A Superhero Type of Day

When you say the word superhero, I think about the movies I watched as a kid or the comic strips you see in the newspaper. But really after the events of this past Saturday unfolded, I realize that superheroes are just normal people with amazing powers and abilities.

I would like to think the Mom, Nicole, and I are superheroes in our own right. Looking at the three of us on Saturday we looked like your normal mom and daughter combo. When Nicole got off work, she met us in town and we all went shopping and had a grand ole time.


However, if you look a little deeper you see so much more of our superhero ability. Nicole went to work, much like she does every Saturday; to be there for the farmers who are hauling in corn and soybeans which will be sold and made into livestock feed or other products that we use everyday such as pet food, toothpaste, and even glue!


I fixed my husband lunch and wished him luck as he headed to the corn fields with the semi and the grain trailer, and then I headed into town myself to run errands and meet up with Mom.

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It is great that we helped support the harvest currently going on, but we also had to use more of our superhero powers to complete the list Dad left us since he had to work this weekend. Our cows are currently calving, if you have not checked out the adorable photos that should be on the top of your must do list. Sometimes those cows aren’t always with the rest of the herd. Dad wanted Nicole, Mom, and I to make sure all the cows and current calves were in one field and close the gate to the other field. Then we could move and sort the steers and heifers around into different fields and groups. Now this may seem like a very simple task but let me tell you, I was sure glad that I wasn’t doing it alone! Mom stayed at the house to feed the steers and heifers, and Nicole and I headed out with our trusty pups to start counting cows and calves.

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Well, as soon as we moved into the first field we morphed from our normal selves into farmer superheroes. We found three cows and calves in a separate field and headed out to find the remaining cow and calf that Dad had found the day before.

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We searched the whole field for her. This isn’t just any open field either. Living in central Missouri, it was a field of hills, rocks, cedar trees, grass, and then more trees. As we determined they weren’t in that field, we went back to our first set of mama cows and calves and they had calmly made their way to the rest of the herd. Great! Now to counting the cows to see how many we had…. we were three short and still missing a calf. So once again,Nicole and I set out to find the rest. We were deep in searching and we found the missing calf, it was just on the wrong side of the fence from its Mom and the rest of the herd. With a lot pure genius on Nicole’s part and some nice and easy talking to the mama cow, Nicole managed to get a hoodie wrapped around the calf and shove it back through the fence. Needless to say, that would have been a cute and perfect picture moment but both of our hands were slightly busy at that point in time. One set found, two more cows to go! Giving up wasn’t an option. As superheroes, you must always complete the task given to you; and Dad said that we must find all the cows and move them. So that is exactly what we did. Hopping on the four-wheeler we went out searching again and we were rewarded with two more healthy babies and happy mama cows! Driving back to the house Mom was using her own superhero abilities and almost had all the steers and heifers sorted and moved when we got back!

The day was saved once again by farming superheroes! We may love to go shopping, dress cute, and see an occasional play; but our heart and soul is on the farm where we can normally get dirty, solve problems, and help feed America; and have fun doing it!

-Bethany

 

Why do we tag?

And I am not talking about hash tagging, but tagging cattle! Everyone ear tags their cattle a little different or at different times; and that is perfectly fine! Everyone makes a cake a little different also but the end result is normally the same, a wonderful yummy cake. Our result tagging cattle is also the same; a unique number is given to each calf or cow use to identify them!

Imagine a sea of black, black cute little baby calves. You can tell some of them apart because their face may be longer or they are a little smaller or have a bit of white on their belly.

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As you watch them play and run around you notice a larger black calf off by itself. It doesn’t look so good, he has a runny nose and he is not eating. You decide he needs a shot of antibiotics. You call the vet and get the prescription and dosage. When you go back to find the calf you have no idea which one he is!

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You want to be sure you give the correct calf the antibiotics! This is where ear tagging comes into play. We ear tag the calves a month or two after they have been born. When we ear tag them we also castrate the males, which means we remove their testicles in a safe manner. Castrating helps decrease the amount of testosterone in the males, which makes them less aggressive and creates a better quality meat . The decreased amount of testosterone leads to better marbling in the meat, higher quality grade, and a meat that is more tender.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged, we turn them back out with their moms.They will stay with the cows and drink their milk, eat hay, and a little bit of grain until they reach approximately seven months old. Then we will wean them or take them off of their mother’s milk.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged the ear tag is mostly permanent, unless the animal happens to tear it off or it becomes faded. If we have to re-tag the animal, we can simply cut the tag off and re-tag them.

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Ear tags help producers keep accurate records of their animals. It is important for producers to be able to identify their animals to provide a safe food supply to consumers! Have questions? Leave me a comment!

-Bethany

Take a Ride with Me: Feeding Hay

Ever wanted to ride on a tractor and feed hay to cows? 

Well, take a ride with me as I feed hay!

  

Driving a tractor is a little different than a car or truck because you have so much length in front of you. The bale spear can easily knock things down.

  

Headed to the hay barn. As the winter progresses and more hay is fed, we will keep the tractor in this barn.

  

We have to keep panels in front of the hay to prevent the cows from eating the bales in the barn. So feeding alone means a lot of on and off the tractor!

    

Harley LOVES the hay. Mice, cats and other small animals live in the hay and she can’t wait to hunt them down.
  

This is where we feed the hay bales. To the left of the picture is the back of our hay barn. It was a warmer day so the cows weren’t  as excited for a bale of hay as they were for the grass still left in the field.

  

Taking pictures, driving and counting cows is quite difficult! 
  

Bale rings hold the hay together so very little is wasted.

  

Harley thinks she is queen of the tractor. She quickly learned to stay out of the way the pedals.

See those green strings? They hold the bales together and were wrapped by the baler last summer. We cut those off with a knife so the cows don’t eat them. 

    

Second bale! More cows heard the tractor and are ready for their meal.
 

Everyone who showed up to eat is content and healthy! 

~Nicole

I’m Thankful for American Agriculture

Each year, Thanksgiving rolls around and I am overwhelmed by the thanks given by my family and friends. This year, I decided to join in. 

I’m thankful for the passion God gave me in American Agiculture. 

  
I’m thankful for the food on my table and in my freezer, and the hard work that I went through to put it there. 

I’m thankful for a job that I look forward to, and one that continues to test my knowledge and fuel my passion.

I’m thankful for the rubber on my tires, the medicine that heals us, and all the other hidden amenities that American Agriculture provides us. 

  
I’m thankful that each day, farmers get up, look at the sunrise and thank God for allowing them to live their passion and provide for me and my family. 

I’m thankful that farmers are willing to harvest into the night, while their families sleep soundly, all to provide for mine.

I’m thankful to the farmers that miss birthdays, holidays and family gatherings, to care for their livestock with the same passion they show their own family. 

  
I’m thankful for the freedom I have to ride my horse, check my cows, or just view God’s great glory that makes up American Agriculture. 

I’m thankful for the ability to live on my family farm and wake up each morning to cows mooing, horses neighing, and trees rustling in the wind. 

  
I’m thankful to go to bed each with a feeling of contentment knowing that my animals are healthy and content. 

I’m thankful for the pure joy of watching a newborn calf take its first steps to nurse on its momma. 

I’m thankful to have experienced the loss of burying the horse that taught me to ride, knowing he lived a long full life.

I am thankful that my sister is providing the knowledge of American Agriculture to the future generations. 

I’m thankful for the technology that allows American Agriculture to safely feed the world, day in and day out. 

  
I’m thankful for the friends that share in my passion of American Agriculture and push me to continue to grow.

I’m thankful for a family that stands behind me, strong, steady and continually giving, just like American Agriculture.

  
I’m thankful for American Agriculture. Are you?

~Nicole

Top 10 Reasons Farming with your Sister is the Best

Farming, in my opinion, is the best job out there. But it’s even better doing it with your best friend. Bethany and I joined together to come up with our top 10 favorite things:

  1. You always have someone to throw things at when you get mad at them, especially manure. Farming can can get really aggravating at times and sometimes you just need to throw poop at someone.
  2. When you fall of your horse you have someone to go and get Mom and Dad, especially since your trusty pup is off chasing the horse. Needless to say, Rowdy lives up to his name and Harley loves to run.  
  3. There is always someone to do chores with who understands why you love getting up at 6:00 am but also understands why you’re  grumbling about it. Mornings are not a strong point for all of us and sometime we just need a reminder to wear our muck boots.
  4. Working cows is better when there are two girls to help Dad instead of just one. The saying goes: two is better than one. This is especially true when you are chasing baby calves.IMG_3349
  5. Someone else has to understand the look on people’s face when they saw you that morning in old jeans and boots and covered in manure and that night, they see your hair and make up done to perfection with heels and jewelry on. I’m not sure boys will ever understand that change.  
  6. When you have to sell your horse or your favorite calf dies, you have a shoulder to cry on. When you just need to cry it out and not let anyone know, she’s right there for you.
  7. You have someone to direct you with outrageous hand motions when you are struggling to back up the trailer. Bumper hitch, goose neck, you name it, backing is an art that requires at least two people.IMG_6440
  8. She’s the only one who can talk about boys, income taxes and corn prices all while doing your hair. No topic is left untouched when you are getting ready for a night out with your sister, farming included.
  9. When you need to complain about how your farmer works too much and then say how much you love his passion, she’ll be there to understand. Farming sisters inevitably date, or even marry farmers and sometimes you just need someone who understands the love/hate relationship you have with his job.  
  10. There is always someone there to share the joys, challenges, hardships, and the knowledge that you need to help feed the world, plus she has to love you because she is your sister!  

Anything you would add? We would love to hear about it!

– Bethany and Nicole

Everyone is entitled,

To their own opinion.

We now live in a world where information, pictures, opinions, and stories about peoples’ lives and topics are instantly at our fingertips. If someone is annoyed, dislikes an object, or is upset they can instantly post it on social media; with or without facts.

Growing up I never questioned agriculture practices such as humane slaughter, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), and animal confinement. My parents instilled in Nicole and I life lessons and practices that we have carried with us our entire lives. We learned to care for our animals because they were our lively hood. Often, we took care of them before we even ate or took care of our own basic needs. When individuals attack your way of life it causes the most basic emotion to come out in you: the emotion to defend what you love and make a living from.


Social media and websites have exploded with posts, tweets, and information concerning the Peterbilt Model 579 Semi with Livestock Trailer. The toy is labeled as a livestock trailer. It can be found at the link below.

Big Farm Peterbilt Model 579 Semi with Livestock Trailer

I can understand where there is some confusion concerning what the trailer hauls. Only 2% of Americans are involved in production agriculture. Some students I see in my room don’t understand that chocolate, white, and strawberry milk can all come from the same cow. You just have to add flavoring to white milk to make the milk into strawberry milk instead of finding a red cow.  However, when someone is upset and goes as far as to start a petition to remove the “toy” from Wal-Mart stores so it can’t be purchased for children to play with then they are taking away one of my rights. If the toy offends individuals then they can avoid that aisle in the store or they don’t have to purchase it for their child. However, my future children should have the option of opening up a Peterbilt Model Semi with a livestock trailer on Christmas morning. In fact, the one thing my husband wanted for his birthday is the same thing that a petition is trying to ban from Wal-Mart stores. He collects them because when he was a child that was his dream job; to drive a semi with a livestock trailer.

Through positive education and awareness we can help the general public understand why this toy and the real life version is so essential to the livestock and agriculture industry. Not only does that trailer provide consumers with the hamburger they consume at the Friday night basketball game but also the steak they can purchase at Hyvee for grilling on Sunday while tailgating for the football game. My Animal Science class recently toured the local sale barn near our school. While touring the sale barn they showed us the semi and livestock trailer that hauled cattle to and from their sale barn. We were able to climb into the semi and the trailer! This was the first time I had ever seen the inside of an livestock trailer, even through we have all seen them many times going down the highway. My students were able to put a face with the random truck pulling that livestock trailer down the road, and they began to understand the economic importance of the livestock trailer. I hope the field trip impacted my students to share what they learned about the livestock industry. What if each one of them shared their story or experience about our field trip with just two uneducated consumers? Can you imagine the impact it would have on the agriculture industry?

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Thank you for the individual who started the petition to remove the Peterbilt Semi with the Livestock Trailer from Wal-Mart. It gave me the chance to share my story.

-Bethany

 

 

 

 

Moving Day!


Sunday dawned bright and early and it was moving day! Moving day for who you might ask? Not me, but the steers that Wes’s family raised. We didn’t have to pack their bags to move but we did have to prepare them to move…. to the sale barn. It was time for the steers to make it to their next home.


Just like moving day for you or me, there was a lot of work that had to be completed before the steers were loaded up and brought to the sale barn. First, they had to be born! Wes’s family has around 70 cows, mature females that have had a calf before. These cows are bred by three bulls or mature males that are able to reproduce. Why do they have to have so many bulls? Because, on average, 25  is the magic number of how many cows a bull can monitor and breed successfully. A cow comes into heat, or her body is ready to release an egg, around once a month or every three weeks. A bull can detect the hormones released when she comes into heat and he knows she is ready to be bred. That is a full time job! If a farmer wants to make sure all his cows are bred then he has to have enough bulls to go around. If a cow doesn’t have a calf then she didn’t do her job and according to Dad, “If she doesn’t do her job on the farm, then she is eating for free and we can’t make money!”


Once the calf is born, the cow allows the calf to suck or drink milk from her teat. She has four teats on her udder. The calf stays with the cow from 6-10 months of age or 450 to 700 pounds. Normally the farmer decides when to wean the calf. A calf is weaned, or taken off the milk produced by the cow, and put on grain, hay, or grass.The corn these steers eat is raised on Wes’s farm and fed to the steers. Wes also hauls this corn to MFA to be sold to other producers. Some times he has to haul late at night.


Calves are born as either males or females. A female is called a heifer until she has her first calf then she is called a cow. A male is either a bull or can be made into a steer. A bull calf can be castrated, or have its reproductive organs removed, to be made into a steer. A steer has several benefits once it has been castrated: Decreased aggression, higher price when sold, tender meat, a higher grade meat, and additional marbling in the meat.

The steers getting ready for moving day have all been castrated, received up to date vaccinations and shots, and been weaned for several weeks. The 40 steers were sorted into pens and now were ready to be loaded. Wes hooked up the truck to the trailer and backed up to the shoot!


The steers were then loaded onto the trailer and hauled to Callaway Livestock Center. The steers will be bought by other farmer, producers, or feed lot owners. They will be fed more grain and hay until they reach a weight of around 1200 pounds. Once they reach this weight they will be processed and eventually end up as part of your steak that you order at Colten’s or hamburger you eat at the high school basketball game.

-Bethany

A Working Controversy 

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. Of course, I love all the typical fall things, bonfires, sweaters and the leaves changing colors. But what makes it even better is the fact that deer season is coming, Thanksgiving is almost here and we get to do one of my favorite farm activities: working cows.

The cows headed for the lot lead by Dad and a bag of range cubes.

Most people call me crazy or at least give me weird looks when I say that I love working cows. But I just love the fact that we get to bring all the cows up, check for health issues and give them their shots, and then let them all go again. My inner cowgirl also likes to play ranch hand for a day!

All the cows are caught, lets take selfie!

Of course, whenever I say giving cows shots, I enter straight into the latest controversy, this time involving Subway.

Each year, we feed out the steers from our herd and sell that beef directly to consumers. We get a lot of questions, but none of these questions have ever stemmed from antibiotics. Mainly the questions we  are what do you feed them, do they get grass, and how do you cook brisket?

One of our butchering steers.

But when giving antibiotics, we, like most cattlemen, give the recommended dosage to keep cow and calf.

Making notes on what vaccines to give to each cow, calf and heifer.

We use syringes that can be set to give a specific amount. But when working cows, we give vaccines, not actual antibiotics. Vaccines help prevent sickness from happening, while antibiotics help stop it once it has already happened.

Bethany ready to go!

Generally, it’s Bethany’s job to know what shots are giving to each cow and how much. She will then hand that shot to our neighbor, Rex, who will either give it subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (in the muscle).

The only picture of me in the lot, of course with no cows.

Dad and I work the cows through the lot to the shoot. Most of our cows have been on our farm long enough that they know if they get through the shoot, there’s usually grain on the other side. But then you have the speedy little calves.

A cow patiently waits for her turn so she can get back to her range cubes.

Working cows in the fall also involves cutting the calves, so once one bull calf goes through the others need a little more convincing.

I get to hold the tail while our neighbor cuts the bull calves.

When it all said and done, each cows is ready to beat any problems that may come this winter, and we are dog tired!

Did I answer all your questions? If not, ask them! I would love to clarify!

~Nicole

Lady Lily

No, Lady Lily is not a queen from a  Renaissance Festival. But she is majestic, draped in black velvet, and has the voice of an angel. Still confused? Lily, of course, is my bottle calf! 

  

So you don’t think that description fits? After yelling her name into the early morning darkness, believe me, when you finally hear and then see her running through the pasture, it fits perfectly. 

  
Even though we have had cattle my entire life, Lily is the first -healthy- bottle calf we have ever had. Unfortunately, I have to emphasize the healthy because we have many many bottle calves, just none that have made it. 

Unlike most bottle calves, we still have Lily’s mother and we will probably be keeping her because she raises great babies, especially Lily’s twin brother. 

  
We found Lily one Saturday laying in the woods. We left her alone, figuring that her mother would come back for her, like cows normally do. Sunday morning, Lily was laying in one of our lots, near two late heifers we were weaning. We closed the gate so she wouldn’t wander off and went the check the cows. We counted, and counted and counted again. Not only were all the cows there, but so were all the calves that we knew of (it’s calving season, sometimes there are surprises!) Back to the house we went to mix the bottle. 

  
Eventually, we came to the conclusion that the only possibility was a twin. Because her mother is a Simmental, she also has their signature ‘eye patches’. Take a look at Lily, who has similar markings. 

The downside of twins is the huge possibility that Lily is also a ‘free martin’. Cows are genetically made to have a single offspring, but do on occasion have twins. When this happens, if the gender is the same the twins are generally healthy and live a normal life. If the genders are opposite, the female is generally a free martin, or sterile. While she is otherwise healthy, Lily has a very low chance of remaining on our farm for an extended amount of time due to the fact that she might not reproduce. But until she is officially declared sterile by our veterinarian, she will continue to enjoy life with me! (And my dog Harley)

~Nicole