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Posts Tagged ‘cattle’

More than a few people have asked me lately, “Do you put your cows inside when it gets really cold out?” Oh, goodness…we don’t have the biggest herd in the world, but it would still take quite a structure to keep them all in!

There is no doubt, this winter has been an interesting one. We have had long stretches of temps below zero at night and only in the single digits during the day. And then, and NOT disappointing to my cold-intolerant body, we have had some grill outdoors, play-in-the-yard, wear-short-sleeves kind of days! As much as I love those warm days for me, they are actually too warm for the cows who have their “winter coats” on.

Mama and Baby

Mama and Baby

As you can tell from the picture, the cows don’t get to be indoors when it is cold out. We will bring in one who is ready to calve, let the baby get good and dry and nurse, and then turn them out.  God made animals, cattle in particular, very hardy! We certainly do our best to keep them comfortable by having shelter from wind, putting down bedding (straw), and always making sure they have hay to eat and fresh water.  They have a layer of fat, thik skin, and plenty of hair to keep them comfortable.  While I am layering on the amazingly sexy layers of long johns, sweatshirts, coveralls, and coats, those mama’s are doing just fine in their God-given body armor.

So, as we go through these last weeks (I so dearly hope…last…) of winter, enjoy some delicious stew or meatloaf, or whatever you consider comfort food. Before you know it, the grass will begin turning green and it will be time to grill for every meal!

Even when it’s cold, we get to enjoy views like this…

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Where did your footsteps take you today and what kind of footprints did you leave behind?

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This past Sunday Matt and I got to attend a special church service. The little church (very near where we farm and ranch in Kansas) celebrated 125 years! His grandparents were pastors there at the time they were killed in a car accident in the 1960’s. The message of the sermon was about footprints. My mind immediately began racing about the steps we take and footprints we leave in our farming and ranching choices. The bulletin for the service was titled “Celebrating Northbranch Heritage”; every farmer’s heritage is determined by his choice of footsteps.

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(I didn’t have a picture from when the kids were little of boots – but this one is darn cute!)

I can’t help but think of how BIG some guys feet are and how ADORABLE toddlers are when they try to stand in the boots of those big men! Those young people are shaping their hopes and dreams based on the footprints we leave. Are we constantly stumbling? Are we walking proudly? Are we taking scary paths? Are we taking time to let them follow closely?

Just to lighten this up a bit…I guarantee, several times a week, we step in a pile of poop. When you have cattle in pens, there is bound to be a footprint in a cow pie. There are various ways to then clean those boots or shoes – just make sure you do before heading in the house! And I know I have attempted to step over an electric fence, only to lose my balance and get a zap on my inner thigh – yep, go ahead, laugh along with me! It’s all one can do when that happens! I hope our kids see when, in life, we figuratively “step in the poop” and learn from our mistakes! I also hope they notice that younger kids are already looking to them as an example and they REALLY need to carefully select their path!

Matt and I have been blessed with some pretty amazing footsteps to follow & we have blazed our own path a few times & all we can hope is that our “heritage” is meaningful in some way decades from now. Regardless, those who know us, are not a bit surprised by the spot in our path where there are tons of prints all in one area…those are the times we are dancing!

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I saw a picture on a friend’s Facebook wall recently that says it all. Here it is:

Oh, there are plenty of loud disagreements and long days and sometimes longer nights when you have cattle, but all of it is worth it. Why? There are so many reasons. One, we get to eat delicious, healthy beef & offer that product to customers from all around the world. But there is something more, much more…

It really goes deeper than doing the daily chores and work it takes to be considered a rancher or farmer or seedstock producer or whatever term is most appropriate on a given day. We have just returned home from yet another cattle show. This time, the SUPER FUN Iowa State Fair, where yes, I was reminded again, by my tired body, of how young I am not! Regardless, I was really proud that more than one time other moms observed what close friends Kaydee and Emmet have become. I know that if they were both so involved in separate sports and other activities that they were never on the same team, this would not be the case. However, as it is, they are a team, with their cattle and in our family. And yes, they do team up on Matt & I, more often me than him, darn it! But I do try to keep a smile on…

  



Of course, the friends made at cattle shows are treasured & memories are priceless, but at an event like a State Fair, we have to remember that the cattle barn is also a giant classroom for all sorts of people who do not live on a farm. Many of them have never been to a farm & have certainly never touched beef cattle. So, yes, Kaydee’s heifer, Smalls, who got the privilege of being in the end stall right next to the big aisle where all of the people walk through made her way into literally dozens of pictures. I can’t guess how many times she got petted and thankfully, she was a good sport about it the entire time! On Saturday, Kaydee tried her entrepreneurial skills out, but to no avail! Really, she just wanted people to have to talk to her before they touched her cow. Haha!

Well, another show is done & the awards at this one were not numerous for Kaydee & Emmet, but we all had a really good time. I read recently that people who travel/vacation every now and then live longer because they have good memories to think about. Well, a cattle barn is not very tropical and it certainly doesn’t smell like the ocean, but the memories are abundant. So, yes, for our family, the tradition will continue – I am the sixth generation of my family to have cattle; Kaydee and Emmet are the seventh. We are always for trying out new ideas, but having cattle is one tradition that will stay in our family for a long, long time.

And the tired troops head home until next week – and then it’s off to another show…

 

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As you can easily see, it has been far too long since I last blogged! When I first started, I had all kinds of excited things to write about – mostly because I hadn’t already used them as topics. I see and hear things throughout the day and think, “Hmm, wonder if I can make that interesting for any of my readers?” Well – I should have, but summer has consumed me!

So, since Mother’s Day when I last wrote…We have done normal family summer things (or at least normal for OUR family). We enjoyed the Nebraska Junior Beef Expo where seven different breeds of cattle are represented & everyone has a great time competing in contests and showing their cattle!

Kaydee did VERY well in every speaking-related event & on sire-summary quiz. Lots of first place garden hoses and gift certificates!

We also got to celebrate turning the big 4-0 with some cousins who did the same this year, visited lots of family at a family reunion the next day & saw my mom with a cast on her arm. My mom had never broken any part of her body before….it has been made certain – as amazing as she is, she is not invincible!

One of my favorite people to visit with at that family reunion is Uncle Pip. He has made his way into his 90’s and is as sharp and witty as ever! Pip is my Grandma Emma’s brother & I hope I am as fun as him when I get up in years! He was super excited to tell me all about his Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. He was in total amazement of everything he got to see. He showed me this picture of him at the WWII Memorial.

Our big trip for the summer was all the way to Hutchinson, KS where Kaydee and Emmet got to participate in the North American Junior Red Angus Event. I am SO proud of ALL of the kids who were there from all across the U.S. Families showed up from as far away as Pennsylvania and Oregon! All of the kids have a really great time working together, competing against one another, showing, and just hanging out. Lifelong friendships are definitely made at events like the NAJRAE!

 

Friends….Iowa, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Kansas.

 

Finally, we have done all of our standards. Matt and his crew of young people have built miles of barbed wire fence. I have been super busy at my job. We have enjoyed a few strawberries from the patch we started. We have done a LOT of praying for rain. We have been breaking feeder calves to lead. The lawn has needed mowed a few times. We regularly check the cattle in the pastures. We put embryos in cows. We continue to try to control musk thistles in the pastures. I have kept some really pretty flowers watered and alive. And, we absolutely love summer & everything that goes with it!

County fair starts later this week…can’t wait!

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At first glance, what do you think are the occupations of the gentlemen in this picture? Maybe business executives? Accountants? Professional communicators? Health care professionals? Or, maybe owners of multi-faceted businesses??  And, where do you think they might be from?

Actually, these men hold each and every one of those jobs listed above, along with many more depending on the daily task at hand. How can that be you ask?  Because a farmer or rancher has to be able to do any one of those jobs on any given day. And, they happen to be from different states, all across our great nation.

When any of us head into the grocery store or out to the restaurant, or even to the farmer’s market, it is not uncommon to at least have a fleeting thought about some of the production work that went into growing the food that is there.

What many people often don’t think about is all of the work farmers and ranchers have to do off of the farm in order to have the freedom to continue doing what they love to do. Some days they may visit their banker or insurance agent. Other days can be filled with purchasing supplies and inputs. But why on earth would ranchers be standing around at a meeing in suits? Aren’t they more commonly seen in jeans & boots? Of course they are!

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Common workwear often includes camo!

Today I was in Washington, D.C. with other beef producers discussing the beef community’s challenges and opportunities at hand. Think about teachers or health professionals or country music performers. Each profession has an organization for people with similar interests. In today’s world, those of us raising cattle for beef cannot stand idly by and let others determine our fate. We have to step off the ranch or feedyard – in our boots –

My boot is the fun black one with the super comfortable square toe!

and educate others as to what really needs to happen to keep healthy, safe, nutritious beef as an everyday meal option.

It is completely my honor to serve with absolutely “stand-up” men and women from all over the U.S. with as much passion as I have for beef and the entire beef community.

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Here are cattle in the snow:

Here is a snow cow:

Regardless of where you live, weather is a fact of life. Our life, especially in the winter, hinges on the weather conditions. We have been VERY blessed with nice weather so far this year & the snow we just received was some welcome moisture! If it’s snowin’ and blowin’ the animals still get fed and bedded. When everything is done – it’s time to play!

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With Thanksgiving coming up so quickly & having this one night at home with my kids this week, I decided to quiz them a little. When asked randomly what they are thankful for, 16 year-old girls can come up with some pretty odd answers to say the least!

At the time I asked Kaydee what she was thankful for, she had just finished a delicious supper of pork chops and stuffing (I’ll put my super easy recipe on the recipe page – check it out!). I expected any number of answers having to do with her friends, her boyfriend, having a school vehicle, and so on. The first word she blurted out was, “calories.” Oh yes – winter sports practice started this week. Basketball practice burns a LOT of calories!

With a gentle nudge for something a little more interesting I got another whopping one-word answer, “cows.” So, being the dutiful Nebraska Beef Council member, I assumed she was thankful for cows so she could have beef as part of her oh-so-healthy teenage girl diet. She assured me that was part of it, but there is more to the story…

“Cows give me something to look forward to in the spring because I really enjoy the baby calves. I like the challenge of halter-breaking the show-cattle in the early fall and then taking them to shows throughout the next year. And of course, I love eating beef, but I won’t eat my own show cattle!”  ~Kaydee

Well, that isn’t too bad for a young lady who is exhausted from one-act play contest and basketball practice. With my next blog post, Emmet has assured my you will get some fun and interesting insight as to what a young teenage male is thankful for. I can’t wait to have him enlighten us!

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