From the Farm:
Megan Baalman: Wife, Mom, Farmer, Producer, Advocate
Blog by Kaitlin Donovan, Western Kansas Corn Crew Rep and Communications Coordinator
Megan Baalman, of Baalman Feedyard in Menlo, Kansas, never imagined herself raising a family along with cattle and crops in Kansas, but here she is working with her husband Coby and raising their daughter Harper in northwest Kansas. Megan calls Level Cross, North Carolina her hometown but spent much of her time with her grandparents in Russell, Kansas, where she met Coby. Agriculture wasn’t part of her background, but she’s learning fast how to be a wife, mom, cattle producer and farmer.
“We enjoy doing this more than anything else,” says Megan. “We enjoy feeding cattle and farming, it’s my husband’s aspirations to really grow our operation and I’m glad to be here doing it with him.”
As part of her personal growth, Megan joined Class 1 of the Kansas Corn Corps young farmer program with her husband in December 2016 as a newly-wed who hadn’t quite figured out her place in the family operation.
“I feel like Corn Corps ignited a passion in me to learn more about the problems and issues facing our industry and our family farm personally,” says Megan. “When I came back to our operation after each session I felt more of an urge to get involved and make things more of my own. When you’re coming into an industry where you have no idea what to expect and then you have joined this family that has been doing it for generations its hard to keep up at first. But then I went through the Kansas Corn Corps program and gained more knowledge about it all so now it’s easier for me to relate to the farming side of the business so I can play a bigger role in the operation.”
Megan spends most of her days in the scale house and main office for Baalman Feedyard, helping her mother-in-law Sheri Baalman with record keeping, financials and other important office work that keeps the business running efficiently and successfully. Over the past two years her job has expanded, but not just on the business side. In August of 2017, Megan also became a mom to their daughter Harper.
“Becoming a mom has changed my life,” says Megan. “I go home from working at the feedyard and I clean up after Harper, try to make supper and try to get everything I can done before she has to go to bed. I can’t just work in the office during harvest until 10, eat something and then just go to bed anymore.”
Megan says this year’s harvest has also brought some unexpected challenges as she and Harper both caught the crud and were home sick for part of earlage chopping, an important time for her to be in the scale house to weigh the trucks.
“There’s no sick days,” she says, “even before I was a mom, on the farm and feedyard there’s really no time for sick days. I always hear people back home in North Carolina talk about having a snow day and they can’t go into work, and I’m like I wish we had snow days at the feedyard but the cattle still have to eat no matter what the weather and that’s just life.”
Megan’s background gives her a unique audience of consumers to reach since most of her friends back home on social media don’t understand how their food is raised or what happens on farm. But Megan says it’s her role as a mom and wife that adds some additional common ground to their conversations.
“I really just try and relate to the people I am trying to educate,” says Megan. “Since I have a kid now, and my sisters for example, one has a kid and the other one really cares about our kids, so I just try to relate to them on that level to show why they should care about how their food is raised and making sure farmers can use the tools they have available. I want them to understand agriculture and how it affects our communities. It’s important that they understand how farming practices impact their food prices and that when technology is no longer available it will make a difference in their lives for the long run.”
Check out Megan’s scale house confession video from our visit to the farm last fall during earlage chopping season.