Friday, October 11, 2013

Praying for South Dakota after 'The Perfect Storm'

I have been seeing many posts on Social Media about how many tens of thousands of cattle that were lost to this months history making Blizzard in South Dakota.  Some of these posts are written by others in the cattle and/or agriculture business.  These people seem to understand that the ranchers were doing everything that they could.  This could be described as 'The Perfect Storm'.  The weather leading up to this storm had been very mild so the cattle had not yet started growing their winter coats (Strike 1).  Strike 2 was that it was early October and had been a great year for grass to continue to grow so the cattle were still out in their summer pastures.  These summer pastures are generally miles from the homestead and have very little shelter as well as long distances between water sources.  Strike 3 was that in the past many of these storms had been predicted and not materialized so they may have let their guard down.  I can not say that I blame them on this one.  Myself and many others like me stop paying as much attention to the forecast of tornadoes and severe weather in our own parts of the country after they have been forecast several times and not materialized.  This is just human nature.

In order for these cattle ranches to survive from year to year, these ranchers must take great care in when the animals are in 'summer' pasture and when they are in 'winter' pastures. 'Winter' pastures tend to have more cover and closer water and feed sources.  As a cattle farmer myself, if I had good grass still in pastures and snow doesn't usually start for at least a month, my cattle would be out on grass, too.  I think that most of us can agree that this was through no fault of the ranchers.  Mother Nature will always win the battle, no matter how hard we try to stop her.  i can also only imagine the emotional toll this has taken on the ranchers.  I know how it bothers my emotions when I lose one or two calves during calving season.  I can not imagine the emotional toll some of these ranchers are facing due to loosing their entire herds at the same time.  Some reports have been given that in places the snow was higher than fences so some cattle walked from their summer pastures to those of another rancher.  Now the task at hand is to account for all of your animals (both those that perished and those fortunate to survive).   This will not be an easy nor quick task.  I pray that all of the ranchers can account for their animals and that as a cattle community, we pull together and help them out so that they do not loose their business (some of which have been in the family for generations) through no fault of their own.

Some of the other posts that I have seen, point the finger of blame at the ranchers for not taking better care of the stock.  In order to continually raise stock in this environment, the ranchers have to be some of the best at what they do or the ranches would not last for generation after generation.  I also wonder to myself if some of these people have ever tried to round up cattle before a storm hits.  Cattle are generally affected by the weather pattern more so than we are.  As we mature, we tend to learn how to control the natural impulses our body has based on the weather.  If you don't believe this is true, visit any early elementary classroom right before a snow or severe storm!  Ranchers learn to still 'listen' to these impulses and do what needs to be done before these storms hit.  Even if they had gone out and tried to round up cattle right before the storm (I am sure some of them did). the chances of them having enough time to get them all into the winter pastures would have been slim.  Cattle tend to be more flighting during these changes and less inclined to act the way ranchers need them to in order to protect them.  We should not judge the actions of these ranchers because they have lived in that environment and raised cattle successfully in it for most or all of their lives.

Let's all take the time to say thanks for the weather that we have had here and pray for those that are trying to come back from this devastating storm.  May God grant them the ability to continue their life's work even after this storm. AMEN

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Get All of the Facts Before You Form an Opinion

Both pictures were taken on Windy Hill Farm by Tamatha Duncan.

As many of you know, Chipolte has recently come out with an animated ad about a scarecrow and our food supply.  The scarecrow is designed to represent the farmers of America.  During this commercial, everything is made to look like robots do everything and the farmer just watches it happen.  It shows land that is completely barren and growing nothing.  Then you see the farmers barnyard and it is full of lush plants.  The farmer then harvests his crops and drives them to town to cook them fresh for customers.

Many of us farmers took offense to this advertisement and the game for phones that goes with it.  Many of us that grow your food, care very deeply for the land, crops and/or our animals.  If we did not care for the land, the water, the plants and the animals, we would not be able to make money on our farms.  Some of us use machinery that makes our jobs easier and/or is easier on the land, water, vegetation and/or animals.  Without these options to make caring for everything easier for us, food would be more expensive than it already is.  I know to some of you, the prices seem too high now.  Those of whom are raising your food, struggle to make ends meet by the time we pay for fuel, seeds, animals and all that is needed to raise the plants and/or seeds.  Some years due to Mother Nature (weather), the economy, and other circumstances beyond our control, we loose money while raising your food.  Other years, due to these same factors we may make some money.  As farmers, by trade we are gamblers.  I am NOT saying that we go out and gamble, but with farming there are so many factors that we can not control that there is some level of a gamble no matter what portion of the food we raise.

When consumers see advertisements like this, I hope they ask questions and do research before automatically assuming everything in them is accurate information.  Consumers may choose to find a farm in their area and contact them for a visit (we allow visitors and are very willing to answer questions).  Understanding that most of us farmers, do not have the money to put a big production like this advertisement into many of our homes.  When we do make something, it seems to spread more slowly and has more negative reaction by the general consumers.  I am by no means trying to say that all consumers are quick to blame the farmers, but many do not take the time to find out the other side of the story.  To some of us, not trying to get our side of the story would be like not getting both sides of the story when you have a disagreement with someone.  Wouldn't you want the person trying to sort out the disagreement to get both sides?  Well, so do we.  I will be the first to say that there are some farmers out there that are not as responsible as some of the rest of us.  We have varied methods in raising the food that we raise.  This does not make one method better or worse than the other, just different.  For instance, when we are calving in January to March, we put our baby calves in the barn every night so that can get dried off and warmed up.  This also helps us determine when one of them first starts to get ill.  "Catching' an illness quickly is better for the animal and for us.  This practice would not be as easy for a larger farm, but works for our family farm.

Next time you see something about farming and it raises questions to you, please contact a farmer in your area and/or send us a message and get our side of the story too.  May God Bless each of you and this great Country of ours.

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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fair Time

Fair week has arrived!  This is a busy time of year for us.   Calves need to be prepped, postets made for beef project to be judged, pictures picked out for photography judging and then mounted.  We are coordinating concession stand for three days.  Regular chores must still be done and the varmit killing my chickens must be caught.  Did I mention that we are doing hay, too?  Look for pictures and details as the week progresses.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Doing Your Own Research

Our youngest graduated from high school!  Here he is with his Grandparents.

As I sat in my living room and watched Dr. Oz today, I was getting VERY upset. The segment was on super bugs found in meat. His guest sat there and blasted beef saying they were all given antibiotics just because unless they were labeled organic. Those of you whom know us or have been to the farm, know that this is not the case for us!

Here is the comment that I posted on his Facebook page today (just in case it is not left up for the public to see). People need to know that they need to be cautious in taking the word of these public figures without doing their own research.

Dr. Oz: I am VERY unhappy with your segment today on beef. How do you and your guest know what is done to the beef we raise? Have you been to everyone of our farms to watch us and ask us questions? 97% of farms in the United States are family owned and operated. As one of these families, I took great offense to you and your guest saying that unless beef was labeled 'organic' it would have been given antibiotics. First of all, animals labeled organic could have very well gotten into someone else's feed or pastures and consumed things that were not organic. Secondly, when we raise our animals, they are only given antibiotics as needed. Antibiotics are too expensive to give 'just because'. As a small family farm, we can not afford the extra steps that it takes to get some of the labeling that our animals would qualify. As a solution, how about cautioning people that the practice for some is to give antibiotics to their animals, 'just because'? How about a segment on 'getting to know where your food comes from'?

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day- Farm Fun and Working - Protecting Mother Earth

The top picture is of Alan and Ashley leading a cow and bull to the pasture.  Yes, that is the cow's calf learning young how to walk with us.

The bottom picture is of Alan sitting on one of his old show heifers.  We were waiting on Mike to get a shot from the house for her and Alan said, "Hey, watch this!"  As a mom that phrase usually makes me cringe.  She moved under the tree at first as if to try and push him off.  Then she just stood there until I made him get off of her.

Our family has always walked the cows from farm to farm instead of using a trailer.  All of our walk except about .2 miles is through our own pastures.  The.2 miles that is not pasture is gravel road.  Those that live on this gravel road have become accustomed to us doing this.  As we were walking them this weekend, we remembered a fond memory that we had during one of this trips.  The kids had gotten home early and we were moving cows up the road when their bus driver, the late Donna Werner, had to stop at the top of the hill and wait for us to get the cows off of the road.  Instead of getting frustrated because she had to wait, she told the students to come look at what an old fashioned cattle drive looks like.  This memory was very bittersweet for us.  She was a very dear friend and just recently lost her battle with cancer.  Due to the fact that we have always walked them, I never gave it a second thought until one our friends asked how come we didn't use a trailer.  I explained to him that we have always done it this way and that it saves fuel and time.  We would have to make multiple trips especially since the calves are so small.  It is actually quicker to walk them than to load the trailer.  So we are saving our time, money and natural resources with just this one choice we make.  We used to do because we did not have a trailer and now we do to help protect our farm and do a little part to help Mother Earth.

There are other things that we do to help Mother Earth, but this is one thing that we did without thinking about it.  Please take a couple of minutes and think of something you do without thinking that is good for Mother Earth.  Please leave what you do in a comment below.  The more we consciously think of things to do, the better it is for all of us.

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

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Weather is changing.....

This is our son, Alan, with our yearling bulls just a couple of days ago.  Today we are down to about 6 inches of snow (some places are even bare ground)!  However, with that melting snow comes MUD!  The mud is just as hard to walk in as the snow and you might even loose your boot, if you are not careful.  The calves and cows are getting more active as the temperature warms.

We can always tell when a front is coming through the area.  The cattle are far less cooperative when the weather is changing.  Some of you may notice this with your children as well.  I have always said that if the animals are acting up of a morning during feeding, that the students will be the same way.  About 90% of the time this holds true.  Don't believe me?  Ask a teacher.  The moisture that the snow has left us is a Blessing from God.  Technically we are still in a drought, but it is improvement.  The snow also puts much needed nitrogen back into the soil which the grass and crops need in order to grow.  

There are times when doing chores in the snow and/or mud, that we are all arguing before we are done.  This is because we have all had to exert more energy to get things done.  After a couple of weeks of this, all of us get a little tired and cranky.  It is tough sometimes to remember that we are all in the same boat together and get further if we work together.  This is one time when nerves are raw and tempers are a little short.  

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

Monday, March 4, 2013

2 Feet of Snow is Melting.......

Last night, we had knocked down all of the overhang off of the barn.  This is what was hanging over this morning.  About five minutes after I took this picture, this snow came crashing down on its own.  I am so thankful that there were not any cows, calves or people under it when it fell.  Several of the cows/calves were obviously startled as this came down.

We received around two feet of snow in less than a week (more than our yearly average).  Walking in all of the snow made our legs and lower backs sore because it is a lot harder to walk in than when the ground is dry.  Now the snow is melting and we are starting to deal with mud.  While mud is no harder to walk in than snow, there is the chance of getting stuck and walking out of your boot(s).  Anyone whom has lived and/or worked on a farm knows exactly what I am talking about.  You're walking along watching the cows you are moving and all of the sudden your boot sticks and your foot comes up out of it and right into the sloppy mud.  Sometimes we are lucky and realize our foot is stuck before our foot comes out of it.  We have even had to dig a few boots out with shovels because we could not pull them out.  Even though the snow has been a pain and the mud is a pain, I am NOT complaining about the moisture.  We desperately needed it.    It is nice to see green grass where the snow has melted.

We had the privilege of having a friend come out and give the twins their bottle.  She had always wanted to do this and we were able to grant her wish.  It was a true joy to see her face light up as she was giving them the bottle and petting them after they were done.  Seeing those that do not live on a farm able to do things they have wanted to do is a great privilege.  We are so thankful that God has given us the ability and knowledge to share with others and let some of the public see that many farmers take great care when caring for their animals and/or land.  If we don't, we don't make any money.  If there is something that you have wanted to do on a farm, talk to a farmer near you and see if they can make it possible.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's Just A..........

I am not trying to take this idea from the person whom posted it first, but when I saw this it made me think.

How many times have we heard it's just a ...(cow, dog, horse, etc)?  I can remember friends saying this to me when I was in school and had one die or was worried about one that was about to calve.  I would try to explain to them that they are more than just cows, when you spend so much time with them.  Some of them understood when I related to their pets, others just couldn't or wouldn't grasp the concept.  I have also seen my children go through these situations.  One in particular was when my daughter's first cow (that she had shown as a heifer) had to have a c-section.  The vet warned us that she may not make it and Ashley was so worried all of the time.  A few of her close friends understood what she was going through, but many did not.  As a mother, it hurt me that she was hurting so much and her friends couldn't understand.  We had a long discussion about what a true friend is and what a true friend is not.  This is a hard lesson for any child to comprehend and we have all been there ourselves and with our children no matter if we are farm families or not.  This is one way where families are all the same.  We experience many of the same trials and tribulations while raising our children.

Some of the life lessons come earlier for the farm children.  When you have your two or three year old out to check cows and the bull is breeding a cow, they are going to ask what is happening.  Some find it hard to explain to this to their children at age 10, imagine doing it at 2 or 3.  They also learn the fact that there is a circle of life at a very young age.  They also learn to eat the animals they have raised (that is why we raise them).  I will admit that them eating the first animal of theirs is tough on them, but they do get over it.  When Ashley was younger, her Grandpa bought her show steer to put in his freezer.  When we ate, she watched the packages to make sure they were not from her steer.  Eventually, we were able to sneak it in on her.  One night, as she was getting her second helping of spaghetti, I asked, "Jay (her steer) tastes good, doesn't he?"  She about came unglued that she had eaten Jay.  Then she stopped and said, "Yes, he is!"  Then she ate the rest of her food.

As moms, we all have difficult tasks to do as a mother whether we are on a farm or not.  We get our reward when our children grow and become productive members of society.  I find it rewarding that my daughter and her husband and his children are now part of our family farm.  My Grandchildren have changed so much since they have been coming to the farm and given more and more responsibilities when they are here.  It is truly rewarding to see the next generation of our family farm starting out.

Our son has also made my heart proud lately.  I have seen him grow into a responsible young man whom helped his nephews and niece learn how to do things on the farm and show their heifers last year.  It was also great to see him help dig out neighbors in the snow storms we have had in the last week.  When he does this on his own, I know that one of the most important things that I wanted to instill in my children has gotten through!  For any mom this is a triumph to celebrate.

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 Blizzards

Drift after storm #2

This is the fresh snow on top of where we had packed down the 13 inches from the first storm less than one week ago.
I know that this is my second post today, but I have had some extra time sitting in my chair trying to recover from being outside in this snow.  The following post will explain more.  I hope you enjoy reading it.
Last Thursday, we got about 13 inches of snow.  We spent the next two days digging us and our neighbors out.  Sunday and most of Monday were not bad at all.  Monday night into today have not been so good.  We received at least 12 more inches with 1-3 more forecasted for tonight.  This snow has made a lot more work for us and what we do is at least three times harder to do.  It is harder to walk especially when carrying anything.  Today, we let the calves out this morning to nurse and then put them back in the barn for the day.  This afternoon, we repeated this process.  This is extra work for us as er have to clean out the stalls where we keep the calves and get them in an extra time a day all the while being up to our knees (at times) in snow.  Calves have to be watched closely for pneumonia due to the cold/wet conditions.  The fluctuation in temperatures that we have had also contribute to the increased risk of illness.  I will admit that we also have some fun with snow balls, etc after chores, but we are all worn out when we return to the house.
I have stated that I would try not to complain about the amount of snow because of our desperate need for moisture.  This was easier before today!  The short amount of time between storms did not give us enough time to completely clean up and recover from the first round.  With both rounds giving us at least a foot of snow, the cows are not even liking it.  They stay by the hay unless they are walking to get water or to the wind breaks that they have.  We can tell how far they have/have not traveled by the lack of tracks in the snow. 
While those of you whom can are sitting inside enjoying the beauty of the snow or out playing in it when you feel like it, please think of those of us that do not get a snow day because we are raising the food that you eat.  Yes, we choose this lifestyle and no, I would not trade it, but it is harder to handle everything in this type of weather.  Thank you to all of you that are out there raising the food that I eat, but don't raise.  I appreciate all that you do!
Until next time, remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Bulls Are NOT Always Mean and Supporting Others

One of 4-H club members leading a yearling bull from water to tie back up.  This is the first time she as been around cattle this closely.  He did not give her any problems!

This is a client of my daughter's, A to Z Photography.  This is his six month pictures with one of our baby bulls.  He was pulling on the bulls ear and hair and he just laid there the entire time.
I am so sorry that I have not posted any for awhile.  A couple of weeks ago, we had one of our gates opened by someone and our cows were on the road.  Fortunately, a neighbor stopped and told us they were out before any of them or anyone was hurt!  We are grateful that we have friends that still care enough about others to stop and let us know.  It seems that type of generosity is lacking in our farm community.  When I was growing up, everyone in the neighborhood would be helping get them back in the pasture.  When I tell my children stories of us and others dropping everything to help a neighbor in need, they understand because we have raised them this way.  When our daughter met her husband and starting bringing his children to the farm, we would tell them these stories.  They did not appear to comprehend the concept of helping someone else when they needed it.  They have begun to realize how much this means to others through watching and helping us keep this type of working together for the good of all.
When I posted about the gate being opened on Facebook, one of my friends told me to be careful that some cattle had been stolen from around her area.  She said that they would have to watch the farmer's habits as well as know when the bull was in the field.  I asked her why a rustler would have to know when a bull was in the pasture.  She was under the impression that ALL bulls were mean.  I assured her that there were many bulls that were not mean and in fact were VERY gentle.  She was thankful to know that and thanked me for giving her correct information.  I asked her if I could use this example on my blog, and she said that I could.  I will not use her name, but feel that she should not be embarrassed by her lack of knowledge.  She is not nor was ever a farmer so she had no way of knowing except for what others told her and what she saw on TV and in the media.  I feel Blessed that I was able to share facts with her and let her know that many of us care greatly for our animals as well as our safety.
We are fortunate enough to be able to assist one of our soldiers while he is deployed overseas protecting our freedom.  We are assisting his family in any way we can on the farm while he is deployed.  It feels great to be able to do a little something in return for him and his family while he is serving to protect us!  I am humbled to be able to do this.  There is no way that we can possibly repay him for his service, but at least we are trying to do something.
Until next time, remember.......Beef, It's What's for Dinner!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Calving Season Begins

When this picture was taken, we had one calf on the ground.  An AI baby girl!!!  Since then we have had two more AI baby girls and one baby girl (heifer) out of our previous herd bull.

This is the view from my living room to the barn.  Thanks to my parents for purchasing the camera and to my husband, son-in-law, son and grandson for installing it for me!  Two of our grandchildren watched a heifer trying to have her first calf on this camera.  They then experienced their first time of pulling a calf.  They were great at helping us out.  When we returned to the house, our granddaughter said, "My mind is blown!"  We thought it was so cute.  This calf happened to be out of the heifer she showed last year.

Along with being in the middle of calving season, we are doctoring our herd bull for an infection of unknown origin.  The veterinarian came out last weekend and drained it and took a sample to send off for tests. He said the prognosis for the bull is guarded so the bull, Boss, is getting babied a lot!  He is enjoying it, at least until it is time for his shots.  He doesn't care much for those!  He does enjoy the feed he is getting.

This month has brought us two birthdays to celebrate and only one semester from the graduation from high school for our youngest.  My, how time flies.

If you are close by and want to come out and see the babies we have had so far.  Just let us know when you want to come out.  We will do our best to accommodate you.

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