Battles Cattle Company
Photos by Angelia Roberts & Kay Tharp. The Chance and Katie Battles family of Sidney were selected as the 2022 Sharp County Farm Family of the Year. The Battles love the farm life with their sons Charlie and Clint.

By: Angelia Roberts

Chance Battles knew from an early age that farming required commitment and hard work. As he grew older, he discovered his passion mimicked that of his uncle, father and grandfather. When he married Katie, they both shared the dream of passing that lifestyle on to two-year-old Charlie and one-year-old Clint.
Their dedication to make that a reality paid off with Battles Cattle Company named the 2022 Sharp County Farm Family of the Year.

Getting to the goal so both Chance and Katie could be on the farm full-time took a while. During that time, Katie, who has an art degree, taught elementary and high school at Melbourne, but the day arrived when they felt she could stay home full-time.

“It was the best choice we made,” she said.
Katie’s knowledge of farm animals was geared toward horses, not cows. Her father was a crop duster so she knew a lot about agriculture.
“I didn’t grow up with cattle, so this has been on the job training,” she said, laughing.
While working together has some pluses, Chance said Katie has a T-Shirt that says, “I’m sorry for what I said to you while we working cows.”

The Battles farm is a mile from the heart of Sidney where they own 155 acres and rent 320 more.
They currently have a 130 cow and bull combination.

Chance said almost all the bred heifers are sold online with many of their byers being repeat customers.
“The bulk of the yearlings are sold off the farm direct to farmer feeders. Our cows and killer bulls are marketed locally through sale barns.”
Chance said the majority of their stock cows started from a closed herd of heifers.

“We put a lot of effort in choosing bulls that create a quality replacement animal, as well as a steer with some growth. In our area there is not a lot of people selling breed heifers, so we found that it was an area of interest for us and a chance to maximize our market potential and sales.

“Since we started there has been a constant learning curve and I think that shows through the end product we produce. We measure success through the relationships we’ve been able to build with our repeat customers.”

Chance explained the one thing they wanted to do was pre-conditioning and the opportunity to do that led to working for a guy in New Mexico.

What started with 30 or 40, grew to 100 and then another 100.

“I hope that will continue. That gives us some monthly income.”

Farming with no outside income presents a challenge of maintaining a cash flow since it’s a long time between pay day. Currently, the majority of their business is within a 30-to-50-mile radius.

While farm work is full time, outdoor in hot and cold weather, the technology of having their own website has been instrumental in generating a lot of business.

Katie maintains the website and handles all the advertising, mailers, etc.
“This has been great for us. We get many engagements from the website that allows her to continue her love of painting and graphic design.”

Chance said with Katie being home full-time it allows him to concentrate solely on the cattle operation. Having us both full tie allows each of us to focus on what’s at hand and accomplish our goals.

Katie maintains the website and handles all the advertising, mailers, etc.
“This has been great for us. We get many engagements from the website that allows her to continue her love of painting and graphic design. Katie also discovered her love of gardening.

Chance said his contribution is just helping get it in, but it’s 100 percent Katie’s project. He’s also quick to point out that all that garden work usually ends up with canned goods being distributed to family at Christmas.

So far, the couple have built a cattle barn with the anticipation of running a lot of cattle which is a major achievement. The shop, which also serves as an office gives them a place to work on equipment as well as a place to conduct business. The interior is designed as a small home with a kitchen bathroom and internet access. They also rent other farms that helps with the heifer venue.

Chance said they’ve followed recommendations and built up the ground to the point he is pleased with it.

“We have crossed fenced and put in water tanks that allow us to rotate our cattle as well as funnel them into the cattle barn when needed.” Like most farming operations there’s always a need that has to be met.

Chance said shortage of land is one and they hope to buy or rent more in the future. In the meantime, they are running as efficient as possible. Our main farm is broken into six fields that we rotate through ground cover and give grass the ability to bounce back. Since the beginning, there has been a conscious effort to maximize the farms potential and in doing so, we have greatly improved the land in every area.
“We would love to rent more ground, if it came available to expand our cattle herd. Katie is also looking at expanding the garden to include produce sales at local farmers markets.

The one thing that has been the most satisfying for Chance and Katie is being able to work solely on the farm and knowing their boys enjoy the freedom of the outdoors.

“They definitely love tractors and cattle,” Katie said. “They are always into something.”

That connects with Chance’s own childhood when his grandfather would go to the sale barn during the week and have the calves ready for him to work on the weekend.

“We’ve been blessed and have wonderful family that have helped us get going,” Chance said.
And when it comes to rural living, Chance said neighbors can be a blessing or a curse. “We have wonderful neighbors.”

Outside of farming, the family attend the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Sidney.

“The Lord puts things on you, and most of the time you are not ready for it,” Chance said, explaining how a neighbor, who taught Sunday School, had been sick for a few weeks and he offered to fill in and later died in an accident.

“I’ve been teaching Sunday School since, so we have an excellent preacher and a mediocre Sunday School teacher.”

“We just work all time. One thing we enjoyed prior to having children was going to horse shows,” and that’s something the couple hopes to get back into.

“It’s a good family Saturday night activity and it’s a good fit for what we are doing anyway,” Chance said.

The couple said farming isn’t easy or glamours with the day in and out chores, taking care of animals, livestock and children, but they feel very blessed.

“Farming requires staying in it for the long haul. The more you keep going and the harder you keep trying, things start to fall in place. You have to go forth at some point,” Chance said.

“I think we have a gap in the knowledge out there on farming in general. I had a guy out of the military that wants to job shadow me and learn about it. I think it’s important to try and communicate that to people when you get the opportunity, because anything you can do to promote agriculture is ultimately good for everybody involved.”

“This whole thing is a blessing. You get to be on the land and work with cattle and be your own boss. That’s a dream and not a reality for most people,” he said.

Chance and Katie are in agreement that farming is a life-style that requires commitment, and they are honored to be named the Sharp County Farm Family of the Year.

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