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!