TIPTON, Iowa — Teri Baird says her father called her when he found out he had been named Iowa’s Seedstock Producer of the Year.
“He was so emotional,” she says. “It was something that meant so much to him, and he couldn’t wait for the ceremony. But it wasn’t to be.”
Gary Eichhorn passed away Jan. 10 while attending the National Western Stock Show in Denver, roughly a month prior to the presentation at the Iowa Beef Expo. He was 83 years old.
“I take comfort in the fact that Dad was doing something he loved,” Teri says. “He loved going to shows and talking about cattle.”
Gary Eichhorn grew up in the family Angus business, a business that has survived and thrived for over a century.
“Dad took great pride in that fact, that we have had Angus cattle for more than 100 years,” Teri says.
Eichhorn purchased his first Angus heifer in 1949 at a local dispersal sale. Two years later, he purchased another at the Hawkeye Angus Show.
He farmed with his father Stanley for many years. In 1962, they purchased the 250-acre farm near Tipton in Cedar County, and Hickory Knoll Angus was born. The cattle operation generally consisted of 40 to 50 cows, as well as the sale of bulls and heifers.
Teri grew up in the business and shares her father’s love of the breed.
“Dad loved it when we got involved as kids,” she says. “Getting youth involved in the cattle business was very important to him.
“When my daughter was born, Dad couldn’t wait until she could show a calf. She was so small and the calf was so large. Dad told her to keep an eye on the judge and she said, ‘How can I do that when I can’t see over the calf?’ He told her to just look around the calf.”
Eichhorn took the same attitude with other youths.
“If Dad saw someone that was interested in cattle, he would do all he could to help them,” Teri says. “Youth involvement was always No. 1 for my dad.”
She says her father was not afraid to embrace new technology. Eichhorn started using artificial insemination when the American Angus Association began allowing those calves to be registered.
“He loved looking at those catalogs and that data,” Teri says. “He wasn’t afraid to try different bulls to improve the herd and genetics.”
His last bull purchase was in 1981, and his cow herd was pretty much closed.
“Dad took great pride in the quality of our females,” Teri says.
Eichhorn also took great pride in his collection of memorabilia.
“He loved collecting pitchforks, items from the Chicago stockyards and Angus memorabilia,” Teri says. “He had sale catalogs dating back to 1928, and he still has the pedigree paperwork from his first cow. Dad just loved finding things to add to his collection.”
Teri admits it is difficult to go the farm and not see her father. But she takes comfort in the Angus cattle that are still there, as well as in the many people who have reached out to her since his death.
“We are finding out how many people he influenced in this business,” she says. “Dad would sit down and have a conversation with anyone he met. He loved the cattle business, and he loved talking about it.
“It has been a rough time for us, but we still have cows to care for and work to do. We know there are always going to be cattle on this farm. That’s what we do.”