The Boss Lady…

My crew of guys at the feed yard call me the “Boss Lady”.  Most days the term is used with a smile.  Occasionally, it is accompanied by a boot kick to the dirt and a bit of grumbling.  It is always used with an underlying current of respect.

Checking the quality and mix of feed just delivered to a pen of new cattle...

I am frequently asked how a young woman was able to be successful in the predominantly male world of cattle feeding.  The short answer to that question is simply “hard work”.  Respect is earned—it is not a gift—and my crew respects me because they know that I work just as hard as they do.  I have slowly climbed my way from the bottom of the “useful” scale to the top.  Today, the success of the feed yard is intrinsically tied to my leadership.  My guys know this, and hence, the term “Boss Lady” was formed.

I am very proud of the term “Boss Lady” because it signifies that I have proven myself to those most important to me.

My father-in-law took a tremendous leap of faith when he gave me a job at the feed yard in June of 1997.  I had a cum laude degree from an Ivy League institution; however, as he so eloquently pointed out, I knew NOTHING about caring for cattle and growing beef.  The icing on the cake was the fact that I was a young woman wanting to enter a man’s world.

Taken in 2006, my father-in-law with one of the new generation of strong and opinionated young women that Matt and I have blessed the family with...

My father-in-law is a very smart man.  He knew that I was going to have to earn respect, and he started me at the bottom of the crew working for $6.85 an hour because that was where I deserved to be.  I honestly cannot tell you the pivotal point in my career where I became the “Boss Lady”—it was a slow transition that occurred over many, many years.

There is both an art and a science to good feed delivery...

  • I learned to “run” a scoop shovel…
  • I learned to run the tractors…
  • I learned to run the feed truck…
  • I learned to “read bunks” and understand nutritionally what our cattle needed…
  • I learned to vaccinate and care for the health of our cattle…
  • I learned the psychology of cattle handling…
  • I learned how to load and unload cattle off of semi-trucks…
  • I learned about environmental stewardship…I learned about governmental regulations pertaining to the environment (unfortunately they are not always one in the same)…
  • I learned how to do bookwork and accounting (something that still challenges me)…
  • I learned how to buy and sell cattle…
  • I learned how to buy feed ingredients…
  • I learned that the volatility of the markets leaves my business vulnerable…
  • Of all of the things that I learned, the most important was never to judge a group of people or an industry that you do not understand…

    Here I am mixing a bottle of vaccine that I will use to stimulate the immune system of my cattle upon arrival at the feed yard. This keeps them healthy...

The list could literally go on and on and on…I already knew how to sweat and work hard from my years of athletic training, I just needed to learn how to apply that to managing a feed yard.  I spent the better part of a decade watching and learning.  Today, I not only watch and learn, but I also lead my team.

I am responsible for every single one of my animals..They need me...If you eat beef, you need me too...

I no longer worry about gaining respect.  Rather, as the Boss Lady, I worry about shouldering the responsibility of 3000 animals, making payroll for my crew, and keeping my business afloat despite the ever increasing volatility of the markets and further reaching tentacles of government regulation.  I added blogging to the list when it became apparent to me that if I did not share my story with you, then someone else would tell an inaccurate version in an attempt to dissuade you from buying my beef.

Testifying at a House Agricultural hearing in Washington DC...

While I take great pride in wearing the “Boss Lady” hat, some days my shoulders are bent under the weight of the responsibility that comes with it.

11 Comments

Filed under CAFO, Foodie Work!, General

11 responses to “The Boss Lady…

  1. Bill

    “Boss Lady” is far removed from your cute, yet terrifying, athletic nickname.

  2. Al Svajgr

    Anne, Great way to relate that many leaving our institutions of higher learning today need to take the “job” first and then be able and ready to get that “position” that they think they deserve without earning it. You have earned it!

  3. Nothing taught me that respect is earned as quickly as showing up on a feedlot for my first day of work. It was a swift kick in the butt that challenged and pushed me in ways I never thought I could conquer, but did. And that is a life lesson you never forget.

    Great post!

  4. A friend told me to check all meat I buy and make sure it is not marked Halal. She said this is not processed with the same safety regulations that most other meats are pack with. Is this true, could you do a post on the Halal meats?

    • Hi Ellie: I will have to do some homework and then get back to you on this. It may take me a little while to get some information collected but I will go to work researching it. Thanks for asking! Anne

      • thank you for the nice reply, I know you are a busy lady and thank you for taking the time to educate your readers about beef harvesting. I grew up on a dairy farm in Ohio and then my dad sold out dairy and raised beef. I do miss farm raised beef but have gotten used to store bought beef. I live in florida and the beef here is quite different then even Ohio. have a great day. Ellie

  5. Hi Ellie:

    I looked into Halal meats and what I found was that they have the same food safety inspections as any other type of meat.

    There was a “spam” email that circulated last week regarding Halal meat and its safety, and the email was not accurate. I wonder if your friend received that email? Please tell her/him to disregard the message in the email if they received it and please not to forward it on.

    Thank you for following the blog and asking questions! Have a great weekend.

    Anne

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