Farm Progress

From farm to fame: The best of both worlds

Kalb and Cardinal families say the Live to Farm spotlight presents opportunities for networking, travel, partnerships and more.

Rachel Schutte, Content Producer

September 15, 2023

6 Min Read
Two men filming group of family members smiling
ACTION: Live to Farm producers film clips for the upcoming season during the 2023 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.Agi Schafer, AGI

We have all heard the importance of sharing our farm story. While it’s hard not to see the benefits, sometimes it takes the back burner to life on the farm. However, that’s not the case for the Kalb and Cardinal families who star in the reality television series ‘Live to Farm.’

Live to Farm tells the story of two hard working American families to see the risks, rewards and crazy shenanigans that take place on the farm.

“We are proud of our family and what we have accomplished,” says Brooks Cardinal. Brooks and his brother Brandon are fourth generation farmers and partners at Cardinal Farms in Oaktown, Ind. “We want to share that with others and teach them about farming.”

Brooks and wife Nikki partner with Brandon and wife Chelsey to grow corn, soybeans, wheat and watermelon. Brooks and Brandon hold 13 state titles for high yielding irrigated corn through NCGA.

Also starring in the show are Kevin and Shawn Kalb, fifth generation farmers on Kalb Farms in Dubois, Ind. With the help of their four children, they grow corn and soybeans and raise turkeys. Kevin holds over 27 national and 30 state titles for high yielding corn through the National Corn Growers Association.

“It’s fun to show people it’s not all serious on the farm,” Shawn says. “We do some pretty stupid stuff. You gotta have the good and the bad.”

Strength in farm diversification

The Cardinal and Kalb families share a unique similarity – they both diversified their farming operations beyond the typical scope of grain farming.

The Cardinal family has been growing watermelons for over 30 years. Brooks says being diversified in farming has paid dividends for their family.

“In our area, we have a lot of sandy soils and we are blessed with an aquifer,” explains Brooks. “We’ve got sand and water, which is the perfect recipe for growing specialty crops like watermelon.” Brandon and his wife Chelsey do most of the work with the watermelons.

Adding watermelons to the mix helped make a place for both Brooks and Brandon to return to the home farm. “Dad saw we needed some growth to make enough room for me and Brandon on the farm,” says Brooks.

Land is hard to pick up, and his dad, Jerry, saw watermelon as the ticket to be more profitable on the land they already had.

Brooks and Brandon Cardinal pose next to pallets of watermelon.

On the other hand, the Kalb family has always been in the poultry business – Kevin’s dad raised chickens and his grandfather raised turkeys. Kevin and Shawn view turkeys as an important way to mitigate risk that comes along with grain farming.

“Where we are located, farm ground has lots of hills and there isn’t much open farm ground around,” says Kevin. “We didn’t have enough help to farm far away, so we got into turkeys to help supplement the struggles of grain farming,”

“Those years that we have bad turkeys, the grain usually picks up, and usually when the grain is bad the turkeys are good,” Shawn explains.

“But they are never good at the same time,” she laughs. Brooks concurs, explaining that in years with enough rain to make the best row crops, it’s too much rain for the watermelon. “It always balances at the end, though,” he says.

Life in the spotlight

For the Kalb family, starring on Live to Farm opened the door to meet with other farmers as well as larger manufacturers and sponsors. This allowed them to purchase new technology and equipment to upgrade their older facilities on the farm.

Shawn says for her, the best part is networking and getting to know new people. She explains that the experience allows them to travel extensively with the Cardinal family to meet other farmers and agriculture experts.

The show also sheds a spotlight on other farms. Shawn explains they traveled to a goat farm and learned how they make and sell their goat soap. They also visited the New York Farm Girls to learn about the dairy industry and to show viewers other aspects of farming.

This year, a tornado inflicted significant damage on the Kalb family farm. It broke the auger off a grain bin and ripped the roof off, and they were unable to use the floor auger to unload the grain inside.

“We were lucky enough to have a grain vacuum from AGI to help suck the corn out so it didn’t all spoil,” says Kevin. The Kalb family also lost their manure storage shed in the storm. “We didn’t realize how diversified AGI was, but they make their own buildings, and we are looking at purchasing a manure storage shed from them, too.”

“Being on the show has been huge,” says Brooks. “We’ve met many great people and it has opened a lot of doors for our operation.”

Brooks explains the show introduced them to Valley View and AGI, and their family is in the process of building a couple grain bins with them right now, which viewers will get to watch this fall. “It never would have happened if it wasn’t part of the show,” reflects Brooks.

Valley View Agri-Systems and Ag Growth International Inc. (AGI) teamed up to sponsor the upcoming season of Live to Farm.

New season out soon

Interested in learning more about the Kalb and Cardinal families? Tune in this fall to watch season two of Live to Farm.

Highlights will include the construction of the new grain bins on the Cardinal Farm from the ground up, a trip to a field day in South Africa, Brooks’ son Dallas winning champion of his breed at the Indiana State Fair, arm wrestling competitions and more!

The new season will begin airing later this month on RFD TV, Discovery Channel and Acres TV.

About the Author(s)

Rachel Schutte

Content Producer, Farm Futures

Rachel grew up in central Wisconsin and earned a B.S. in soil and crop science from the University of Wisconsin - Platteville. Before joining the Farm Futures team, Rachel spent time in the field as an agronomist before transitioning to the world of marketing and communications. She now resides in northeast Iowa where she enjoys raising bottle calves and farming corn and soybeans alongside her husband and his family.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like