Family wins environmental award from Cattlemen
By Renae Vander Schaaf
Date Modified: 05/21/2012 1:43 PM
GREENVILLE, Iowa — Greg Wood says it's an honor to receive the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Iowa Cattlemen's Association.
Wood operates a purebred Angus cow/calf herd and a forage business with wife Lola, son Chris and his partner Beth.
The Wood family left the state during the farm crisis of the 1980s to work on various purebred cattle operations in New York, Missouri, Oklahoma and Alabama. Chris worked at different places before reuniting with his parents in Montana.
The family returned to their Iowa roots in 1996. Gregg's father, C.E Wood, started with purebred Angus beginning in 1948.
BitterSweet Angus is where they built the purebred Angus herd and forage business. The forage operation is what earned them the Environmental Stewardship Award.
"We have 400 acres of forage to tend to," said Greg. "It is a mixture of alfalfa and orchard grass."
Hay is harvested in round bales, 3x3s and squares. Greg Wood says he can do 400, 65-pound bales an hour. Quick harvest is made possible by a Bale Band-It attached to a New Holland baler. Bales move directly to the Bale Band-It. Once 21 small bales are in its chamber they are bundled. The machine automatically releases the bales on the go.
"Most of the hay we bale is sold to the equine industry," said Chris. "Our hay has been shipped to New York, Texas and many states in between."
BitterSweet's calving season begins the first of February with practically all calves born in the barn. The Woods have a closed herd, choosing to inseminate artificially in order to bring in different genetics. Seedstock from 75 cows is sold through private treaty deals.
"Our cows and bulls have a reputation for their calving ease, low birth weights with a high weaning weight," said Chris. "We cull pretty easily, because not all bull calves reach the standards we have set."
The Woods are active in the Clay County community. Lola works at Northwest Bank, while Beth is a vet tech at Spencer Vet Clinic. Chris has been manager of the Clay County Cattlemen's cafe, The Branding Iron, on the Clay County fairgrounds. Both men are involved with the Clay County Cattlemen.
So, why did they name their operation "BitterSweet Angus?"
"We joke that we have been through the bitter and now it is time for the sweet; but even that is not accurate as the past has not been all the bad. But coming home to Iowa has been good, because this is home."