Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2018
Beef Producers

Reaching a century of cattle, stories and family

Carroll Oberman talks about his life as a farmer, receiving cattle person of the year award
May 03, 2018
Photo by: Submitted Lois and Carroll Oberman pose with his 1949 Ford narrow end tractor. The tractor was purchased by Carroll's mother when he was in high school.

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


Carroll Oberman wanted to be a farmer his whole life.

“When I was in grade school, about the sixth-grade, when we had free time, I would draw pictures of farm buildings and hog houses,” he said. “That’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.”

While in grade school he met his wife, Lois, during a softball game. The couple married in July of 1955 in what they describe as the hottest day on record. “I always said it was the saltiest kiss I ever had,” she joked.

After marrying, the couple moved onto the 1,100 acre farm his grandparents started. “This has been in the family almost a hundred years,” he said. “We have 12 to go.”

In February, Carroll was recognized as cattleman of the year by the Cattleman’s Association. He was surprised, but honored as he never thought about trying to win. “They really did present me with a nice plaque,” he said. “It was a nice honor to be recognized by your peers.”

At 80 years old, Carroll farms all the land and takes care of the cattle with the help of his son, Mike. They plant around 400 acres of corn and beans a year, depending on soil conditions. The pair do all of the work themselves and in their own fields. “He’s farmed with me ever since he got out of college,” he said of his son. “As a matter of fact, he does most of the work.”

They mow all their waterways and bail their own hay. They hand feed the cows every morning to make sure they all eat the same amount and are happy and healthy. “We feed them just what they’ll clean up so it isn’t wasted,” he said.

Carroll is a big John Deere fan, saying, “everything we have is green and yellow,” but one of his prized possessions is the 1949 Ford narrow end tractor his mother bought. His father was not too fond of the idea of him driving it, but when he passed away the year after, Carroll had no other options. “We still have it out there in the machine shed,” he said. “The only work it does nowadays is go on tractor rides.”

In addition to farming, the Obermans are known for their cattle producing. At one time, they would run 100 head but now have about 60. His Black Angus cows can weigh up to 800 pounds and get sold in lots at the end of the season. “We try to keep our cows healthy,” he said. “You can see it in the way they look.”

When not farming, Carroll and his wife Lois enjoy the Iowa State Fair. They both grew up attending with their families and when they married, they continued the tradition. Their son showed calves through FFA and 4-H and Carroll showed hogs once.

“He had Grand Champion with his Chester White’s,” Lois said proudly.

“Way back when I was younger,” Carroll agreed.

Two years in a row the grand champion calf came from their heard. They were sold to kids for 4-H and shown at the fair. “We were kind of proud of that, that we had one of the top herds around,” he said.

“He supports 4-H like you wouldn’t believe,” Lois stated. In 2012 Carroll was named 4-H Friend of the year. “That came as a surprise to me too,” he said.

While they no longer show animals, they still enjoy attending together. Their favorite events are the horse and steer shows. “We don’t miss the governor’s steer show. We haven’t missed that for a long, long time,” he said.

Although farming was his dream, Carroll never shied away from new opportunities. In his twenties, he began officiating high school and small college athletics. He continued that career for 31 years. In 1990 he was inducted into the Iowa High School Association Officials Hall of Fame.

He also received the, “Outstanding athletic official in region five” award, granted by the National Federation of High School Atletics. Region five included Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Carroll and his wife took the train to Little Rock, Ark. to accept. “It was the shock of the day when we got the mail,” he said. “That was quite an honor.”

Sports have always been important to Carroll. He is a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and has plans to see them play the Cubs at Wrigley Field this July. Carroll is such an avid fan, he turned his son into one too. When his son, Mike, was younger, he raised a cow that ne named Willie after Willie Mays. “Do you think we could sell that cow on sale day?” Lois asked. “You (Carroll) were just as bad as he (Mike) was!” Willie came back to the farm with them that afternoon.

While he can’t always make it to major league games, he and Lois try to make it to every Mediapolis game they can. “We’re still good fans for the locals,” he said. “I like to see young people participate in athletics because it fills them with something to do that is good.”

Despite his awards and accomplishments, Carroll insists he’s just an average guy. He spends his days in the fields, his nights watching the Dodgers and some weekends at auctions adding to his milk bottle collection. “We’re just common people,” he says.

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