Saturday, December 12, 2015

Excitement is Building

You know that feeling of anticipation and excitement as something you are looking forward to is getting close?  That is me right now!

Just as the sun rises everyday, new times are coming to the farm.  We are making final preparations for our first calf of the season.  Cows are moved to the house.  This is so we can watch them more closely in case they have a difficult labor and/or delivery.

This time of year always excites me.  I love seeing the babies start out and grow.  The challenges that come with calves that need extra help so that they can thrive can never be completely anticipated.  We look at each pair as the calf is born and determine what if anything extra needs to be done for one or both of them.  This does not just stop right after birth.  We monitor these cows and calves multiple times a day to do our best to discover problems that may arise as early as possible.  This early detection allows us to use less intensive measures to fix the problems (illness, injury).

I am anticipating this calving season even more because the Windy Hill Farm family has grown and I can see how these new members react to the joys and trials of this season.  To watch the smiles as the calves are running and playing in the field will be a Blessing for me.

While I am excited, there is much left to get done.  We have a fence that needs repaired and barn stalls that need to be prepped.  The stalls will be bedded down and inspected to make sure they do not need repair.  We need to double check equipment that we may need to use to assist in a delivery to make sure it is working order.  The kit that we put together to grab in case we have to assist in a delivery needs to be completed.  The supply of medications and supplies that may may be needed will be placed in a box so that we can grab it quickly and get it to the barn when we need to do so.  Flashlights inspected so we have them for night and early morning checks.  Batteries purchased for flashlights.  There are many more tasks that need to be completed.  I should do those instead of sitting here typing......

So with anticipation of that first calf arriving, I am going to finish preparing and will let you know when we have officially started this calving season!

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Passing on the Love of Cattle and Farming

This little one and her family came into our lives just a short time ago, but we love them just the same.  This one loves to come out and see the cows.  She has no fear of them and loves them.  As soon as she walks in the door, she wants to go see the cows.  It warms my heart to have their family coming out and joining us on the farm.

Starting the next generation out young and getting them on the farm is the only way this awesome way of life is going to continue.  Getting them to understand what needs to happen, doing it and loving it will create the next generation of farmers so that family farms do not become extinct.  While they are not biologically family, they are still part of us. With the skills the learn they may be able to start their own farm or continue to help others out.  If nothing else, they will be exposed to agriculture and know some of what it takes to get their food to their table.

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Have Plans???? We Think Not!

On Friday, December 26, 2014, we had plans to do several things on the farm and have friends over to see the baby calves that night.  Well.......the cows had other ideas.  Alan was driving by the other farm and saw a calf in the middle of the field.  There are not suppose to be any calves over there.  We try to bring them home to calve so they are closer in case they need assistance and so we can care for the calf.  We all got in vehicles and the four wheeler to go retrieve the pair.  Mom was a show heifer so she got haltered.  The calf had to be tied and put in the back of the truck because it kept running off.  It took two of us to hold him in the truck on the way home.  Ok, one probably could have done it but two was a better option to keep him from getting hurt.  I was following the truck with momma.  She was following it so well, I thought I could let go of halter and she would stay there.  BIG MISTAKE!!  She took off back through the field to where she last saw the baby.  Alan and I caught her again and this time tied her to the back of the four wheeler and took her home.  We were going at her walking space so that she was not uncomfortable.  We got her home and put in stall with the calf then went back to field where everyone else was to check the other cows and feed hay.

While Mike, Jeff, and Dad were waiting on us, they found another cow that they were sure had calved.  When Alan and I got there, him and dad fed hay and I joined the search for a newborn.  If you have been around cattle much at all, you know this is like finding a needle in a hay stack.  After feeding hay, Alan and Dad joined back in the search.  We looked until dark (about four hours) and then the neighbor was flashing a light at us.  I had told him earlier that we were looking for a newborn.  He was walking along the fence and spooked it up and it took off.  There was some level of relief because we knew that there was a calf and that it was up and about,  Our concern was leaving it over there for the night.  Since we could not find the
'phantom calf'' even after she had been spotted we were left with no choice but to resume in the morning.  I was done when I crossed paths with a skunk.  Fortunately even though it was dark and all I saw at first was movement, I was able to back away and let him pass without incident.

We went back early on Saturday morning and the Phantom was standing with mom!  We then got them to the house without much difficulty.  Now, to do all of the things that didn't get done Friday and Saturday with a major cold front bearing down on us.  Oh the joys of farming.  Though there are times that are frustrating and sometimes infuriating, I would not change it for the world.

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Calving Season 2014-2015 has Begun

This is my favorite time of the year.  Seeing life begin anew.  I love to see the baby calves running, playing and enjoying life.  It reminds me to take time and enjoy it myself.  What our lives are so hectic, we need something to remind us to slow down.  When we are doing chores, we are usually hurrying trying to get everything done quickly for one reason or another.  During some of these times, we have to stop and watch as the calves are running and jumping.  We all have smiles on our faces and some of us are even laughing at them.  These creatures of God, bring joy to our lives.  Yes, they sometimes frustrate and anger us.  We stop ourselves and remind ourselves that God has trusted us to take care of these creatures and keep them healthy and safe.  This is no easy task and takes lots of time and energy.  This December has brought us many cloudy, gloomy days and very limited sunshine.  The National Weather Service said,last week, that since December 3 we have had a possibility of 169 hours of sunshine, we have only had nineteen.  Needless to say, we are getting a little grouchy and this calf made a bright spot for us yesterday.  

This calf is a gift from God.  He gave me the skills and will to learn to artificially inseminate our cows.  This is a heifer calf out of a bull, JDB Turn Key, that we owned years ago and have few of his descendants left in the herd.  This line has always been good milkers.  These are just a few of the reasons that she is a Blessing to us.  I am also thankful that I feel like I am giving back to my parents for all that they did for me and continue to do for me.

May you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  PLEASE take time to slow down and truly enjoy your family and all of the beauty around you.  Remember the reason for the season.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Family Affair

The above picture are of myself (orange shirt) and Daughter (pink shirt) at the Missouri State Fair.  For the first time in at least ten years, I was entering the show ring and my daughter was in the same class.  We had a lot of fun teasing each other about whom was going to win.  I must have taught her well, because she beat me!  I do however still say the judge was not really looking at the animals.  The bull she was showing only had one testicle and my bull had two.  So why did she win?  It was that judges opinion on that day.

This year has brought many interesting times in the show ring.  We had one of the best animals we have ever raised in the shoe ring.  One judge said that she was too 'cowy'. Now my thought is how can they be too cowy?  Isn't that we want is heifers that will be good cows?  At another show our three heifers were in the same class and placed in the bottom three holes.  The judge later commented that he would take the bottom three home to his pasture before the top three in the same class.  Wait a minute, if that is the case shouldn't these have placed first if you would take them home?

We have learned through the years to shrug these things off and go on with our lives.  We are in the business of raising cows and if we win in the show ring it is an added bonus for us.  We refuse to get our heifers fat for the show ring because they tend not to bred and/or milk if they get too fat.  We would rather have a calf on the ground next spring.  Most of the animals we show are farm raised so there is another level of pride when they can compete with the bigger breeders animals.

Where am I going with this?  Well, while showing myself, our children and now grandchildren have learned many life lessons.  One is responsibility.  You are responsible for the care and training of your animal(s).  If you do a good job of this care and training, they will perform better in the ring.  Humility is another lesson learned sometimes the hard way.  You must learn to win graciously and loose with dignity.  Life is not fair is another important lesson learned.  There are times that you are placed below animals that you should not be placed below, but that is that judges opinion on that day.  Dreaming big and going for the blue is an important place to start, but one must do the work for this and accept it when they don't win big.

As a parent and grandparent, I would much rather have a blue ribbon child whom has learned this lessons as well as made life long friends than a blue ribbon animal that these children never touched or learned from the experience.  Yes, not winning sometimes really hurts, but it is better for them to learn that in the show ring where the consequences of not winning are minimal than in real life situations where the consequences may be much more dire.

We win some, we lose more, but we do it as a family and spend quality time together.  We have fabulous friends that we have met through this activity and I find that they are generally the ones that are the first to offer support when we need it even though we are miles apart.  Don't misunderstand me, we have many friends that we gained through other parts of our lives that are also quick to lend support.

Thank you to my parents for allowing me to show cattle and for keeping the farm going so that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren may also participate in this activity and learn form it.  Thank you to all that we call friends for all that you do for us.  We are truly Blessed by having all of you in our lives.

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

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!