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Hard work pays off for Meyer family

DICKINSON - Starting a farm or ranch that hasn't been handed down from a family member and forming it into your personal vision is something of a rarity in today's agricultural climate.

The Tim and Kathy Meyer family has proved it's possible, however, with hard work, some risk...and a little luck.

"We are not a second- or third-generation ranch," Meyer said. "We are building our own."

Tim and Kathy both grew up around an agricultural community, but didn't immediately get into ranching after they were married.

Following their marriage, Kathy had a degree in business education and substitute taught for many years, while Tim worked for Fisher Industries in Dickinson.

In 1996, the couple considered getting a place in the country and found a deal they couldn't pass up northwest of Richardton.

"We were lucky enough to get a contract for deed from an older couple that wanted to see the ranch go on, just like it had been done for them," Tim said.

Kathy added a little luck regarding your initial start-up is necessary if you're going to make it today in farming or ranching.

"Or these family farms are going to be a thing of the past," she said.

Since that fortuitous turn of events, the Meyers have worked hard to make sure they don't let the opportunity go to waste. They have continued to work full-time jobs from time to time while on the farm.

Kathy now works at Dickinson State University as the assistant registrar. Her responsibilities include scheduling the classes for each semester and assisting with graduation requirements.

Appreciative of the extra income, Tim usually cooks, and when Kathy gets home in the evening dinner is waiting.

The Meyer children include Nicholas, 20, Kelsey, 17 and Garrett, 13, who all help on the ranch throughout the year. The ranch is the family business and as a result, is a family effort, Tim said.

"Kathy helps on evenings and weekends. During calving time, everybody takes a shift," Meyer said. "The kids don't have jobs in town, they have a job here...This is a family operation."

Like their parents, Tim and Kathy don't expect their children to necessarily want to take over the ranch some day. They believe it's important for the children to make their own decisions.

"It depends on where their interests lie," Kathy said. "I want them to follow where their interests lie."

Meyer does his best to share his interest and love of farming with everyone he meets. His niece, Lexi Friedt, teaches kindergarten at Dickinson Roosevelt Elementary School, Tim recently visited the class during "R" week to talk to the children about being a rancher.

"I'm no teacher, but I don't think people in our business do enough of that," he said.

Meyer also knows his business well. The North Dakota Beef Improvement Association recently named Meyer the "Producer of the Year" due to his Angus herd having the highest pregnancy percentage among replacement heifers.

Not thinking they did anything special, Meyer was surprised to win the award.

"It's nice to be doing something right," Meyer said. "...We are just doing the things that most producers do on an everyday basis. I am sure there are a lot of other producers equally deserving of it."

Meyer was quick to point out he doesn't know it all, and that they continue to learn every day.

"We've made a lot of mistakes, but if you learn from them you'll be all right," Meyer said.

Taking it all in stride is important, Meyer said, but he stresses if you don't work hard and enjoy what you're doing, you won't be successful when it comes to ranching.

"You have to really like doing it because you're probably not going to be rich," Meyer said. "You really have to want to do it. It is a good way to raise a family."