Jon and Lindsey Cartwright find a way to balance a growing farm

Jon and Lindsey Cartwright of Webster County, both grew up with agricultural backgrounds, an important aspect of their lives that they are proud to share with their young children, 2 1/2-year-old son, Yates and 7-month-old daughter, Yardley.
Jon is an operations director with an engineering firm out of nearby Marshfield, Mo., and Lindsey is a dairy inspector for St. Louis County, working at their branch office also in Marshfield. On their 110 acres, they have a commercial cow-calf operation, with 22 momma cows.
Lindsey attended an intensive grazing school last year and learned a variety of techniques they are now working to implement on their farm.
“I couldn’t go at the time,” Jon explained, “because of my work schedule and lack of vacation time right then, but we are hoping to have everything in place by this fall, in terms of having our paddocks set up and getting the water to each one.
“Our goal,” he continued, “is to make our ground as profitable as possible. The bottom line here is to put more cows on fewer acres and with this kind of grazing system we think we can do that. For us, that also means little to no fertilizer, allowing the animals with the rotations, to supply that for us. Once the paddocks are in place we don’t plan to put up any hay on the farm. We’ve run the numbers – which is basically part of what I do in my full time job – and it takes a tremendous amount of dollars’ worth of fertilizer to keep our ground nutrients up to the levels needed to produce good hay. We anticipate it being more profitable to buy hay elsewhere and put more nutrients into the ground to beef up that grass quality.
“We are also working in timber management on a part of our land and doing that strategically makes a big difference. Last year we were able to harvest some of the walnut and by next year, we should be able to do the same with the white oaks on our property.”
The cattle, however continue to be their biggest interest, in more than one way. “We AI our heifers and bull breed our cows,” Jon added. “We’re finding that by doing our spring calving early, by the end of January or first of February, we don’t lose any calves due to the weather and they breed back better with the bull in the cooler spring weather. By waiting later in the spring, the conception rate has not been nearly as good with the bull, once the weather starts heating up. It seems like it wouldn’t work as well as it does, but we calved out nine heifers last year, pulled one and didn’t lose one to the weather.”
Lindsey also has four or five Guernsey dairy cows that a neighbor milks for her. He breaks all of his own dairy cows to lead and has done the same for Lindsey’s. “Dairy cows are, by nature, more gentle than beef cattle,” Lindsey explained. “Yates is out there with us on a regular basis and he calls them ‘the orange heifers.’ We also have Yates’ two show pigs for the Laclede County Fair, one county over. They are the only one around here that still have a hog show as part of the county fair each year.”
Jon summed up how their various interests – commercial beef cow-calf operation, intensive grazing, timber management, gentle halter-broke dairy cows and show pigs – all come together. “The bottom line is we both grew up on a farm, something we want to continue and pass on to our children. At the same time, we also want our land to start working for us.”


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