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RancHER: Sarah Kuschel

Published on 23 October 2020
Sarah Kuschel

Sarah Kuschel raises beef cattle and horses, grows alfalfa and corn, and is raising three children with her husband, Miles, on their fourth-generation ranch in Sebeka, Minnesota. 

On the ranch, her responsibilities include working with the livestock, office duties, payroll, organizing family and work crew schedules, herd records, parts runner, cook and helping select breeding stock. She is also actively involved in the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom program as a curriculum specialist.

How have your experiences working in your field influenced your growth, personally and professionally?

Growing up in the agriculture community has helped shape me into the woman I am today, and I am so thankful for that. Growing up raising registered Angus cattle helped me learn a great deal about responsibility, dedication and hard work, as well as the importance of sound recordkeeping. As an adult, I became involved in Farm Bureau and have had the opportunity to continue to grow my leadership skills there, serving on our county board and also on the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee.

What roadblocks have you run into, and how have you overcome them?

It took awhile for people to respect the fact that I really did know what I wanted when I walked into the parts store or the feed store, but with time and growing relationships with those partners in agriculture, we have established a strong working relationship and respect for the roles we play.

Who has influenced you in your leadership role?

There have been many who have influenced me along my journey and encouraged me to accept different leadership roles and responsibilities, but the one person who has been there through it all is my husband, Miles. He is always there to encourage me to take the next speaking engagement or to help host a tour of the ranch. He makes time to keep things rolling at the ranch or with kid schedules, so I could take on my job with Minnesota Ag in the Classroom. He’s a true teammate in life that I am lucky to have as one of my biggest supporters and my best friend. Not sure how I found such a great co-worker either.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Find a job you love, and you will not work a day in your life.” I feel like I have done just that. Sure, there are days that are challenging but working through them and seeing success on the other side makes it all worthwhile. I also can’t ever talk about cattle without hearing the words of my husband’s grandfather: “The cows come first – if you don’t take care of the cattle, they can’t take care of you.” He was absolutely right; remembering that statement always encourages me to make proper animal care and well-being the center of my work.

What advice would you give to other women in your field?

Just go for it. If you want to be part of agriculture and raise beef cattle, pull on your boots, put your best foot forward every day and do it. Your story might not be just like mine, and that is OK. We can both be successful and ensure we are raising cattle the best way possible for our situation.

Once you get started, build yourself a network of farmers and ranchers to help support you on the adventure. Having a team to help pick you up on the rough days and celebrate the good days is what helps keep the positive outlook growing for me.

Who are other female role models you look up to? Why?

Questions like these always make me nervous that I will forget someone important, and I have so many amazing women in my life that we don’t have room for all of them in this article. But some of the best ones are my mom for showing me what it takes to be a successful woman and mother, Miles’ grandmother Stella who kept the ranch together while her husband was serving in World War II, Robin Kinney – thank you for always encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things – and the women of our cattle crew, thank you for always stepping up and helping here on the ranch and for being those true friends that allow faith to guide us along the way.

How do you balance your job with family and/or personal time?

Our family motto is “Work together so we can play together.” We put in a lot of long days, but that also means we can all get away at times to go enjoy the lake or an event at school. It truly takes a team to keep the ranch going, so we schedule and take turns with work and recreation to ensure we all get to things off the ranch too.

What is the best part of your day?

The beginning and the end. I look forward to grabbing a mug of coffee before going out to look at the cows, but I also look forward to the end of the day where we can sit down with the kids and share what we got done. I love hearing what the kids thought was the best part of each day or what they were most excited about.

Do you involve your family in your work? If so, how?

My husband and I are raising the fourth generation on our ranch. We each have our focus jobs to keep things moving forward, but we will also fill in wherever needed. Our kids have their own favorite jobs, which helps a lot. Mackenzie, 15, is the horse kid and enjoys riding and training horses that we use to work cattle. She also spends a lot of time raking hay. Kelcie, 13, is the record-keeping assistant, gardener, chef, head babysitter and never misses a chance to care for a newborn calf. Our son, Rohan, 9, enjoys anything that looks like what Dad would be doing: equipment, horseback riding, delivering salt and mineral – he is there.

What is your favorite thing about ranch life?

My favorite thing about ranch life is that I get to work with my family every day, and we get to enjoy the outdoors while we work. Calving season is my favorite time of year on the ranch, as there is nothing better than watching a calf be born.  end mark

PHOTO: Photo provided by Sarah Kuschel