A few years ago, I heard another feed yard manager talk about the importance of the feed yard crew employing an appropriate sense of urgency to individual situations on the farm. I’ve held onto that phrase in my head because I think that it holds the crux of successful animal care. Personal reactions to farm events determine the effectiveness of their control — whether you are the boss/ foreman or the water tank cleaning crew.
We run a “short crew” on Sundays at the feed yard. My three guys take turns feeding on Sundays having to work every third weekend. It is a nice way to ensure that the crew gets some family time despite the long hours of work on the farm. We really can’t get the work load finished on Sunday mornings with just one person, so I am a permanent Sunday morning crew member. I read bunks, check water tanks, observe cattle health, and generally do whatever needs done while my other crew member drives the feed truck delivering breakfast.
Most Sundays, it works like a charm.
This week, I arrived at the feed yard just before 6:00 to start chores. My cowboy met me at the front gate with the unfortunate news that our main well had gone down and all of our water tanks were empty.
This is significant for two reasons:
- Water is critical — our animals have to have it — having a well problem on a Sunday morning is a BIG DEAL.
- This Sunday was not my “cowboy’s weekend” — it was his day off. However, he had stopped by the feed yard on his way to town for breakfast just to make sure that everything was okay.
The feed yard has a back up well, so we fiddled around in the dark and got it started. The problem with the back up well is that it is not as powerful — it’s primary job is to supply extra water to cattle in the summer, not to provide the total water supply. We’ve never had this problem before (showing up on Sunday morning to find water tanks dry), so Rich and I debated how long we thought it would take for the back up well to refill the water tanks.
I really hate to bother my foreman on the Sunday morning that is supposed to be his day off. However, it seemed an appropriate sense of urgency to call him as I was unsure if the secondary well would provide enough water. I am sure that he was really excited to hear my friendly voice on his cell phone at 6:30am on his “off” Sunday; but he’s a dedicated animal caregiver and was out at the feed yard within 20 minutes.
The story ends well…
The secondary well did an awesome job and had water tanks refilled in about an hour and a half. Our local well repair company came out Monday to install a new pressure switch on the main well — and the 1700 bovines on the farm remained well cared for throughout the entire episode.
Times like this remind me of the importance of the loyalty, integrity, and compassion of my crew. My cowboy and my foreman are a rare breed of men — always putting responsibility to the animals ahead of personal agendas. I have been blessed to have them on the feed yard crew for my entire tenure on the farm and I am very proud of our high level of teammanship.
As we transition the farm, they will both begin to play a new role but Matt and I are very thankful that they will remain members of our farm team.