Tag Archives: fall

The Color Of Red…

Fall brings out the color of red – not just in Nebraska where children are taught at a very young age that red is the color of choice, but all throughout the Great Plains as the growing season draws to an end. I never tire of viewing the fall foliage as God’s paintbrush shines magnificently during the month of October.Megfallpicturecollage.jpg

My favorite cowgirl shares my love for the fall colors and does a beautiful job of painting a picture of Nebraska in the fall with this collage of photos that she took with her Granddaddy’s camera.

The 8th of October often finds me traveling to Long Valley, South Dakota to get Megan’s favorite red angus calves. The day starts early as I head north about 5:30am, and I always take a moment to appreciate the sunrise in the beautiful meadows and wetlands south of Valentine, NE.

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Mid-morning finds me at the ranch loading the calves so that they can travel south to the feed yard. Megan loves the calves because of their beautiful red color. I love them for their outstanding disposition which makes the transition into the feed yard and the feeding period so much smoother. It is a joy to feed cattle that receive excellent care during their entire lifetime, and Larry and Donita Denke are great partners to have in this great journey of beef production.Denkecollage.jpg

This year my favorite farmer traveled to South Dakota with me making his first “ranch trip” in more than a decade. The fall is such a busy time of year, and having a full day to spend with Matt is always a blessing. He rode along (outside of his love of spending time with me) because we made a detour to Ainsworth, Nebraska on our way home to watch our favorite Cross Country running brunette lead her team in the Conference Championship meet.XCcollage.jpg

The Lady Haymakers brought home the team gold placing all four runners in the top ten individual places. Ashley Grace ran a PR of 20:24 for the 5K race with a 2nd place individual finish. The Lady Haymakers compete in the District Championships this Thursday with their sights set on the Nebraska State Championship meet Friday October 23rd.

On the home front, things remain busy. The Feed Yard Foodie family prays for kindness from Mother Nature this time of year as the fall farm chore list remains extensive. I try to start each day with a two tiered chant: Go Haymakers! Go Beef!  My favorite farmer usually throws in a Go Big Red!

Fall blessings to you and your families.

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The Feed Yard Foodie Farm Heads Into the Fall Run…

This week officially marks the beginning of the fall run at the feed yard. Cool nights signal the end of the growing season and grass quality begins to diminish. Many animals not intended for breeding stock move off of home ranches and into feed yards as the pastures can no longer sustain them. The fall months provide the busiest time of the year at the feed yard as we offer care to large numbers of newly arrived animals.

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A couple of months ago, I wrote about finding personal balance and my search to figure out the best future plan for Feed Yard Foodie. After thoughts of retiring the blog site, I came to the realization that I was not ready to quit blogging. Instead, I needed to lighten the self-imposed pressure to write as frequently so that the work load became more manageable.

As we move into the fall, the frequency of blog posts will likely decrease due to my busy schedule. However, I am going to try to consistently upload pictures and short thoughts from the feed yard onto the Feed Yard Foodie Facebook page in between posts. I would encourage everyone interested in being a part of those messages to “Like” the page so that you can participate.  You can do this on the home page of the regular blog site or search Feed Yard Foodie on Facebook to find the page.

In the meantime, here are a few random thoughts from last week to share:annegwm2015.jpg

  • We completed our bi-yearly ground water monitoring to ensure that our farm is not negatively impacting the Ogallala Aquifer.
  • We also completed our 2nd Internal Progressive Beef Audit for 2015 to ensure that our farm remains dedicated to animal welfare, sustainability and food safety. This audit not only serves as an important “report card” for our daily care at the feed yard, but it also provides each of you the validation that my beef is raised responsibly.
  • My favorite Cross Country running teenager and her teammates are rocking through the first half of the season with an undefeated record. Each fall I am reminded how much I truly love the sport of X Country — I may well be the most enthusiast fan running around the course cheering for the runners 🙂
  • My favorite blonde cowgirl jumped right into her 8th grade Volleyball season when we returned home from Texas A & M. Her smile and leadership is contagious on the court, and she is a joy to watch.
  • My favorite 10 year old anxiously awaits the start of the fall soccer season as well as her 11th birthday. She and I continue to run and swim when we can in order to keep her lungs strong.
  • My favorite farmer will soon transition from dehydrating alfalfa to harvesting corn. Despite his long days on the farm, he takes the time to support and hang out with his girls – often providing a joke or a friendly “eye roll” when the estrogen levels permeating our house become too strong.

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I hope that each of you is enjoying the transition to the fall run. It is indeed a beautiful time!

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Putting One Foot In Front of the Other…

While the fall months are my favorite weather months of the year, my life is so busy that I often find myself one step short of frazzled.  I often need to remind myself to take one day at a time while putting one foot in front of the other.

We move large numbers of cattle off of grass pastures and into the feed yard in September, October and November as the temperatures cool and the growing season in Nebraska comes to an end.  Cattle are typically transported via a semi-truck where you can move 40-100 animals at a time depending on both the size of the trailer and the animals being transported.

Cattle are typically transported via semi truck where you can move anywhere from 40-100 animals at one time depending on both truck and animal size...

Here, Archie and I are loading our cattle onto the truck to move them from our grass pasture to the feed yard…

In addition to bringing our own cattle from our grass pasture to the feed yard, we also receive thousands of other animals from neighboring ranches.  These are animals that will not become part of a breeding herd, but rather cattle that are raised with the direct purpose of making beef.  I work as my own cattle buyer, and negotiate all of the logistics for cattle movement into the feed yard myself.

Here is their new home pen after arrival at the feed yard...

Here is their new home pen after arrival at the feed yard…

I became my own cattle buyer more than 10 years ago because I believe that vertical collaboration along the beef cycle leads to improved cattle welfare and beef quality.  I trace almost all of the cattle that are in the feed yard from birth all the way to harvest in collaboration with the ranches where our animals are born.   I love having the ability to influence welfare and beef quality throughout the entire growing cycle of cattle; and I enjoy the challenge of measuring improvement year after year.

Cattle spend the majority of their lives living on grass pastures--moving into the feed yard for only the last few months prior to becoming beef...

Cattle spend the majority of their lives living on grass pastures–moving into the feed yard for only the last few months prior to becoming beef…

While adding cattle buyer to the variety of hats that I wear adds significantly to my work load, I believe that it is well worth the effort.  Not only do I enjoy working with my rancher partners, but I am also able to see the incredible improvement in cattle care and beef quality due to my efforts.july 25 2013 052Annehorse

No matter how good I am, I know that I can always get better.  That drives me to continue to search for greatness while at the same time putting one foot in front of the other…

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Meanwhile Back In Nebraska…

Fall is in the air and the trees are turning colors. 

This is my favorite time of year, and I treasure the breathtaking views that surround me.  The following pictures were taken by Kristian Rennert of Elm Creek, Nebraska.  He has a tremendous gift for photography, and has gracefully allowed me to share the beauty.

The beautiful Platte River...

The Platte River dressed in its fall glory…

An irrigation pivot just north of the river...

An irrigation pivot just north of the river…

Kristian's dog, Tater, posing for a picture during their hike along the river...

Kristian’s dog, Tater, posing for a picture during their river hike…

This one is my favorite.  God's paintbrush leaves me in awe...

This one is my favorite. God’s paintbrush leaves me in awe…

The river brings life to our farm and the Nebraska prairie with the gift of water...

The river brings life to our farm and the Nebraska prairie with the gift of water…

As the green shifts to yellow and orange we are thankful for the passing of the seasons, and take a moment to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us...

As the green shifts to yellow and orange I am thankful for the passing of the seasons, and try to take a moment to enjoy the surrounding beauty…

What brings peace to your life?

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The Fall Run…

Feed Yard Foodie, makes the high school "All Area" Cross Country team for South Florida...

Twenty years ago when I thought of the phrase “The Fall Run”, I thought of my next cross country race.

The next generation...her toughness and tenacity makes me proud...

Although I am currently reliving my life as a cross country runner watching my oldest daughter begin her journey as a distance runner, the words The Fall Run no longer lead to mental pictures of runners and cross country races. Rather, they bring to mind incredibly busy days at the feed yard as we receive many new cattle…

Newly arrived "fall calves" from Al and Sallie Atkins...

The Fall Run is therefore synonymous with acclimating new cattle and “refilling” the pens that were empty during the summer months when cattle were out grazing on grass pastures.  As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, our grass in Nebraska stops growing.  This signals that it is time to move the cattle that are destined for harvest off of pastures and into feed yards.  The remaining carefully saved pastures on the ranch are used for the winter feed needs of breeding stock (mama cows and bulls that will make the next generation of calves).

We receive several different types of cattle during

The Fall Run…                

Yearlings are cattle that are more than 12 months of age.  A Nebraska born yearling typically comes from a spring calving herd and is about 17 months old when he is moved into a feed yard like mine.  He was born in the spring, grazed on grass with his mama through the summer, was weaned in the mid-late fall, wintered on pastures or fed in pens on the ranch a diet of grains and forage, grazed again on grass for the spring and summer and then finally moved into a feed yard to be finished in late summer or early fall.  Most of the yearlings that I receive into the feed yard weigh 800-900#.

Yearling steers from Sumner, Nebraska that shipped to the feed yard as the grass stopped growing...

Fall Calves are cattle that are born in the late summer and fall months instead of in the spring.  The majority of the cattle herds in Nebraska are spring calving herds, but there are some fall calving herds as well.  A fall calf is typically shipped to a feed yard late summer or early fall and is 10-14 months of age.  The fall calves that I receive at the feed yard weigh approximately 700#.  I really like feeding fall calves because they typically winter very well for me, have few health problems, and harvest in February and March still eligible for an Age and Source Verified program which allows me diversity with my end product.

A fall calf from Stapleton, Nebraska waiting for breakfast on a beautiful fall morning...

Spring Calves are cattle that are born in the winter or spring (February through May) and shipped into a feed yard like mine prior to becoming yearlings (they do not spend an extra summer on grass like yearlings do).  They graze grass pastures with their mamas the first spring and summer, and then are weaned late fall.  These cattle may or may not be weaned on the home ranch and will ship to the feed yard either in the fall or the winter months.  While I prefer that the cattle I receive are weaned on the home ranch, I do wean some calves at the feed yard because my cow/calf partners do not have the resources (feed) or facilities (pens or corrals) to wean at home.  When we wean calves we call them bawling calves because they vocalize for a couple of days after weaning searching for their mamas.  Bawling calves are high maintenance, and require very careful support and care from me.  Although it is hard work, I am very good at weaning calves.  My holistic approach to health and well-being sets my calves up for success and enables them to thrive even during the stress of weaning.

Dinner time as the sun heads down for the day...

As I think back to my years as a competitive athlete, I am thankful that I learned to always keep moving forward (even when it hurt).  It is the times that we are tired and challenged that make us stronger and more successful.  Continual focus and dedication enable success.  I tell my kids that the defining moment during an athletic competition is usually toward the end of the race—it comes down to who is tough (both mentally and physically), and who has done their preparation work well.  It is the combination of God given talent, and personal drive and tenacity that makes us winners—whether on the cross country course, at the feed yard, or wherever your life takes you…

I remind myself every fall that it is time to "Cowgirl Up", dig deep, and work with a commitment to excellence that surpasses my growing physical fatigue...

Welcome to Foodie Work!

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