Jason and Heather Kading’s story begins and ends the same way — with cattle.
The couple met in Springfield, MA, when they were both 12 years old and their parents were competing against each other in the Big East Cattle Show. The two kids shared their families’ interests in farming, cattle, and agriculture. Not long after the competition, they ended up at the same Dutchess County youth organization, the 4-H “Here Comes the Beef” club.
As family friends, the pair spent a lot of time together until they went their separate ways: Heather attended a specialty school in Connecticut for massage therapy, before earning a degree in health sciences at Quinnipiac; Jason already had a registered herd at the time, and was helping out his parents on their farm.
“Here Comes the Beef” taught Heather and Jason responsibility and leadership skills, which proved useful when they each returned in 2002 to lead the club. A few years after they reunited, in 2008, they married. “We both knew we wanted a family, so that was a natural fit. But I never expected to be in business with him!” Heather laughs.
Today, the pair owns JSK Cattle Company in Millbrook and are parents to two boys and a girl. Heather retains her massage business on the side, but is the primary caregiver for both the Kading children and farm animals. Fortunately, their storefront is right next to the house, so she can still keep an eye on her children.
“It’s a great life for the kids,” Heather reflects. “They’re outside playing in the fresh air and doing something all the time.”
Balancing family life and farm work can be tough, but once a month, she and Jason set aside a date night.
“We have good grandparents,” she notes.