COAL CENTER, Pa. — For Paul Salansky of Coal Center, Pa., raising Angus cattle is more than just a hobby or a pastime. It’s all about faith, family and friendly competition.
Paul’s great-grandfather, a Polish immigrant, purchased the original farm in Hickory, Pa. The farm was passed down through the family, and Paul’s father purchased 50 acres of the farm, which he put to use for harvesting crops and raising chickens.
The herd starter
In 1956, Paul’s brother purchased an Angus heifer for $300 as a 4-H project. That heifer ended up being champion at the Washington County Fair.
“We were able to build our Angus herd from that one cow,” Paul said. He began showing and breeding Angus cattle at age 13.
In addition to many purple ribbons throughout his youth, the Washington County Fair brought a new kind of reward to Paul’s life — love.
Paul and wife Janice met 41 years ago at the fair and have been married for 39 years. The couple got to know each other through the 4-H program.
“We didn’t compete against each other, though,” Paul said. “She was a Jersey girl, and I was an Angus boy.”
Janice grew up on her family’s Jersey farm in Coal Center, Pa., where Janice and Paul now live and rent about 65 acres of pasture from Janice’s family.
When the couple moved to this location in 1989, Paul brought a few Angus cattle from his father’s herd in Hickory and a few animals from his brother’s herd.
“Most of the cattle we have today can be traced back to that heifer in 1956,” Paul said.
The bull sold for $2,650 — about $600 more than the Angus sale average.
He was one of 81 bulls put through the 112-day test, which measured frame score, rib fat, daily test gain and final weight.
“It was an honor to have the top bull,” Paul said.
As the couple’s children, Mark, Patrick and Rosalee, became more involved in 4-H, Paul became that much more passionate about high-quality Angus cattle.
The family purchased “Ruby” at the Ohio Beef Expo in 2001. The heifer went on to be named champion at the Washington County Fair.
“That heifer has done very well for us,” Paul said. “We breed her A.I., and she has a 700-pound calf every fall. I wish all of our animals were like that.”
Paul is quick to credit two other sources for the herd’s achievement. One is Janice, who Paul said is the hardest worker he has ever known.
“In our first few years as a married couple, we ran a farrow operation in Perry County,” Paul explained. “Janice worked full-time as a nurse, helped care for hogs and raised three children.”
Although Janice is not quite as passionate about the animals as Paul, she appreciates his enthusiasm and does whatever she can to support him.
“I enjoy the cows, but it’s a lot of work,” she said. “On the other hand, it’s a lot easier to work with cattle than some people.”
Help from above
The other source Paul credits for his accomplishments is God.
“I try not to take credit for my success,” Paul said. “My help cometh from the Lord, and He is the one who really makes this all possible.”
And with His help, Paul said he will keep doing what he loves.
“If the Lord allows, we’ll keep breeding and showing and selling Angus cattle,” Paul said.
Sow and reap
In addition to building his faith, Paul said raising cattle has taught him some important life lessons.
“The greatest thing I’ve learned over the years is this business is all about sowing and reaping,” he said.
“It’s been a blessing to watch how the cattle have helped us sow seeds in other people’s lives.”
Paul and Janice said they look forward to attending fairs and sales, where they can reconnect with fellow Angus and beef producers.
In addition, Janice said Paul has a passion for helping the younger generation.
“Paul loves to encourage young people involved in the Angus breed,” she said. “He does whatever he can to keep them involved and interested.”
Paul and Janice’s daughter, Rosalee, was one of those youth. A 2005 graduate of Penn State, she now lives at the original Angus farm owned by Paul’s family.
Rosalee is responsible for a lot of the computer work for the farm, and she designs advertising fliers for the cattle to be sold.
Rosalee’s older brothers, Patrick and Mark, also enjoyed showing and raising cattle with their parents. Patrick returned from serving in Iraq about 18 months ago and is now a chef. Mark is a teacher in the Baltimore, Md., area.
The Salanskys have enjoyed watching their children accomplish their life goals in the same way that they have accomplished goals with their Angus cattle.
“Everyone should enjoy what they do,” Janice said. “This is what Paul loves to do.”