In Rick’s Bull Barn, Duane Scott steps through some mud as calves wait eagerly for him to dump feed.
Across the dirt path, Wes Scott sits, fixing a broken skid loader.
No matter the time of year — or weather — you’ll find the brothers out working or tinkering on something at Oak Ridge Farms.
The two handle multiple farms in Hoover, Adamsboro and Royal Center with the help of their family. In total, it adds up to about 1,200 acres.
From January to May, their morning entails tending to their cow-calf operation and aiding with anything from calving to nursing to feeding. As the temperatures rise, the brothers still take care of the cows before switching gears and going to plant as much corn and soybeans across the hundreds of acres before the evening.
The cow-calf operation is one of the most common forms of beef production in the U.S., though most of it is concentrated in the Southeastern and Western parts of the country. It relies on a permanent herd to produce calves that will later be sold.
With May comes hay season, followed by harvesting in the fall.
“We wake up and we’re either chopping, selling corn or soybeans,” Duane Scott said.
“Then we’ll be working feeder calves at the same time to get them broke and ready to sell for show cattle,” Wes Scott said.
In the midst of it all, they also find time to manage their feed store — selling Kent brand feed along with other supplies — that sits on the property at 2940 N. County Road 925 E.
“It’s enough work,” Duane said.
The two manage their mom’s side of the family’s farm, while their other brother helps their dad manage his farm.
They handle about 250 cow-calf pairs. When they aren’t selling, that can reach up to 700 or 800 cattle. The cows are fed out and sold to the butcher, while calves are sold to people for the 4-H fairs in the surrounding area. What isn’t sold for the fair is later sold to butchers.
The Scotts have also begun selling cuts of beef at their feed store. The store is a source of pride for the brothers, as it’s one of the few in the area that carries Kent products. According to Kent’s website, the closest store to theirs is about a 10-mile drive away in Peru.
It was constructed by their uncle in 1977, who managed it. Earlier this year, they gutted and renovated the space but kept it true to its original form.
The farms have been in the family for four generations, dating back to the early 1930s.
The two grew up raising hogs on their dad’s farm nearby and would come to this one fairly often but less so for work. Despite the pair holding a couple of other jobs after graduating from Caston High School in Fulton, they found nothing was quite as fulfilling as the work they did on the farm.
“We always enjoyed being outside and doing that stuff,” Wes Scott said. “But it was always hard work, so we thought we could find something a little easier. It was just never as fulfilling as much as it was here.”
They also appreciated working for themselves rather than having to take orders.
“Nobody’s really telling you what to do all the time,” Wes said. “It’s more freedom, but on the other side, you have the pressure of making sure everything is done, too. There’s not a lot of other people coming in to help you out.”
The brothers hope their children — five in total between the two families — will take over once they’re of age. Their family started with a farm in Royal Center acquired by their great-grandmother.
“She was kind of a little house flipper and entrepreneur on her own,” Wes Scott said.
After selling the home in Royal Center, they acquired a small farm in Adamsboro in the ‘50s. Over a decade later, Wes Scott said the family bought the one in Hoover they work out of now, followed by two more in ‘80s and another in the ‘90s.
The farm has enjoyed an overall stable life. The only real hardship the pair has come across was in 2012, when the drought forced them to cut much of their crops. According to the U.S. drought monitor, approximately a quarter of the state experienced a D4 drought.
The designation is marked by farmers selling cattle, high feed costs and producers hauling hay from outside of the state, among other things. The National Weather Service said the Indianapolis area recorded less than an inch of rain for the month of June, a far cry from the 4.25-inch average.
“We basically didn’t have any corn in 2012,” Wes Scott said. “We chopped about everything just because there wasn’t any corn on it.”
Since the farms are managed by their family, the pandemic had little effect on the work.
“The animals didn’t slow down,” Duane Scott said. “They still had to be taken care of.”
They describe what they do as handling mini-crises every day — from skid loaders busting to unexplained deaths of their cattle.
“Things like that, you know, it’s nothing,” Wes said. “You just figure it out and go on.”