"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.” This quote from Richard Bach instantly springs to mind when you meet the Cruikshank/Kilgore family. This is a family that has been forged in the fires of adversity and has come together through the healing bonds of love. The 300-acre farm was bought 16 years ago by Kim Cruikshank and her husband Marty Kilgore. They built two chicken houses and a dairy barn on the property after clearing pasture. Marty’s untimely death in 2002, in an accident, left Kim with their four children and a large broiler breeder and cattle operation to run. After years of running the farm and raising the kids, Kim met Cory Cruikshank and they were married in 2007. Kim’s daughter’s Kaylee and Alyssa are grown now, but 15-year-old Whitney and 11-year-old Levi are still at home. The love and pride that Cory feels for his stepchildren is palpable when he talks about their achievements and what hard workers that Whitney and Levi are.
“It’s amazing how responsible Whitney and Levi are at their age level — not many people can say they can stick a 15-year-old girl on a 110 horse tractor and she can feed hay as good as anybody else,” said Cory, with pride beaming in his eyes. Cory and Kim are expanding their family this year, with the birth of a new baby in July.  
Hard work is an everyday fact of life at this farm, located in the beautiful Ozarks hills, with the sheer volume of work to do. The Cruikshank’s raise breeders for George’s, so eggs are collected daily.  The birds also require care; feed and water lines must be checked, and walk-throughs are just a small part of keeping the operation running efficiently. Just getting around all the property is a big job, with 300 acres owned and 200 acres leased. The Cruikshanks typically put up about 1,400 round bales and 1,500 Bermuda grass square bales.  Then there are the cattle.
Cory lists the stock off, “Right now we have 40 stocker calves that we’ll feed out, 34 momma beef cows, 53 Longhorn mommas, 40 calves on the Longhorns and a full-blooded Corrienti bull. The Longhorn calves are all half Longhorn and half Corrienti for good roping stock.” The beef cows are all Angus/Charolais crosses and are bred to a black Gelbvieh bull.  
Additionally, this year they’ve flushed their bucking stock cow, which comes from David Bailey’s Gunslinger line, and used semen from 2007 PBR bucking bull of the year, "Chicken on A Chain." This yielded five eggs that they’ve implanted into beef cow recipients. In May, they should have five new bucking stock calves on the ground.  
When it comes to the beef business, the story is straightforward. "Originally, we were milking, and then we sold those cows after Marty died. I bought the Longhorns, and a friend of mine, Scott Traylor had bucking bull embryos.   We used them as recipient cows for the embryos, and for roping stock. The market for roping stock right now isn’t great, but we think it will rebound.”    
Sitting around the family dining table, in their beautiful home, you really get a sense that though they’ve known sad times, this family is really looking toward their futures and the future of the farm they’ve built from the ground up. When I ask the whole family where they see themselves ten years down the road, they all echo the same sentiments. Still working hard, and doing all they can to build a legacy for future generations. Cory illustrated the teamwork involved in family farming, when he said, “We just couldn’t do what we do without all four of us working together, it takes a whole family effort."


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