Weiszhaar Family is 2016 Farm Family of the Year

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Farm Forum

Every year, the Farm Forum sponsors the Farm Family of the Year Award to recognize a family who best represents farming, ranching and the spirit of agriculture in northeastern South Dakota. The 2016 Farm Family of the Year is the LeRoy and Joan Weiszhaar family of Leola. The family was honored as part of the Ag Appreciation Banquet hosted by the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee on Nov. 11 at the Dakota Event Center in Aberdeen.

LeRoy and Joan Weiszhaar were married in 1956. They farmed with LeRoy’s dad for several years, leasing from, and working for, E.C. Rhodes. In 1968 they bought their own place, where they still reside in the original home, which has been remodeled and added on to as their family grew. Other buildings have been added over the years, standing with some of the original grain bins.

LeRoy and Joan have four children: Wade and wife Judy, Kent and wife Deb, Pam and Kristi and husband Dan; nine grandchildren: Chad and wife Tiffany, Heidi and husband Mitch, Brady and wife Katie, Wendi and husband Troy, Heather, Natalie, Nicole, Andrew and Aaron; as well as 10 great-grandchildren: Tucker, Teagan, Devan, Landon, Ashlyn, Kaden, Justice, Fenway, Lennon and one on the way.

Wade Lee Weiszhaar, the oldest child of LeRoy and Joan, attended grade school in Carl Township for four years then attended Leola Public School, graduating in 1976. He attended Lake Area Tech in Watertown for two years. He and Judy Schock were married in 1979 in Leola. They and their two sons, Chad and Brady, are working together on the family ranch, three miles west of Leola. Judy is a Preschool teacher in Leola and is also the Church Secretary for the Catholic Church in Leola.

Four generations of the Weiszhaar family work and play together in the family farming and ranching business, which consists of a cow/calf operation, cattle back grounding and fattening program, cash grain crops, hay moving, horses, yearling grass cattle program and custom artificial insemination work. Each May they host a branding weekend, with the help of many family and friends, including LeRoy’s brother, Lyle. Theirs is a low stress operation when working and moving cattle.

They have added miles of fence and waterline to improve the grass gains on the ranch. The yearling grass cattle program and the cow calf pairs both benefit from the intense rotational grazing system on the ranch. This is just one example of how the Weiszhaars are good stewards of the land and the environment. They have also seeded down grass waterways in the crop ground to eliminate erosion of the soil.

They are also involved in their community, with LeRoy being especially proud of being a part of the Leola Legion. Wade and Judy’s family are strong supporters of 4-H and their grandchildren are becoming active in it, as well.

Like many rural families, they have created their own idyllic corner of the world through the values they pass down to each generation and the rewards reaped from hard work. The Weiszhaars love their Black Angus cattle, quarter horses and the land. The family is happy to host tours on the ranch for fellow farmers, ranchers and wildlife groups.

The person who nominated the Weiszhaars noted, “This is a humble family, but also one of great character. Watching this group at work would bring a smile to the face of Temple Grandin.”