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University of Minnesota Extension

Watonwan County Farm Family

Yock Family Farm

The Yock family’s farm began with land purchased by Jo Yock's grandfather in 1907, south of St James. Bill and Jo were married in 1962. Bill ran a dental practice with his father from 1962 to 2004. When Jo's father passed away in 1965, Bill stepped in to do a lot of the farm work; his love of farming began at a very young age. In 1972, Bill and Jo moved to a farm north of St. James with their two children, Jim and Vanessa, where the farm grew into a much more extensive farming operation.

In 1988, Jim joined full-time farming with his dad. He purchased the original land south of St. James from Bill and Jo in 2009 to grow his crops. Over the years, the farm grew to over 80 head of sheep and over 100 head of beef cattle along with corn and soybeans. The family also grows oats and winter rye, and in the summer months, they cut road-ditch hay around Watonwan County for their cattle.

The Yocks’ children helped in all aspects of farming as they grew up and were active in 4-H showing sheep at county fairs, the Minnesota State Fair, and in FFA. Jo was the taxi driver and prepared countless meals for everyone.

Today, Jim is dedicated to the smooth-running operation of these two farms with support and help from his family, Michelle and children Chelsea (Joel), Andrew (Emily), Jordan and Ryan.

Bill and Jo were active in First Lutheran Church. Bill was a past member and former president of the St. James Rotary Club. He was the Nelson Township clerk for 12 years and received the Watonwan County Conservation Award in 2011.

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