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Two different paths, one result

DICKINSON - Neither Ron Bock, nor his son, Loren, pictured themselves making a living farming and ranching when they were in college.

As fate would have it, that is exactly what the father and son find themselves doing today. Each took their own path, but the end result was the same.

"When I was younger I guess I wasn't very interested," Loren said. "When I was in college I kind of started to change my mind."

Ron also went to college not thinking twice about taking over the family farm. His oldest brother, Warren, was already in line to take over the farm near Amidon.

While in college at North Dakota State University, Ron majored in agriculture education and minored in military science, while participating in the ROTC program and interning with the soil conservation district.

Following college, Ron spent a year in Vietnam during the war, where he was an officer in the Milwaukee air defense.

When Ron returned, he had planned to go back to his work in soil conservation, but his uncle, Emil Brueni, had other plans. Emil, a bachelor, asked Ron to take over his ranch southwest of Fryburg.

At first, Ron was reluctant to accept the offer, but after running into an old acquaintance he decided to accept.

"He said, 'everyone can get a job, but not many people get the opportunity to do this,'" Ron remembered.

Being one's own boss was something that was attractive to Ron. Not many people have the opportunity anymore, especially when it comes to farming, he pointed out.

"If you didn't have a relative or something, you couldn't do this," Ron said.

Ron worked in a partnership with his uncle for a couple of years before taking over in 1971.

Ron and his wife, Judy, raised their children, Eric, Loren and Gretchen on the ranch. Ron and Judy now reside in Dickinson, but some of the ranch operation is still based there.

Eric currently lives in Jamestown, where he works as a nutrition consultant for CAS nutrition. He still helps out with the operation with his nutritional expertise.

Gretchen works for Eventide in Fargo, which is an assisted living facility, as the activity director.

Loren, who didn't have much interest in taking over the farm when he went to college at NDSU and majored in agriculture systems management, started to change his tune over his many visits home.

"I was coming home a lot on the weekends," Loren said. "And I really enjoyed the work."

Loren was also asked by his grandmother to take over her farm, which his mother, Judy, had grown up on.

"That had an influence as well," Loren said.

Loren works with his father in a partnership.

They both own their own property, but they run their Charolais cattle together.

The family has an annual bull sale, which was held this last Thursday.

Both Ron and Loren pointed out how hard it is for new farmers and ranchers to start out.

Between the inputs for the farming operation, such as fertilizers, fuel and the seed, the prospect of a start up farm can be daunting.

"It's such a risky business, especially with the prices of inputs," Ron said.

He then went on to say that availability of land is a huge issue as well.

"You need a pretty good sized spread to make a living," Ron added.

To help manage some of that risk, the Bocks try to keep up to date with current technology.

"It's (technology) pretty important," Loren said. "We like to try to keep up."

The Bocks just recently installed auto steer in their tractor and also have a camera set up in their calving barn, which helps them monitor their cattle during calving season.

Ron said that farming and ranching is just like any other business, it's important to keep growing.

"The margins have become smaller," Eric said, agreeing with his father. "You have to become bigger to get to those margins that are becoming smaller."