Embracing a mission to establish a Mennonite community in Cuba, Missouri, Nathan and Ruthann Mast transplanted their family of five children and farm from Summersville, Missouri.
Nathan’s red angus cattle operation includes raising chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits, semi-wild turkeys, horses, and maintaining a garden. He hopes to eventually become a direct-to-consumer beef seller, while expanding his existing 140-acre homestead. Ruthann tends to the household, garden, and children, while the two eldest boys have an increasing responsibility over the small animals as they grow older. After thirteen years of marriage and two pre-fabricated houses, the Masts are building their own home.
(From left) Austin, Nathan, and Travis Mast, 9, transport feed to a herd of red angus cattle as the morning light breaches the horizon of the family farm. Austin and Travis have more responsibilities on the farm than their siblings. Both are in charge the smaller animals like rabbits, chickens, and turkeys.
Austin Mast, 11, embraces his brother Colton Mast, 1, at the breakfast table before departing for school. Austin and two other siblings attend a private Mennonite school, while the youngest two children remain at home with Ruthann.
Brittney departs the family's current manufactured home for school in the early morning. The private Mennonite school is connected to the almost finished Mennonite church building, a few miles North of Cuba.
Nathan seeds the freshly tilled garden plot with rye to rejuvenate the nutrients in the soil. “We don’t have all the fancy equipment other farms have,” Nathan said.
Framing is underway on the basement of their farm home. Nathan receives extra help from his brother David Mast, who sometimes brings several helping hands with him from the Nathan’s former community in Summersville.
Ruthann sews after lunch while Nathan reviews mail before heading back to his outdoor responsibilites. The Masts had their current pre-fabricated home transported to a new location on the farm in July to make room for the new home construction.
Austin cleans and loads his pellet gun in the barn for afternoon target practice after school. Austin is a budding hunter and shot four deer over the last two hunting seasons.
During his morning routine Travis tends to the litter of rabbits that he’s responsible for.
Outside the holding pens of the Interstate Regional Stockyards in Cuba, Brittney, Austin, Travis and Trevor Mast, 4, wait for their cattle to enter the auction house for the day’s sale. Nathan has been breaking into the regional cattle market.
Nathan and 4 of the 5 children watch their cattle being auctioned at the Interstate Regional Stockyards. They sold 14 head of cattle during this sale.
Nathan weighs and tags a heifer that was born an hour before. Cattle on the Mast farm are artificially inseminated and timed to give birth in early autumn.
Ruthann removes Colton’s socks before he tumbles around the garden plot in the late afternoon, while Nathan and Brittney look on. Ruthann enjoys planting and tending to flowers like tulips and daffodils.
Austin waits patiently with “Blue,” his cow dog, while an automatic milking-machine pumps their milk cow in the barn. Austin has been training “Blue” how to herd cattle on command.
Brittney Mast, 6, entertains herself amongst toys and tools in her future home. The Mast family is building their own home on their 140-acre homestead. They hope their new home will be ready by next year, settling further into their farm and life northeast of Cuba, Mo.