Dust In My Coffee

Dust In My Coffee

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Move 'em on, head 'em up

     Once in awhile when we are getting a pen out to be shipped I think back to one of my favorite programs as a child, “Rawhide”.  I remember the theme song with all the whistling and hollering the cowboys did to get the cattle to move out.  
     On a recent morning we had a full moon to help light the way for one pen of cattle that was ready to go.  Our steers walk a short distance to get to the load out area compared to the hundreds of miles cattle traveled in the Rawhide days to get from Texas to Chicago.

These cattle are waiting their turn to be shipped.  The full
moon was still in the western horizon that morning.
     When we move cattle we use a method referred to as low stress cattle handling.  Thanks to people like Temple Grandin and Bud Williams we can be a sort of horse whisperer around our cattle.  Loud, harsh hollering is not allowed but softer, lower tones are used to reduce stress and anxiety.   
Steve is counting cattle as they are put in upper and
lower compartments to keep them from crowding.  He walks
parallel and away from the direction he wants them to go.

 When cattle are loaded out there are around 40 head that fit comfortably on one semi trailer.  The cattle walk up a chute and onto the truck using design methods from Temple Grandin.  We have a manufacturing business in Dodge that builds these systems.

This is a design by Temple Grandin. 
     Our cattle go for about a 30 minute ride to the packing plant.  Once there they  go through the process of becoming food and numerous other by-products.  In fact 99% of the animal is used.  A 1,200-pound steer produces about 490 pounds of boneless, trimmed meat to be used for a variety of cooking choices.

     One hide from a steer can make 144 baseballs or 12 basketballs or 20 footballs.   Other items derived from beef by-products include gelatin for jello, gummy bears and chewing gum; bristles for paint brushes; fatty acids for deodorants, soap, ink, crayons and toilet paper.

Some of the pharmaceuticals include trypsin for cleansing wounds,
corticotrophin for treating allergies, iron for anemia, thrombin for
blood coagulation and insulin for diabetes.

     I truly am grateful for opportunity to give our cattle the best life possible utilizing the natural resources around us providing a nutrient dense food and much more for people around the world.  I am also grateful for the numerous men and women involved in bringing those products from cattle to all of us.
     Cattle feeders today may not be whistling "Rawhide" as they work, but they are the cowboys of the modern world using better techniques to bring beef to your table!

Steve is our grill master!  He is known by family and
friends for this beef sandwich!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Go Slow

There are certain times of the year when I am delegated jobs that come under the “miscellaneous” category of what I do on our farm.   Some of those jobs include mowing, watering trees, cleaning water tanks and fixing fence.  Today I was given a job of going to West Point to get rye seed.  

We plant rye to control soil erosion after removing a corn crop as corn silage.  I thought this trip would be great because I could do a few other errands in West Point.  My hubby told me I would have to use our older pickup and pull a trailer because of the weight.  I would need to make the trip because the guys were still busy with corn silage.  

Steve will keep packing as more loads of corn silage are dumped
until the height of this pile reaches around 46 feet.
 As I prepared to leave for West Point my husband commented over the radio “You will probably have to go slow on the way back because I am not sure how good the breaks are.”   Steve was referring to the trailer brakes, not the pickup breaks.

I said “OK, is that going to be a problem?”  The reply was “It shouldn’t be.”

Now before I go any further I would like to share with you why I get concerned when someone tells me to do something with a hint of a warning.  I did not grow up on a farm and had not driven anything larger than a pickup before we got married.  After we were married I was given many jobs pulling equipment to allow others to stay on their task at hand.  

I don't have a picture of the wagon but it was similar
to this one only it had tires on the wheels.
 The first time I ever pulled anything it was a pickup and a four-wheeled wagon.  We had only been married about six months.  I was going to pull a trailer full of oats from my in-law’s farm to our farm, about eleven miles.  To add to the adventure my youngest sister, Sandy, was spending a few days with us and came along. 

As we were driving back to our farm with a full wagon of oats my sister looked out the back window and told me that the wagon was not right behind us anymore.  As I looked out the rear view mirror I noticed that the hitch pin must have popped out and the wagon tongue was now on the road.  My instinctive response was to slow the pickup down and try to let the wagon catch up to us.   

As I was working with the wagon my sister noticed people going by and pointing and laughing.  Did I mention we were driving along a state highway?   The wagon did slow down as it hit our bumper then it turned off of the road, went down into a ditch and broke through a barbed wire fence.  The good news is that no one was hurt and the wagon did not flip over!

We didn’t have cell phones back in '82 so I had to drive home and tell Steve what happened.  He was upset but it was more at the fact that someone forgot to put a clip in the little hole at the bottom of the hitch pin then that I had nearly caused an accident.

As I left West Point with my full load of seed I noticed some warning lights turn on in the pickup.  Should I be concerned?  

I will have to check the oil when I get home!
Fortunately my journey home was pretty uneventful as I followed orders and drove slow.  Forty miles an hour isn’t fast enough for cattle trucks and I was passed by four of them.  Two of them passed through intersections, one nearly rear-ended me and one passed in a no passing zone up a hill.  I guess I put my Guardian Angel to work today!   Now it’s time to get back to some of those other miscellaneous jobs!

All is well that ends well!