Evolving to Meet Demand is Key to this FarmHer’s Success

Friday 5Her smile couldn’t be more genuine. Her eyes truly light up when she’s talking about Violet… or  Squeak… or Idgie.  She’s doing what she loves and loving what she does.

Meet FarmHer Amber Kohlhaas, who spends her 40-hour (or more) work week as Communications manager for Hagie Manufacturing and her “time off” with the animals she loves. She and her husband, Jason, live on his family’s Century Farm near Lu Verne, Iowa, where they raise a variety of cattle, as well as other furry and feathered creatures.

“Regardless of whether you are exhibiting 4-H beef, swine, sheep or any other livestock project, the same challenges apply and the same life lessons can be learned,” says Amber Kohlhaas, who grew up on a grain and livestock farm in neighboring Hancock County. “As long as you are passionate and committed to working hard, there are endless opportunities to grow your passions and unleash your full potential.”

Amber was actively involved with the day-to-day aspects of her family’s farm. She showed pigs and sheep for 10 years in 4-H.

Friday 2“My 4-H involvement taught me many valuable life lessons that are still applicable today. I learned early on what it means to be responsible and dedicated to a project from start to finish,” says Amber. “Equally as valuable was the learning experiences that 4-H taught me about being resilient to loss. Just as the commodity markets directly impact the return on investment for the farms today, there will be challenging times where all your hard work may not pay off like you were hoping. In those times, you learn to pick yourself back up and push forward. 4-H taught me that success doesn’t come easy. Something that has to be earned to be appreciated.”

Friday 4Amber channels that same work ethic, passion and energy into helping build Kohlhaas Cattle Company, which she and her husband co-own with his parents.

“As breeders, our business goal is to produce and provide quality cattle to the market. We work to place our market heifers, steers and breeding heifers with families that are committed to being competitive in the show ring, as well as providing replacement cattle offerings for producers’ unique operational needs,” explains Amber, who earned a degree in Agricultural Business from Iowa State University.

“The market demands are always evolving,” she adds. “Therefore, we have geared our herd to offer our customers with options, including Friday 3purebred Angus, purebred Simmental, purebred Charolais, purebred Maine, and purebred Shorthorn, in addition to offering lower percentage cattle for breed divisions. Our goal as a diversified breeder is to provide quality cattle to meet the evolving demands that market needs.”

It may sound cut and dried, but these transactions are more than business deals. Buyers and sellers develop trust and form relationships that go beyond the sale ring.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to build relationships with families who are eager to learn and grow. It’s a very rewarding experience to see loyal customers take so much pride in the level of care they provide for the cattle that we produce,” says Amber.

Friday 1Because Amber and Jason both were competitive youth showmen, they enjoy providing quality cattle that enable their customers to be successful and achieve their goals. One example of a family with whom they’ve formed a valuable relationship is the Tusha family of Garner, Iowa. Successful Farming’s Showbound Series followed the Tusha’s youngest daughter, Grace, as she finished her final year of showing cattle in 2015.

Amber and Jason sell cattle directly from their farm and are also a part of the Pro Tour Club Calf Sale. This elite group of 15 reputable club calf breeders in North Central and western Iowa. This group offers 500 head of high quality calves annually on sales in September.

As leaders in agriculture, Amber and Jason are members of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Amber also serves on the Kossuth County Farm Bureau Board, Iowa Women in Agriculture Board, and the Responsible Nutrient Management Foundation Board.

“Someone once told me, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ And I have found that to be valuable advice. Agriculture is a small community. It’s all about connections. By putting collective interests and energies to work, it’s amazing what you can accomplish together to make a difference.”

Farmer Favorite Maid Rites


2 Tablespoons Butter

2-1/2 pounds Ground Beef

1/2 whole Large Onion, Diced

1 whole Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced

5 cloves Garlic, Minced (I use minced garlic from the jar & it works just as well)

1-1/2 cups Ketchup

1 cup Water

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

2 teaspoons Chili Powder (more or less)

1 teaspoon Dry Mustard (I prefer yellow Mustard for a more tang. 1-2 tsp; more or less to taste)

1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional; to taste)

Worcestershire Sauce, To Taste

2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (optional)

Tabasco Sauce (optional; to taste)

Salt (to taste)

Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

Kaiser Rolls 


Add butter to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft. 

Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, optional red pepper flakes, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add Tomato Paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. 

Spoon meat mixture over the rolls. Serve hot with pickles & chips. Enjoy!


8 Servings


Freezes well.


"This is the absolute BEST loose meat recipe," says Amber. "It's my favorite, go-to beef recipe. This no-fail recipe makes a mouthwatering sandwich and is also delicious in other entrees. I also use it in my Four Cheese Lasagna recipe and always get asked for the recipe. It works well for make-ahead recipes, especially during busy farming seasons when you need to make meals in a pinch!"