Mark Beem and his family work to follow in the footsteps of his parents 

While Mark Beem is beginning a new chapter in his life as the retired superintendent of Skyline School in rural Hickory County, Mo., he knows staying busy is not likely to be a problem. 

When not in the classroom or administrative offices for the last three decades, Mark has been on the farm. 

“I live in Hickory County, south of Preston,” he said. “My wife Staci and I live on 135 acres there. We also have a farm near Wheatland of 1,000 acres where we have 250 cow/calf pairs. My parents, who are both gone now, Garland and Arvilla Beem, also had a farm outside of Wheatland. Today, Staci and I and my sister, Pat O’Neal, are partners on that farm of 1,200 acres, raising another 240 cow/calf pairs. Her son, Austin O’Neal, manages it for us and that is a great asset; having a family member, someone you can trust taking care of that.”

Cattle are a commercial mix of Angus, Red Angus cross and Charolais. 

“We use Charolais bulls on the Red Angus crossbred cows or horned Hereford bulls on the black cows,” Mark explained. Adding that they retail about 25 heifers a year as replacements. 

Calves are sold at weaning, weighing about 500 to 600 pounds.

“We’ve used all kinds of marketing strategies over the years, including selling at the sale barns, videos, selling right out of the pasture, selling direct to the feed lots. It all depends on what is bringing the best price at the time,” Mark said.

Mark also puts up 3.500 round bales of hay each year. 

“We have 265 acres of prairie on our family farm,” he added. “And we are pretty proud of that prairie grass because it makes great hay.”

Mark started his career in education more than 30 years ago, with the last 14 bring at Skyline. 

“I started at Humansville as a physical education and health teacher and a coach of all sports,” he said. “In a small district, you coach all the sports, from sixth-grade to varsity basketball. That was my favorite, basketball.

Even in retirement, Mark and Staci will continue their family love affair with basketball as oldest son Dax, who graduated from Skyline this spring, is attending William Woods College this fall. Dax is planning to study pharmacology while attending school on a basketball scholarship. 

Lawson is a junior at Skyline and is still working on what he would like to do in the future.

The boys also share in the farmwork, just as Mark did when he was a teen.

“I went to work in the hayfields when I was about 13,” Mark said. “Both of our boys help on the farm during hay season and throughout the year, patching fence and checking on cows. Like me, they are both thinking about a career in which they can also work on the farm. It’s pretty neat to listen to their conversations as they discuss the kinds of work they might choose that will still allow them to continue in agriculture.”

Farming and education go together well in the Beem family.

“My mom was a school teacher and my dad always gave her credit for providing a steady income for the family, which he said allowed him to go sit at sale barns and buy a little land here or there, to build up the inheritance we have today. I tell my boys all the time, Pat and I owe our parents – your grandparents – such a debt, in that they worked hard and left us this, and one day, a part of it will be yours, too. I would not want to be starting from the very beginning today in agriculture, to be trying to buy land or livestock. I tell the boys, never forget that your grandparents did this, starting from scratch and slowly built it all with a lot of hard work and good financial management. That really is something special, something we really need to appreciate.”

Mark knows, too that he is fortunate to have sons who plan to continue in that tradition.


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