16-year-old Cole Clark takes the lead in his family’s cattle operation

Cole Clark’s day reflects the life of most farmers. He rises before the sun and works until his head hits the pillow at night. The only difference is Cole is a 16-year-old high school student.
“My dad says I forget how old I am. I dream big, that is for sure,” said Cole Clark with a wide grin. Although achieving his dreams requires an abundance of hard work that does not slow down Cole.
“I am a pretty productive person. I like it when I wake up and do something every day and then, three months later, reaping the benefits. I enjoy watching my investments grow. I do enjoy a challenge, that is for sure,” explained Cole.
Cole’s latest challenge involves the teenager starting his own custom hay baling business. “I have always been interested in the equipment side of the farm, so I decided to buy some equipment and try it myself,” said Cole.
It took Cole several years to come up with enough money to fund his venture. He started at 14 years old, with a loan from the bank and a dozen commercial cows.
“I bought 12 cows my freshman year and paid off the loan the end of my sophomore year,” Cole explained. He sold the calves off the cows and used that money to purchase 17 feeder calves. Cole bottle-fed the calves twice a day for five months. When he sold the feeder calves, Cole had accumulated enough money to buy a New Holland round baler, a disc mower and a V-rake.
Now all Cole needed was customers.
“When I started out, I decided I was just going to bale near my home. I put an ad in the newspaper and I got phone calls and phone calls and phone calls,” recalled Cole.
Though he planned to keep his hay baling business close to home, Cole ended up baling all around the Fair Grove area. The young entrepreneur found himself with plenty of customers. He also learned lessons about running his own business.
“It turned out pretty good. The only thing is when you’re doing it for someone else if something breaks you have to get it fixed right then,” said Cole. And when he wasn’t making round bales for his customers, Cole worked for a farm in Strafford Mo., putting up square hay bales.
“It was a long summer,” admitted Cole. He is already preparing for the next hay season. “I want to buy a new tractor, that is my goal for this year,” Cole said.
All year long, Cole helps his parents, Richard and Laura Clark, with their commercial cattle operation in Fair Grove, Mo.. The family operates Clark Commercial Cattle, managing 70 momma cows, spread out over six farms. The Clark’s live on 80-acres in Fair Grove and rent the rest.
“We are pretty spread out. We have a couple farms in Fair Grove and one in Pleasant Hope,” explained Cole.
Every day, as soon as the last bell rings at Fair Grove High School, Cole hits the road to care for the cattle.
“I stop by MFA every day and get a load of feed. My dad works a lot of hours so a lot of it is on me,” said Cole. The family runs LimFlex bulls on Brangus or Angus-based commercial cows.
This high school junior also stays busy with school. Cole serves as chaplain of his FFA Chapter. Last year he was elected as the chapter’s sentinel. Cole’s future plans include increasing his agriculture education.
“I want to go to school to get an ag business degree,” Cole remarked. He hopes a deeper knowledge of agriculture coupled with his work ethic will allow him to one-day farm full-time.
Cole is in the process of buying 10 Brangus cows to add to his original herd of 12 commercial cows. He is also fine tuning plans to ensure his custom hay baling business continues to flourish next summer.
Though it is his passion, the stress of school, farming and running a business can be exhausting. “I turn it in earlier than any other kid I know. I hit the sack about 8 o’clock at night,” said Cole. “I love what I do. I can’t complain. I am very blessed to do what I do.”


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