By Matt Reese
At the Ohio Pork Congress there were a number of individuals recognized for their involvement with the swine industry in Ohio, including Blanche and Roger Lange from Seneca County. Anyone who has spent much time around Blanche and Roger knows that they love pigs, which is why the Ohio Pork Producers Council selected them as this year’s Pork Industry Excellence Award winners.
“You don’t get days off on the farm,” Blanche said. “You have to have a special place in your heart for animals when you’re dealing with livestock.”
The siblings grew up four years apart on their family’s farm that has been in the Lange family and a home to pigs for more than a century. Blanche and Roger gained their affinity for raising livestock through hours of laboring alongside their parents while growing up.
“Mom did the books and drove a tractor wearing a dress when she needed to,” Blanche said. “Our dad started with Poland China hogs with another good breeder and started a good purebred herd. They were good lean hogs at that time and were the cutting edge. Dad was one of the charter members of the Seneca Swine Breeders and Feeders Association in Seneca County in the 1940s. Then, he started doing shows and auctions for club pigs and breeding stock with the county association.”
Blanche and Roger were active with the hogs and cattle from an early age. Roger showed hogs through FFA and worked closely with their father, Ray, on the farm. In the late 1960s, the hog operation transitioned from purebred to a commercial farrow to finish operation. Both siblings went to college at Ohio State University and, with Roger’s departure, the cattle were dropped from the operation, but the hogs remained. After college, Blanche took an off-farm job with Stouffer’s where she served as a kitchen manager for 10 years. Roger came back to the farm and worked with his father full time on the 250 acres of crops and the farrow to finish operation. Roger formed a partnership in the farm in 1978 then the farm expanded to 700 acres in 1981.
As their parents got older, Blanche left her job to come back to the farm to assist with Ray’s insurance business in 1985 and eventually took over the books. They added additional acreage and now farm 750 acres. Crop production is paying most of the bills now, but their eyes twinkle and they smile a bit broader when they start talking about the 40-sow farrow to finish operation that continues their proud family tradition of hog production.
“When the pigs are young, they are just cute and they have their own personalities,” Roger said. “They are very intelligent animals and they are a lot of fun.”
They market around 650 hogs a year, mostly to J. H. Routh Packing.
“They do a lot of boutique stuff and they work with smaller producers like us,” Roger said. “They want small, lean hogs under 260 pounds. They do a little bit of everything. It takes me about a half hour to get there and that is our salvation. Without them, we would no longer be in the hog business.”
The Langes do not use artificial insemination on the farm, just a content boar. They grind their own feed using a tractor-mounted grinder-mixer. They use their own corn and buy bulk
soybean meal locally. They have a corn, soybean and wheat rotation that provides ample acreage for the manure from the hog operations. The straw from wheat is blended with the shredded newsprint for bedding. The barns are cleaned out and the manure is spread or stockpiled once a month.
The Langes are proud of what they do on their farm, and the animals they raise. Because of this, they are always finding ways to share their love of farming in general, and pigs in particular, with others.
“We have both been pretty active with the Ohio Pork Producers Council,” Blanche said. “There have been opportunities for both of us to serve the industry. I have been a board member for OPPC, a past officer of the Ohio Pork Council Women, on the membership committee, the awards committee, I am active with the Pork Schop and we have been to the World Pork Expo. Roger has been on the legislative committee for Ohio and he has served in the pork stand committee for the Ohio State Fair since the mid-1990s.”
In addition, Blanche reaches out to the local community through a variety of speaking engagements promoting pork.
“The Ohio Pork Producers had some speaker training events and the National organization took it over as Operation Main Street,” she said. “I went through that training and have given 41 speeches to various organizations where we can promote pork. I always try to point out the value of benefits of pork and the pork industry.”
She also works with area elementary schools.
“For six or seven years, I have been giving presentation to fourth graders through a program called ‘Exploring your Backyard” in Sandusky County. I do something similar in Seneca County too. I take a piglet along with me and the kids just love it. The kids just brighten up when they see the pig,” she said. “I try to teach to the tests by incorporating history and mathematical units into the talks that are related to the pork industry. I also tell the students about all of the byproducts from hogs. The kids are amazed, and so are their teachers and parents. I always hand out pork recipe cards too and tell them that even fourth graders can cook.”
The Langes’ passion for promoting pork production and agriculture stems from the love they have for their profession and, more importantly, for the animals they raise.