(GRANVILLE, IA) - From the time Chris Van Beek was a kid, all he wanted to do was be in agriculture. He raises 6,000 hogs and just started a manure hauling business a year ago.
The way he got into the field wasn't the way most farmers get involved. Chris had to step up and make money at an early age and he ended up with his childhood dream.
Chris Van Beek understands what it means to be a hard worker. He's been on his own tending to these pigs for 11 years. A job he imagined would lead him to the next step in farming.
"Hog buildings were at the time, in 2001, was a great place for a young man to be able to borrow money to start building capital and equity to someday maybe be a crop farmer," said Van Beek.
Chris found himself growing fond of the pig biz more than he ever envisioned.
"It means a lot. This is my livelihood. This is my life. I've poured 11 years into this starting from nothing. I mean I had to go beg for money and I was lucky to get it," said Van Beek.
When Chris was nine years old, his dad had a terrible accident.
"He was hanging right across the street from the Rock Valley Hospital and he fell off the ladder and broke his neck," said Van Beek.
Chris's dad was paralyzed. He died five years later. Chris learned to be strong for his family because that was the only way to deal with such a tragedy.
"I'm sure it was hard, but I don't remember it being that hard. That was my life and we made the best of it," explained Van Beek. "We weren't allowed to feel sorry for our situation or ourselves because it wasn't gonna do any good. You pick yourself up and you move on."
And he did. Years later, he has a successful business to show for it. Raising hogs isn't the only thing Chris is doing these days. He's now started a new business with three of his friends.
Chris drives his manure hauler. He and his buddies who also raise pigs started Northwest Haulers, a manure hauling company. They haul their hogs' manure and take it to nearby farms to use as a fertilizer for crops.
"I've been working on these guys for what, at least two-three years trying to get them to do something. I just, I don't want to say I was greedy, but I wanted more," laughed Van Beek.
"Me and Brad both have our own row crop operation. The other two just raise hogs. They have time to help haul and we decided that's the way we're gonna go at it," said friend and co-worker, Richard Schnepf.
"You know, you have fun. You tease each other. Yeah, hey, it's a great gig. Like I said, I thought I wanted to be a crop farmer, but I'm so glad I ended up where I ended up," said Van Beek.