Leading Ladies of Ag: Cynthia Tyvoll

“Do you think a woman can run the farm on her own?” asked Cynthia Tyvoll’s college professor while she was interviewing for a Block and Bridle officer position in the 1980s. With a confident and determined tone, she replied, “Yes, and if there is something I can’t do — I’ll just ask for help.” Tyvoll’s professor was quick to tell her she was wrong and that he highly doubted there would ever be a day when women would run farms on their own. Today, Tyvoll proudly manages Oak Hill Ranch in Wisconsin.

Cynthia Tyvoll and her husband, Kevin, generally work as a team. Together, they own Oak Hill Ranch in Prescott, Wisconsin, where they have raised Corriente cattle for 25 years, developing a herd mainly used for rodeo stock. Together, they enjoy spending their weekends competing in team roping events across the Midwest.

There is one thing, however, that Tyvoll is reluctant to share with Kevin: their new Vermeer 604N baler.

“I do the majority of the baling with the 604N. That one is mine,” Tyvoll joked. “(Kevin) can run our older 605M baler.”

“Kevin has a sales job that keeps him on the road a lot,” she said. “That leaves me to be the primary caretaker of the ranch.”

Corriente cattle at Oak Hill Ranch in Prescott, Wisconsin
Corriente cattle at Oak Hill Ranch in Prescott, Wisconsin.

Tyvoll has been known to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

“Growing up, my mom was out there running whatever equipment needed to get the work done,” Tyvoll said. “She even learned how to artificially inseminate so we could advance our cattle genetics more quickly without the hassle of calling a technician.”

Putting up over 1,500 6-by-4-foot round bales a year and a couple thousand small square bales keeps Tyvoll busy in the summer. She often credits her local dealer as a contributing part of their success. Oak Hill Ranch has purchased all their balers from Vermeer Ag Equipment in Hammond, Wisconsin.

“We are lucky to have Scott and Alan at the dealership,” Tyvoll said. “They do a super job and have always treated us fairly.”

“Last year, we had a phenomenal year,” she added. “We put up a lot of wet bales, too, with our 604N, and it worked really well. Typically, my husband cuts the hay with a mower conditioner, then we ted the hay and rake with a twin rake to double up the windrows.”

In addition to putting up hay for themselves, Tyvoll said that she and Kevin also do custom baling for other folks in the area.

“Agriculture is just in my blood,” Tyvoll said. “I grew up with a strong 4-H and FFA background. I think the perception of women being involved heavily in production agriculture has changed a lot. When I go into the feed mill or fertilizer plant, people now talk to me like I understand and know what I am talking about. They used to look at me as if I wasn’t going to have a clue.”

(Photos courtesy of Cynthia Tyvoll.)