up and if you're in the area, check it out! These farm wives are committed.
Bob and Connie took me on a tour of the land grant farm where I got an up-close view of their cattle operation. Recently the family built a facility on the farm. Bob explained to me that the building gives the cattle shade from the sun during our hot Iowa summers, and a curtain can be pulled across the sides to protect the cattle from Iowa's cold winter winds.
When Bob graduated from Iowa State in the 70's, he started in the banking industry in addition to being involved with the family farm. He enjoyed it so much that he is still in ag banking today, as President and CEO of a bank with branches in Holstein and Nevada, Iowa. Yes, this is in addition to family and farming. (No, I don't know how he does it all, either.)
Bob's father passed away a few years go, but his mother Betty lives in Holstein and is still a go-getter. Betty is a great-grandmother (to eight great-grandkids), yet she still made pies and cinnamon rolls at Katie's request for their time together in Iowa. Andrew and Ben have special memories of days in the tractor with grandma when they were young.
Fond memories of childhood and an appreciation of how the generations before them worked to build their farm legacy inspires the Butcher family. Not much compares to the lessons learned raising cattle for 4-H, picking berries from grandma's strawberry patch, and hunting for new baby kitties in spring. I noted a deep sense of thankfulness and family pride in each of them, which is surely a part of the family's success and continued love of farming. When you love something, you support it. This family knows how to serve their family, farming, and their community well. This is no accident. Bob serves as the Associate Vice President for the Iowa Cattlemen's Association Executive Committee, President of the Iowa 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, he's very involved in organizing fundraisers for Iowa State University, and more.
I have no doubt that before Bob, his father and grandfathers set the example for him to give back to the way of life that has given him so much. There are a variety of challenges facing farmers today. But after meeting the Butcher family, I am reminded so clearly that this way of life is worth fighting for, and there is so much pure GOOD in it. The beauty of farming is hidden in the smell of fresh cut hay. Three generations working long hours together in the field. It's in the dappled light streaming down through the old sugar maples during a slow summer picnic with family. And it's definitely in Grandma Betty's blueberry pie.
You guys! I am so humbled and EXCITED to be working on this project with Iowa State University. It really is Iowa's coolest little treasure hunt.
If you haven't seen it yet, here is the video that does an excellent job of describing the project and why it's valuable to anyone with roots in Iowa.
I hope you enjoy it!
Interested in looking for your own ties to Iowa State's land grant legacy? Check out this map on the website the team created. (And be sure to explore the options; I'm obsessed with the 1875 state atlas map.) There is also information there on how to get parcels validated by the team.
Locate Land Grant Parcels
Please feel welcome to share the video and the website linked above. Our hope is that every parcel will have its story discovered by the families that take care of it! And I very much want to continue talking to land owners, so for goodness sake CONTACT ME if you find ties to a parcel!
And lastly, the mastermind behind the video is a guy named Jed Findlay...I did my part, but it was his vision and creation. Isn't he talented? He was always behind the camera, which is where I'm used to being!
I'm out for now, but soon I will start sharing the stories of the families in the video, in addition to others. I can't wait!
If you'd like to get in touch about this project, head over to my contact page and reach out to me. I'd be delighted to hear from you!
Hello from the heartland! I'm Krystal... a farming wife and mom. I believe in living life and living it well. My Christmas tree is up year-round, usually half decorated. I'm a lover of logic and laughter, full-fat dairy products, photography, and starting off my days with God's hand-crafted Iowa sunrises.