Listening to Fran Fritz, it’s clear her motto is, “Try.” And so she does, even when it means she’s the only one trying something. It’s a motto that’s good for all of us to hear, and maybe take on as our own.
Fran was born and raised in Iroquois, South Dakota. After high school she left for South Dakota State University where she worked her way through college to graduate with a degree in Animal Science and a minor in Dairy Production.
Today, a woman in that field might not seem so strange, but back then, Fran was trying something new. “If I’d walk into a room and there were more than five women in the room, I’d quickly back out, check the room number, make sure I was in the right room, because there weren’t women in animal science back then.” And things weren’t always welcoming for women or outsiders when she returned to the farm.
But she knew her motto. “I just wanted to try. If I failed at it, then at least I tried.”
So, 41 years ago, Fran returned home to the farm after her May graduation, and by August 15, she was shipping her first milk. She milked cows for ten years before switching to beef, and it’s been beef cows ever since.
“I’ve converted everything that used to be row crop or crop into either permanent grass or grass that’s coming out and then becoming something else. It’s like this year I planted a field of Sainfoin. I don’t know if it’s going to work. But I’m going to give it a shot.”
Adjust Your Operation to Fit You
Fran has also adjusted her operation to fit her capabilities. As a woman she says, “You just have to do things a different way. I probably can’t use the brute force that men have because they have more strength than I have. I have to stop and think awhile.” It’s a great lesson for all of us when using our brains might lead to less physical pain.
Her operation’s focus is also designed around her interests. “I’d say I’m more grass simply because that’s what I can handle. I don’t want to invest in the planter, I don’t want to invest in the inputs. I don’t want to beg somebody to come and do this or that for me. I’ve got a baler and a hydroswing and a tractor and I got cattle, that’s what I got.
I LOVE WHAT I DO!
The proof of her success is in how she emphasizes that she loves what she does. “It’s a good life, but it’s a stressful life,” she says, and “I LOVE WHAT I DO!”
Sometimes we all need a little inspiration on our grazing journey. I hope you’ll enjoy a visit with Fran at her farm in this 4:59 video where she talks more about what she does and the animals she cares for.