Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Goodbye, Ladies!

For some unknown reason, "Somewhere" from West Side Story, was on automatic repeat in my brain last Thursday morning. I didn't hear it on the radio. I haven't watched the musical for years. But I hummed it all the way to the Pratt Livestock sale barn.
We were taking nine cows to the sale. Some were old. Some had lost babies. The song says, in part, "There's a place for us." Well, the place for those cows was no longer the Stafford/Reno county line of Kansas.

A song typically plays over and over and over again in my brain until it gets ousted by the next song. So, by the time we got to Pratt, I had thought of a new, more appropriate one. Substitute a word, and this song from my grade school days was perfect:

Goodbye, ladies! 
Goodbye, ladies! 
Goodbye, ladies! 
We're going to leave you now." 

(For those of you who didn't sing it from the elementary school folk song book, it's really supposed to be "Good night, ladies!"
Last fall, as the veterinarian and the guys ran the cow herd through the working chute for a pregnancy check and vaccines, they noted which of the cows were getting to be a bit "long in the tooth." Actually, they were a little "short in tooth," in that they may have lost the majority of their chompers.
As the cows lose their teeth, it makes it harder for them to eat, which may affect both their health and the health of their babies, both before birth and after. Now, with their babies no longer needing their personal "milk machines," Randy weaned the calves. The calves are in a corral. Once we bring the other calves and their moms back home from summer pasture, we'll sort them. The calves will be our feeder calves this winter, and the moms will have their next babies in February. 

Others of the nine were cows that lost calves this past winter. Most the time, they don't get another chance. (I always find that kind of sad, but sentiment shouldn't enter sound business decisions, I suppose.)

Once at the sale barn, Randy pulled into the unloading area, and the sale barn workers shut the gate behind him.
The sale barn staff then opens the trailer and sends the cows down an alleyway.
They are then placed in a numbered pen until sale time.
A worker fills out a "ticket" so that the sale barn and the seller have a record of the number of animals delivered.
The cows weighed an average of  1,262 pounds and they averaged 98 cents a pound. Randy was a little disappointed in how the cows sold, but the markets were down some last week. (Our usual good timing!) However, when I looked up the data from last year, he should feel a little better. In September 2014, the five cows we sold averaged 78 cents a pound.

Perspective is a wonderful thing. 

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