Chad Basinger grew up wanting to be a farmer like his grandfather, Johnny Schrag.
His parents, Steven and Stephanie Basinger, didn't farm. His dad is a contractor and his mother a beautician. Nevertheless, as a little boy, Chad played with his toy tractors, pretending he was a farmer. He rode the tractor and combine with grandpa when he could. And, when he was older, he began helping his grandfather on his operation near Pretty Prairie.
In middle school, he started purchasing baby calves from the sale barn and fed them to stocker weight. In high school, he began a cow/calf herd that has expanded.
Farming is part of his lifestyle. And, despite the difficulties of getting into farming as a young farmer with little equity, Chad was determined to grow his operation so it would support a family.
He built his acreage up himself, harvesting his first wheat crop on his own in 2002.
"People knew me in the area, they knew my folks," he said. "A lot of different people gave us a chance."
Today, he and his wife, Cassondra, and 1-year-old son, Wyatt, are making it work on their farm and ranch near Pretty Prairie, where they have a cow/calf and stocker operation, as well as grow wheat, milo and soybeans.
There have been challenges. It's tough as a young farmer to find land. Equipment is expensive. Two years of drought took a hit on their production.
This year is better thanks to late-summer rains.
The couple is involved in Reno County Farm Bureau, as well as their church. Chad is on the board of the Garden Plain Co-op.
Cassondra grew up on a family farm near Moundridge. She played basketball at Tabor, getting a degree in accounting. She worked at Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk and Loyd until Wyatt was born. She now works alongside her husband.
"It is a great way to raise kids," Cassondra said, noting Wyatt spends time riding in the tractor, even taking his first combine ride not long after he was born.
Their goal, Chad said, is to "continue to grow the farm and cattle operation and build it up for the future generation."
Tim and Brenda Schweizer
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