Pavillion student wins with ag business
Pavillion – Kyle Thoman’s involvement with FFA reads like a resume: High Individual at the Farm and Ranch Management State Convention, Regional and State Star Farmer for his ag business portfolio, State FFA Treasurer and Wind River FFA President.
“I have been working on my family’s farm and for neighbors since I was in fourth grade,” says Thoman, a senior at Wind River High School. “I have always had the dream of going off and having my own farm business, and last summer I was able to put it all together.”
Jack Robinson, an absentee Pavillion landowner, rented 200 acres to Thoman for farm oats, alfalfa and grass hay.
“I had help from a lot of farmers, though they didn’t give me any freebies,” Thoman says. “My dad also provided ideas and insight. I rented machinery from a neighboring farmer and we had some pretty pricy breakdowns after the first cutting.
“The fair started right after the first cutting and having the large breakdown gave me a chance to concentrate on the fair, so the mishap was good for that,” he adds.
This year Thoman put together a FFA portfolio on his farming business and sent it to be judged at the state level. The business was evaluated on how many hours worked and how much profit created.
Along with farming his own land, Thoman also contracted with DMK Enterprises to plant barley.
“With the farming business I was able to totally pay for my truck and had extra money to pay for a lot of transmission repair on it,” Thoman explains. “The truck came in really handy for hauling hay, machinery and steers. After the equipment breakdowns and my truck, profit for the summer came out to be around $6,000.
“The hardest part was finishing the second cutting as it was almost snowing and I had already started football and school. I was farming whenever I wasn’t at school and even skipping once a week to get things done.”
The Thoman family farms 500 acres of alfalfa and grass hay around Kinnear and Pavillion. The majority of their round and large square bales are shipped to California. They used to have a beef production operation on their 2,000-acre home place near Midvale.
“We don’t have the most modern technology out there,” explains Thoman. “So a lot of the farm work is manual labor. We have miles and miles of gated pipe and we do a lot of little squares that we sell locally.”
Thoman and his siblings also have market beef and in the past bought corn from a neighboring farmer. Thoman decided there was an opportunity to have better grain and make a profit and invested in a grain mixer.
“After getting the mixer, I looked around and bought some local, good quality corn,” Thoman explains. “No one really knows about it, because they don’t think it exists. I then combined the corn with high-protein pellet mix along with some other stuff that I cannot tell you, secret ingredients, you know.
“We kept the amount of feed we needed for our livestock and then sold the rest for the price of a good quality feed and almost made enough to cover the cost of the feed that we kept.”
The Wind River FFA group was struggling with 20 members when Thoman became president in his junior year. Now they are 40 people strong and boast a greenhouse, along with other improvements.
Thoman is never without a project and is currently building a bumper-pull flatbed trailer in his FFA class. He has designed it to sit low to the ground with an extra-long tongue to take the weight off the truck and transfer it to the trailer axles. Thoman has the main frame assembled and is well on his way to finishing it to show at the fair.
“I have a lot of offers for this coming summer to do contract work for more neighbors,” Thoman says. “I would like to expand the business this summer, but as I’m heading to college it might lie dormant for a while.”
The high school senior is planning to initially attend the University of Wyoming and study ag engineering. His goal is to transfer to the larger agriculture and engineering school of Iowa State University to finish in ag systems technology.
In the future Thoman is thinking about purchasing a larger truck and starting a hauling business for farm loads that aren’t big enough to require a semi truck.
“The farm is always busy though so I don’t know when I’ll get to the hauling business,” Thoman says. “The farm always comes first and even with the 12 of us siblings there isn’t a shortage of work.”
After college, Thoman hopes to farm full-time but acknowledges there isn’t a lot of farming in Wyoming and so he may have to move to the Midwest.
“The summer farm business was a good learning experience,” Thoman reflects. “Baling all night for two weeks isn’t the most fun thing to do, but I would recommend that you just get out and try to do what you want to do and see how it goes.”
Melissa Hemken is correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.