How it all started by Hans Baltzly
Updated: Jan 2, 2022
I've always had a fascination and love of cattle. One of my earliest memories growing up was of my father bringing home 2 Holstine bottle calves from a neighbor's dairy farm to raise at our small farm. I must have been about 3 or 4 years old from the pictures I've seen. At that time bottle feeding calves was a great adventure to me. An adventure that I couldn't have predicted would grow into what it has become. I remember Dad telling me stories about his time in 4-H growing up, and how fun it sounded. Somehow my child's mind decided that I too needed to be in 4-H and have my own cattle to raise.
So, at 9 years old, I got my first steer to take to the county fair, and I never looked back. From that first year of 4-H to the last, ten years later, my mind was consumed with everything cattle. Every year I worked to improve my 4-H projects and started to build up a small herd of cows along the way. After aging out of 4-H at 19 years old, I wanted to keep showing cattle and breeding cows for younger 4-H'ers to use for their projects. By this time, I had outgrown the pasture space at my parent's farm and in order to move forward with my plan to build a larger cow herd, I needed a farm with more acerage.
Around this time, I was finishing up college with a bachelor's degree in biology, which is also where I met Brittney. She was a self-proclaimed "city girl" with no knowledge of cattle or experience on a farm. Despite this, she loved animals and was always very interested in what I was doing and turned out to be pretty helpful. After dating for a few years, we decided we were ready to start a life together. After some searching, we ended up buying our farm at auction in September 2014.
Up until the time we bought the farm, I had continued showing cattle and selling 4-H calves, but quickly realized that with all the work the farm needed, I would need to focus all of my time and efforts to making this farm a success. Using the small herd that I had built up over the years in 4-H, I began breeding them to Angus bulls and keeping the best calves to continue to build my herd.
I soon discovered that the best way to utilize the large amount of pasture ground on the farm was to breed smaller framed cattle that would be very efficient on grass. To do this I began to breed my cows to bulls my brother had introduced me to when he bought his original native Scottish Angus cow. Most of the Angus cattle in the herd are related to those cattle now and their efficiency on grass is now a driving factor in selecting for the next generation.
Like anything in life that one takes seriously, the learning and honing of the craft never ends. First, I learned how to raise bottle Holstine calves on a bottle; then 4-H calves; then competitive state and national level show cattle. When we bought the farm, it was time to learn about grazing, pasture management, and the cattle that would be best suited to thrive in our local environment. It's been a challenge and will continue to be, but I'm still just as excited about our future as I was when I fed my first bottle calf.
Hans bottle feeding a calf with his younger brother in 1994