Meet the Dodge Family
Owners of J.K. Dodge Farms
About the Business
Jason: We are a cow/calf operation that started back in 2010. My wife, Katie, and I run the farm with the help of our children, Kenzie, Hadley, and Daxton, plus additional support from a neighborhood high school kid that we hire each year. Our operation got started when we bought some cattle from our siblings. We started with 20 head of cattle and have grown to over 100, along with some chickens and goats. Katie's parents solely raise crops about 5 miles from us, and it's where we source all the feed for our cattle. About three years ago, we decided to finish our cattle ourselves rather than selling them to a feedyard. Outside of the farm, Katie and I own and operate the Paris Pharmacy in town. I'm a pharmacist, and Katie helps run the gift shop side. We also own a cabin near Mark Twain Lake that we rent out on Vrbo to tourists. We provide guests with fresh eggs and beef from our farm as a way to promote our product.
Why Show Me Beef?
Jason: You know what you're getting. It's exciting because we've never had anything like this before. Missouri is third in the U.S. in cattle production, but we've never been able to process our beef in-state like this until now because it's all been shipped out. It's nice to keep it at home. As small business owners, we understand the need to keep things as local as possible. It's one of the reasons we sought out this program.
Katie: It goes back to our kids. We have a garden at home, and we try to raise our own produce to teach our kids what they're eating and where it comes from. For our kids and other families to take home a quality product that started in Missouri, was raised, and finished in Missouri, it's pretty exciting to be a part of that.
creating a bond
Jason: We feel pretty fortunate to be able to raise our kids on the farm. Not many children get the experience they do. The farm teaches them to care about something other than themselves. Animals can't tell you how they feel, so the kids have to constantly check on them, keep records, and learn about ailments that need to be addressed. Living on the farm allows us to create a bond with the kids. They love it, whether it's just riding four-wheelers, checking cows, fixing fences, or playing in the creek while we're working in the fields. It creates a bond that can't be gained in other facets of life.
Katie: We both grew up on farms and spent time living in the city. We spent our first year of marriage in St. Louis and decided the farm was where we wanted to raise our family. We wanted to be closer to our parents, have a farm, and raise cattle because of the values it teaches them: hard work, responsibility, continuing our family's heritage. Even though we don't farm directly with our parents anymore, we still pass down what we learned from them.
Kids: It's fun. Our favorite things to do are play outside, walk around and see the cows and their babies, and play with Toby (one of the farm dogs).