Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The cows don't care if your sick

I love it how everyone wants to be a farmer!  They think it's sooo awesome seeing pretty babies in the field, going for trail rides, etc....  But those are the rewarding times your a farmer, this past winter, putting up hay, vaccinating, pulling calves, mucking stalls those are the times that people don't realize create the rewarding times.  Farming is a 24/7 job even on so callled vacations your really not at ease because more than likely somethings gone wrong at the ranch ( as it always does when you leave town, it's like they know they can get in trouble or something).  I wish there was a on/off switch, especially these last couple days.  If you follow me on facebook you would see where I've been fighting this bug.  I don't really know what was wrong, all I know is that I was running a fever around 101.5 constantly but the only other symptom I had was that I was REALLY tired.  But that really didn't stop me, which caused me more heart ache because andy was ordering my butt to bed but I had to calve cows, go to the farm and tag calves, we had the bull sale on saturday, yesterday the farrier came and was suppose to put new shoes on everyone, but we only managed to get Pro done because the mares weren't cooperatting that well and I was too sick and agitated to fight with them ( yes I gave up, not really proud of that :( ) we were also out of feed, so had to go to the feed store.  Andy was so mad he was like you can do it another day and all I could come up with was hunny farmers don't get sick days.  The honest truth is we don't, and I don't think that HSUS, PETA, or any other so called animal welfare group really understands what we farmers go through to support this country.  Sometimes I wonder why we do it, when all the thanks we get is someone slammin us down and telling us how so called horrible we are.  But then I get a new baby on the ground and I helping it nurse for the first time, or I'm riding my horse at sunset over the ridge, or it's sunday supper at the farm and the whole family is there eating food we grew right there.  So no we don't get sick days, we don't get high praise and rewards from the public, but the good lord gives us so many more blessings than most would ever realize and that's the reason I still do it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sale day

This past saturday my grandmother and I headed out to the WV Southern Bull and Heifer test sale where we had 2 heifers and one bull entered.  We've been doing this for several years now and honestly I really enjoy it.  My grandmother and I in the truck for 3 hours, talking about new calves, potential show animals, who we're gonna use this spring, upcoming sales... it's just plan good management time with no interuptions ( that would be from our better halves that don't know about good cattle managment :p ).   I won't lie I'm always nervous during this trip on prices, how our animals are gonna sell.  Because we are your non-typical cattle producers, we don't bring a trailer load of bulls to test ( we are heavy on the knife), we raise two breeds( angus and Simmental ), our animals have real names and not just a bunch of numbers, but most important of them all is that it's because we're female.  If you can't tell by now I sorta have a chip on my shoulder on that issue. 
This trip was no different, nervous and excited I knew we had good animals to sell but we weren't part of the boys club of producers our state has.  Which showed it's ugly head in the ring, literally!  It just irretates me to no extent how these producer raise cattle on paper and pay no attention the phenotype or disposition when selecting breeding animals.  I mean some of these cattle came in the ring ready to eat someone up! Pawing, screaming, trying to jump the fence and some farmer pays $3500 for them!  Or the animal has great WDA (weight per Day of Age for you non farmers out there) but structurally are a mess you wonder how the good ol' boy is gonna go out and breed 20 cows this spring? but yet he brings a fortunate because of where he came from and his stats.
Ugh now I'm not saying that these breeders produce nothing but bad cattle, they do raise some really great ones, but seriously people need to get a little heavier on the knife!  But my grandmother and I still did well in the sale because we have a reputation for superior mommas with good dispositions and that got us far on this day so thank you to our buyers!
But the greatest part of the day was coming home to a 1st calf heifer that calved out in the field by herself calf's been up and nursed and the heifer cleaned!  Those are the kind ya like!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Busy Busy .... Busy!

Wow am I behind on blogging, but it's that time of year.  Spring!!   With the winter we just had I was begining to think it was a myth ( Spring that is).  But sure enough it's popped it's beautiful head up out of the snow and melted all the gloom away!  With warmer weather brings lots of duties to catch up with!  First and most importantly they started on our new barn! YAY!!  They finished the site prep work today and let me just say they went over budget :(  But that can be expected with building projects.  Also it's breeding time, I've been working on getting all my promo work for Pro done thanks to Ranch House Designs, we have babies on the ground and I have lots of site visits with work to be done!  So needless to say I'm behind on blogging but I promise to keep up better! 

Thursday, March 18, 2010


When I was growing up on the farm back in the 90's(yikes), we only had Simmental  cattle and they were the traditional yellow and white monsters that are known to spit out a bunch of twins.  Now most farmers cringe at the thought of twins, but babies are babies and we welcome them with open arms ( secretly I know marge gets upset if she doesn't have any twins to brag on in their yearly christmas letter!).  Well in the evolution of the simmental breed twins don't happen as much anymore, at least not as many as we are use too!  I'm serious 5 sets of twins in a year isn't anything new too us.  Up till now we hadn't had any twins and are on the downside of the calving season and honestly had given up any hope.  Until last week when Marge called with that little twinkle in her voice ( I knew something was up!)  She told me " well I guess they're coming in twos now" dumb me I was like what which two COWS calved?  She laughed and said no goofy Sweet Dreams had a set of twins!  I was shocked, of all our cows she really didn't look big enough to have a set of twins, needless to say the little girl weighed 55lbs and the boy 52Lbs.  Both happy and healthy and now marge is tickled to have to fix a bottle for her babes:)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On the road with Marge

Last wednesday I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at the same conference as my grandmother!  I was excited as well as nervous about this, because hell I had to follow the Honorable Marge Burke for goodness sake!  The first and only women majority whip in the WV House of Delegates, let alone the millions of other prestigious titles she had won, along with at the present time being the Committee Chairman for the WV Farm Service Agency.  What was I going to say that was going to be anymore important or interesting to hear then what she said ?!?  So on tuesday during the 2 hour drive to Lewisburg ( and while Grandma was sleeping in the passenger seat) I started kicking around ideas on what I was going to talk about.  I could talk about.... going to college for Agriculture education....... my experience in the American Junior Angus Associtation and my run for Junior Board ( good times weren't they luke! :p) ............... graduating college to turn around and go on the road showing cattle.  All these were ok ideas and I had a hell of a lot of great stories to go along with them ( a lot of them weren't appropriate to talk about though :p) but I really didn't think they defined me and my role as a woman in agriculture.  We got to Lewisburg and I decided to give up for the night and just sleep on it.  Well no matter how many stars I wished on or Robert pattersons I dreamed about :p the idea still had yet to come to me.  We drove on into beautiful Lindside, WV and walked into this wonderful celebration.  As soon as we walked in, it was Hey Marge! all over, random people I couldn't name and lots of good friends and peers I have memories with since I was a child.  She was Ag superstar in our state and no one could top her, everyone wanted a hug and kiss from Marge and her big bouncy voice rang throughout that gymnasium.  That's when the idea hit me, all the ideas I had come up with to speak about they were great ideas in there own right but they weren't who defined my role as a woman in agriculture it was that big beautiful laugh from a little gray haired lady that defined me, this woman is who shaped my life and plowed the way of guidance to all the great things I have done in my life, she was the one who taught me to judge cattle and help me buy my first angus heifer (twistville's power play lady) to show at the 96 eastern regionals which began my wonderful jr. angus career, she was the one that enrolled me in 4 -h and ffa and instilled in me the desire to teach agriculture.  She planted the seed, tended the plant and made it blossom into all the wonderful things I had done in my life, but she was MY grandmother to all these people in the crowd she was a strong-willed, spunky woman that no one wanted to fight with and everyone loved.  I had a unique view on life because of her, I never thought that it was the man's job to farm, I never knew anything but how to work hard in life.  So that's what i talked about I brought my world to them, the same teachings that Marge instilled to me I tried to bring out in that crowd of women both young and old in Monroe County, WV.  When I was done speaking my grandmother was so proud and the whole ride home we talked just about life.  I will never forget the woman I am, nor the woman that made me, my idol and my grandmother Marge Burke.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Where's the FIRE?!?

If you live in Central WV this last few days have really made our namesake of Almost Heaven.  You couldn't ask for prettier days!  Well this past tuesday afternoon I had just gotten out of the shower( I was preparing for a roadtrip for Women in Ag which I'll blog about later!) and heard the doorbell ring.  Who could it be?  So I looked out the window and it was the State Fire Marshall's truck!!  I threw on some clothes and flew downstairs to see what the problem was; was the house on fire? did I not get the right codes for our new barn? were the animals out?  Believe me I was really concerned.  Needless to say I open the door to this nice older gentleman asking me if he could take a picture of our goat and cow!  I guess he drives by our house quite often and tells his wife about this trick cow and goat and she wanted a picture to show her friends!!  Needless to say I was quite humored and told him he could take as many pictures as he wants!  Well as mister Fire Marshall was outside taking pictures guess who came home from work?  That's right Andy and I don't think I've ever seen a vehicle fly into a drive way that fast or someone get out of it that fast!  He had the same idea I did and I don't think I've ever seen color rush back into someone's face as quickly as his did when I showed him what was going on!!  God Bless our trick cow and goat!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Good Ol' Reliable :)

(Look at those EYES! They scream I dare Ya :p )
In most family run farms in America, they know what Good Ol' Reliable is.  It's that one animal on your farm that you can always count on.  On our farm it's a 11 year old Angus cow name Titan Noel.  I bet you guessed why we named her Noel, christmas morning she was the best gift I could ask for :)  When we need to move cows or get them in I know all I need to do is yell for this good old girl and she'll bring them in.  When you farm like we do and it's either your 76 grandmother or myself doing the moving, sorta, etc.. you really appreciate this kind of cooperation.  This was the case yesterday when moving our maternaty ward around I noticed that Noel was limping on her hind leg pretty good.  So I got her in the barn to doctor her when I noticed a problem.  This girl is 9 months preggers and as big as a house!  No way I was getting her in that chute.  Well back in 2000 me and Noel took the blue in showmanship so I figured maybe she'd still be my girl.  I grabbed a rope halter and put it on her free standing in the alley ( she didn't fight one moment! ) then led her straight into the chute.  Now I knew I couldn't get her through it and wasn't even gonna try too but I know if I asked her she would do it.  But with her front end in the chute and her tied off I knew it would keep her from swinging around and trying to fight me cleaning her foot out, but there is one problem in this it keeps her hips and rear end full exposed and "kickin".  You have to remember though this is Good Ol' Reliable :p  I was actually able to pick her foot up like a farrier and clean it out!  She didn't kick or struggle once, I was feeling pretty good right about now, so I decided to go ahead and pill her while I was at it.  This is where I knew I would be pushing my luck :p  Because if you came to my place and saw Noel you wouldn't trust her at ALL!  She has these crazy looking eyes and bellers like a bull, makes you wanna run not put her in a head lock and try to shove 5 boluses down her throat :p My grandmother thought I was crazy but I knew my girl knew I was trying to help her.  So I did with a confident stride slip in the chute with her, wrapped my arm around her neck ( or at least try to she's a big girl ) and tried to pry her mouth open.  She was quite cooperable because all she had to do was fling her head one good time and she would have picked me up and thrown me out of there!!  Believe me for her acting so well I rewarded her just as good :)  Moments like those make me feel really good about what I do, because me and that cow were on the same level, she knew I wasn't purposefully trying to hurt her.  She knew i was trying to make her feel better and in return she helps me out by being cooperatable and keeping everyone one else in the herd on the same page.  She was happy and so was I.  I just wish PETA would have been there to see it, they might have thought twice about there actions against farmers.  Nah that's just wishful thinking on stupidity :p  I added a picture of Noel after all of this too show you how she doesn't look like a friendly cow, and how now she is standing on all fours!! :P

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Being a farmer isn't just a name....

Like many of you already know the state of West Virginia has been hit extremely hard this winter with record breaking snow falls.  In my life I can't ever remember a winter with this much snow.  This past friday right before this lastest storm hit ( well actually it was the begining of the storm) was our Ag Days at the Captiol.  It's a chance for wv agriculture to shine and show our representatives exactly how important we are to the state and this great nation.  I got a chance to talk to several farmers about the winter and how they were getting along with it, and let me say the talk wasn't pleasant.   It was the same sad story over and over again, lots of dead calves because of the snow, farmers not even being able to get to their cattle because of the weather, a lot of farmers running out of feed because the amount of calories these cattle are burning and because of poor cattle prices this last fall can't afford to buy anymore hay.  The buzz was also going on about had this weather had finally broke a lot of farmers, that the cattle markets would be flooded this spring with people selling out, not a good sign for high prices this spring either.  All this talk made me extremely sad and anger at the same time.  This lifestyle is the only thing most people know around here, it's our heart and soul.  I don't think a lot of America understands what we as farmers go through especially with all these negative ads from PETA and other organizations that are too dumb to actually grasp the concept of animal welfare.  I know that I take more pride and respect in my animals then I do most people and I put my heart and soul on the line for them everyday.  Just to be kicked in the gut by one farmer they found in millions that didn't take care of his.  I also know that if it weren't for myself and other farmers like me, our nation wouldn't have a leg to stand on, because we built this great nation and we are the American dream.  So next time you have a great meal or put warm clothes on your back take a moment to say a Prayer, a thank you for the american farmer because sometimes we don't think you care.


Blizzard of 2010!

As promised I've added some of our pictures of the Blizzard.....  As you look at these and gasp, think about the animals and farmers who are out in these elements.. take a minute and thank a farmer!!

Yeap that's a snow plow digging the way!!This is the actual depth of the snow!
These are full grown trees!!  Look at the monster snow drift behind them it's was like 30 feet tall!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blizzard farming :(

Unfortunately I haven't been able to keep up with my blog as much as I would like over the week.  I was gone from sunday to thursday hosting a Ag Safety Days in the eastern panhandle.  I came home thursday night to a Blizzard, I'm not joking I'm not making this up over 3 days we got about 30 inches of snow!!  Fortunately I have the new truck which has made my traveling adventures much more easier.  Friday night my grandmother called me in the middle of it all saying she was having babies!  Now if it was anyone else I would tell them just call if you get into any problems, but with my grandmother it's another story.  I love this woman to death she's my idle but unfortunately she doesn't realize her own age anymore, or that she doesn't heal quite as quickly as she use to!!  Now we cull heavily for bad temperments for these reasons exactly, but even with the pets you just never know because they are experiencing a million different things and life is a little crazy at the moment.  So Andy and I packed up in the pickup and went to the farm!  We ended up having four babies in the blizzard and everyone was great and got up and ate on their own!  Driving home I enjoyed telling andy some of our old horrior stories of calving back in the day with the normal 120lb simmy calves!  I've attached a candid moment from one of those pulls!  Marge was lying on the bottom of the chute pulling while I was pulling so hard above her I had one foot on each hip of the cow pullin myself straightly horizontal over marge when the calf finally popped i was able to jump back missing marge but she got to cushion the big boys fall!!