By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Bruce and Rae Ann Ohmann, along with their children, Monique, Elsie and Alex, have been named the Mississippi Valley Cattlemen’s Association Family of the Year. The Ohmanns, whose ranch is outside of Hillman, said they were surprised and shocked when they learned they were chosen.
“We were not expecting to receive this honor,” said Rae Ann, who said they have been members of the Association for three years.
Clint Kathrein, a member of the Association, said one of the reasons the Ohmann family was chosen was due to their level of participation with the group.
“They attend all the meetings and are willing to help out with all the activities,” said Kathrein. “They are enthusiastic participants in the beef business, both personally and at the club level. They also have good family values and are active participants in their children’s lives.”
Bruce said the members of the Mississippi Valley Cattlemen’s Association are currently planning for the beef tour in July.
“Cattlemen from all over Minnesota and the Upper Midwest will be visiting various local ranches, Camp Ripley and will enjoy two meals at the Morrison County Fairgrounds,” said Bruce.
The Ohmanns breeds feeder calves on their ranch. The calves are sold in the fall when they reach about 600 pounds to ranches that continue to grow them to the 1,250- to 1,350-pound range. The animals are then sold for butchering.
Bruce said more breeding ranches like his are located in northern Minnesota due to the lack of good crop land. He sells most of his calves to ranches located further south, where the land can sustain more crops for feed.
“We started our 140-acre ranch in 2003, with one bull, five cows and 10 sheep,” said Rae Ann. Today, the family has two registered bulls and 40 cows. They are expecting 38 calves this spring, who will live off their mother’s milk during the summer.
“Forty-five days before we sell them, the calves are weaned,” said Bruce. “The cows teach their children how to eat hay. It’s like monkey see, monkey do.”
Neither Bruce nor Rae Ann grew up on a beef operation. Bruce said he has always loved cows and had visited relatives who had working farms.
“I love being outside and working with the animals,” he said.
Rae Ann grew up on a horse ranch with a riding stable outside the Twin Cities.
They purchased their property in Hillman in 2000. Rae Ann said it was just a pile of dirt at that time. They have made all the improvements on the property in the past nine years.
The Ohmanns’ days are long. Both Bruce and Rae Ann work apart from the ranch. Bruce is employed by Pugh Excavating in Randall and Rae Ann works for Noble Wear in Onamia. In the morning, they rise, take care of the animals, then go to work. In the evening, they again take care of the animals. And now, in the spring, they are calving, many times in the middle of the night.
“We do envision quitting our day jobs, some day,” said Bruce, who also rents another 200 acres of adjoining land.
The Ohmann children play an important part in the operation of the ranch.
“They have invested their own money in the cattle,” said Bruce. “They have bought cows that they breed. The money they make from the sale of the calves is theirs.”
“The money they make from their initial $800 investment makes a lot more money than the 41 cents they would get from the bank. Each calf they sell brings them about $500,” said Rae Ann. She said it’s a huge incentive for them to be involved in the ranch’s operation, and it teaches them the responsibility of raising an animal.
Bruce said the cattle industry is the best it’s ever been. Prices are high and the cattle numbers are low. But, he said while prices for cattle have doubled in the past year, so has feed and the operation’s overhead. Profits have remained about the same.
Besides raising cattle, the Ohmanns also make their own maple syrup, have hens for eggs and now have 60 sheep, raised to produce feeder lambs.
“We don’t have a lot, but we do have family,” said Bruce. “The honor from the Association was for a family operation, and that’s what we’ve got.”