The Drill Sergeant…

My children call me a Drill Sergeant, although a swimming recruiting trip to West Point as a senior in high school is as close as I have ever come to being in the military.  Since I cannot fathom that my 5’3” and 110 pound frame is physically imposing, I suppose it is my confident and no nonsense manner that inspires the nickname.

The Drill Sergeant...

I tell my children that “you have to stand for something or you will fall for anything”.

I had an experience last week at the feed yard that brought this saying (as well as my nick name) to the forefront of my mind…

This animal is ready for harvest...

When my cattle are ready for harvest, I sell them to a packing plant.  While the vast majority of my cattle are marketed through U.S. Premium Beef on a value added and carcass merit (value) basis, I do have a small number of animals that are unable to be Age and Source Verified that I sell as commodity cattle to a different packing plant.  Commodity cattle are animals that do not have anything that makes them unique—they are not value added, and will be marketed as generic cattle/beef.  I sold a pen of commodity cattle last week, and I sold them on a Live Basis.  Those of you that followed my long series of posts tracing Calf #718 from birth to harvest are aware of the way that I market my value added and Age and Source Verified cattle (

When I sell a pen of commodity cattle on a live basis, I get paid simply on the pounds of live animal weight at the time of shipment.  In other words, the cattle are weighed when they are loaded onto the semi-trucks and that weight is multiplied by a negotiated price and that is the payment that I receive for the cattle.  When you sell a pen of cattle on a live basis, the packing plant both sets the shipment schedule and arranges the semi-trucks to carry the cattle to harvest.  Although these animals are not sold on a carcass value basis, they still produce safe and healthy beef and their care is of the up-most importance to me.

We start feeding early in the morning so that every one of our animals has "breakfast" delivered by 9:30am.

I began my day last Thursday morning by reading bunks and establishing a feeding schedule for the cattle in the feed yard.  I then exercised a pen of newly arrived cattle just as the sun came up.  After this, my cowboy and I prepared to ship the pen of commodity cattle to harvest.  Unfortunately, what should have been an easy transition of animals onto the semi-truck became a challenging experience for this Boss Lady turned Drill Sergeant.

One of the three truck drivers hired by the packing plant to carry my cattle to harvest did not share my philosophy that animal handlers should be calm and level headed.  He was upset about the circumstances and timing of the shipment and lost his temper… So what did a 5’3” and 110 pound female drill sergeant do with a 6’1” and 250+ pound angry male truck driver when it became obvious that he was not in control of himself?

I told him to leave my property and did not load my animals on his truck.

 Something in my steady and steal-like gaze must have penetrated his anger because he left without further argument.

 He returned to my feed yard an hour later in a much calmer frame of mind.  His boss arrived shortly there after to ensure that professional behavior would prevail, and we loaded the truck.

Here is a semi-truck backed up to my loading chute and ready to receive animals to be transported to harvest...

I believe that calm and rational people make good cattle handlers.  I believe that it is my job as Boss Lady and Humane Caregiver to ensure that my crew and I work with people that share a rational frame of mind.  This was a very challenging situation to deal with, and I was glad for both my drill sergeant nature and my commitment to “stand for what I believe in”.  My safety, the safety of my cowboy, and the safety of my animals relied on my ability to effectively handle the situation.

So, what is the moral of the story?  Be true to your core values, and stand firmly for what you believe in.  Good leadership is marked by confident, rational, and steadfast commitment…No matter what your physical stature is!


Filed under Foodie Work!, General

7 responses to “The Drill Sergeant…

  1. Bill

    Wow. Next Halloween I’m dressing up as Anne. Scary.

    Was that driver a Teamster? He was lucky, and he was smart to call in back-up.

  2. Bill

    …I’m sure Anne’s cowboy was thinking, “Well. I guess now is a good time to go get some coffee. The Boss Lady won’t want any witnesses.”

  3. cowdoc lana

    I have learned that those who most under estimate the power of scrawny women are those most surprised by how quickly they respond to the verbal order to leave, stop, desist or move their bug butt –

  4. Pat

    I would love to trade places with you for a few days. We are dairy farmers in Wisconsin. I’d love to see how things go at your place and we would let you meet our bossies.Great job your doing. I think women have more patience when it comes to cattle. And you get to know the animals too. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Pat, glad that you like the site and my posts. I would love to give you tour of the feed yard–please let me know if you ever travel through Nebraska. Likewise, if my travels ever take me to Wisconsin I would love to see your farm. I hope that you continue to follow Feed Yard Foodie!

      All the best,

  5. jamie

    Glad to know that the truck driver was not anyone of my uncles truck drivers.

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