WORTHINGTON, Minn. – At Five Pine Cattle Co., a wide range of “job titles” are required. In addition to crop and livestock farmer, equipment driver, and construction worker, there’s photographer, editor, proofreader and graphic designer.
The apex of their livestock operation is the annual sale that will be held on the farm on Saturday, March 11.
Creating their own 40-page catalog as a value-added gift to their 600 customers on their mailing list involves hundreds of work hours and thousands of dollars.
“If we were not to have a catalog, customers are really just going into everything blindly,” Matt Altman said. “The catalog helps customers understand birthdates, weights, and each animal’s actual performance year-to-date.
“It gives the customer a visual picture that is nice. It is a great resource as far as sorting through and keeping track for the buyer and the seller,” he added.
The catalog process started back in December when the Altmans began trimming up the cattle for sale.
Then, it was time to set up the registered cattle for pictures. Matt, Montana, Annabelle and Brant “walk” the individual cattle by as Amanda takes photos and videos. There are several tricks including putting a brightly colored little item on a dowel so the cattle raise their heads and walk/stand correctly.
The challenge, Matt said, is to photograph the cattle close enough to the sale date so the photos remain representative of what the customer is buying. It makes the timing extra tight for getting everything to the printer.
He said, though, that going through the pictures on the desktop is a lot of fun for Amanda and himself. The photos give another perspective of how the cattle are put together and how they stand.
They had plans to take photographs at their consigner’s farm, Dynamic Z Charolais, in early February.
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Then, all the detail work begins – from placement of photos in the book, to double- and triple-checking all the information for any errors. While mistakes can still happen, they strive to be as accurate as possible.
In a perfect world, their plan is to have all the materials to the printer so the catalogs are ready to mail by Feb. 15.
“We like to have the catalog in our customers’ mailboxes at least two weeks before the sale,” Matt added.
He jokes that it’s not a real fun day for the post office when they see him arriving with the catalogs. Thankfully, postal workers never quit until all the mail is ready to send out.
Things were going well on the farm when the Altmans gave their Jan. 30 report. The cows were taking good care of their calves.
There were plenty of cow/calf pairs. One cow had a set of twin heifers, and things had gone fine, although the Altmans prefer singles.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, Montana, Annabelle, and Brant each showed a breeding heifer at the Sioux Empire Livestock Show. It was the first time Brant showed, and he enjoyed showing a great deal.
While checking the cameras back home, Matt – who was watching the show – saw that two cows were calving in the pen behind the closeup pen. The temperature at the time was well below zero, so he got in the truck and rushed back home. Both calves were alive, and although Matt had to give some special care, both calves made it and are thriving.
There were getting to be so many cow/calf pairs that the Altmans will switch around the cows in the gestating pen with the cow/calf pairs pen.
“A couple of weeks and we’ll probably have another 15-20 calves on the ground,” Matt said.
Amanda was pleased with how the new set of calves looked.
“Honestly, the whole group looks uniform, but there was one yesterday that caught my eye from a new sire,” she said. “The majority of the calves that are on the ground are from our better cows and are all the AI babies. These are our elite genetics and they’re fun to see.”