It all started at a county fair

Editor's note: We want to hear YOUR ag love story. Email us at editor@ilfb.org and we'll compile the stories to share in the coming days. In the meantime, we're going back to July 2017 for this one. Enjoy!

Melvin and Cathy Musgrave’s story starts in the late 1960s, at the Greene County Fair in Carrollton, where a 14-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl were both showing cattle.

“I saw this young girl with a Hereford steer and I admired the girl and thought the Hereford steer may be a good lead,” recalled Melvin Musgrave.

Melvin used that opportunity to start a conversation, and then a relationship, with Cathy. They eventually married and still work side by side today, along with their three children and nine grandchildren, at Musgrave Angus.

You can find Musgrave Angus genetics around the world in both purebred and commercial sectors of the industry.

The family recently hosted a tour for the Illinois Beef Association and put a spotlight on their herd champion, LD Capitalist 316. The bull has generated over $640,000 through progeny and semen sales.

The cattle business is made up of 350 cow-calf pairs, and they breed between 90-100 replacement females a year. Their farm also includes 3,000 acres of row crops, approximately 200 acres of hay and 700 acres of pasture ground.

Melvin and Cathy have always shared a passion for agriculture, and their world-renowned Angus farm is a testament of their years of hard work and dedication.

Melvin grew up on a hog farm, but when he started in Pike County 4-H, he wanted black cattle for his first project.

“I would ride the school bus home every day, and the neighbor down the road had black cattle. And I always admired them for some reason,” Melvin said.

That neighbor refused to sell Melvin a heifer for his 4-H project but did agree to loan the 8-year-old four heifers for the summer.

Melvin was to feed the heifers and break them to lead. At the end of summer, the neighbor would give him one heifer.

Even though it was a lot of work, in Melvin’s eyes, “I got my start for free.”

Never afraid of hard work herself, Cathy wore several hats over the years, including that of a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and always a cattlewomen and farm girl at heart.

Cathy and her twin sister, Christy, were also trailblazers in agriculture as the first females allowed into the Illinois FFA. Christy entered the FFA at Carrollton High School in 1969 and Cathy in 1970.

Melvin and Cathy’s sons, Tyler and Andy, have joined Musgrave Angus, and like their parents, have always felt right at home around the cattle. Together, the family has built their operation from a free heifer and a chance encounter at the county fair into a leader in the industry.