Monck's upbringing prepares her for owning a farm

Nicole Monck, 22, helps raise beef cattle on her parents’ fifth generation farm in rural Monticello. She’s a natural on the farm, lending a hand whenever something needs to be done. She said she’s learned a lot from her parents over the years. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Last summer, Monck purchased a farm of her own, about 3 miles from her parents’ farm. She said the responsibilities she had growing up prepared her for this new adventure in her young life.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Nicole Monck, 22, grew up on her family’s century farm in rural Monticello. She is the fifth generation to work in the Monck beef operation.

     Now, Monk owns and operates her own farm.

     Monck bought her farm, which belonged to the Weers estate, when she was 21 years old.

     “It’s 3 miles west of here,” she said while sitting down for the interview at her parents’ home. “That’s just close enough.”

     Monck said initially, her parents (Jeff and Shielly Monck) looked at the Weers farm with the idea of buying the farmland, not the homestead. When the farm failed to sell during an auction, Monck’s parents talked to her about starting an opportunity of her own.

     “It just went from there,” she said or purchasing the farm, home and accessory buildings last summer.

     Monck graduated from Iowa State University in May, majoring in agriculture business. Looking around the family farm she said, “This is what I want to do.”

     Of owning her own farm at this age, Monck said, “It’s pretty awesome and intimidating.”

     Monck lives on her farm, renting out a couple of the rooms in the old farm house to close friends. She wakes up every morning and heads to her parents’ farm to get to work.

     Jeff grew up on the farm and farmed throughout his high school days. He eventually took over the operation from his parents in the mid-‘80s.

     “He’s been farming forever,” recalled Shielly.

     Prior to the ‘80s, the Monck farm was home to dairy cows. Then they got into raising beef cattle, and eventually bucket/bottle calves in the early 2000s.

     Right now, they have 50 head of beef cattle, which is just enough with the amount of pasture surrounding the farm.

     Monck said when she was younger her parents also raised chicken.

     She can remember from an early age riding in the combine or planter with her dad.

     “I always wanted to be outside,” she said.

     On her own farm, Monck planted 106 acres with soybeans this year.

     “I was able to spray and plant for the first time,” she said of the accomplishment. “And they’re (the soybeans) are coming up.”

     Monck plans to rotate the crops between soybeans and corn every other year.

     “I was taught to leave the earth better than how you got it,” she said of proper field maintenance. The Moncks believe in the no-till method and use cover crops as well.

     For now, Monck uses her parents’ farm equipment, which keeps her costs down.

     Her raises beef at her parents’ farm, but would eventually like to move them to her place.

     In one of the barns, the Weers raised chickens. Monck is carrying on that tradition as well.

     Of growing up on a farm and now running own of her own, Monck said she likes that every day comes with a different task or goal. She can be found helping with the calves, making and distributing feed for the beef steers, giving them shots, or in the field helping to bail hay.

     “I do what I can so Mom and Dad have time to get away,” she said of stepping in.

     If a piece of equipment breaks down, Monck said they switch gears and focus on that project before anything else.

     “It’s always something new,” she said.

     Life on the farm is the perfect fit for Monck.

     “I get to work with two awesome people,” she laughed, referring to her parents.

     Monck said taking this huge step in buying her own farm shows that women can climb the ranks in agriculture.

     “It shows that my parents didn’t just hand it to me,” she said proudly. “I’m hopefully breaking the barriers doing my own thing.

     “My hide is in the gamer now, and I have to pay attention to so many different things.”

     Last winter, while away at ISU, Monck received a call from one of her roommates relaying that the house was considerably cold inside.

     “I forgot to check the LP tank before I left,” she admitted, “and it ran out.”

     Monck said it’s a little scarier now, taking the lead on a farm.

     “You have to watch the grain prices,” she said. “It’s my property, my responsibility now.”

     Aside from working hard on the farm, Monck can also be seen waitressing at Scooters Bar & Grill in Anamosa.

     Monck credits her upbringing that definitely prepared her for this adventure in her life.

     “They kept me on the right track,” she said. “This was a big investment in a lifelong choice.”

     Monck has some advice for other young people looking to farm after high school: “Farming is something you have to truly want to do. Don’t let the money scare you. There are a lot of people surrounding you to offer support.”

     Monck said there are a lot of real-world experiences one cannot learn in college alone.

     “Many of the real-world things I learned working on the farm,” she said. “A lot of those things you can’t learn until something happens.

     “I’ve definitely grown into a different person now.”


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