Farming Binds this Northwest Iowa Family Together

Everly is best known for its cattlefeeders, but Keith and Joyce Kruse are proud to produce pork in this Northwest Iowa farming town with a population of approximately 600.  Keith started farming by the neighboring town of Royal in 1976; Joyce joined the partnership in 1981 after the two married.  This husband-wife team raises corn, soybeans, oats and are part owners of a farrowing unit.

Farming has been a tradition in the Kruse family for generations.  The “home farm” located southwest of Royal, has been in the family for 118 years and is still home to Keith’s parents.

Keith and Joyce’s kids have fond memories of playing catch with their dad while waiting for the bus to come pick them up for school.  They learned how to accept responsibility by growing crops and caring for livestock.  Both kids showed pigs at the Clay County Fair through 4-H and FFA.  They learned how to accept responsibility and work with others by growing crops and caring for livestock.  Many family trips were anticipated while riding on the bean bar the night before leaving on vacation!

“We feel blessed to have raised our kids on a farm,” says Joyce.  “Farming gives us the freedom to set our own hours, which was a real benefit when we were juggling farming with kids’ activities.  Many nights, after coming home from the kids’ ballgames and track meets, Keith would head outside to care for the pigs or climb back in the combine.  Now we appreciate the flexibility to be active in our church and farm organizations and spend time with our family.”

The Kruse’s 27-year-old son, Javan, graduated from Iowa State University and joined the family’s farming operation in 2007.  He and his new bride, Danielle, live nearby.  Danielle graduated from Northwestern and Mercy College of Health Sciences and works as a sonographer at the Orange City hospital.  The Kruse’s 23-year-old daughter, Alecia, also graduated from Iowa State University.  Although Alecia lives in Des Moines where she works in accounting and human resources for Garner Printing, she still tries to make it home every fall to run the combine on the weekends.

Family, faith, friends and farming are the heart strings that bind the Kruse family.  In addition to farming full time, Keith and Joyce serve on the Clay County Pork Producers board.  The Clay County Fair is an extremely busy one for them.  Keith and Joyce help run The Iowa Chop Shop restaurant, volunteer in the 4-H building and give tours to 3rd and 4th graders through Ag-Citing, a program to educate and excite students about agriculture and its importance to individuals, communities, and our state.

In their spare time, Keith and Joyce enjoy cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones and the Minnesota Twins.  They also enjoy traveling and say their most memorable trip by far was to Ireland for a visit while their daughter was studying abroad there.  They also enjoy gardening and are eagerly awaiting the spring planting season.

In anticipation of May Strawberry Month, today Joyce is sharing one of their family’s favorite recipes for Strawberry Crunch Cake.  And like any dedicated pork producer, they look for opportunities to promote their products.  Joyce is also sharing a recipe for shredded pork loin, which she made for Alecia’s high school graduation party.  This recipe was such a hit that she hasn’t bothered trying another one.  Try it and see what you think.  I, for one, am certainly looking forward to giving it a personal taste-test!

Shredded Savory Pork

This well-seasoned pork filling is used to prepare tacos or hearty sandwiches.

Prep: 15 minutes
Roast: 2.5 hours
Oven: 325°
Makes: 12 servings (about 5 cups cooked meat)


  • 1 3-lb boneless pork shoulder blade roast
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls, split and toasted (optional)


  1. Trim far from meat. In a small bowl combine garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano, onion powder, salt, black pepper and red pepper; rub into the meat. Please meat in a roasting pan that has a cover; add beef broth. Cover and roast in a 325° over for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until very tender.
  2. Remove meat from liquid with a slotted spoon; discard excess fat from cooking liquid, reserving the liquid. When meat is cool enough to handle, shred it using 2 forks to pull through it in opposite directions. Stir in ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid to use as taco filling or stir in enough cooking liquid to moisten; reheat in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, and serve on toasted buns.

Crock-Pot Directions: Prepare meat as told to in Step 1 above. Place meat in a 3½ to 5-quart crock-pot; add beef broth. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Continue as left.

Strawberry Crunch Cake



  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 pt. sweetened, cup strawberries, drained
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice



  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs; beat well.
  3. Blend in Sour Cream.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and add to cream mixture. Mix well.
  5. Spread half of batter into greased 9x13 pan.
  6. Spoon drained strawberries evenly over top of batter.
  7. Combine nuts, sugars and cinnamon.
  8. Sprinkle remaining nut mixture over strawberries.
  9. Spread remaining batter over top.
  10. Sprinkle remaining nut mixture over top.
  11. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.
  12. In small sauce pan combine reserved strawberry juice and cornstarch.
  13. Heat, stirring until thickened. Add lemon juice; cool.
  14. Drizzle over cake or serve cake topped with Cool Whip drizzled with sauce for a dessert.


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