Farming is in the Butler family’s DNA
Raising cattle, planting crops in Northeast Oklahoma – it’s been a way of life for more than 100 years for members of the Butler family.
Now as the fifth generation prepares to pursue careers in agriculture, the future looks promising for the family.
Detmer and Mary Houck settled in what is known as the former Dodge township at the turn of the century. The Butlers, who married into the family, arrived in Oklahoma with the Trail of Tears.
Kreg, Detmer’s great-grandson, and his wife Erika, along with their twin 18-year-old sons Kash and Kord, live on Kreg’s grandfather’s place in Cowskin Prairie. Marshall and Dolores Houck purchased the place in 1941.
Kreg’s parents, John Elmo and Marsha Butler, live on another part of the family’s farm in the former Dodge township.
Led by Kreg and John Elmo Butler, the family owns or leases 1,200 acres in Delaware County. Their operation consists of an Angus cow/calf operation, with a growing Red Angus herd, along with 500 acres used to grow wheat, milo, soybeans and corn. The family also operates a custom hay baling business.
On the cattle side, the family uses performance Angus and LimFlex bulls for breeding. The operation is grass based, with some ADM protein and mineral tubs throughout the year. Kreg said they also use an “all purpose feed” grain ration created by Marshall which consists of a milo and corn mixture.
Kreg, who’s been farming the land since he could walk, said he got his official start at the age of 5, when he raked hay using a hand-clutch operated WD45.
“You’ve got to love this life,” Kreg said. “It’s not to get rich overnight, it’s a lifetime. It’s a work all day, with the paycheck few and far between. But you do it on the strength of your back and the sweat of your brow.”
While Kreg works full-time on the farm, Erika works in town. She helps her sister-in-law Teresa Butler at the RX Shoppe, a local pharmacy, twice a week. Other days you can find her at the Elk River Baptist Church, serving as the church secretary.
Kreg said Erika is the one who holds the family together, as the pair dream about what is to come on their land.
Away from the farm, son Koal Butler and his wife Abi live in Fort Worth, Texas. Koal works in the aerospace industry, while Abi, a published author, is pursuing a nursing degree.
Looking to the future
Kash and Kord graduated from Grove High School in May. The young men plan to attend Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa this fall as members of the livestock judging team.
Kord hopes to eventually pursue a poultry science and marketing degree at Oklahoma State University, and potentially a master’s in poultry science from the University of Arkansas. He dreams of purchasing land next door to his family’s farm to own and operate a poultry operation.
Kash plans to pursue an animal nutrition degree either at OSU or another school, with the goal of going into sales and marketing for a feed company. He dreams of returning to Delaware County to start a feed mill/farm store.
Kash and Kord picked NOC for two reasons – scholarships for being on livestock judging teams, and because of a family connection – their grandfather John Elmo, played football and baseball for the community college.
“It’s the right coach and the right program,” Kord said. “I like the things they’ve got going on there. I want to be a part of it.”
Both Kash and Kord say they want to return to the family farm, after watching their father and grandfather work hard to keep it going.
“This is a good industry to raise a family in,” Kord said. “I want to start raising kids here, and keep rural america going.”
The young men plan to use the now-retired show cattle from their FFA SAE projects for a genetics business, with the goal of creating their own show cattle breeding operation.
Their individual SAE projects earned each young man the State FFA degree in April at the Oklahoma FFA Convention.
Other family dreams, Kreg said, include starting a feedlot using their own grain to raise cattle for a farm to consumer direct operation. The Butlers are also considering adding a hair sheep operation for future growth.
Kreg said he looks forward to the day his sons return to the farm ready to move it forward.
“I told them as long as mom and I have enough to survive, I’ll step out of the way and let them take over,” Kreg said. “I was given that opportunity by my father and grandfather. When it comes time to pass the reins, I will. They’ve earned it.”