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Doing what you know

Justin Davey 12/06/2011 @ 1:57pm

Growing up on a farm teaches you how to develop a strong work ethic, how to build up a tough skin, and how to launch your own farm business should you so choose. For Terry Hollman of Isle, Minnesota, that's been the case.

Instilled with the knowledge of working cattle, Hollman decided to step out on his own with a cow/calf operation.

“I grew up on the farm,” he says. “My grandpa had beef cattle, and I helped put up hay all summer. I pretty much learned everything I know by helping him.”

Hollman hasn't ventured out very far, though. He bought his home from a neighbor just down the road from his family's farm.

Hollman and his wife, Kari, have decided to focus on cattle. “In the spring of 2008, we purchased 50 head of cattle,” he says. “We plan to grow to an 82-head operation next year.”

Hollman chose to forgo a formal postsecondary education to gain experience on the farm. It's a decision he's mostly OK with, but at times he wishes he'd taken the other route. “Sometimes I think it would have been nice to get an education, but I don't have the time now,” he says.

Avoiding the common struggles

Reflecting on the common struggles that affect many young and beginning farmers such as financing and land acquisition, Hollman happily reports that he and Kari have gotten by relatively unscathed. “We haven't had too much trouble getting equipment,” he says. “My wife and I have good credit, and banks tend to like that,” he says with a chuckle.

Their local bank did become difficult to work with when it came to interest rates, he notes. “The interest rate was too high and the bank wouldn't work with me, so we went elsewhere for the loan,” he says.

The Hollmans have been able to acquire land fairly easily. “We own about 60 acres, and the rest is rented,” Hollman says. “We happened upon 200 acres of tillable ground and we rent it. A lady my wife works with told us about it.”

Hollman says he enjoys working the farm with Kari, whom he calls a city girl since she grew up on only 10 acres. “She has come a long way, and I'm proud of her,” he says. “We work really well together.

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