first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Those who work in the agricultural industry have long understood the need to be a jack-of-all-trades.“Some days you have to be a vet, an electrician, a maintenance man and a general worker,” said Brenda Schaub of Shiloh in Richland County.Schaub is a pork producer who operates a 2,600 head nursery and a 2,400 head finisher barn contracted through Hord’s Livestock. In addition to her duties in the barn, she has a full schedule as a wife and a mother.She and her husband James have a combined family of five children and a small crop and hay farm of 130 acres. They also raise a few Shorthorn-cross cows for their children to take to the fair. If that isn’t enough, Brenda is also a 4-H advisor for Richland County, served as a past officer for the Richland County Cattleman’s Association, and also serves as a CDE coach for the Plymouth FFA chapter.Though whole hog into agriculture now, Schaub’s career started on a path at a very different part of the olfactory spectrum.“When I first met James, I was a florist. I went to school at Erie Huron Ottawa Vocational Education Career Center and studied floriculture. There just wasn’t a whole lot of money in that area,” she said. “I decided to look into raising pigs when my dad wanted to sell some acres off our family farm, and I really didn’t want to see it leave the family.”She and her husband bought the land, and in 2007, Brenda’s finishing barn was erected, followed in 2008 by the nursery barn.“When I was younger, my dad always had hogs. We would farrow some sows and sell the pigs to 4-H kids to show at the fair. I showed pigs myself through 4-H and FFA and they were always just my favorite livestock,” Schaub said.Although she had some previous experiences in the swine industry, she has definitely learned plenty about producing pork over the past nine years.“When I first started, I was a little afraid to use the pressure washer. I didn’t really even like to give shots. Raising hogs definitely requires some trial and error. I had to learn quickly. I can now operate the barns all by myself,” she said. “I can even fix some of my own electrical problems or maintenance repairs without having to call my husband or dad. Sometimes you just have to stop and think — sometimes it is minor issues causing a major problem.”Schaub is very proud of the work she has done with raising hogs.“My goal is to have my service man from Hord’s come in, inspect my barns and hogs, and not find a single issue that I missed,” she said. “I want to produce healthy, quality livestock. I get upset if there’s maybe 12 pigs out of the 2,600 with a problem, even though it’s a low percentage of the barn.”Each year, Schaub cycles roughly 15,200 weaned pigs through her nursery barn, and finishes out about 4,800 hogs.“Getting the baby pigs in is my favorite part,” she said. “I like to know that I am the one who is getting them off to a great start.”As a woman in agriculture, it always seems there is some pressure to compete with her male counterparts.“Semi drivers will come to load out pigs from the barns, and I’ll be directing them to the chute. The whole time I am giving them directions, they’re looking around for my husband. They always seem a little surprised to see me,” Schaub said. “I generally feel pretty awesome about it, but occasionally people won’t believe me when I say I have 5,000 hogs at my house. Some days I would say there’s some prejudice against me, and it can be somewhat intimidating, but I don’t really let it bother me.”Not only is the hog barn her job, but it has been a great way to make memories with her family. The farm is truly a family affair for the Schaubs. Brenda and James have five children: Hunter, age 21; Josh, age 17; Alexis, age 16; Claudia, age 15; and Charlie, age 11.“I remember Charlie playing in the office of the nursery when he was only 4 years old while they brought in weaned piglets. The kids would come out and help me with the afternoon chores once they got out of school. My daughter, Claudia, absolutely loves the pigs and she is great with them. She does an excellent job helping me. It is a family affair every time we load pigs out,” she said. “My husband, my kids, my dad, my cousin and a few friends will suit up and help me clear the barn. My dad will also come out and walk the barns with me, checking out the hogs. I love that I get to spend time with my dad doing something we both love. I also love the fact that I get to raise my family on the farm that I grew up on. The whole process of raising hogs has been a major bonding experience for my family.”On top of that, the barns allow Schaub a somewhat flexible (though hectic) schedule to spend time with her family off the farm. In the hours that she is not in her barns, she can be seen cheering for her children at cross country meets, football games, Skills USA contests, FFA meetings and also at the county fair, where her kids have all shown at least one livestock project a year.Family time is important on the farm and everyone gets involved, including Brenda’s son Charlie.“I really enjoy working with the pigs and having my barns. I plan on doing this for a long time. I hope if my barns taught my children anything, it is how important agriculture is. My kids don’t have a problem educating their classmates about real pig farming. I hope someday one, or all of them, will want to take over the farm, or at least seek a career in agriculture,” she said. “There are days when it gets hard trying to juggle the pigs, my husband, and raising my kids, but I love what I do and I am glad this is my line of work.”last_img

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