DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Sisters Willow and Wynnie Recker both have the same favorite chore on their family farm outside Dyersville: taking care of the chickens.
“And they lay eggs!” Wynnie, 3, exclaimed as she walked toward the chicken coop to gather the eggs with Willow, 4.
In February 2020, Joe and Cara Recker moved their family to the farm that has been in Joe Recker’s family for three generations. Now, the couple is focusing on selling quality, individually-cut pieces of beef, as well as finding new ways for their kids to be involved in farm chores.
Joe Recker said his grandparents bought the farm in the 1960s, and his dad purchased it in 1988. His father is Craig Recker, president of the Dubuque County Farm Bureau.
Eventually, Joe Recker’s goal is to officially take over the farm from his father. The two work together daily managing farm operations and looking after their beef cattle.
Cara Recker said the family used to typically sell beef in large amounts, either half or the whole cow at once.
However, the demand for steaks, ground beef and smaller cuts of meat became more in demand after the COVID-19 pandemic began, she said. So the family began selling individual cuts of beef and taking fresh product to local markets for the first time this summer, including the Dyersville Downtown Market and Guttenberg Farmers Market.
She said that the family hopes to be vendors at the Dubuque Winter Farmers Market, as well, before joining the ranks of vendors at the summer market.
Cara Recker also stressed that ensuring the community is getting quality meat products is extremely important to the family.
“You don’t always know what you’re going to get in a grocery store,” she said. “We work hard to get it out to people. We take pride in the farm.”
The Reckers also have been adding new animals to the farm over the past year, bringing in around 25 sheep and about two dozen chickens.
Wynnie noted that some of the chickens have names, including “Chicken” and “Penguin.”
The purpose of the new animals is to give Willow and Wynnie specific chores to do around the farm, Joe Recker said. The girls feed the sheep and chickens, and they also help gather chicken eggs and get them ready to be sold.
Eventually, the sisters’ 8-month-old brother, Ford, can join them.
“With the cattle, they can’t help until they’re older,” Joe Recker said. “The girls can handle the sheep and chickens, and it gives them a little earlier start.”
Cara Recker said having their own farm chores teaches the kids responsibility from a young age.
“We were worried if we waited until they were old enough to help with the cattle, they wouldn’t be interested (in the farm),” she said. “We’re making sure they’re involved. Even if they’re not going to live on a farm someday, we want them to be good people.”