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. 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.
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.
- 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 Grace’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 chores…
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!