“We both like pushing ourselves to be better,” Ashleigh said.
Married for five years, the Wood County couple represents District 8 on WFBF’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee. Josh is also the 2012 YFA chairman and serves on the WFBF Board of Directors on behalf of the committee.
“We needed to make friends our own age,” Ashleigh said with a laugh when asked what prompted the couple to join Farm Bureau. “Josh is very social, but he needed a social outlet instead of just working.”
They took a chance and attended their first YFA conference in 2007 in Milwaukee.
“We didn’t know anybody,” Ashleigh recalled.
Today, some of those same people they met in Milwaukee are among the many they look forward to seeing at Farm Bureau events.
“When you gather as a group it replenishes you,” Ashleigh said. “It’s rejuvenating to talk with others. That’s what gets us excited and wound up.”
Self-described as hard-charging individuals, the process of rehabbing a farm that has been in Josh’s family since it was homesteaded in the 1800s has taught them both patience.
They have big plans for the property Josh bought from his uncle eight years ago. Their goal is to cash flow their efforts to refurbish a once-dilapidated barn and Depression-era home located in rural Vesper.
Josh grew up nearby and showed sheep as a 4-H member. The fourth generation farmer is the son of Ray and Barb Calaway. He shares a passion for farming with his wife.
The former Ashleigh Brummel grew up in the small town of South Wayne in Lafayette County.
“Any chance I could be on a farm, that’s where I wanted to be,” she recalled of her youth showing Angus beef cattle and spending time on her grandfather’s farm.
The Calaways first met through a suggestion of Ashleigh’s UW-River Falls classmate who was insistent that she meet her friend, Josh.
Today, Ashleigh works as a community development manager for the Girls Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. Josh is a pulp truck driver for Terry Frost Trucking, performs road maintenance and snow plowing for their local township, and is a custom manure hauler for area farmers. Together they farm 160 acres of hay and pasture for their herd of 40 crossbred beef cows and calves. Members of the Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative, most of their beef is sold directly to local consumers.
Last Chance Ranch is also home to some horses, goats, dogs and a pot-bellied pig, some of which were cast-offs from friends.
“Neither of us can give up on them, you have to give them one more last chance,” Ashleigh said.
While Josh’s family has long been Farm Bureau members, the Calaway’s credit District 8 coordinator Lindsay Prahl with getting them involved.
“She makes volunteerism so much easier,” Josh said.
Not one to seek the limelight, when asked to reflect on his year as YFA chairman, Josh was quick to say that it is the collective work of the YFA committee that makes things happen. He feels fortunate to have been picked to lead them.
The first time Josh traveled to Washington, D.C. with the YFA was the furthest he had ever been from home. He relished that experience and says it was one of the chances that Farm Bureau has pushed him to take.
Story by Casey Langan. Original version appeared in the April/May 2012 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.