Farm Feature Friday: the Van Slyke Family of Williamson County, Tennessee
Q&A by TCA Spring Intern, Rebekah Brown
Today we wrap up the spring series of Farm Feature Friday’s with the Van Slyke family of Nolensville, Tennessee. Read our Q&A with their daughter, Katie, to learn more about their operation, Running Springs.
How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
My parents bought two Jersey steers in 1991 and that’s where it all started. After that, my grandfather gifted them two bred Red Angus heifers who started their first commercial herd. They then decided to take off with their love for livestock and purchased a larger farm in Flat Creek to make room for their growing herd. They were able to increase their herd to about 30 head and within a couple of years they decided to purchase a larger farm where they could live and grow their herd even more.
Battle Mountain Farm is where I was born, where my mom held a bed and breakfast, and where my dad’s love for cattle grew. While at battle Mountain, he decided to transition from a commercial herd to registered ChiAngus. They then had the opportunity to purchase a farm in their hometown, Nolensville, which is where our family now resides. Shortly after the move and trying to manage both farms, they decided that it was too much strain, and they moved all the cattle to Nolensville. What they did not know was that a drought was about to hit, and they would have to liquidate their ChiAngus herd from the lack of pasture.
When the drought broke, we dabbled back into a smaller herd of commercial cattle to give our pastures time to recover. In 2014, we started transitioning our commercial herd through artificial insemination into a registered herd of Simmental and SimAngus cattle. We did this because Simmental has an open herd book.
Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, what are you proud of, etc.
Our farm today consists of 100% registered Simmental and SimAngus cattle, and we are breeding genetically superior bulls, topping the new day genetics sale in 2017. Our farm is also a host to an equestrian facility where we keep our own quarter horses as well as board outside horses.
What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
Being able to do almost everything as a family.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
Life on the farm prepares you for life. You experience the worst of days, and the best of days, and it’s all worth it.
Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?
Advice – to raise cattle safely, whether it’s two or 200, it takes the same basic equipment to be able restrain and treat cattle safely. I have seen and heard of so many accidents because an animal gets loose or gets you down when you’re trying to work on it.
Why choose a farming lifestyle?
My parents were both raised on a farm and knew that’s the lifestyle they wanted and where they wanted to raise a family. You learn something new everyday from joy, heartache and even humility.
What's your favorite beef dish?
Matt: Porterhouse Steak
Terri and Katie: Filet
Is there anything else you can share with us?
We believe schools should offer a semester of agricultural based classes, people need to know where their food comes from. We get so many questions that are basic things you would expect people to know when they visit the farm.
Thank you to Katie Van Slyke for talking to us about her family’s farm, Running Springs, in Nolensville, Tennessee along with her parents Matt and Terri Van Slyke.