Started From Scratch: Stroh family builds farm over three decades
Klodette and Rick Stroh started their family farm in 1989. The couple began with row crops, and a few years later, they added Black Angus cattle to the operation.
Alongside Rick and Klodette, their son Ricky and nephew Paul have worked hard over the last 34 years to build an operation driven from a conservation standpoint and is well diversified.
“My husband and I started from scratch,” says Klodette. “We have been blessed to build this life for our family.”
Diversification is key
Over the years, the family has farmed everything from sunflowers, sugarbeets, gluten-free barley and dry edible beans. Adding cattle into the mixture made sense, as they were already growing many of the crops utilized in cattle production.
Starting out with six Angus cows, the couple has kept a closed herd, slowly building up their numbers over the years. With an emphasis on good genetics, the couple has built the herd up to an ideal size for their farm.
“We buy good Black Angus bulls from a neighbor in Burlington. He’s a great guy, and the bulls have good genetics, which we have found work well for us,” explains Rick.
Rick and Klodette emphasize the care going into raising their livestock. As many ranchers know, this lifestyle is a labor of love.
“We get very attached to the animals, so some of our cows are now up to 15 years old. We know the females we keep are from good bloodlines. We pay close attention to the good mothers, how she takes care of her baby and how well the calf grows. We know their quality, and we usually keep the daughters from those mothers,” says Klodette.
The family has found through this diversification they have been able to better navigate the tough times every industry faces.
“The livelihood of the farm has changed over the years. If we grew something that worked for awhile, like sunflowers, and then the market didn’t work with us, we had to stop and go to something else. It just depends how everything goes, how the market is and what the prices are,” says Klodette.
Keeping the faith
In spite of the trials and challenges everyone in agriculture inevitably faces, Klodette says a person can’t let those times defeat them.
“We had very challenging weather three years in a row, and we lost some crops every year. In those challenging times I would say to just keep working hard and having faith in the good Lord,” says Klodette. “The past few years have been a little better. The cattle market is better. But inevitably, bad weather is going to hit us again. We just have to keep working.”
With the cost of inputs – fertilizer, vaccines and fuel – going up, the couple acknowledges the struggles producers, especially new producers, may face.
“The cost of everything has been going up, so it’s something everyone has had to adjust to. It is important as the cost goes up, to make sure to grow the crop or animal you’ll be able to pay the expenses with, which you have to watch very carefully,” explains Klodette. “This is what we do here. We also keep faith in the Lord and keep on going.”
Since establishing their farm, the couple has worked together and relied on each other to find success, through good times and bad. Rick and Klodette know the importance of agriculture, not only to their local community, but to the country as a whole.
“Our national treasures are farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists. We have to preserve and keep agriculture in our country,” explains Klodette. “Farmers and ranchers have always been the backbone of this country, and they will always continue to be.”
Rick and Klodette find great joy in their children and grandchildren, all of whom are active on the farm in some capacity.
“When you raise kids in agriculture they learn a lot of responsibility and grow up to be productive people,” says Rick. “There is nothing more special than seeing your family grow up on the farm.”
Tressa Lawrence is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.