Dual Day Jobs
October 20, 2020
Written By Jason Jenkins
When it came to picking a profession, Joe Kleeman of Braymer couldn’t settle on just one.
“I always had a love for veterinary medicine but also for farming in general — from livestock to row crops,” he says. “So, I did both.”
A half-century ago, Joe hung out his shingle as a veterinarian. In the years since, he also built a thriving diversified agricultural enterprise that today includes all four of his sons: twins Matt and Mike, Kurt, and Kip. Together, they manage a roughly 2,500-acre row-crop operation and a 450-head Angus-based cow/calf operation across Caldwell, Livingston, Carroll and Ray counties.
The eldest Kleeman grew up in southwest Missouri on his family’s farm, raising row crops alongside beef cattle, sheep, hogs and turkeys.
“We were way out in the middle of the country,” he says. “Our address was Golden City, but we lived closer to Lockwood. I graduated from high school in Miller in 1962.”
Joe enrolled at the University of Missouri in Columbia where he’d stay for the next eight years — first earning his bachelor’s degree from the College of Agriculture, followed by his doctorate in veterinary medicine.
“There was an opening in Braymer for a vet, so my wife, Margaret, and I moved to Caldwell County,” Joe recalls. “The year after I started, we purchased our first 70 acres just southeast of town.”
As the farm grew, Joe brought other veterinarians into the practice. In the 1980s, he turned over the day-to-day activities to his partners and focused on providing veterinary services at local sale barns. This allowed him to devote more time to farming and family.
“Today, we’re primarily no-till, growing mostly corn, soybeans and wheat,” Joe says. “We utilize cover crops for soil health, erosion control and livestock forage and grazing. We also do some custom forage harvesting.”
Joe left the veterinary practice in 2010. In his 30 years as a vet, he saw many changes in livestock — the largest being the near-complete disappearance of the dairy and pork industries in the area. “There’s probably just as many beef cows, but they’re in fewer hands,” he adds.
While Joe’s service as an MFA Oil Company delegate began in 1980, his relationship with the company extends back to his childhood. The 75-year-old has fond, vivid memories of the bulk delivery truck making its regular stop at the Kleeman farm.
“Back in the 1950s, I can remember the driver filling our fuel tank and then taking a 55-gallon barrel of oil from the truck’s side compartment and rolling it over to our barrel stand,” Joe says. “He always had a stick of gum for us young ones. It was usually Wrigley’s Spearmint or Juicy Fruit.”
Today, the Kleemans continue to use MFA Oil products on the farm, including fuel, oil, lubricants and propane.
“During my lifetime, we’ve always counted on the company’s products. They were the best when I was a kid, and they’re some of the best products now,” Joe says. “We haven’t had any issues, and the service the company provides is top-notch.”
Having family close by has been a blessing, Joe says, especially in the years since Margaret passed away in 1998. He survived a battle with colon cancer in 2011 and now watches as his five grandchildren grow up loving what he loves: family and farming.
“They’re all interested in farming, both in the livestock and the row crop,” Joe says, noting the grandchildren range in age from 5 to 15 years old. “A couple of them can already operate machinery darn near as good as I can. We’re going to offer them the opportunity to farm and allow them to make their own decisions.”