Ranching: A Good Life, But A HARD Life!

by Tammy Taylor~

What we do on this ranch is our livelihood, our means of supporting ourselves. It’s a wonderful life, yet certainly a hard one. Prudent business decisions have to be made every day. If they’re the wrong decisions, we don’t get paid.  Period.  Bills don’t get paid nor groceries bought. There’s no gray area on the pay scale when you’re self employed.  No mistakes are financially free – no mulligans!  Don’t get me wrong, like I said it’s a wonderful life filled with many delights.  But it can be hard too.

Hard Working Conditions

Although when I worked in the city a day off was in order when ice was on the ground, here inclement weather just means it’s time for us to work overtime. There’s no bad-weather pay or vacation or sick pay.  I’ve written before about the big ice storm fiasco a few years back.  WHEW!

And a few months ago we had a cow to calve unexpectedly early. Although we’d moved her to a nearby paddock so we could check on her daily in preparation for calving, she showed no signs of imminent calving & she calved early one morning before we checked her… because she was carrying TWINS.  Neither calf survived.  Heartbreak!

But losses aside, I’m comforted by the life that we’re adamant about giving our cattle here. RancherMan & I strive to provide them the best possible life while they’re in our care.  We pride ourselves on letting them live like a cow, they way it’s supposed to be.  You know – enjoying fresh green grass, lounging lazily under trees, and a treat from us every now & then.  We want to make sure they’re given the opportunity to live the cow-life they deserve, and they DO!

Unlike many other cattle herds, our cattle are calm around us. When RancherMan & I stroll through the pastures they may raise their heads to see if we’re bringing treats.  Or more often than not they may completely ignore us as we pat their rumps when we walk by.

You see, our cattle don’t see us as a danger from which to escape, but as careful caregivers. Our deepest desire is that we raise valued breeding cattle that stay in our herd all their life.  Their value is much more about the calves they produce for us to sell than their meat value.

Favored Few

Having said that, some animals are harder to lose than others. Good Ole #20 has been a stellar breeder. Our herd bull is her kid.  Even as a hulking 2500-lb boy he loves a scratch on the head when we’re out in the pastures.

A few years ago we wanted to ‘young-up’ our herd.  So we sold all our older animals and replaced them with young heifers.  But not #20!  We wanted her to stay in the herd as long as possible, even though we could probably receive more money for her selling her as a younger breeder.  But year after year she kept producing & raising a calf for us.  And each time RancherMan bred her via A.I., she settled the first time, every time.

#20’s Full Lifetime Spent On The Ranch

These days our good Ole Powerhouse #20 is an old girl at 10 years old.  Yet even at her age she’s already long-bred to have her EIGHTH calf. Even during the continuous brutal droughts we’ve suffered here in NE Texas when most cows in our herd skipped being bred, she settled.  Year after year she produced that calf.  Like I said: Stellar.

But RancherMan approached me recently with the conversation I knew was on the near horizon.  Her time had come, I knew he was right.  With a gulp I had to help load this girl today. Yep, some are harder to lose than others…

It’s Always Sad When They Leave

There are those that say ‘it’s just a cow’, or ‘it’s just business’. Although RancherMan & I are careful to view our cattle as livestock and not pets, you can’t help but to form attachment to the animals you’ve spent years caring for. Our Power House #20 was one such animal.

I’ve been told by many people that they would never be able to ranch for a living because they’d get too attached to their animals.  It’s been suggested that since we raise cattle for a living day in & day out, perhaps we get used to losing animals when we sell.  Nope, it’s hard for me every time, no matter the circumstance.  When we load up those beautiful heifers who are headed off with their proud new owners to a new pasture, it’s hard.

When we sell the bottle babies that we raised from week-old calves, it’s hard.  Yes the man bought the gentle calves as ‘pets’ for his grandchildren, but it was no less difficult for me to say goodbye to those sweet boys.

And yes it’s doubly hard when we must take one to the sale barn (as in this case) because she’s too old to present to our buyers.  Hard!

 

Ya know, like I said – saying goodbye is never easy for me no matter how they’re sold, but especially with #20…  Goodbye sweet girl. 

~TMH~

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8 thoughts on “Ranching: A Good Life, But A HARD Life!

  1. Mrs Shoes

    “The righteous man regards the life of his animal” ~proverbs 12:10 I feel strongly about all our animals too, but I also feel confident that we gave them the best lives that we could & then the quickest, easiest, least stressful deaths possible. And the circle goes on. Not everyone is cut out for this life, but the world needs accountants too. Whenever someone gets that ‘look’ when they learn that we farm & that on our farm we raise & eat our own stock…. you know, the ‘look’ of horror & distaste. Often followed up with a big bite of cheeseburger or juicy porkchop. I always think to myself, “You don’t know what you’re missing; I feel a little sorry for you, so I’m going to completely excuse your silly reaction.” That’s often about the point where they forget what they were thinking & start to exclaim how delicious the meat (from my freezer, killed & butchered here), how crisp the lettuce & succulent the tomatoes (from my garden), snappy pickles (home canned, from my own garden), etc. So they can go home still clinging to their bias, but I just watched them eat their own words without knowing they’ve done so. Farm life is the most rewarding lifetime toil. jmho. I came to visit through Chicken Chick’s bloghop; I hope you’ll find a minute to visit the 4Shoes and let me know that you’ve stopped by. Another site that I wish you would visit is WITWIK – about an abducted child & her mother who will never stop looking, but time is of the essence if she is ever to come home. http://www.where-in-the-world-is-kaydance.jigsy.com

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I think you’re right Mrs. Shoes, so many are very separated from their food. I don’t fault them – we’re all in different places in our lives and hold different views. To each their own! But to criticize without knowing the story can be frustrating. We’ve had our own beef processed for our freezer too. Then, as now, I was comforted that I gave that animal the best possible life. They’re not pets, they’re livestock. But we treat them kindly & gently always, and allow them to live the cow-life they deserve to live while they’re in our care. ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Michelle

    It is indeed always hard to say goodbye to an animal we have raised. But I do often use the time of sadness or loss to remind myself how homesteading is indeed quite a beautiful picture, often, of the harshness and difficulties of sin and the grace and goodness of our Savior. Nice to have “met” you through the Christian Blogger Linkup.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I’m comforted knowing we gave her the greatest ‘cow-life’ ever while she was here, Michelle. I realize all the cows in our herd will cycle through in one way or the other and we offer them all the opportunity for a blissful life here. We’re gentle with them in action & voice – they deserve that and we’re content to be their mindful caregivers. ~TMH~

      Reply
  3. Emily

    I’m so sorry you had to say goodbye to #20. We are relatively new to ranching. My husband and I grew up on farms in Arkansas and now live in East Texas. The closest either of us have been to a bull was when we purchased ours three years ago. We began with one bull and two heifers. We now now have two bulls and three heifers. From the beginning, we made the decision to not let ourselves get attached to them as pets. As you and they adjust to each other, you begin to see that each one has their own personality. They learn who you are and you learn who they are. When your first calf is born, you see all of them greeting the new member of the family. They look to you as their caregiver as you stand nearby watching respectfully. We have enjoyed getting to “know” ours. I hope when it comes our time for us to let go of them, we can do it with grace as you have. You are right. Ranching is a good life, but it’s also hard. You take care.

    Reply
  4. Miss B

    I’m sorry that you had to say goodbye to your sweet girl today. That must have been pretty hard to let go of a cow who gave you so much and was well-loved. I admire the way you care for your animals. God gave humans stewardship of the animals while still giving us permission to eat them, and I think that He is pleased with those who show appreciation for his gifts by giving the animals the best possible care. You mentioned that your animals are generally calm when you are around them. That’s how my dad takes care of his cattle as well. He does work them through the chutes, but he is efficient and never is rough or loud with them. That is why he is able to process them pretty quickly, and they aren’t stressed more than necessary. He watches them closely each day and addresses any health issues quickly. He had to hire some hands to help unload a new trailer of cattle last year when he had shoulder surgery. The two men were yelling at the cattle and being rough with them. It really upset my dad to see someone work cattle that way, so you know those guys weren’t hired to help again. Your talk about your herd bull reminded me of a bottle calf I had as a teenager. He was a little squirt of a Beefmaster, and I loved him. I raised him alongside my birddog, and “Baby” grew up to be such a fine bull that my dad kept him around awhile. It was funny to see a large bull come running when I hollered “Come here, Baby”. He and my birddog lounged around in the pasture most days. Nowadays, I am mostly vegetarian although I have no moral issues with eating meat. When I do eat any kind of animal product, I always try to make sure it was humanely raised even though it means paying more. It is worth it to me to know that the animals were raised by people like you and your husband who recognize that it matters how we treat animals. You are doing good and honorable work, and I pray that the Lord continues to bless your efforts. Thank you for the peek into your ranch life.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Love your comment and your story Miss B – thank you so much for sharing! And I love the way your papa does business! A couple of years ago we had a buyer picking up a couple of heifers. We walked them through the barn and the alleyway but one balked and didn’t want to proceed. We coaxed and pushed but she was hesitant to move forward. The buyer (who was sweet as pie and just trying to help) thought he would take some pressure off of us and commented “It’s ok if you need to use a shock stick to get her onto the trailer”. I guess he thought perhaps we were putting on a good face in front of the customer. We informed him that we don’t own a shock stick – none of our girls have ever experienced that in their lifetimes. We coaxed the sweet girl onto the trailer just fine without it. Slow & steady, calmly and with a soft voice you can work animals that are not afraid of you! ~TMH~

      Reply

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