DAWSON, Minn. – Almost every farming activity was a little easier in early March, with temperatures staying at 20 degrees or above. For Circle S Cattle & Club Lambs, the return to milder temps meant that it took less time to do chores, driving was simpler, and calving/lambing went more smoothly.
“We’re not done with snow, but hopefully any storms are pretty minor and we avoid the big April blizzard,” said Mark Schoenfeld, who co-owns Circle S Cattle & Club Lambs with his spouse, Kami Hastad Schoenfeld.
At the Schoenfeld farm site, the first couple of ewe lambs had singles in early March. Most of the older ewes were done lambing.
At the Hastad farm site, the home of Kami’s parents, calving was going well. The calves have been predominantly heifers, with only three or four bull calves. With the unusually imbalanced crop, Mark and Kami spent time thinking about how to maximize the value of the many heifers. They were already talking about fall, and how many heifers to keep. They wanted to make good decisions about whether to sell or keep their AI bred and embryo calves.
In addition, they were ready to wean fall-born calves. There was one or two bull calves they wanted to keep intact and for sale next year. They also have a nice-looking heifer calf that doesn’t fit with their own program. The heifer is half-Simmental, with her mother half-Shorthorn and half-SimAngus.
“She doesn’t necessarily fit what we want going forward, but because of what her pedigree is, she’ll make a really nice show heifer for someone for the next couple of years,” he said.
Mark and Kami were beginning to put cattle breeding plans together. It was already time to be thinking about bull selection for each cow or heifer, and whether or not they wanted to try using embryo transfer this year.
Recently, they added two high-powered bred heifers to their herd. At the Minnesota Simmental Association Annual Sale, the Schoenfelds purchased OMF Fresca F11 (bred to OMF Epic with sexed female semen) from Oak Meadow Farm Simmentals. They also bought RCC Full Confession F8151 from Redalen Cattle Company. She, too, was bred to OMF Epic with sexed female semen.
Circle S Cattle & Club Lambs offered a bred red heifer (bred to Hooks Black Hawk) on the sale, and it was purchased by a commercial cow/calf farmer (and a good friend of the Schoenfelds) from Prinsburg, Minn.
Mark has served on the Minnesota Simmental Association board for two terms of three years each. Friday, Feb. 21, was his last board and annual meeting for now.
There were several special moments for the Schoenfelds this year. The evening featured fundraisers to help the Minnesota Simmental Junior Association. Colton Schoenfeld, 8, was able to join the Junior Association this year. Then, Alex Kellen, of Madison, was selected as the reserve showperson of the year. Alex is a junior in high school and has worked with the Schoenfelds since he was 7-8 years old.
In addition, the Schoenfelds received the 2020 Traveling Bell Award from Matt and Holly Hoffman of Rockin H Simmentals. The award is recognition of someone who is promoting Simmentals and encouraging others to get involved in the breed.
“You had to be nominated by someone else within the breed, and voted on by your peers, so it means a lot,” Mark said.
After the busy weekend, the Schoenfelds were home for only a few days before traveling to Wilmington, N.C., for a good friend’s wedding. On the day of their flight back to Minnesota, Kami and Mark decided to call a very large Limousin breeder that wasn’t too far off their route. They asked if they could visit, and since they are cattle people, it worked out for a two-hour-tour of the North Carolina ranch.
“It wouldn’t be possible to do these things if it wasn’t for Kami’s parents that help out with things at home, and the people that help support us every day – our neighbors and friends,” Mark said.
An interesting time was developing back home – mud season. March and early April always require extra bedding in the lots to keep the cattle dry. Fortunately, Harvey and Gladys Hastad’s yard has good slope, and the water runs down to a beautiful slough that is filled with waterfowl and wildlife.
A crew was getting together to move cows with older calves out to a large penned area. The next set of 20 closeup cows were set to move up into a lot in preparation for calving. Coyotes are a constant threat to newborn calves, and the howls were getting louder as the female coyotes prepared for their pups in April.
Moving cows and calves around took time and patience, Mark said, but getting the pregnant cows close to the barn was the priority. Once the calves are a few days old, their mothers can protect them from the coyotes.