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Dedicated to agriculture

By Staff | Aug 6, 2010

Chuck and Carol Balvanz relax near the river on their family's pasture ground. The family will be awarded the Way We Live Award at the Iowa State Fair last month.

HUBBARD – The 2010 Iowa State Fair, “Non Stop Fun” scheduled for August 12-22, will not only be a place for livestock shows, judging competitions, endless entertainment and food available, but will also be a time to recognize six Iowa farm families and their devotion to Iowa agriculture.

According to the Iowa State Fair, the Way We Live Award recognizes industrious Iowa families who demonstrate a daily dedication to animal agriculture and exemplify farm values derived from hard work and love for the occupation of farming.

Chuck and Carol Balvanz, of Hubbard, are one of the recipients for the 2010 award which will be presented Aug. 13, at 10:30 a.m. on the Christensen Farms Stage in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center.

The Balvanz’s operate a farm that features a Simmental/Angus commercial cow herd; plus sheep, assorted chickens, geese and ducks, dogs, as well as eight quarter horses on their 300 acres of pasture and timberland.

The Balvanz family rents out its 110 acres of tillable land.

The Balvanz family members are, from left — Casey, Chuck, Joe and Jen Balvanz.

In addition to the farming operation, Chuck Balvanz works nights in the security department at the State Training School in Eldora and Carol Balvanz is public affairs director for the Iowa Soybean Association.

The couple knew their lives would always involve farming and said that “farming chose us.”

After just a few years of college and being away from home, Chuck Balvanz returned to the farm where he was raised.

Carol Balvanz, who also grew up on a farm, said she made up her mind as a young girl she would marry a farmer and continue to be involved in agriculture even after attending college to become an English teacher.

“Chuck is as close to the land as anyone I know,” she said. “He lives, eats and breathes farming.”

The cattle, being the heart of their farming operation, is managed on a rotational grazing system with the couple keeping the herd feeding on their own for as long as they can before supplementing their diet.

They also implement their horses as well as their dogs to lead the cattle where they need to be.

“Our horses are working horses, we don’t own a four-wheeler,” said Chuck.

“With our horses and dogs, we can do about anything with them,” Carol said.

Their love of animals was passed on to their children, Joe and Casey Balvanz, who were both actively involved in the farm while growing up.

Both children competed in showing animals in 4-H and other shows for over 15 years.

It was when daughter Casey wanted sheep as a youngster that led to building a flock from there now consisting of 13 ewes and 20 lambs from them this year.

The sheep operation, Carol Balvanz said helps pay for Casey’s tuition at Iowa State University where she is pursuing a veterinary degree specializing in large animals.

Joe Balvanz and his wife, Jen, reside in Ankeny where they are both employed as teachers, but although they are living away from of the farm, they both take time to come back often.

The Balvanzes said that neighbors, as well as, the overall aspect of rural-Iowa living is something very special to them.

“Smallville Iowa is the best kept secret, our roots are here,” said Chuck Balvanz. “Our neighbors are great.”

Carol Balvanz said they have neighbors that are willing to help one out, and will trade back and forth with work, adding that their church community is fantastic, as well.

Entrants for the Way We Live Award were asked to submit a short essay describing how living on a farm and choosing the occupation of farming has shaped their family’s life.

Carol Balvanz decided to nominate her husband and thought it could also be a way for the family to help put a positive face on animal agriculture and promote family farms.

“It’s giving us a chance to talk about and help people understand agriculture from a farmer’s perspective and the real value of the land,” she noted.

The couple is both very proud to be recognized at the Iowa State Fair next month.

“It’s a feather in my hat, just being recognized for what you do,” said Chuck Balvanz. “It is really a tribute to my ancestors on how they raised me. It’s always been my goal to be a good horseman and cattleman.”

In addition to being honored in an award ceremony during the fair, the Balvanz family will receive a prize package which will include admission to the fair and $150 cash.

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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