1200 Calves, a Dozen Eggs, and the Start of Winter…

The last six weeks have been truly a blur. This time of year I loose sense of the day of the week as the days all seem to run together amidst a common theme —

Take care of the calves.

Unquestionably, October and the first half of November are the busiest times of the year at our feed yard.ย  Mother Nature stops giving the gift of grass, so cattle must be moved and fed in order to remain healthy for the winter. Breeding cattle (cows and bulls) are trailed or trucked to winter pastures where they receive supplemental feed or moved to graze the remnants of corn fields after harvest.

Cattle that will become beef are trucked to feed yards.

cattleunload.jpg

The majority of the calves that are moved into feed yards like mine during this time are animals that are 8-9 months of age. Many of them are bawling calves which means that they are weaned from their Mamas at the same time that they leave the home ranch. These cattle are undeniably high maintenance and take a lot of work. Limiting the stress for these animals is critical, and they require a lot of time and care.

I am extremely proud of the care that my crew and I provide — we focus on what is best for each calf and work tirelessly to provide it.

redcalf1.jpg

  • Exercising
  • Acclimating
  • Feeding
  • Maintaining comfortable pen conditions
  • Identifying any sick animals that need special care

All these things fill our days (and likely a few of our nights).

By the middle of November the fatigue sets in, and my crew and I anxiously await the end of the fall run. This week (for the first time in six weeks), we have no new animals set to arrive at the feed yard. This gives us the opportunity to catch up on secondary work that has been set aside as we cared for the new cattle and, hopefully, to take a few deep breathes in order to cast off the weariness.

*******

On the home front, I am happy to report that Ashley Graceโ€™s chickens have begun to grace us with eggs. The laying process began slowly, but we are up to 2-3 eggs per day from her 5 laying ladies. While I sternly remind the feathered girls that they are food animals, I have to admit that I find myself talking to them while I do home choresโ€ฆ

My favorite farmer was pretty proud to be the one to find the first egg!

My favorite farmer was pretty proud to be the one to find the first egg!

I am sad to report that it appears that winter has arrived in Nebraska. We worked cattle Monday with sub-freezing temperatures and a 50 mph north wind. Today, I exercise calves at dawn with temperatures hovering around zero degrees.

I am reminded that this is the time of year to cowgirl up as working at a feed yard is not for the weak of heart!

7 Comments

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7 responses to “1200 Calves, a Dozen Eggs, and the Start of Winter…

  1. I am so excited to hear you are getting eggs finally. .. how exciting ๐Ÿ™‚ My grandmother told me about y’alls cold weather and said you even already had a dusting of snow. Sorry to hear that because I know that makes things even more difficult on you. I hope the wind stopd and you get at least consistent and a little warmer weather this week. We too have colder weather and frost in the morning. They said we are going to get into the 20’s at night. No fun but what can you do. I’m glad we got our animals and outbuildings ready over the last few weeks so we are mostly ready. Still need to go chop a little firewood though. Tell Ashly Grace yahhh for taking such good care of her girls they are finally laying. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 4 degrees this morning with wind chills about -12 degrees — brr! That seems cold to me for the 12th of November, but we take what comes our way ๐Ÿ™‚ I wore my face mask for the first time since February…

      Glad to hear that you have everything ready for winter on your farm. It is always good to get those chores done while it is still nice out. We built our seasonal winter horse fence this last weekend — Matt leaves about 30 acres of 4th cutting alfalfa for my horses to graze from November to March. I am certainly glad that we got that done as now would be a terrible time to have to build fence!

      We are very excited that the hens are laying — they are goofy creatures but we are enjoying them along with the eggs.

      Stay warm, Kim!
      Best,
      Anne

      • We were in Indiana for a few days this past week and when we left it was 12* there so I feel your pain. It is supposed to snow here on Friday and it was sleeting today. I guess weather is here ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Our chickens finally started laying again and that makes me so happy. I am glad you are enjoying your chicks ๐Ÿ™‚ Your horses will be happy for the alfalfa this winter ๐Ÿ™‚

        You stay warm as well. ๐Ÿ™‚
        -Kim

  2. theranchwifechronicles

    Anne,

    Last week was super busy for us weaning calves, working calves and running the cows through the chute. We got it all done before the cold hit.

    Yesterday we had a high of 8* with wind. Sounds like temps will warm up to the 20’s this weekend. Monday morn we woke up to 3-4″ if snow. We have had such a beautiful fall and don’t feel ready for arctic weather.

    My 9 leghorn hens are laying 4-6 eggs a day. It’s fun to see cartons of little white eggs. The reds have not started yet. Who knew something as simple as a chicken could bring such a smile.

    Good Luck during this cold snap.

    • Glad that you got most of your bovine work done last week before the weather hit, Robyn. Cold temperatures and snow always make things harder than they normally are. I agree that none of us were likely ready or prepared for the arctic weather!

      We are getting smiles from the chickens — as well as eggs — and I agree “who would know”. The chickens have been a really good family project. Ashley Grace and Matt have been working on getting the coop ready for winter, as the feathered girls busily talk to them in their goofy chicken language ๐Ÿ™‚

      Stay warm,
      Anne

  3. The chickens do like the empty egg shells to pick at and they say it is good for them. My parents always saved the shells for hens to pick.

    • Great to know, Ellie. I appreciate the tip — we will start doing that.

      Thank you so much. I did not know that and have passed on your advice to Ashley Grace.

      Best,
      Anne

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