Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Preparing for a Potential Storm

Let me start by taking a moment to say that our thoughts and prayers are with those in Newtown, CT.  I cannot imagine what those families are feeling.  I have h\hugged my children a little tighter, yes, even the grown ones this week.

Our area is forcasted to get our first snow of the year.  What do you do to prepare?  Do you make sure you have ice melt, milk, bread and a snow shovel?  What else do you need?

On the farm, we must do all of these to prepare us and much more to ensure the health and safety (as much is under our control) of the animals.  Hay must be put out so that they have something to eat.  If we have some that appear to be close to having a calf, they are brought closer to or put in the barn.  If the ponds could freeze, the cows need to be shut away from them as much as possible.  This helps to ensure none fall through the ice and freeze.  The equine need to have shelter, hay and water ready.  The dogs need extra straw in their dog houses and a wind break in place so that they are not as cold/wet.  Tractors need to be plugged in and have winterized fuel in them.  This will help ensure that they will start when we need them.  The electric waterers must have the heaters on so they do not freeze.  All of these chores, the ones that I am sure I missed and our daily chores must be done.

While completing all of these chores, we are anxiously awaiting our first calf of the season.  Our first due dates are for tomorrow!

May God keep you and your loved ones safe.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Agriculture is Important to Me"

Tonight a new video was released that reminded me why we do what we do.  The video is from the Peterson Farm Brothers, http://www.youtube.com/user/ThePetersonFarmBros?feature=watch .  It can be found on their You Tube page, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX153eYcVrY .  While watching this video as a family we were laughing agreeing with the lyrics and saying whom in the family certain sections of the video seemed to represent.  We watched it several times to hear all of the lyrics and enjoy how this parody represented exactly how we felt.  I am so thankful that these young men are representing agriculture so well.  More of us need to find our own way to get our story out there to the general public.  Maybe we can't all reach as many people, but every person we educate is one more that may have a slight understanding of what we do every day and every year.

Lately, we have been busy preparing for calving season, making sure we have enough hay, moving Ashley and Jeff, working our jobs and trying to make sure we have enough hay for the winter.  If this was all that we did, life would be much easier.  Like everyone else, we have other things that seem to distract us from what we know we need to do.  It is the time of year where we have to change our focus.

Our main focus on Windy Hill Farm has not got to be calving season and caring for moms and newborns.  We are a couple of weeks away from our first calf, but time to plan on moving the cows that are close to calving closer to home and make sure the pens and barn are ready and the bulls are where they can not get in with the cows after the calve.  We keep the bulls away so that we can control when we have calves.

Remember that we may not all do things the same way, but as Farmers and Ranchers, we are feeding ourselves, our families and the world.  We need more people to understand why and how we do this.  The best way for this understanding to occur is for EACH of us to find a way to tell our story that is comfortable for us.  I choose to blog, share with friends and have preschools tour the farm and be around the animals.  This is not the only way or the best way, but it is my way.  Find your own way and know that you DO make a difference!

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WOW! What a summer

We had a really busy summer on the farm.  Jarren, our youngest Grandson, shot his first squirrel and buck! It was a real joy to see him so proud of himself and knowing that we were teaching him how to hunt responsibly.

The drought really kept us hopping with trying to make sure all the animals had water and grass.  We are VERY thankful that just about the time we were running out of grass, the rains came.  This brought the grass back to life and we are still using these pastures.  We still have one field to turn the cattle into before we have to start feeding hay.

My parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary this August!  What an inspiration to all of us.  We had a reception for them in their retirement community.  We had many of their friends come up to us and tell us how special it was to see them walking in the halls holding hands.  This made us proud that they are working on staying happy.  That also gives a great model for the rest of us to try and form our relationships in a similar matter.  We are so Blessed and thankful that we still have both of them in our lives.

We are also preparing for calving season.  Getting the barn stalls ready and double and triple checking equipment and supplies that we might possibly need at a moment's notice.  Last year for calving season, I bought baby monitors with a long range.  I would place one outside of the stall where I had a cow that I thought was going to calve and keep the receiver with me in the house.  This saved me countless trips to the barn that were unnecessary!  You would be surprised how much you can tell just by the noises that you hear.  It was an excellent use of $60.  At least I really thought so on those cold nights that I did not have to bundle up and head to the barn as many times!

Next year's show heifers have been ties up for one weekend to start halter breaking them.  Steers have been selected for show season.

We kept two bulls this year and they have both been halter broke.  Another bull was purchased and he will be halter broke in the near future.

Alan, our youngest, has began his senior year of high school and all of the fun things that go along with that excciting and frightening year.  He has made us very proud and I am sure this year will be no exception.

I have been reading many other blogs and trying to get ideas.  I have gotten a few, but the ones that I enjoy the most are the ones that talk about the family and how they are doing things on the farm.  I feel that this is a way to get the story out there and help the public feel connected to the family and their activities.  So.  I will continue to share stories about what is occurring on the farm and in the family.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Beginnings and Endings.....

This is the cow that Ashley showed as a heifer her first year.  This year, her last year, she showed her as a cow/calf pair with her brother.  Yes, She looks a little rough, but she is Fourteen and had only been out of the pasture for one week.  Ashley's children started showing this year so while this was her last county fair to exhibit in, it was their first.  They all did an excellent job and won the Beef Herdsmanship Award, along with Alan.

The Beef Herdsmanship Award is given to the exhibitor or family of exhibitors that keep their stall area the neatest throughout the entire day.  We were so proud of them because they did all on their own.  As livestock committee chair, I was busy running the show and was unable to help them.  Mike is still recovering from shoulder surgery and was unable to help them.

Their ability to do this on their own without constant supervision is only a small example of how blue ribbon children are the best their are!  These five young people managed a show string of 11 from loading at home to unloading back at home by themselves.  This included set-up, showing, and take-down along with all of the other tasks that one must do in one day.  Days like this day make me very proud to be a mother and grandmother!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blue Ribbon Animals or Blue Ribbon Children?????

It's county fair time!  Our children and grandchildren will participate by exhibiting a total of 11 head of Polled Hereford cattle.  We have all spent lots of time and effort getting these animals ready for show day.  Would we LOVE to see them win? ABSOLUTELY!  We have always told them that the placings of the show are that judge's opinion on that day.  Same calves different day could very well yield different results.  We have tried our hardest to teach them to be gracious to the other exhibitors, parents and the judge whether they win or lose.  We feel that it is more important that they learn the responsibility and dependability it takes to prepare these animals for show than to win.  Most of the animals we are showing this year were born and raised on our farm.  This means they are also exhibiting all of the hard work that it takes to get the calves on the ground and raise them.

We believe that the hard word and dedication they learn is much more important than winning with any animal..  Work ethic is also something they learn because the animals need cared for twice a day  no matter the weather or how you feel.  Don't get me wrong, we like to win, but will not do unethical things to our animals to accomplish this goal.. If the animal is to win, they will do it on what they naturally have in them.

When your child does not win a class, ask yourself, "Would I rather than win in class or in life because they can handle tough, uncomfortable situations?"

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Enjoying Nature on the Farm

This is a picture that I took in our barn where we store hay.  She let me crawl up on the bales and take multiple pictures of her without even moving. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget and was Blessed to experience.  It was so quiet outside that day and Dad and I walked to the barn to take the pictures so that the truck didn't pack down the hay.  We were doing this to get pictures for Mom because she couldn't come to the farm that day.  There were a couple of times that I thought she was going to come out of the nest for sure, but she didn't move.  We plan to return in a few days to see if there are any babies that we can see and/or hear.  We will keep you updated.

While I was walking in the field Saturday night to check cows, I saw Clara Bell again.  She is not growing much, but she is still moving around and staying with the herd and that is more than I ever thought possible when I found her the morning she was born.  Thank you, God for allowing me to save and raise this precious animal.  I know that may seem odd to some of you, but I feel that God entrusts me to care for and protect as many of his creatures as I can on the farm.  While this means saving some, it also means selling or slaughtering some so that the ground is not over-grazed.  This is necessary for the quality of life for the ones that we keep.

Not sure you understand?  Ask a farmer if you can work side by side with them for the day or visit their farm to see what they do on a daily basis.  It may open your eyes to why we do things the way that we do them.  For me, it has been learning from a lifetime of living and/or working on our family farm.  I had to learn the positive lessons along with the not so positive ones.  I will never be able to repay my parents, Kermit and Ruth Shroyer,  for all of the lessons I have learned.  Learning to take care of the land and the animals was taught (not always so patiently) while we worked along side them.  These lessons still continue today as my family is slowing taking over the farm operations so that they can relax and enjoy the retirement that they so richly deserve.  Thank Mom and Dad for all of the lessons, both on and off of the farm.

Learning from my parents, I have taught my children as they have worked along side my husband and I on the farm since they were old enough to safely participate the task that we were doing that day.  Yes, we have all had injuries that have occurred in the farm, but you can get injured walking down the sidewalk or playing on a playground.  We do everything to keep everyone safe, but accidents do happen and we are working with animals that have a mind of their own.  The other factor to consider is that even if the animals do not mean to hurt us, as big as they are, stepping on your foot with their hoof hurts!

Remember to enjoy nature and your family whenever you get the opportunity!

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Country Life is Not Always Easy

The fun part of country life includes things like the quiet, listening to nature, seeing stars and being with the family.  There are parts that are not as enjoyable.  One of these is putting up small square bales of hay.  We put these up once a year for the show season and for calving season when cows are shut in the barn as they are close to calving.  This requires us to put these bales on the truck and/or trailer before they get wet from rain or dew and then unload and stack them at the barn.  This is normally not too difficult for our family, but there are circumstances this year that will make this more challenging.  We will pull together and get it done.  We just will not get done as quickly.  It is perseverance that will get us through and leaning on each other so that no one over does it.  There are defiantly times when it pays to slow down.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Two of Four Generations in the Show Ring on the Same Day!

Toby (Fourth Generation)
Alan (Third Generation) Grandpa (First Generation) sitting in chair outside of ring proudly watching Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren in the ring.

Ashley (Third Generation) Grandma (First Generation) in the background proudly taking pictures of her Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren in the ring.  She also took pictures of me (Second Generation) proudly helping my Children and Grandchildren prepare for the show ring.

Jarren (Fourth Generation)

Tama (Fourth Generation)

This was the day that the Grandchildren had been preparing for during the last six months.  All of the work they done leading their calves, brushing them, feeding them, washing them, drying them and clipping them was about to pay off in the ring!

At 5:30 AM my alarm went off.  I got up and got Ashley, Mike and Jeff up.   We then got all four of the others up so that we could load the trailer before the downpours showing on radar got to us.  Surprisingly, all of the kids got up the first time they were told (this would have never happened a few short months ago). While they were all getting ready, I was packing sandwich items in a cooler for our lunches and loading this stuff in the car.  When everyone was up, dressed and all of their show clothes were in my car it was time to go.  Mike and Jeff took the Alan, Toby, Jarren and Tama to load the trailer.  Ashley and I left for the show so that we could get spots in the barn since the forecast called for rain most of the day.  At 6:15 AM the trailer pulled in and it was time to unload and set up the stall.  Everyone worked together and it only took us 20 minutes to unload trailer and set up stall area!  I was so proud of all of them.

Now it was time to feed the heifers and see if they needed washed.  Due to the rain, we decided that the spots that needed washing could be done in the barn with a bucket of soapy water and a brush.  This kept all of us in out of the lightening.  They then brushed their calves after they had been dried with the blower.  The Grandchildren then got to enjoy some down time while they ate breakfast and kept an eye on their heifers.  All of the sudden a heifer (not ours this time) slipped out of her halter and out of the barn.  You heard the words, "Loose calf!"  All of us that have been showing for years jump up and run out and help get her back in the barn where she can be haltered.  We then talked to the Grandchildren about how important it is to help others that are having trouble with animals because at some point you WILL need their help, too.      

The kids all enjoyed their day and got some great experience!  Alan even won his showmanship class!  We were proud of all them.  It was nice to have all four generations of the family spending the day together and enjoying themselves.  We also enjoyed visits from Jerry and Jill Zvacek and Susan.  Thank you all for coming to support those that were showing.  Your support means more to all of us than words can say.  I was a VERY proud Mom and Grandma that day.  To see how much the Grandchildren had grown in the responsibility and respect and how much my Children were helping them grow made me tear up when I thought about it that night.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Field Trip Day

Today was a very full and fun day.  A local day care came to visit the farm.  They got to pet Baby the horse and Paco the donkey.  They also played with Rat, our dog, and Clara Bell.  These two LOVED all of the attention!  Dana and Tamara (show heifers) were happy to be fed by the children and Dana even let them sit on her back while she was eating.  They then got to pet one of our bulls, Boss.  Watching the cows through the fence seemed to be enjoyed by all.

Many of the children seemed to really enjoy themselves and we loved having them on the farm.  They were eager to learn about the animals and to pet them.  Watching their faces light up when they interacted with the animals was rewarding for us.  I hope that some of them gained a new appreciation for animals and what it takes to care for them.  I appreciate all of the adults that were with them assisting in keeping an eye on the children while they were taking turns petting the animals.  This is defiantly something that I would like to do again.

I hope you have a fabulous day!

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Change of Plans

Our plans last night were to relax before we get swamped with wedding stuff.  Guess what?  Those changed!

When we were doing chores, we found a calf that would not get up.  We got him in the barn and gave him medications that were needed and then gave him electrolytes (like Gatorade).  He received two doses of electrolytes last night.  After each one he seemed a little better.  This morning he was getting up and standing on his own so I let mom in so he could nurse for five minutes.  Why just five minutes?  He has had scours (diarrhea) and so too much of mom's milk too fast could make them worse.  We limit amount of nursing time so that he can continue to recover.  This will need to be done at least three times today along with electrolytes to keep him from dehydrating.  We are praying that God saves him, but helping that out by treating him with the resources we have at our disposal.

While we had to change our plans, this is something that happens when dealing with animals.  It's just like changing plans because you have a sick child, except this child can not tell me what is wrong with him.  I have to play detective and figure it out for myself.  Fortunately, after living on the farm all of my life the detective work is much easier than it used to be for me.  Take care of yourselves and those you love.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Springtime Work

Yesterday, we did our Spring round of shots and put in fly tags.  This is about a month earlier than normal for fly tags, but because of weather conditions they needed them.  This will most likely mean that we will need to put more tags in later this summer to keep the flies off and the number of pinkeye cases down to a  minimum. We do this so that the cattle remain healthy and the calves can continue to grow.  It took us all day to get the shots done and bring the bulls home to give them shots and tags.  After the bulls were done, we sorted the cows as to which ones went with which bulls.  Since our animals are registered, we have to keep the bulls separate so that we will know which calves are from which bulls.  We then moves 'Marbelizer' and his cows over to the other farm and turned 'Boss' and his cows out into the pasture.  We are keeping this group at the house until Wednesday when the daycare comes for their field trip.  They will be moved to another pasture after this visit.

Wednesday, we are to have about 20 two-year-old children at the farm for a field trip.  We are excited to see their faces when they see and touch the animals.  We will have two show heifers for them to pet as well as Clara Bell and Baby (our horse).  It should be a fun filled two hours.

There is only five days until our daughter's wedding!  We are busy prepping for this and making sure everything is ready to go.  This week is extremely busy at our house, but we wouldn't traded any of it.  We are excited to introduce young children to the animals and to make our family larger (officially) on Saturday.

I hope you enjoy your week and take the time to say thank you when you can.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Farming...A Way of Life

I was asked yesterday what one thing that I would want to tell people to make them understand what we do on a farm.  It took me a very long time to think if a way to sum it up into one thought.  There are so many things we do and it depends on what type of farming we do (i.e. crops, swine, beef, dairy, etc).  The best thing that I could come up with is that it is a way of life.  The things we do daily are for the benefit of our operations and the safety and nutritional value of the food supply we all consume.  Then there are the things that we do off of the farm.  Many of us volunteer in the community in more than one capacity.  Research has shown that farmers and ranchers volunteer more than the average Americans.  I can not think of a farm family I know that is not involved in at least one community activity.  Volunteering and community service has been a way of life for me since I can remember.  There was never a question of if it was going to be done, but what we were going to do for the community.

This week, two of our soon to be Grandchildren are staying with us while they are on Spring Break.  I informed them that I had signed them up for community service at the community kitchen.  They could not believe that I would make them do this.  I told them that as a family we do community service whenever we can and they will soon be part of the family so they would participate in this activity.  Last night they did their community service. After they were done, they could not stop talking about how much fun it was and how they enjoyed helping others.  It really made me proud that they saw the light on their own and asked when they could go back again.  Maybe if more of us would do for others and get that good feeling it gives us, the world would be a better place.  They are going to help Alan build a sign for the county fairgrounds this weekend for more community service and they are ready to get started, but Alan has school this week.

The way of life that we experience is to take care of our operations and families first and foremost.  Then we chose to give back to the community in ways that we are able to do so.  Our philosophy is that one day, we will also need help.  a favorite saying of my parents was, "It is not a question of if you will need help, but when you will need help."  If you have helped others when you have been able then they will help you when you need help.  This was proven to me last spring when Mike broke his ankle and Alan and I were running the farm by ourselves on a daily basis.  Neighbors stopped by and pitched in and asked what they could do to help us.  I truly believe this is because of the help that we have given to others through the years.  Do we give this help just to get help in return?  NO, but it is a nice side effect.

Many of the farmers and ranchers that I know are the most selfless people you will ever meet.  Don't believe me?  Get to know a few of them and see for yourself.  Wonder if they really do all of the community service/volunteer hours plus run their operations and families?  Ask one if you can follow them and work with them for a day or a week and see for yourself what a day is like for them.  Be forewarned; there is no such thing as a 'normal or typical' day on a farm or ranch.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Am Watching You!

Do you ever get the feeling you are being watched?  Look around.  Do you see anything?  This is what I saw following me!  Sometimes we can't see anything.  Could that be our conscious?  Do we know deep down what we are doing is not the right thing, but are doing it anyway and looking over our shoulders as a result?

I have read many reports lately where some are grouping all farmers in one large group.  They are saying if one farmer does this than they all must do this.  Really?  If one person who drives a car drives a certain way do all people that drive a car drive that way?

I will admit there are farmers whom do not take the best care of their animals, but that does NOT mean that we are all that way.  Some of us go out of our way to ensure that our animals are well cared for daily.  After all, they are our livelihood.  If we do not give them proper nutrition, they will not grow like they should and we will earn less money.  I don't know very many people who are willing to knowingly lower their income through conscious decisions they make.  Do you?

Most of us eat the same food that we put into the stores for you to eat.  Do you would we willingly and knowingly feed our own families food that was unsafe?  I wouldn't!  I have seen the recent news reports on what they are terming 'pink slime'.  So, instead of taking this at face value, I did my research.  It turns out that the product that is 'added' to hamburger is actually beef!  It is beef that has been separated from fat through advanced technology.  This beef that is separated from the fat is NOT been swept off of the floor or taken out of the unusable piles.  It was set aside purposefully to be separated and used.  This process of separation allows us to get approximately 10% more beef from every animal.  With this additional 10% per animal, we can keep beef prices down and have to raise fewer animals to feed the public.  After these reports have aired, many stores have stated that they will quit selling hamburger that contains this technologically separated beef.  Watch for hamburger prices in these stores to rise because they will not be able to get as much out of each animal and will therefore have to purchase more animals raising their costs.  This rise in costs will get passed on to the consumers.

Before you take the word of any research study, please do your own research about who do it and what their purpose was.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reflections and Memories

As I saw 15N and her baby heifer laying here in the field, I could not help but reflect on my memories of my children when they were younger.  It is very funny how the strangest things can bring back memories.  I also remembered laying on the couch with my daddy the day of my wedding.  This brought me to the realization that my daughter is about to get married and give me a wonderful son and three grandchildren.  There are many more wonderful reflections and memories that will be looked back on in the future!

Some of the memories I have are of cattle.  I remember showing cattle and laying on them in the stalls at shows.  It was really interesting to hear the comments visitors to the Missouri State Fair would make as they saw you 'napping' on a large bull.  We were really only pretending so you could hear what they said!  Ok, sometimes we actually fell asleep because they were so comfortable.  There are many pictures of myself, my siblings and my children laying on the show animals at shows and at home.  I have a feeling there will be some of my grandchildren before the summer is over.

Watching young children touch their first cow is always a fun experience.  Frequently at the Missouri State Fair and other shows, we allow young children to pet our animals (with us of course, safety FIRST).  It is really fun to watch their facial expressions and those of their parents.  Some of the parents have not touched a cow either.  This was hard to explain to my children because they grew up around them.  We had to explain to them that not everyone has the opportunity to walk out in the pasture and pet their cattle.  Not even everyone whom has cattle can pet theirs in the pasture.  My daughter realized this when she worked for a vet one summer.  It really hit home for her how calm how herd was compared to many others.  We cull (sell) if the disposition is not very calm.

What are some of your favorite reflections and memories?  Take a few minutes and travel down memory lane, it is a fun place to visit.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Has Arrived!

There are many sign that Spring is here within this one picture and some that can not be seen.  One sign is the mud around the feeders.  It is something that happens and we must deal with.  Mud slows us down and can even get us stuck when on foot or in a vehicle!  Mud can also be dangerous to the cattle if we do not watch them.

Another sign of Spring is the calves.  One of them has decided to play King of the Mountain on the hay bale.  It is so relaxing to just watch them run and play.  The one on the left of the feeder had been butting the feeder and acting like he was fighting it.  I was laughing so hard I couldn't get a picture of it!

Did you notice the green grass in the background?  Another sure sign that Spring has arrived!

One sign that you can not see in the picture is us doing heat detection so that we can AI (Artificially Inseminate) the cows.  So far, we have bred six cows this season.  They are several more that we would like to AI before turning the bulls in with the cows.  This means more relaxing time sitting in the pasture watching the cows and calves while listening to the quiet.  Just what my doctor has ordered to begin and end stressful days!  Don't you wish your job was this relaxing?

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Smart are Cows?

I apologize that it has been so long since I have posted.

This morning as I was putting the calves back with their mothers something strange, yet heartwarming happened.  First thing I did was get Clara Bell up and put her in her outside pen.  She can do everything by herself now.  Sometimes she has trouble getting up, by herself and sometimes she gets right up.  After doing this I set out to start letting in cows and then getting their calves out of the barn.  Four cows in and then four calves out or barn and repeat.  I did this three times then put these pairs out in the field and started the process over again.  In the first batch I brought in a cow, 55X.  She stood right by Clara Bell's pen while her calf was nursing.  While I was getting more calves out I noticed 55X was looking into Clara Bell's pen and bawling.  I told her to stop that she had her calf.  She continued to look into the pen and then at me and bawl.  I am thinking to myself that I do not have time for your foolishness, I am running late for work.  I go get the last calf for that bunch of cows from the barn.

Since I have to walk close to Clara's pen to get to the cows I give in and look into her pen.  She is laying on her back between posts that are laying on the ground.  If you are unfamiliar with cattle, this can kill them in a very short period of time.  All of the sudden the frustration I had felt toward 55X turned toward myself.  I ran to Clara and got her up.  Thankfully she was alright.  I walked over to 55X and loved on her a little and told her thank you (yes, I talked to her).  I know better than to not pay attention to cattle when they are acting out of character.  They are usually trying to tell us something, if we would just slow down and 'listen'.

Could this be true for the humans around us too?  If we really 'listened' to their words and body language with our whole minds would we know more about them?  What makes them 'tick'?  What makes them happy, sad, angry?  Maybe if we would all try we would all get along a little better.

After Clara was back on her feet and 55X had been rewarded (a little love and feed) for altering me, I finished pairing up the cows and calves without incident.  When animals and people around you are acting a little out of character, take a few seconds and try to figure out why.  You may be their hero for that day for helping them out.  (Yes, I need to think of this sometimes when I am rushing to do what I need to get done during the day, too!)

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Surgery Update

My foot is slowly healing and the pain is subsiding.

Well, slowly I am returning to the barn.  Yesterday afternoon Alan brought Clara Bell out into the yard and I watched as she got some exercise and explored.  She walked the fence line with the yearling heifers.  She walked around the shed smelled the trees and grass and then would 'run' over to me for a few seconds then back to exploring.  She was trying so hard to run and buck like calves do, but is not quite strong enough yet, to do so.  She also had her first visitors yesterday.  This morning she had more visitors that came to see her.  Getting up on her own is still not happening, but she is still trying.  She is nursing completely on her own now!

The calf we doctored for pneumonia last weekend is completely over it and doing well.

On a personal note, our daughter is getting married!  Our family is growing.  We will be gaining a son in law (though I think I have already refereed to him as such here) and three grandchildren to fill our lives with more joy and laughter.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bittersweet Thoughts

Yesterday morning was a very bittersweet morning for me as I was doing my morning routine with the babies.  I knew that at 4 PM I was having surgery on my foot and would not be able to make it to the barn to see Clara Bell or the other babies for at least 36 hours because it is also supposed to rain all day.  I know for some of you this does not sound like a big deal,  but not seeing my babies everyday to make sure everyone is happy and healthy is tough for me.  It is like not seeing or talking to my own children to make sure they are all right.  I do have a wonderful husband, son, mom and dad that are taking care of them for me so I know they are in good hands, but like any parent I want to check on them.

As I walk through the cow/calf pen and get everyone up to make sure they are well, a few tears come to my eyes as a few of the calves run toward me and start licking my pants to greet me for the morning.  Then they take off running and bucking across the pen.  They are so cute while they do this.  I then start laughing hysterically at a few of the younger mothers as they start running after their babies.  The older mothers are standing there looking at them.  I can almost read their minds.  They are thinking, "Really?  They will come back.  You can see the whole pen.  Save your energy."  It is almost the same way a mother of two, three or more children looks at a first time mother and the extreme way they tend to do some things at first.  Yes, we were all first time mothers at one time, but after a while most of us relax and aren't as extreme about things such as washing the pacifier every time it falls out of the baby's mouth.  The cows follow very similar patterns.  The older moms still do not like the calves out of their sight for at least the first few months, but as long as they can see them they are alright with them running around.

As I am taking care of Clara Bell's mom for her last treatment for the infection in her udder, I let Clara walk around the barnyard.  She starts butting me.  I can't help but chuckle at her.  Then she comes over beside me and puts her forehead on my cheek as I am on my knees to milk out the infected quarter.  She just rests her forehead there as if giving me a hug.  A few tears come to my eyes and I stop milking to love on her for a minute.  She then wonders off and walks around while I finish with mom.  After mom is all taken care of, it is time for Clara to nurse.  I get mom out of corral and into barnyard with Clara Bell.  While I am shutting up corral, the two of them walk to each other and Clara starts to try to nurse without me!  I am so excited about this!  She manages to get the front teat in her mouth and start nursing before I get to them.  This makes tears come to my eyes yet again.  This is the first time she has started nursing on her own while standing completely unassisted.  It takes me a minute to realize that I have helped her get to this point by being persistent and never giving up on her.  My children my call this persistence being stubborn, but whatever you call it, it is working!

After the teat slips out of Clara's mouth, mom walks into the stall for her feed while Clara finishes nursing. They have learned the routine and like to stick to the routine just like most of us find comfort in our routines. Clara starts following mom into the stall gets to the barn door, turns her head looks outside and stops.  I had to push her inside.  She wanted to stay outside!  She still needed help nursing the back teat (she can't nurse the infected one yet), and after she had been nursing for awhile I had to support her a little.  Though she still needs help, she is getting so much stronger.  This makes me feel a lot better because I will not be able to help nurse for at least three feedings.  While everyone else is capable of doing this task, mom and Clara are used to the way that I do it and I tend to have more patience in situations like this.  I am not trying to say anything negative about anyone else, but I am sure if you think about it there is someone in your family that has more patience in different situations than other family members.  When we were done nursing, I lectured Clara Bell and mom on being good while I was away.  Did they understand what I said?  Who is to say?  Am I crazy for talking to my cattle?  If so lock me up and throw away the key because I have been doing it as long as I can remember!

My foot is very sore this morning after the surgery yesterday.  I am sitting here feeling a little down as everyone else is out taking care of my babies, but I know they are in great hands.  Here is hoping and praying the pain and swelling go down so that I can at least go to the barn and see the babies in the barn this afternoon and/or in the morning before I go stir crazy.  Some would say I am already crazy!  ;)

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Things Happen in Threes.......

Yesterday morning Clara Bell appeared much weaker and we discovered that mom had mastitis (infection of the udder) in one teat.  We have treated Clara for pneumonia and mom for her infection.  They are both getting better!

Last night as we were doing chores we found another calf that was down with pneumonia.   We got him in the barn and doctored him and this morning he was up and nursing mom!  That was a great sight!

Now that our three negative things have happened, we are ready for some positives.

Even with all of these extra things occurring, we still have all of our regular daily chores to keep up with.

What do you do first when you get up in the morning?  Have a cup of coffee?  Read the paper?  Check your Facebook?

I grabbed a drink of Dr Pepper to take my allergy medications on my way out the door.  I took care of all of my baby calves, feed the yearling calves and helped Clara Bell nurse.  Then I changes clothes, fixed my lunch and grabbed something for breakfast to eat in the car on the way to my job.

I understand that we are all busy, but imagine adding the responsibility of the lives of multiple animals to your schedule everyday.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Clara Bell... Our Little Miracle

I know that I have not done an entry for a few days.  Give me a few minutes of your time and I will explain why.  It has been a very busy few days!

On Thursday morning while checking the pasture that has the cows with calves at their side in it, I heard cows in the next pasture bawling.  This peaked my curiosity because these cows either have not calved yet or are open (not pregnant).  I looked over and saw a cow that I didn't think was anywhere near calving was licking a calf.   I went back to the barn to get the four wheeler so that I could get it to the barn.

When I got up next to the calf, it didn't move except for the constant shivering.  I am thinking this is not very good.  I got off the four wheeler to pick her up and could very easily do so and climb on four wheeler while holding her in my arms.  (Even though I do not consider myself weak, I should not be able to do this with a newborn.)  As I start for the barn, mom has her nose on the calf and walks beside us all of the way.  Alan has the barn open, heat lamp on and the stall ready.  I climb off of the four wheeler, calf in hand and take in under the heat lamp.  Mom is right behind us.  Alan leaves for school and I call Dad so that he can come to help me.  Mom is licking Clara Bell so I went to look for a twin since she was so small.  I looked and looked, but did not find one, so back to the barn I go.  I get a couple of clean rags and start rubbing on Clara Bell, because she does not seem to be getting warm.  After some rubbing, she starts to raise her head.  Mom is licking on her the whole time I am rubbing to help get her dry and get blood circulating.

When Dad gets here he starts the truck so that it can warm up.  After it is warm, we put Clara Bell in to help warm her up.  We let mom back out into pasture to see if she will go to a twin.  She doesn't she stays right by barn bawling.  At this point, I leave for my job off of the farm and Dad and Mike continue to care for Clara Bell.  They get her warm in the truck. They then give mom some feed in a feed pan, place Clara Bell over a straw bale (the straw bale is used to support the calf so that those helping her nurse do not have to hold the calf too) and help her nurse so that she gets milk.  Yes, all of this is done in a stall in the barn without restraining mom or giving her any medications to calm her.

After work, I give mom more feed so that Clara Bell can be placed on straw bale and assisted in nursing again.  I don't feel like she is getting enough milk so while mom is still eating, I milk her into a bottle.  I then put the nipple on the bottle and feed Clara Bell some out of the bottle.  Mom was let out of the stall to get water and hay while Clara Bell went to sleep under the heat lamp.  After a volunteer commitment,  it is back to the barn to give Clara Bell more milk.

On Friday morning it is up and repeat the process of feeding mom and helping Clara Bell nurse.  She is trying to get up on her own now!  We are celebrating baby steps.  Off to my job for the day after Clara is under her heat lamp with a full belly.  Evening chores and we repeat feeding mom, helping Clara Bell nurse, but tonight she can keep the back teats in her mouth too!  Another baby step (starting to think she might make it)!  After she eats, I stand her up off of the straw bale and make she has her balance.  She stands unassisted for 15 minutes! (It's getting hard to contain the excitement now!)

Friday evening, Ashley has come home and is begging to help me feed Clara Bell so to the barn we go.  Feed mom, get straw bale and Clara Bell, start nursing.  We can keep all teats in our mouth!!!!  After nursing I stand her off of bale again and make sure she is balanced.  SHE TAKES HER FIRST STEPS!!!!  (OK, my excitement is no longer contained.)  After taking a few steps, she starts playing with Ashley (above picture)!  Tears come to my eyes.  (Excitement, shear exhaustion, delight, a mixture of all?  who knows and who cares?)  My baby that I thought wouldn't make it when I found her is showing real signs of pulling through.  We decide to weigh and measure her like every other calf that is born on the farm.  She is 47 pounds and 25.25 inches tall.  Much smaller than we are used to, nut a live calf none the less.

Saturday morning I stand her up while I let the other calves out with their moms.  All I had to do was lift a little under her hip and she did the rest!  She stood for about 25 minutes while I was working with the others.  I then get her straw bale, put her on it and then poured mom's feed.  As mom walked past her to get to the feed, Clara's head immediately went up and her tongue started working like she was trying to get the teat in her mouth without my help!  After I arranged her where she could reach, she continued trying.  I helped her for a while to ensure that she got milk to continue to get stronger then I let her try on her own to learn.  After we were done nursing she stood and walked for another 20 minutes!

During this time I had some people tell me that I was putting to much effort into one animal or that it would be much easier just to bottle feed the baby.  It maybe a lot of effort for a few days, but it is worth it if the animal (calf) survives.  With only 40 cows to calve this year, I can not afford to not try to save one especially since it only cost me time and a little gas.  As far as bottle feeding, that is a long term commitment.  This way I have a few days to work hard and then mom can do the rest.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You Have Plans? God Sometimes Has Different Ones!

Very recently Alan and I were trying to finish chores so that we could change to go to an MFA dinner.  When we went to feed the yearling heifers, one of them was missing.  Alan started walking to look for her while I was doing stuff at the barn.  A few minutes later, I hear him yell at me.  The conversation went as follows.  Mind you most of it was yelled across a field.

Alan, "You need to come here."

Me, "Do I need anything (such as a halter)?"

Alan, "No."

I say, "Why is it too late (meaning she is already dead)?"

Alan, "No, everyone is alright."

I am thinking to myself 'everyone?'  there is only one heifer. As I am fast walking across the field he tells me that I can slow down.  I can't because in my mind with all of my experience I can not figure out what is going on over that ridge.  Finally, I get there and look over the fence.  To my amazement there is a newborn calf at the feet of the yearling heifer.  I know this is not her calf because we feed her twice a day and she has not exhibited any signs of pregnancy besides she is too young.

Now we have a real problem.  We have a new born calf in a field where there are no cows or heifers that are due to calve and the nearest fence is at least 100 feet down a hill and across a creek from the baby.  As Alan and I are looking around formulating a plan on what to do because the calf is shivering from cold and where he is the four wheeler will not go, a two year old heifer starts pacing the fence and bawling.  One problem solved.  We know who mom is!  Alan went to the closest gate between these two fields to let his mom in while I got the baby up and tried to get him walking so his blood would circulate more.  This will help him warm up some while we are waiting on his mom.  As soon as she sees the open gate, she runs straight for the calf and me.  Alan and I decide the calf will probably not be able to walk all of the way to the barn so he goes to get the four wheeler while I start walking the calf and cow out until we can meet up with Alan.  The calf and cow walked right along the fence until we reached a spot to where Alan could get to the calf with the four wheeler.  I handed him the calf onto the four wheeler with him and let mom smell the calf, Alan and four wheeler.  After this, Alan started to the barn with the calf.  The cow would not follow so I told him to get the calf in the barn under a heat lamp and then come help me with mom if I don't have her up there, yet.  I tried driving the cow up there and several times she turned around in the very same spot.  I decided this was ridiculous and headed to the barn to get some feed to see if she would follow that to the barn.  As I walked away, I turned around to see where she was and she was right behind me following me!  Some things we make things way too hard!  she followed me to and inside of the barn to her calf.  The calf nursed and all is well with both of them.

If you are wondering, no we did not make the MFA dinner that night.  We did however save a life!  My husband and father showed up to assist just as the cow was going in the barn.  They were on their way here, but I was not going to just stand and wait when I could try and get this done.  Working together and communicating helped us to be efficient in saving this calf.  An awesome first calf heifer whom immediately accepted her calf again (which dies not always happen) was also a HUGE help.

Yes, that yearling heifer not being up to eat was an inconvenience, but if she had been up to eat we may not have found the baby and he would have died from hypothermia or starvation.  We may have thought we had plans, but God a plan for us to care for his creatures in the way that was best for them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is Raising Calves Like Raising Children?

The answer, in many ways, is YES!  The calves need to be checked at least once a day to make sure there are no signs of illness and that they are thriving on mom's milk.  This check can result in many actions being taken.  The best action is when nothing needs to be done but enjoying watching them play and petting them as they come to you.  If one is showing signs of sickness, this must be diagnosed and treated.  Sometimes we can do this ourselves and sometimes we have to call their doctor (our Veterinarian).  This is often more expensive than taking our children to the doctor and they don't have insurance!  During periods of mud, we may have one stuck in the mud that needs to be rescued.  Being separated form mom by a fence can be very dangerous and must be corrected as soon as possible.  The younger the calf is, the more dangerous this situation becomes to the calf.

For each farmer you talk to, you will usually get a different answer on how they care for their cattle.  This does not make one way right or wrong.  There have to be different ways to fit the farmer's schedule, available facilities and other individual factors.  We start calving in January so we do some extra work to help ensure the well-being of our calves.  Most nights we take the calves and put them in stalls in the barn that are bedded down with straw.  This protects them from wind and any precipitation.  This also allows us to get a good look at each calve twice a day.  In the mornings I am generally at least assisting in putting the calves back with their moms.  We do this a few at a time to make sure they are with the right mom.  The consistency of having the same person around them at least most days allows that person to know each animal's personality.  This knowledge makes it easier to tell if an animal is sick before they are really sick.  This is very similar to a mom knowing her child is coming down with something before anyone else can tell.  Since they are the barn most nights, the stalls are sprayed with disinfectant spray everyday to try and keep down the number of bacteria and virus in them.  Every couple of days or when the stalls become to dirty to put calves back into, all of the bedding is taken out in the morning.  During the day the stall is allowed to dry and that afternoon at chore time the stalls are bedded down with straw for that night.  This is a lengthy process, but it helps ensure the health of our calves so it is worth it in the long run.

As you can see, there are many things that we do for our calves that take is time and effort, but it is in their best interest.  This is just like our children.  There are many things we do for them when they need it done, because it is best for them.  See, there are many similarities!

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Teaching the Next Generation

Just as a cow teaches her calf the basics of life and survival so must one generation teach the next what it takes to run a farm and care for the animals.  Without proper care, there is no way the animals will make you any money.  Our yearly paycheck comes when we take the calves to the market.  For every illness and injury our calves and cows have endured during the year, our profit margin shrinks.

I have some difficulty with this because I am one of those that would like to do it myself so that it is done the way I prefer it was done.  However, if my children are going to have the knowledge and skills to take over the farm one day, I MUST slow myself and teach them how to do everything.  No, we do not teach them everything at once.  Since, they were raised on the farm, they have had the time to learn a little at a time.  It is rewarding to watch them realize they know how to do something without our help.  An example of this was earlier this year when my son and I were the only ones home.  We had a cow that was having difficulty calving. At 11:30 PM I hollered down the stairs at him to tell him I needed his help pulling a calf.  Before I could get all of the stuff together, he was in the kitchen getting dressed to go to the barn.  While I was preparing the calf to be pulled, he got the pullers and opened the stall up.  When the calf was ready, he handed me the the proper end of the pullers for me to hook onto the calf.  After I had done this, he immediately went to work getting the calf out of mom.  The calf was successfully pulled and both mom and baby are doing well!  As we were walking to the house, he looked at me and said, "Mom, I am sure am glad the first cow that I had to run the pullers by myself on was Sweetie (an old show heifer)."  It suddenly dawned on me that though he had assisted many times in this procedure, he was never in charge of pulling one on his own.  It made me ecstatic to see how proud of himself he was!  These are moments that all parents love to witness.  He has pulled a few more this year when has been just him and I and each time my heart bursts with pride at how well he does.

Our daughter is dating a wonderful man whom has three kids.  These kids come to the farm when Dad has them.  It is amazing to watch how they are picking up on the farm life and philosophies.  This morning one of them went out with me to put vehicles in the barn before a storm.  When this was accomplished, we went to check the pregnant cows to see if they needed to be put in the barn to calve.  As I was getting ready to walk to the house, I noticed he was not with me.  When I turned around, he was leaning against a fence.  I asked if he was coming to the house.  He said, "In a few minutes.  I want to stand here and watch the calves play for awhile."  That made me smile.  This is something he would not have done just a few short months ago.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Passing on Traditions

This picture shows three generations of the family moving cows from one farm to the other.  There is only a short distance of gravel road between the pastures so we choose to walk them down the road instead of putting them in the trailer.  We feel that this is less stressful the cattle than being put in the trailer and therefore it is best for us too.  This operation takes coordination so that we don't have cows in neighbor's yards, but everyone has their job and does it well.  It is exciting to see how children that have not had much responsibility change after they have been given some on the farm for several weeks.  It has been our experience that when this occurs, the children become more respectful and responsible in everything they do.  This is one of the reasons that I am thankful that we are able to raise our children in this lifestyle.  It is a true way of life that affects everything you do and the way you think.  Beef check-off research shows that nearly one-half of cattle ranchers and farmers volunteer with youth organizations and more than one-third donate their time with other civic organizations compared to a national average of seven percent of all Americans.

Until next time,  remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!