Tag Archives: tenacity

Find your grit…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Today’s scripture comes via my favorite brunette who blessed me with this verse from Psalms on my birthday last week. Psalm 46:5

God is with her, she will not fail. God will help her at the break of day.

I love this verse for a variety of reasons. It speaks to the grit and determination that a successful life requires while at the same time reminding us that we do not travel the journey alone. I’ve experienced more than 20 years of sunrises on the farm. Each morning, I pause for a moment at the break of day to notice the beauty around me.

My memory book is chocked full of “dawn moments”, but likely the most poignant was the morning that I lost my steadfast partner. I arrived at the feed yard to read bunks and exercise calves a few minutes before six. My cowboy met me at the gate with a grim look on his face. I expected him to tell me that we’d had calves get out, — I never expected him to look at me with a tear in his eye and say, “Studly’s gone.”

There are animals that come into our lives and change our hearts. Studly was one of those. A big quarterhorse with a streak of loyalty that perfectly complimented his goofy personality, Studly brought a daily chuckle to my life. He was a bit lazy, but you could always count on him to take care of you while you were taking care of animal chores.

I loved that horse.

The day that I lost him was a hard one.

It’s been more than four years since that morning and I still blink back the tears every time that I think about it. The afternoon before, we left an apparently healthy and strong horse happily munching prairie hay. That morning, my cowboy found him lying dead in the pasture. With no sign of struggle, the vet diagnosed a heart attack as the culprit and I told myself that I should be glad that he didn’t suffer.

Life goes on — especially on a farm — where daily chores ensure that animals remain healthy and thrive. Death, even the death of a beloved partner, does not stop the chore process so I pressed on. I had a newly arrived group of cattle that I was acclimating, so I pulled my eyes from his unmoving body and forced my feet to walk away.

I exercised calves that morning with tears streaming down my face, telling myself over and over again to focus and move on. I wanted to crawl in a hole and bawl my eyes out, but I packed my faith and let God carry me through the day.

Dealing with loss and disappointment provides perhaps one of life’s hardest challenges. Learning to cope and press on provides a critical step on the journey. As I’ve gotten older, I have come to understand that I do not fail. I persevere because God has my back and faithfully fills the gap for me. He props me up on the hard days, and then sits back with a big smile on his face as I dig deep to find the strength to continue.

He is the master of balance — providing just the right amount of support — with a loving hand and a compassionate spirit.  

Each break of day brings opportunity.

Each sunrise brings the promise of peace and grace.

And as the sun crests the horizon, I remind myself that I only need to reach for it in order to fill my heart with the quiet strength of perseverance and the steadfast grace of walking with God on the journey.

It is particularly meaningful for me for my daughter to chose this bible verse to share with me. Her gift fills my heart with the knowledge that she gets it. And wherever her life takes her as she begins college next fall, she understands the need to grip tenaciously to the knowledge that God will never let her fail. He will help her at the break of each day and together they will persevere with greatness.

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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...

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