Happy New Year!
The first day of 2021 started off well. It may have had something to do with the going to bed at 9 on New Year’s Eve.
I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but I have learned that it’s miserable trying to feed cows after having too much fun the night before. So when 2021 got its start, I felt like I was tackling the day – and then it happened.
We have some friends from Colorado who come to visit around this time of year to dispose of some of the excessive coyote and deer populations. I had decided to head out for a walk before I buried myself in the office for the evening. Our friends were in our south lot unloading their UTV and ATVs. I stopped to visit and they started asking about coyotes.
I got to telling the story about the evening before and how I was sitting on the couch watching a movie when a pack went through. They were so loud that I had to turn up the volume on the movie. The hunters asked what time that was. Not even thinking-I turned to the four-legged holy terror and asked. “Jemma, what time was that?”
Dr. Doolittle at your service. (Insert hand-to-forehead emoji.)
I was retelling the story the next day and someone asked if she responded. I said, “Yep. She said 19:30, as my dog is so intelligent she works off of military time.”
I’m trying to not take myself so seriously this year. Starting Dec. 26 I began a notebook where I write down at least one thing I do for myself every day. I will be the first to admit that there was one day I wrote down “ate four cupcakes” and I’m pretty proud of that.
The big project this week is getting calves into the background lot. Since weaning they have been running on irrigated pasture. The health has been really, really good on this group. (And now I probably have jinxed it.)
I’m trying something just a little different this year. Instead of shell corn or distillers, we’ll be feeding peas. The data is there to back up the change, though we may have to invest in helmets. It’s been quickly discovered that one does not try to walk on the hard, round buggers.
The best part is that I’m able to get them from a farmer in Alliance. I’m currently running cows on his cornstalks. I appreciate business even more when you can “keep it in the family.”
I’m writing this as I’m making a quick road trip east. Before I hear from the critics, I’ve become a fan of voice-to-text – though I usually have to go back and change some of the “ranching terminology” my phone has yet to figure out.
I’ve been asked to speak at a Cattlemen’s affiliate meeting, and I’m making a quick stop at my favorite physical therapist and a stop on the “know where your beef goes tour.”
It’s been a while – thanks to the pandemic – since I’ve been in front of an audience. Of course, they may have opened a big can of worms when they said “talk about whatever you want.”
So, what’s the “know where your beef goes tour?” It’s something that I started the year after I came home from school. We market out cattle a variety of ways including private treaty, the sale barn and retain ownership. I try and make an effort when we market feeder cattle through the sale barn to follow up with the buyers and see how the cattle are performing. If I get the opportunity I will try and stop by whatever lot they are at to see them before they are harvested. The Boss Man and I sold the “tailenders” this fall to a feedlot in northeastern Nebraska. So I’m swinging through there on my way back west.
Why is this important? Well, we are in the business of raising an animal that is going to produce a product. What good does it do if we do not understand how that product ends up? Are there changes that we can make to influence the quality and consistency of that product? It’s hard to tell if you don’t follow it at least to the next sector of the industry.
Since that seems like a soapbox to end on, may you have a great start to the new year.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.