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University of Minnesota Extension

Koochiching County Farm Family

Middle J Ranch

Laurie Mannausau grew up spending time at her grandparents’ farm, helping her dad and uncle produce hay for her and others’ horses. When she met Brad Luecken 15 years ago, he didn’t know much about farming, but it didn’t take him long to catch the farm bug. They started with some chickens and raised some pigs for the fall butcher. Then a dear family friend gave their kids two bottle calves to raise, and they bought six bred Angus heifers.

Close to a decade later, Laurie and Brad now manage a herd of about 50 head at Middle J Ranch, aptly named for the shared middle initial of everyone in the family. Their cow/calf operation consists of registered Black Angus and Hereford bulls, from which they keep the heifers to grow the herd and sell the steers. They produce their own hay and sell the extra, a good portion of which is still cut from the family farm of Laurie’s childhood.

Brad and Laurie take care of the day-to-day feeding, animal care, bookwork and other responsibilities. Their children all grew up loving the ranch. Their daughter Hannah and her husband Jesse, son Logan and his girlfriend, Emily, and youngest daughter Abby and her boyfriend, Brady, all come home to help out. Laurie’s dad, Merv, at nearly 85 years old, still heads up all the hay production and equipment maintenance. They also have several other family members and friends that lend a helping hand when needed. Brad and Laurie say they feel truly blessed to have so many willing to help them.

Laurie has been an EMT on the Littlefork Ambulance Service for 19 years. Between their full-time jobs and taking care of the ranch, Laurie and Brad like to spend time helping others, fishing, hunting, or spending time at the shack and lake. 

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