Farming is not a job it is a lifestyle. Farming is not just something that you do from 8a.m.-5p.m., it is a task that is constantly requiring your attention. One of the major things that requires most of the attention on a livestock farm is the “choring” portion of the day.
What do chores consist of?
At the farm we like to call it the daily grind, this meaning that the same routine happens everyday at the same time. We have 200 head cow calf operation with around 1800 acres that are row cropped.
- First thing to start the morning we always meet to talk about what we need to accomplish in the short days time. This is normally when the coffee is made and everyone has the opportunity to consume their fair share. If you are like me
I have not acquired that specific taste for coffee so I have to resort to hot chocolate. Im sure my day will come when my taste buds are ready for that specific taste.
- After everyone has had something to drink and the goals are laid out, is when the work begins. Usually how it plays out is the person with the most experience or years put in gets the tractor jobs. This includes getting the mixer wagon loaded with the correct amount of feed and then delivered to the correct pen. Next on the seniority list gets the job of feeding that mature cow herd their hay for the day. Depending on the day this is usually where I fall in line. The last job that is weather dependent. It is mainly in the winter time but it consist of going around to all the animals watering holes and breaking the ice or defrosting and frozen water pipes. This list is sometimes more easier said than actually done. Although most mornings go on without a hitch there are always those days where it takes all morning to accomplish one simple task.
“There is always something do somewhere that can be done to improve the place.” -Mark Hulsebus/Owner Operator Bar 20 Ranch
- Next on the chore or today’s list is to run to all the pastures and check the fences and the creek crossings. As Mark always says, “what good is it to have fence when the cattle can just walk out and wonder wherever they want?” So, I get the job of driving to each pasture and making sure the fences are in good repair. While here I look over the cattle and check to see if the cattle are in good condition and if any need treated for pinkeye. Although this is not an everyday job it is a very important job during the summer months. This is only an important job when the cattle are in the pasture. We don’t try to keep all the wildlife in year around, we just like to keep our livestock in.
On our ranch we our set up to calve in the spring of the year. This is always a fun and exciting time of the year. We finally get to see all the hard work and time we have put into the cow herd. With this fun and exciting time comes a few more chores and responsibility. Before calving season begins, about March 13, we like to prepare a check list.
- Clean barn and put out fresh bedding
- Sanitize pulling chains and puller
- Check milk replacer inventory and order if needed
- Put up hot wire fence for cows with new calves
- Order new ear tags for new calves
- Separate virgin(first calf) heifers from cows
- Take inventory on vaccines and order before calving date
- Check all medicine and antibiotic inventory, order as needed
- Set up pens for cattle to stay in if trouble occurs
When the season finally begins the chore load increases some. All the normal routine still exists but now you have to add the checking in the early morning hours and evening times. One technique that we have found works on our farm is only feeding the cattle that are in their last trimester in the night hours. This has helped us to only have calves in the day light hours. To date with this technique we have only had 5 calves born after 12 am out of 200 head.
The farm is a very rewarding aspect of my life. I enjoy every of bit of it, even when the work is labor intensive. Watching the cattle grow from calves, to their first calf, to their 7th calf is a very exciting experience. Knowing that I have an affect on how they are raised and making large breeding decisions is nerve racking but at the same time gives me satisfaction.
Hi my name is Skyler Wright. I am a senior at Western Illinois University studying agriculture business and will be graduating in May. I have grown up with cattle all my life. I reside in Donnellson, Iowa where the herd continues to grow. I have a strong passion for agriculture and am excited for what the future of ag has in store for me and my career. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.