Farm family roots run deep in North Dakota, often growing around a legacy built across generations. For many, the agricultural way of life is a family affair, one united with pride in the land and tradition.
Like Father, Like Sons
In Richardton, the Messers of Beaver Creek Ranch carry on an agricultural tradition started by a great-grandfather in the late 1800s. Jerry Messer and three of his five brothers tend to the responsibilities of the business their parents began not long after they were married in 1951.
Phillip and Betty Messer built Beaver Creek Ranch from the ground up while raising a family of six boys and five girls. Jerry and his brothers, Mark, Greg and Scott, each manage a specific part of the operation that was assigned to them when they were old enough to start working on the ranch.
“Bottom line, my dad always emphasized diversification and wanted us working together,” Jerry says. “As we grew up, we had the opportunity to be a part of an enterprise. I’m in charge of dairy, Mark is in charge of beef, Greg is in charge of row crops and grains, and Scott is in charge of the feedlot and trucking.
“That’s how we’ve always done it,” he adds. “This gives us the opportunity to do more things we normally couldn’t do and lets us channel our energy where it needs to be at the time.”
The Messers are also using today’s technology to improve upon their family’s legacy. Their use of GPS systems has helped to cut down on labor costs, and they also practice other types of precision agriculture. All their calves are ID-tagged and registered with the Red Angus Association.
The technical side of the operation is typically handled by Greg’s sons, Josh, Jadon and Travis, and Scott’s son, Dakota. They have full-time jobs elsewhere but still help on the farm.
“It’s a great way of life for us, that’s all there is to it,” Jerry says.
Homage to Ancestors
Whitney and Justin Vogel might call it a labor of love. When the couple married in 2011, they moved to the homestead of Justin’s great-great-grandfather to start their new life together. A long list of repairs and updates lay before them.
“Things had kind of fallen apart,” Whitney Vogel says of their property, Vogel Shorthorn Farm in Rogers. “There was a lot of work that had to be done both in the yard, on the farm and in the house we live in now. We struggled to get things going again, and there’s still some work that has to be done, but we didn’t want to let it go. We didn’t want the work to prevent us from keeping it in the family.”
Both Whitney and Justin come from a bloodline of farmers and ranchers, each growing up with a passion for agriculture. Justin attended North Dakota State University after high school, but he knew he wanted to return to the family farm when he finished. “He would drive back on weekends to help with things like planting and harvesting,” Whitney says.
Whitney was involved in 4-H, influenced by her grandfather, who owned Hauxdale Shorthorns and was well known in the North Dakota cattle world. Together the couple has revived her grandfather’s operation, and now run both the Vogel Shorthorn Farm and Hauxdale Shorthorn Farm.
“When I started getting interested in cattle and going to sales and things, we would run across people that remembered my grandpa, so we kind of felt we should keep that business,” Whitney says.