My family hosted a reporter from Washington DC last Friday. When he called a few days before arriving to confirm the trip, he said “By the way, a photographer is coming along to take pictures for the story so you have a couple of days to clean house before we get there”. I instantly rattled off my typical response about the state of my home, “I am not the best housekeeper in the world—my house always seems to look lived in”.
When I got off of the phone, it occurred to me that he really was not talking about the cleanliness of my house, he was talking about the visual aspects of my cattle feed yard and our farm. The concept of cleaning house as it pertains to a cattle feed yard is an interesting one. Having a well maintained and clean feed yard is a journey—not a destination. It is one that we work at every single day and that work is intrinsically tied to Mother Nature.
I have an employee whose main priority (other than helping to feed the cattle) is to scrape and maintain the cattle pens. This not only removes manure in a timely manner (which Matt needs to fertilize his crops), but it also ensures that cattle living conditions remain comfortable. There are times that Mother Nature challenges us with a big snow storm or a heavy spring/summer rain, but we strive to keep our animals as comfortable as possible despite these challenges.
Is my cattle feed yard perfect? No, it is run by a human and, as hard as I try, I am still not perfect. Did I pray that we would not receive a heavy rain the night before the reporter and his photographer arrived at my farm? Absolutely!
As I took the reporter and his crew through the feed yard Friday morning, I asked him if the cattle looked comfortable and well cared for. He answered, “Yes, the cattle look comfortable and they are certainly not living knee deep in their own feces. Your pens are spacious. It doesn’t look at all like the way that the movie Food, Inc. portrayed feed yards.”
A well maintained farm takes effort, but having a clean house sets my animals up for success. This allows them to make healthy beef using fewer natural resources because they are comfortable in their home pen. Healthy animals make healthy beef, so cleaning house is an important job on our farm!
Now, if I could only convince my children that keeping the inside of our home clean was important perhaps it would not always look so lived in!