From a small town in central Indiana to rodeo calf roping to cattle ranching to a farm near Mount Vernon, Kyle Walls says his journey was “kind of an accident.”
“The neighbors across the road from my parents’ house growing up had an arena and people were always there roping. I just kind of fell into it, and I was kind of good at it,” he said.
That led him to working on guest ranches in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota while he studied business management at Indiana University. After graduating he worked in herd management for a large cattle ranch for four years.
During a vacation to Nashville, Kyle met his wife Ashton who grew up in Mount Vernon. They moved to Jackson Hole, Wy. to work on a dude ranch, an item on Kyle’s bucket list, before moving to Ohio.
Ashton now works for Siemens Energy and Kyle for Monsanto as a district sales manager for Channel seed.
Upon settling in Ohio, they began working toward another dream: building their own farm. In 2013, they purchased a foreclosed home with 20 acres and started with a full home remodel.
“We bought a heap of junk and we are turning it into a Camaro right now,” Kyle said. “It’s a work in progress everyday. We both work long hours and then come home every night and work even more hours.”
A barn on the property had to be torn down and fence lines needed to be cleared.
“Our biggest challenge is just time. If we had more time we would be further along, but our jobs are paying the bills right now,” Kyle said. “But we enjoy working hard, and our ultimate goal down the road is to work for ourselves.”
Kyle and Ashton would like to use their experience and passion to build a cattle farm, but there will be challenges, particularly financially.
“Farming is not cheap and at the cattle end we are jumping into a market that is at its all time high,” Kyle said. “If opportunities come up, it could change the business plan, but in the next 10 years I’d like to see us get to 150 cows.”
They recently put in a new barn and have a few bred heifers in the pasture. Their chickens provide eggs for themselves and extras go to a bakery Ashton’s mother runs.
Kyle and Ashton find time to be involved with county and state Farm Bureaus and serve on Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals state committee, which plans educational and social programming for young farmers and agricultural professionals in Ohio.
“I feel like Farm Bureau is an important part of all of this for us. Having those connections with other young farmers kind of gives you the motivation to keep going,” Ashton said. “It’s encouraging to hear that we all have our challenges and that we aren’t the only ones in some situations.”
“I spend 60 to 70 percent of my week in front of farmers and get to see a lot of different farms and how they’re run,” Kyle said. “I’ve seen the good, the bad, what’s worked and what hasn’t and I hope I can remember a lot of those things when we face those challenges.”
Meet other young Ohio farmers
Subscribe to Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals biweekly eletter, Growing Our Generation, which features a different young farmer as guest editor each issue. You also can read past issues.
Published in the September/October 2015 Our Ohio magazine. Stay connected with and support great food and farm stories like this by becoming an Our Ohio Supporter. For just $25 you can stay connected with Ohio food and farm stories while supporting local foods and community outreach.