Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sold! Home-Raised, Home-Grown, Homespun

"Look at these here, boys: They are home-raised, home-grown, homespun."

We collected a paycheck for our "home-raised, home-grown, homespun" feeder calves a little earlier than usual when we sold 73 of them at Pratt Livestock on December 19.

Because our supply of silage was dwindling, Randy decided to sell the calves in December, rather than our usual January or February. (We sold February 7 last year.) Just what I needed: More to do in December, along with the Christmas rush. But ... such is life.

That move to the auction block is only a small portion of the journey that epitomizes that "home-raised, home-grown, homespun" slogan.
The first one born was this little guy, who got the first ear tag of the year - 900. (The first number on the eartag tells us when the baby was born - in this case, 2019.)
He wasn't the only cutie, of course.
 They warmed up on cold winter days with their own personal milk machines - aka their moms.
On our wedding anniversary in March 2019, we worked baby calves for the third day in a row, giving them vaccinations and eartags. The boy calves were also transitioned from bulls to steers.
This eartag caught my eye, since it was our 38th anniversary.
 In May, the calves traveled via trailer with their mamas to summer pastures.
This group arrived at the Big Pasture, which has been in Randy's family for more than 100 years. While there is definitely less work with cattle when they are on pasture, this year provided its own set of challenges with five pair that would not stay in, no matter what we did.
We lost track of the number of trips we made on 4-wheelers to bring them back to the pasture. As Randy says, we toured some shelterbelts and back roads that we'd never experienced before.
In early November, on a frosty morning, we gathered the cattle from the the Ninnescah pasture and brought them back home.
On another day, Randy and his cousin Don (along with some other excellent help, if I do say so myself), gathered cattle from the Big Pasture and we transported them home.

After they arrived home from the pastures, they were weaned from their moms. Like wellness checks for humans, the calves had a doctor's appointment, too. Dr. Figger gave them another round of vaccinations. 
My stint with the feed truck began in earnest.
In December, with feed supplies dwindling, Randy was ready to sell.
After getting them in the corrals, we sorted out the 25 heifers we planned to keep. They will become mothers in our herd for the first time in 2021.
There are no pictures from sorting because I had plenty of other things to do. The following day, the semi arrived to transport the 73 calves to the sale barn.
Though we have two farm-sized cattle trailers, it would take several trips to get all the cattle to the sale barn. So we hired Darrel Harner Trucking to do our hauling to market.
The semi is divided into different compartments, which can hold anywhere from six head to 25 head of cattle. Darrel told us how many calves he wanted at a time to load the semi, and we sent them on their way.
It's always a good feeling to watch the semi leave the farmstead ...
... and then watch it arrive in Pratt at the sale barn.
As we watched the calves unload, I noticed our shadows. This journey requires a lot of teamwork from start to finish.
The calves stayed overnight so they were ready for the sale the next day.
Randy says sale day is always a highlight for him, a culmination of a season of work. He had hoped the calves would weigh 600 pounds apiece, but they weren't quite that big. While the price wasn't quite as good as last year, he was pleased enough with the paycheck.
The cattle work didn't end. We are still feeding the 25 sisters left behind at home. Randy is hauling hay and water to the expectant mothers. Today, with the cow's due dates fast approaching, we are driving one group of cattle off stalks and into a pasture. We are sorting another group that got mingled together earlier this winter.

The 2020 maternity ward is only a couple of weeks away. And the whole process will begin again. (I'm hoping for no repeat of the summertime escapees in 2020.)