Reises, Kiwanis Farm Family of Year


Lime Springs - Farming is a staple industry in Iowa, and it is a well-known slogan that “farmers feed the world.” The Charlie and Shannon Reis family is a farming family, dairy specifically, and they have been chosen as the Kiwanis Farm Family of the Year. They were recognized at the FFA Banquet held on March 27.
The process of choosing 
a family
Since 1986 the “Kiwanis Farm Family of the Year” is chosen after careful consideration of a committee made of Kiwanis members. Families must reside within the Howard-Winneshiek School District. Names are brought to the table. A review is completed with emphasis put on families who are successful in the industry as well as being active in the community. The committee also tries to spread recognition to different geographical areas within the district.
The Reis Family
The Charlie and Shannon Reis family, along with sons, Riley, age 15, and Sawyer, age 12, work with Charlie’s parents Mark and Winky to make up C & S Farms. The farm rests about six miles northwest of Cresco off a lazy gravel road. Mark and Winky live on the home place, while the Charlie and Shannon Reis family live down the road and to the left, within a mile.
“My dad started farming here in 1965,” said Charlie.
The 220-dairy herd is milked three times a day by four hired men, and the 1,000-gallon bulk tank is nearly filled every other day, when it is picked up. The dairy cattle are housed in a 104’ X 208’ free stall barn, that was built in 2006. The building also comes equipped with a heavy-duty washing machine and dryer, used to clean the cloths used to wash the cow’s udders prior to milking. The barn also uses bluff sand for bedding.
With a focus on the dairy cows, it’s easy to forget the heifers that are situated across the yard. There are 200 heifers and a lot of calves at any given time throughout calving season. The season usually runs from mid-April through November.
Farming runs in their blood
Charlie grew up on the family farm. Shannon also grew up on a dairy farm, roughly three miles away. 
Both have the history and current knowledge on what it takes to have a successful dairy farm.
“The boys and I are up at 5:15 a.m. to feed the calves,” said Shannon. “We also feed our calves pasteurized milk. Our day, most often, ends around 6:30 p.m.
Other chores are broken down by family members. Charlie and Mark spend a considerable amount of the day mixing feed and feeding cattle. The feed mix is a combination of haylage, corn silage, cotton seed, gluten pellets, distillers grain, fine ground corn and protein mix. Shannon and Winky both do bookwork.
The Reis family farms 500 acres of corn and hay, most of which is used for feeding their cow family. Depending on the season, both Charlie and Mark can also be found in the field. Riley and Sawyer are also part of the dynamic.
Why this family loves 
the farming life
“As a child and then a young man it was fun seeing calves being born,” said Charlie. “Growing up and seeing what you can get from a milk cow was great, and I always enjoyed seeing the crops grow. Now I get to see my family enjoy and be part of the same thing.”
Shannon adds that it’s not just about the act of farming but family time as well.
“This is our family time,” she noted. “We talk while we are working out here. We’ve eaten out here. You have to embrace it and hop on board.”
Riley and Sawyer seem to agree the farm life is for them.
“I love farming and driving tractor,” Riley shared.
“I love the baby calves,” added Sawyer.
But both boys decided there are a few downsides to farming. Neither are fond of the big cows or getting up so early every day.
Challenges and Rewards
As with any business there is risk; and farming is no different.
“The biggest challenge for us is not having any control,” said Charlie. “You can’t control the weather, and you can’t control the prices you will get. It’s also tough keeping ahead of everything, while at the same time trying to improve facilities”
Shannon added, “Farming is not really a money-making thing.”
But with challenges can come great rewards.
“Being able to see the boys do more stuff is really rewarding,” said Charlie. “Now Riley hauls silage and Sawyer merges hay. It’s nice to see them doing more and taking on more responsibilities and enjoying those responsibilities. We really see a lot of that growth in them at harvest time.”
Farming is also a 365-day job. With that being said, the Reis family finds time to do things they want to do.
“Both of the boys participate in school activities,” Shannon explained. “And they both take cows to the fair for 4-H. If we want to do something as a family, we change the schedule to accommodate other things. Winter through spring is a slower time, so that’s when we have the most flexibility with our schedules.”        
Farming for this family has its challenges, but it certainly is a Reis family consensus that the rewards outweigh any challenges that may arise. Congratulations Reis family on being chosen as the Kiwanis Farm Family of the Year.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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