This Farm for Life editorial is a series provided by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Ayers Stock Farm in Green City, Mo., has spent three generations in the rolling hills of northern Missouri building a beef business driven on horseback. Rick Ayers has been involved in his family’s livestock farm since 1967 and his wife, Jonna Ayers, joined the family farm while both were teaching agriculture education at the local high school.
“Family and education have always been important to me,” said Rick Ayers. “I chose to farm because of my father. His love and appreciation for the land, because of how he took us in and taught us what he knew, was the first thing I learned. He was adamant about us going off to college, learning something new and bringing it back to try. It was always about family.”
In 1998, the Ayers family grew by two – the twins Zach and Natalie. It was clear that Rick and Jonna’s approach to raising a family would be similarly focused on family members learning alongside one another.
“It didn’t matter what the chore was when they were younger,” said Rick Ayers. “I thought it was so important to have them with me, learning everything I could teach them. I wanted them to get their hands dirty and find their own appreciation for our livestock. Both of them have always been so willing and eager to do chores with me.”
“The thing about Rick and both of our kids is that it doesn’t matter if we’re feeding mineral in the Ranger, or riding horses to round up cattle, it’s time together,” said Jonna Ayers. “Is it always ‘fun’ time together? Not always. But, it’s about being responsible for the land and livestock – the things that can’t take care of themselves.”
More than 21 years later, both Zach and Natalie will soon be graduating from the University of Missouri. While they’ve both focused their time on their futures in agriculture, their family traditions continue to pull them back home.
“Coming back and continuing the tradition makes sense,” said Zach Ayers. “I’ve spent my whole life riding horses, working cattle and showing pigs. I want to continue what grandpa and dad started here to make sure it lasts. It would be tough for me to let that tradition go.”
The Ayers family is proud to raise high-quality beef, providing food for their table and their customers’ tables. Rick attributes his close relationship with the veterinary team at North Missouri Large Animal Clinic, which is owned and operated by his sister and brother-in-law, and great Angus genetics to the family’s healthy, thriving herd.
“We feed your family like family – that’s our philosophy,” said Rick Ayers. “I wouldn’t sell anybody a product off this farm that I wouldn’t eat myself. We come out every day with the idea that we’re going to work and put a product on our customers’ tables. We believe in that.”
In the end, it all comes back to one thing for the Ayers: family. Jonna Ayers, who was raised on her family’s farm in Stet, Mo., grew up appreciating agriculture for the opportunities it provided to spend time together.
Missouri farmers like Rick, Jonna, Zach and Natalie take pride in the small part they play towards an affordable, nutritious family meal for all families.
“We farm for life because it’s about family,” said Rick Ayers. “It’s about leaving it better than we found it. It’s about providing a quality product for our customers’ tables. It’s also about providing a living for our family in the meantime.”