There is new life on the ground at Boyer Family Farms, something Jason Boyer enjoys even more this year as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are calving and lambing,” he says. “It’s good that some things are still normal.”
Boyer and wife Amy farm near Osceola in Clarke County, Iowa. They have three children who are involved in the operation — Kaitlyn, 22, a senior at Iowa State University, and twin sons Konrad and Kasey, 16.
They have 100 cows on their southern Iowa farm, most of which are purebred Limousin. The Boyers keep their own replacements and sell a few bulls. The rest are fed and marketed.
Cattle have access to about 800 acres of grass. In addition to the cattle, the family buys feeder pigs and finishes them and also lamb 15 ewes.
They operate Harvest Barn Marketplace, a store based out of a 90-year-old barn that sells items such as beef sticks, salsa, fudge and jams.
Jason and Amy moved to Iowa from Pennsylvania in 1995, dreaming of making a living on the farm. They brought 40 Limousin cattle with them, and have slowly expanded their herd.
Boyer says his family started working with Limousin cattle several years before he and Amy moved to Iowa. They were drawn by not only “the power of the breed,” but of the meat quality as well.
As they worked to expand the cattle business, the family started thinking about diversifying, partly spurred on by their growing family.
“Amy had worked on a roadside produce stand when she was younger, and it’s something she always loved,” Boyer says. “We have just sort of progressed from there.”
The family has sold items for years at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market and also markets products through a couple other businesses in Iowa.
“We had friends ask us to start taking meat to the farmers market,” Boyer says. “That was 12 or 13 years ago, and we gradually started including the beef sticks and other things to go along with the fresh meat.”
The cattle are processed at a small, USDA-certified locker in northern Missouri.
The Harvest Barn Marketplace usually opens in April, but because of COVID-19, the family has delayed the start of the season. And with the farmer’s market closed as well, they have tinkered with their website — www.harvestbarnmarketplace.com/ — to make purchasing safe and easier.
“When Kaitlyn was on spring break, she overhauled our website and set it up where people could place orders and pay online and then pick it up here on Friday afternoon,” Boyer says. “We are seeing more orders online with the health situation, and we’re glad we can continue to sell to our customers.”
The Boyers are also active in their community. Jason has been a member of the Clarke County Cattlemen for many years and has served on the board of the Iowa Limousin Association and the Heartland Limousin Association.
The family has been active with 4-H and FFA as well.
Boyer says he is hopeful life soon returns to normal. But, he says, his family is safe and healthy, and they are doing all they can to continue to serve their customers and community.
“I think everyone wants this to be over,” Boyer says. “We still have the livestock and planting will begin soon. There’s always plenty going on.”