30 Dec Griffin Huelsman
Embracing Your Path
Born and raised in the heart of Louisville, a search on Ancestry.com showed Griffin Huelsman that he came from a long line of farmers. Somewhere along the way, however, the family left the farms behind for work in the city. When his aunt and uncle purchased their own small farm when he was in high school, Griffin found himself bucking hay and assisting with seasonal chores. The impression his ancestors 1700’s farm had left on his brain at 5 years old was enough to show Griffin that farming was exactly where he wanted to be.
College, Internships & Early Jobs
“Surround yourself with the smartest people that you can in [the] industry [that interests you], and ask as many questions as you can,” says Griffin. “That’ll only help you in the long run.”
That’s exactly what Griffin did in college and through internship opportunities in college. Griffin found himself taking agricultural courses for his animal science degree with many seventh or even eighth generation farmers and ranchers. He wasn’t intimidated though and applied to numerous internships across the country!
Many of his friends and family wanted him to continue through the animal science program and become a veterinarian but that wasn’t what Griffin wanted to do. He knew exactly where he wanted to be and that was raising cattle, specifically seedstock cattle of the Angus breed.
Angus Seedstock Job
Working at a restaurant to help pay for college, Griffin got the call one day at work from an Angus operation who wanted to hire him. He ended up working for them for three and a half years! The overall experience was a huge opportunity for Griffin to grasp what beef production ecompasses.
“That just opened my eyes to what beef production is,” says Griffin. “Not only on the seedstock side but on the cow-calf side because they treat their seedstock like cow-calf.”
Montana Angus Internship
Fortunate to receive an internship with Sitz Angus in Montana, it was an opportunity that Griffin couldn’t pass up. Sim Angus is one of the top 10 seedstock producers in the country.
“I had applied to fifty different internships and I had kind of forgotten about them,” says Griffin with a laugh. He was offered a six month internships and off he went to Big Sky country! “That was a heck of an experience to work with people like that and be in that environment. There is nothing like it.”
Upon graduation, Griffin found a job at a place in Shelby County, Kentucky, and worked there for about a year before being hired to Mulberry Orchards in December of 2017. A whirlwind of learning, Mulberry Orchards is extremely diversified and Griffin signed on to small feat working on this project.
If there was any way to describe Mulberry Orchards, it would be “if you took a black kettle pot and threw everything into it – that’s what it is.” It includes agritourism, agriculture education, farming of not only orchards but row crops and hay, a cattle operation, and more. Consumers not only get the nutritional components of homegrown food, but they also get the educational opportunity and the farm experience when you select your produce.
From City to Farm
When you are taking a job in an industry that traditionally has it’s future raised within it, it can be extremely intimidating. Griffin suggests building your confidence to know what your potential is and what you bring to the table. While you can learn from those in the industry immensely, you can also utilize your out-of-box thinking to provide new opportunities and resources.
Diversity is fantastic for running an agribusiness because it provides you more line items for profit in the instance when your main commodity has a down market. It can keep you from filing for bankruptcy at the end of the year.
A large barrier to diversification to farmers is a generational fear of changing what was to what it could be. Nothing against any generation, Griffin says that he has “gone into a lot of uncharted waters and it can be great or not so great, but you HAVE to do those things!”
H-Bar Angus & Entrepreneurship
“I have wanted to run my own seedstock operation for probably six or seven years now,” Griffin admits. Ranchland for cattle was hard to come by in his part of Kentucky but perseverance and networking paid off for Griffin and he was able to work a deal to rent a farm that also included the house on the property.
Spending late nights at the kitchen table, pouring over reports and analyzing data, Griffin selected a final group of twelve Angus heifers from a group of 75. These heifers were to make up the base of his seedstock operation, one that had a heavy influence on the impact that maternal cattle can have.
“I believe high fertility in cattle is the key for efficient cattle production,” explains Griffin about how he believes that all cows bred versus a number on the scale is the most important at the end of the season for efficiency reasons.
With a long term goal to support himself off of his operation with a focus on his seedstock, he admits that it was extremely nerve wracking to get started.
“Sometimes you have to pull the trigger and do it because, if you don’t pull the trigger now, you never will.”
“I would have to say, ‘Make your own path,’” says Griffin. “When you sit on your horse and head out on the trail, make your own path and don’t follow the beaten trail.”
Griffin also encourages everyone to be a part of their local or state farm bureau or commodity group. It’s a huge benefit as not only a producer but also as a consumer. Insights can be found in all of these industries by just being involved, listening and asking questions.
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