Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shopping for Steers

Some people like shopping in malls. Others prefer the online world of commerce.

And a couple of 4-Hers liked the merchandise at the County Line.

Even though our own kids have "graduated" from the 4-H program, we still help out our local 4-H program. Randy is the beef project leader for the Corn Valley 4-H Club, the club we spent a dozen years serving as community leaders.

The Dealy family has gotten several bucket calves from us. The last one was a twin that Aubrey took home in February, and then showed at the Stafford County Fair. But the boys have also purchased bucket calves when they were younger.

In other years, they've taken the calves back home and used them for market steers or breeding beef the following year.

But this year, they wanted a couple of feeder calves for John and Jesse. Randy had written down possible contenders when we worked cattle in November.

They flipped for the first chance to choose. (There were more than the ones in the photo above. The photographer was late to the "party.")

John got first choice. We'll see if his pick pays off at fair time.

They ran the cattle through the chute so Randy could get a halter on them. The calves had been given their shots in November when the veterinarian was here.

Before the Dealys took the calves home, Randy went by the Zenith Co-op to get a weight on the scales.

By averaging the load, he estimated that each calf weighed about 650 pounds. They'll have to weigh a minimum of 1,000 pounds to go through the auction ring at the Stafford County Fair in mid-July.

The reason for the halters became apparent once the calves were at their new home at the Dealys. John and Jesse have been used to working with cattle they'd raised from the time they were bucket calves.

They discovered that these new inhabitants of their corral were not as accustomed to life around humans.

But, with a lot of work before fair time, they'll get them convinced otherwise.

The whole cattle selection process brought back a lot of memories for this old 4-H mom and dad. I pulled a couple of pages from Jill and Brent's 4-H books. It looks like I just interchanged kids with the one shot.

The Dad stayed put and we shuffled a different 4-Her in! In the record book, Jill wrote:

"During Thanksgiving break, I chose my market steer from about 50 my dad, brother and I had sorted from my dad's herd. We put a halter and an ear tag in before taking the steers down to their new home, where we could work with them."

Those photos were from 1999.

The photos below were from the year before. Jill wrote:

"This was the first year I didn't use my bucket calf from the previous year. We sorted twice because one went over the fence. That wasn't the one we chose."

She appears to be laying down the law to Midnight while they had him in the chute.

And I guess it worked. The photo at the bottom of the page was taken in December, and he was perfectly content to let Jill lead him around only a month later or so.

Let's hope the Dealys have the same results.

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