Beef cattle a family tradition on Nobleland Farm

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Nobleland Farm
Nancy Snook and her father, Jim Secrist, stand on one of the many hills that overlook Nobleland Farms in Caldwell, Ohio. The farm has been in the family since 1895, and cattle have always been a part of the landscape. (Catie Noyes photos)

CALDWELL, Ohio — Nancy Snook and her father, Jim Secrist, sat at the dining room table, laptop open and tuned into the Facebook livestream of the 2018 National Junior Angus Show in Wisconsin.

Nancy’s daughter, Erica, was showing, but Nancy and Jim were unable to make the trip.

“It’s amazing what modern technology can do,” Nancy said, happy to be able watch her daughter from over 600 miles away.

While they waited for Erica’s class to enter the ring, Jim looked out the large dining room windows that showcased the rolling hills that define the southeast Ohio landscape and Nobleland Farm.

Nobleland cattle
Nancy Snook and her father, Jim Secrist, raise registered Angus cattle on 180 acres in Noble County. The rolling hills make it hard to raise crops, so Nobleland Farm focuses on livestock.

“This farm has been in my family since 1895,” he said, pointing to one of the red barns on top of a hill in the distance.

“My grandfather’s pride and joy was these barns,” he said, recalling a time when they used horse and pulley to run hay into the dusty hay mow. “Lots of memories on this farm,” he said.

The first Angus

Jim purchased his first registered Angus heifer in 1958 as a 4-H project. Once he graduated high school in 1961, he bought seven heifers.

“That was my start,” he said. For 30 years, Jim worked alongside his father on the family dairy until his father died.

“Dad begged me to stay on the dairy. He told me the milk price will get better someday,” he said. “There isn’t a dairy left in Noble County.”

Nancy took an interest in the cattle at a young age, showing in junior Angus competitions once she was old enough, in 4-H, and used the cattle as her FFA project.

After graduating from Ohio State University, Nancy took a job as a 4-H educator in Kentucky until a position came open in her home county in 2003. “I’ve been in Extension for 28 years,” she said.

Nancy and her husband, Barry, built their home on one of the farm’s rolling hills, and Nancy continued to work cattle alongside her father.

Genetics

Unable to attend the National Junior Angus Show in Madison, Wisconsin, Jim Secrist and Nancy Snook watch Nancy’s daughter, Erica Snook, show her steer, KCC Jaxon.

“Our main emphasis is raising registered Angus cows and bulls,” said Nancy. Currently, they run 45 females on 180 acres.

The hills make farming a challenge in this part of the state and Nancy said because of this, the only crop they produce is hay for the cattle.

Nobleland Farm was an early adopter of artificial insemination technology.

“We started using AI in the early ’70s before a lot of people,” said Nancy. They use low birth weight EPDs, which is popular among their customer base.

“A lot of people have off-the-farm jobs,” said Jim. “They want to have calving ease and don’t want to worry about pulling calves.”

Nobleland Farm sells to individual Angus breeders, commercial cattle operations and to 4-H youth.

Sales

This year, the family celebrated 50 years of selling cattle at the Eastern Ohio Angus Sale in Zanesville, Ohio. “I’ve only missed three sales in 50 years,” said Jim.

They also participate in the Ohio Beef Expo show and sale, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association replacement heifer sale, and other regional and national sales.

Being members of the Noble County Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, and Ohio Angus Association allows them to participate in various shows and sales around the state and country.

“It’s a way to help market our animals and get our name out there,” said Nancy.

Nobleland Farm cattle
Nobleland Farm uses low birth weight EPDs in their AI program to encourage easy calving.

Expo

She and her family have been involved with the Ohio Beef Expo since its first breed show and sale in 1988. Nancy was asked to join the junior show committee and help facilitate the judging contest in the early ’90s.

Today, Nancy teaches youth beef quality assurance at the Expo and during the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting. She also helped facilitate the youth quiz bowl during the annual meeting.

During the 2018 Expo, Nancy was honored with the Friend of the Ohio Beef Expo award from the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.

Next generation

Nancy said the Angus herd is more of a hobby for her father, herself and her daughter, who has taken a strong interest in the cattle.

While Nancy’s oldest son, Evan, is content to find work off the farm, Erica has participated in the Ohio Cattlemen’s BEST show circuit, the National Junior Angus Show and many other shows around the state.

Erica will be a freshman at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute this fall and is studying animal science.

“I always tell her ‘look for opportunities.’ Get an education and then decide what you want to do,” said Nancy.

“I know she’ll be involved (with cattle) in some aspect — she loves the cattle.”

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Catie Noyes lives in Ashland County and earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture communications from The Ohio State University. She enjoys photography, softball and sharing stories about agriculture. Formerly a reporter for the Farm and Dairy, Catie is now pursuing her master's degree in education.

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