The average teenager is learning to juggle multiple responsibilities: school, sports, and a part-time job. Wyatt Collins, senior in the Lorain County JVS Industrial Equipment Mechanics (IEM) program from Wellington, is not an average teenager.
The responsiblities Wyatt carries not only include his normal school schedule, but also includes feeding dairy cows and tending his family’s farm. Most nights Wyatt works until 9 pm, although he occassionally doesn’t come in from the fields until 10 or 11. That’s when he starts his homework and and JVS FFA Chapter projects he has. When Wyatt wants to hang out with his friends, especially during growing season, they come to him. He’s been known to put them to work while they’re there.
Wyatt’s grandparents are Roger and Joyce Mohrman. The family owns Horizon Hill Holsteins, established in 1918. Horizon Hill Holsteins owns 160 dairy cows. The family owns 260 acres and rents another 140 acres. Five generations of Mohrmans have worked the farm.
Wyatt’s grandfather still runs the family farm at 76 years old. He explained how important Wyatt is to the family business. “He can fix anything mechanical. He fixed the tractor. He takes care of the feeding and the TMRs. He planted all the corn. He does everything. He’s a good kid!”
Wyatt explains the complexities
of feeding cattle, and how dairy cows are fed twice a day with Total Mixed
Rations (TMR). TMR feeding is utilized
to achieve maximum performance from cows through a nutritionally balanced
diet. The farmer makes TMRs by cutting
and mixing grains in a complex formula matched to the needs of the
animals. The feed must be constantly
monitored so that the correct feed is given to the correct animal based on
where they are in their growth and lactation cycles. The formulas are altered on a continuing
basis to match the changing needs of the cows. Once the feed is ready, actually feeding the cows takes 45 minutes at
dawn, and over 2 hours at dusk.
Farming is no easy responsibility either. Wyatt explained some of the processes used at Horizon Hill Holsteins. He said the farm has a million gallon manure lagoon which is used to fertilize the fields. The manure is transferred 6,000 gallons at a time in order to prep the ground to grow corn and hay. Once the seed is planted, the correct amount of moisture is imperative for growth. He said that 15% moisture is perfect for growing, but over 18% is too much. This is tricky in Ohio weather! Wyatt recalled working through the night last spring to plant seed before a storm. He told us, “You gotta do what you gotta do. There are days when I come into school tired.”
Wyatt is also an excellent
student and is actively involved in FFA. Wyatt earned his State Degree in FFA last year as a junior. Typical FFA students do not accomplish this
until their senior year. But Wyatt is
anything but typical.
Mason Bremke shared high praise about his student. “Wyatt is an outstanding individual with a great attitude. He demonstrates great leadership, work ethic, respect, and integrity. He is a great student who will grow into an outstanding adult. Wyatt is a once in a lifetime student who has greatly impacted the JVS and his community, and he will be truly missed once he graduates.”
Wyatt explained the correlation between his academic classes and feeding cattle. “I like math. Math is my subject, it makes sense.” Wyatt uses his math skills when determining formulas for TMR Rations. “I like feeding, you’re always adding different things. Certain amounts of this or that.”
When I asked Wyatt about all his responsibilities, he just smiled. “I’m not going to lie, it can be stressful. You just put your nose to the ground and get to work.”
In IEM, Wyatt has learned mechanical skills which will be used on the farm. He has learned to diagnose problems in machinery by determining a starting point and systematically working through the problem. In lab, he has worked on a Bobcat, Tractor, and Engine Stand. He has learned basic welding, as well as how to repair and/or replace small engines. Wyatt also takes an extra Engine Performance course through the Commercial Truck Technology Program. In that course, Wyatt has learned about engine emissions and alternative fuels. Instructor John Tamas, said, “Wyatt adds the agricultural point of view when the class discusses engine performance topics and diesel engine exhaust emission requirements. I have not had that perspective in the class before.”
Wyatt explained why he decided to attend the JVS. “I don’t want to miss an opportunity. At the end of the day, I want to look ahead to my future.”
As an IEM graduate, Wyatt knows he has many options open to him. He told us, “I could do bulldozers, excavators or use my mechanical skills to work in construction.” But when Wyatt imagines his future, he sees himself farming the same land that his family has maintained for five generations. Wyatt says, “I want to farm, I grew up farming, that’s what I know. If I can make it…I will.”