Matt & Jocelyn Vermeersch operate Mud Ridge Ranch on a hilltop overlooking Mud Hollow north of Council Bluffs. Matt didn’t grow up farming but was raised in a rural western Iowa community and was always interested in agriculture. After living in several different states, a job brought him back to this area.
They bought a house with about 5 acres in 2019, and their first livestock was a small goat herd.
After goats, they got into Scottish Highland cattle, then sheep.
They currently have 30 highland cattle. They raise registered cows with the American Highland Cattle Association and the Heartland Highland Cattle Association as well as a handful of unregistered highlands.
They also raise chickens and ducks. Eggs are primarily sold locally by word of mouth, so contact the farm directly if you would like to buy their eggs. They are considering raising meat birds in the future.
Last year, they started directly selling meat. The meat is processed in Guthrie Center at a state certified facility that opened in 2023. Like the eggs, the best way to buy their meat products is to contact them directly.
In 2022 they became an affiliate of Goats on the Go. Private landowners and conservation agencies are increasingly using goats for brush management and invasive species removal. They have two goat herds totaling around 200 animals. They operate a large herd of 150 goats and sheep for larger projects that are bigger than 10 acres. The smaller herd of about 40 goats tackles smaller projects and still has openings yet this year, so contact them if you’re interested.
In addition to their own land, Mud Ridge Ranch lease more than 100 acres from nearby neighbors.
This year, for the first time, they are hiring an intern to help manage the farm.
Matt recommends people look into Goats on the Go, and encourages beginning farmers to get involved with Practical Farmers of Iowa to learn more about farming, and to network with other farmers. To buy their meat or eggs, contact them directly through their website, Facebook, or by email or phone (712-292-1230).