Photos by Duane Tinkey
The day job:
Owner, inSync Communications, public relations and communications firm

The hobby:
Learning the family cattle business

This business of cattle ranching, someone once told Kim Waltman, is not a career and is not a hobby. It’s a disease - one that’s been with her family for the better part of 100 years.

Until six years ago, Waltman thought she had escaped it. These days, she makes the 90-minute one-way commute from Waukee to a 2,000-acre spread in Decatur County to mend fences, pull a calf into this world, slip and slide and occasionally wallow in fields of mud and manure, and catch up on other chores at the 350- to 400-head cattle operation that is owned by her parents, Arnold and Camille Delbridge.

She does this work on horseback, most often a Palomino named Yeller. It was while saddle breaking another Palomino colt that Waltman realized she had lost touch with many elements of her childhood.

Waltman comes from a family of cattle ranchers. Her father, his brothers and a sister were born in western South Dakota on a ranch that is more than 100 years old. The brothers stayed. Waltman’s father left home for college, receiving a medical degree at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he met Waltman’s mother. They were surprised to learn that their daughter wanted to learn the family cattle business.

Waltman is introducing her three children to the rigors of working on the ranch and elemental lessons gained from long hours of hard work under blue skies and gray.

“If you look at a family business that has transcended generations, I don’t expect this to be handed over to me,” Waltman said. “I want to earn it.”

See all executives featured in 2013 Photo Issue