By Heather Hetterick
When time allows, one of my favorite things to do on the weekend is go along with my brother on his Saturday calf run.
Ryan is a calf baron of sorts. Now, most are more familiar with term cattle baron, which is defined as a “businessman who possessed great power or influence through the operation of a large ranch with many beef cattle.” Instead of cattle though, Ryan is baron of dairy calves in northwest Ohio.
Like a ritual, every single Saturday he runs a route through several counties picking up bull calves from dairy farms. He has went from contract feeding dairy calves with his automated calf feeder to now raising his own and feeding them out.
His network of farms and buyers continually grows. I believe it’s because he’s offering a convenience to the dairy farmers. They don’t have to deal with selling a couple of calves here and there. They just let Ryan know what they have available and they know he’ll be there that Saturday and pay them on the spot.
I enjoy the trip because I get to see and hear what is happening on the farms of our readers and listeners first hand and also pick up some great story ideas. One week we were picking up calves at the Dues Farm in St. Henry when I noticed they were hauling manure by semi. I quickly took some pictures and started asking questions while Ryan loaded the calves. The story Western Ohio farmers moving manure farther with semis came right from that stop.
This past Saturday myself and nephew Tyson, calf baron jr. went along as we made stops in five counties: Logan, Auglaize, Shelby, Mercer and Darke counties.
I chronicled our journey….
8:12 a.m. Leave the farm
8:21 a.m. Quietcove Farm
8:45 a.m. Jay Winner’s
9:19 a.m. Almar Farm
9:47 a.m. Chickasaw Quick Stop
The calf baron is a weekly regular here. He loads up on their fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and Gatorade every week. Breakfast of champions! Note that calf baron jr. has the same breakfast….
9:51 a.m. Ken Schmitmeyer’s
10:04 a.m. Tom Schmitmeyer’s
This was the first time stopping at this farm. Tom was surprised to learn I was the calf baron’s sister. Tom informed me he is avid Ohio Ag Net listener and Digital Dale subscriber. It’s always neat to get to personally visit with a reader!
10:59 a.m. Todd Schmitmeyer’s
11:29 a.m. Andy Bruggeman’s
I was excited to get to stop here as the Bruggeman’s were a Feeding Farmers in the Field winner a few years ago!
11:47 a.m. Dale Schmitmeyer’s
12:31 p.m. Wendelin Tavern
This is another regular stop on the run. Wendelin is the preferred lunch spot of the calf baron. Much like the tavern in our town, this place is frequented by local farmers. On this particular day we were joined by our friends from Big K Mills for lunch.