Guest blog post by Rachel Norton,
with photos by Terra.
Hi! I'm Rachel. You might recognize me from my pony tail...
This week I've been asked by Xena, the spokesdog, to do a special guest blog on cows.
...I'm pretty sure it came to her while she was chowing down on beef flavored Alpo.
Had any beef lately? You know, a steak? Maybe a big juicy burger? YUMMY! While you were chowing down on that burger, did you ever wonder where it might have come from? Well, here's the 'beef' on beef!
It all starts on the farm.
Calves are raised, or purchased, and brought to the farm. Some calves are purchased at the average weight of 350 pounds, some are bought at larger sizes along the way.
My husband, Will, works with the prospective buyers and their representatives to sell the calves on a futures contract. A contract starts with a representative coming out to video the calves. They all get their 15 seconds of fame! It is then shown at a video auction, where bidders bid on the group of calves. What buyers are willing to pay is based on breed, location and quality.
Once the bidding ends and both parties are satisfied, a contract is drafted. The contract includes the final price, when the buyer wants the calves delivered, and at what average weight.
Then, after months of raising the calves and watching them grow...
It finally becomes time to ship them to their next home.
I might have forgotten to mention that this day comes with much anticipation and work!
It also becomes a family affair.
Even the dogs have a job to do!
The morning that the truck is coming, we start moving the cattle towards the corral and loading chute.
It can be a challenging task...sometimes the drive starts out with who's chasing who.
"Are you gunna feed us?"
Once they start moving though, the race is on!!
"First one to the trough gets all the corn!!"
...normal cow trash talk...you get used to it.
"Guess what? I hear there's an all you can eat corn buffet! I LOVE corn!"
Move along, you bovines.
Most of the time, the smaller calves head to wheat pastures out west, and bigger calves head to feedlots closer to corn country.
...the last sweep of the field. It's all in a cow dog's day of work.
Go across the field and turn left at the corner.
Your other left!!
There ya go.
Through the gate to be counted...
"I get the front seat!!"
...they are so competitive....corn, front seats...bovines.
"Just ask for directions, I'm starving!!"
"Thank goodness, I love a snack before a road trip."
"I hear they've stopped serving 'en route' snacks these days."
All first class passengers may now come to the corral to begin loading.
Rules for the truck: No pushing and have your boarding pass out.
Once at the corral, the calves are loaded in certain number allotments. The trailer has two levels and is divided into multiple compartments, each one of varying size. Compartments can hold 5-30 calves.
The size of the calves determines how many can fit in each compartment.
The driver usually calls the shots on how many he needs to fill a compartment, making the ride as comfortable and safe as possible for the calves.
This is where calves come up into the trailer. It may look dirty, but all that poo helps provide traction.
...clean metal is slick.
The calves sometimes need a little extra encouragement.
That's Will on the left, he thought he wouldn't get his picture taken. Ha!
Up and in!
Occasionally, there's one renegade that thinks it can hide out and miss the boarding call. It's my job to be sure they are all accounted for at the corral.
Just waiting on the last few to load up and head out!
Once all the calves are loaded, the semi heads to the truck stop to be weighed with all the calves on board. We then receive a check based on the contract price per pound.
Then, it's time to relax and visit for a few minutes.
You know, put your feet up.
The dogs even get a break.
Being a cow dog is a dirty job, but it's a lot of fun.
You always hear about birds aiming for people...this was a close call.
Only near miss we had all day.
Cattle farming is our way of life. We strive to give the cattle a stress free environment, with full feed bunks, clean water and dry places to bed down in bad weather. We use a vaccination program to maintain a healthy herd and eliminate the possible use of antibiotics. It's very similar to the vaccinations humans get to prevent certain illnesses.
Here's my signature shot. Do I look better on a John Deere or a Twinkie?
Thanks for reading my guest blog! You now have the 'beef' on beef! If Xena approves, maybe I'll be invited back. If not, I might could bribe her with a bone.