Posts Tagged ‘calves’


Oh yeah – a little eye candy always makes any less than joyous job a bit more tolerable. Sometime, even enjoyable! And for you young and young-at-heart gals reading this post – keep an open mind as opposed to a gutter mind ūüôā I spent this past weekend qualifying what was within visual range for me as eye candy or, for lack of a better qualification, not eye candy. Here are my findings…

Adorable kids helping work cattle - definitely eye candy!

Adorable kids helping work cattle – definitely eye candy! (And not in a weird way – this is a family friendly blog!)

A pen full of healthy and adorable baby calve - oh yeah! Eye candy!

A pen full of healthy and adorable baby calves – oh yeah! Eye candy!

Lot's of REALLY dirty and poopy clothes to launder (and yes, this example is minor) - NOT eye candy!

Lot’s of REALLY dirty and poopy clothes to launder (and yes, this example is minor) – NOT eye candy!

The flowering crab apple trees are heavy-laden with blooms. Gorgeous eye candy!

The flowering crab apple trees are heavy-laden with blooms. Gorgeous eye candy!

And to not disappoint what I am guessing were your original expectations after seeing the title...a little traditional definition eye candy!

And to not disappoint what I am guessing were your original expectations after seeing the title…a little traditional definition eye candy!

No matter who we are, every day has its low spots and most importantly, it’s highlights. Take a moment to appreciate the little things around you each and every day! It makes even the humblest of situations something you can appreciate and keeps your soul healthy ūüôā

Hopefully on this 5th day into Beef Month you get to enjoy something amazing off of the grill! My recommendation for today (I just made them last week) is this amazingly easy recipe for beef short ribs. They are so tender and delicious! You must try them!


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At our house, we LOVE football! I love the Huskers, Matt & Emmet¬†greatly prefer¬†K-State & love whoever is playing against the Huskers (traitors!), and Kaydee is somewhat neutral. We are all new fans of the Lions since our hero, Suh, is playing there & we have been long time fans of the Colts. However, being Nebraskan’s, we have to show a little love to the Patiriots & Danny¬†Woodhead as well. ¬†We don’t always get to watch the games we want to see if we’re busy working, but we try to listen on the radio. Plus, we’ve been getting to watch Emmet in his first year of high school football.¬† The most serious injury has been a sprained ankle (not bad)¬†& he has made his way to starting defense on JV – I’d say that’s a comfortable spot for a freshman who gets WAY outsized by some, no, make that¬†most of the competition.

We recently weaned calves. We always try to wean by October 1, so as to give the cows a good break before having their next calf in March or April. Weaning isn’t as simple as just putting the cows and calves in separate pens where the calves can no longer nurse their moms.

For the first six or seven months on a calf’s life, they get to nurse their mom plus eat grass, mineral, and supplements. They have had plenty of nutrients to grow and develop. Now, we have to help them with immunity and nutrition since they will no long have their mom’s milk.

Here is how weaning day works:

First, everyone has their respective job, which must be done correctly in order for the day to go well. Teamwork. When we bring the herd in from the pasture, someone (usually Matt) is in charge of leading the pack and the rest follow behind. Sometimes I ride with Matt & sometimes I help follow up (I’m usually the one that will jump off the 4-wheeler and run in the road ditches to boost the stragglers)¬†– depends if he waited at the gate for me to jump in the Mule with him.

Next, we sort. Teamwork! This is where, when I was a kid, I NEVER wanted the gate because I didn’t like getting yelled at. When cows are getting sorted out & you are the gate person, you are somehow supposed to hold several animals, way bigger than you, back because there is a calf in the mix. Trust me, it can’t be done easily! Our team seems to work very well together and make fast work of the sorting. Now, I have broad enough shoulders to take the gate. I just remind everyone, if they are mean to me, I’m not going to have as good of food when we get done. Their choice! ūüôā

Then, cows are taken back to their respective pastures to graze and achieve optimum body condition prior to having their next calf, which is due in March/April.

Calves – well, TEAMWORK!!! We catch each calf in the squeeze chute to weigh it, give it vaccinations, and put in an “Age & Source Verification” ear tag. There are a number of individual tasks that have to be done well to make all of this go smoothly for the cattle and for the people doing the work.

The Team

You can see most of the team in that picture. Matt runs the headgate, Kaydee is on the squeeze, and Emmet, with his sprained ankle & avoiding much walking, is on the opposite side reading the scale. In the background are Jason, Frank, and Gavin, who bring the calves up to the chute. Where am I in all this you are asking? Oh, not to worry, I have my tasks as well. I was busy keeping the tagger ready, recording tag #’s and weights, and keeping the syringe full of vaccine. Kaydee gave the shots and Matt or I poured on the dewormer. I usually put the tags in the calves ears.

When everyone in on task and cheerful, working cattle goes really well & it is a lot of fun! There is plenty of joking around,  but everyone is alert to everything at all times, so nothing gets missed and no one gets injured Рcattle or people.

After the processing (giving shots, deworming, etc.) we put feed in the bunks and herd all of the calves toward the bunks to learn how to eat dry feed which is full of all of the nutrients they need.

Then, the team likes to get some nutrients for themselves – this year I get pizza for everyone & we hung out in the barn and listened to the Huskers…

Waiting for pizza….

Story Tellers....


The full day of hard work is done. Now – it’s feeding every day and checking every animal to make sure they are feeling food and eating well. Football to watch and a pen of calves to feed –¬†I really¬†love fall!


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Animal care is the number 1 priority on nearly all farms and ranches around the country.¬† It sickens and saddens me that I had to use the word, “nearly” in that sentence.¬† Once again, there is an animal owner and their employees who do not uphold the same animal welfare standards as everyone I know personally; and, has made their way to the limelight casting a negative image for dairy¬†calf farms all around the country.

In one article I read this morning, the calf ranch owner was quoted as taking full responsibility for the actions of the employees and had terminated those employees.  That is great, but, where was the oversight and direction for these employees prior to and during the undercover investigation?  We all have to take responsibility to make sure proper practices are being followed on our own farms and ranches at all times.

My family has been following Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) practices for as long as the program has been around.¬† If we have a neighbor helping work with the cattle, and they seem to have a different idea¬†as to how things should be done, we quickly and thoroughly teach them the way we want them to proceed.¬† That “correct way” may apply to giving injections, coaxing animals in a given direction, putting in ear tags, giving pills, and so on.¬†

The farmers and ranchers I know truly care about the health and well-being of the animals they raise.¬† Yes, it is true, healthier animals are more productive animals.¬† And yes, it is true, we are in it to earn a living.¬† However, there comes a point, sometimes, when it isn’t about money or even science, but it’s about just doing the right thing.¬† Whether it’s putting down an animal that is suffering so horribly it isn’t going to survive or nursing one back to health or transporting animals to be harvested, it all is done with the utmost respect and appreciation for the animal and it’s life.

If you are a fellow producer reading this, I urge you to be proactive in making sure your farm and all those you know are using the best possible practices for handling animals.¬† If you are not a livestock owner, please be assured that there are hundreds of thousands of livestock owners who take very good care of their animals and they are just as frustrated as me when they find out there is a “bad one” out there.

Now, with that off of my chest….I will certainly try to write something much more fun tonight.¬† Thanks for reading and have a good afternoon.

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Saturday was the day of one of my favorite events of the year (after Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and the 4th of July).¬† Saturday was the day my folks and my brother who farms there with them held their branding.¬†¬† Emmet and I were the only ones from our family¬†who made¬†it to help.¬† Matt got held up in Kansas doing our chores and helping a neighbor there.¬† And you’ll remember from the last post, Kaydee was busy with prom and still sad she had to miss branding.¬† Oh, but no worries…she had a great time!

Here they are bringing in the cows and calves to get sorted.  The cows were all given shots and dewormed earlier in the week.

This is only half the herd.¬† The other half is at a different place (where my grandparents lived) and the crew had them done already.¬† We had somewhere between 15 and 20 people to work the nearly 90 head of calves at this pasture.¬† My folks and brother like to do this “the old fashioned way.”¬† Which means, the calves are roped around a hind leg and pulled to the handlers.¬† The handlers restrain the calf while others give shots, brand, and castrate the bulls.¬† The entire process takes less than 2 minutes per calf.¬†¬†This process, when done correctly, causes very little stress on the calf and is safe for the people doing the work.

It is important to vaccinate the calves so they don’t get sick.¬† I can’t imagine not having my kids immunized.¬† This is no different – the calves are immunized against respiratory diseases.

We had just a little mud to work in, and everyone ended up with a wet tushie, but it was great to not have dust flying!

Here is what the brand looks like.

Here is a poem about branding that I loved and have framed in our house:

Wearin’ The Brand
by Georgann Sheets

“Did it hurt much?” asked his buddy.
“Naw, it just stung a little bit.
It’s over in a matter of seconds,
Before you know it, they’ve done quit.

It was nothing compared to other times,
When I thought I’d nearly die.
Like when my mama had me,
On that cold and stormy night.

I came a little early,
And laid in the wind and snow.
I just knew I’d freeze to death,
I was shivering from the cold.

But right away the cowboy found me.
You know, the one that feeds us every day?
He picked me up so gently,
And put me inside in warm, dry hay.

He brought my mama, too.
And made sure I was alright.
I never was so thankful,
To see a cowboy than on that night!

Of course there was that time in spring,
When we started eating sweet, green grass.
My ears were drooping low,
And I sure got sick real fast.

That cowboy came a ridin’,
On a big, long-legged beast.
He saw that I was feelin’ bad,
And rode over to doctor me.

Of course, he had to rope me.
Which my mama didn’t like too much.
But I started feelin’ better,
After he gave me those pills and stuff.

And do you remember a couple of weeks ago.
When they moved us a real, long way?
We all got sort of jumbled up,
As we walked along that day.

I lost track of my dear mama.
Boy was I one scared pup!
But that cowboy helped me find her,
And made sure we were all paired up.

So you can see, I’ve had many trials,
In my first few months of life.
But that cowboy’s always been there,
To help me in my strife.

I feel I’ve earned this on my side,
Given to me by a special man.
And I am darned sure proud to wear,
This cowboy’s mark he calls a brand!”

After the work is all done, my Mom serves an amazing meal!¬† I offered to bring something, but she really takes pride in “feeding the crew.”¬† We had steak sandwiches, salads, roasted potatoes, baked beans, fresh fruit, and of course, dessert.¬† And, plenty of beverages!

A great time was had by all, and I’m sure the whole crew will be at someone else’s place doing the same thing in the next week or two, and then the next place, and then the next place, until everyone has their spring cattle work done.

Well, ’til tomorrow…..here are a couple of really great cowboy pics I got:

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Red Calves

I almost forgot to add this picture today…I love farm life on days like this!

Red Calves Playground

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