Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Heifers and Helpers


I may not be as cute as this little helper at the Pratt sale barn. But I like to think I was just as indispensable. 

I am under no delusion that I was the most vital helper during the County Line's latest cattle work. That honor went to our veterinarian, Dr. Bruce.

He was at the farm Monday to preg-check 25 heifers - our first-time mothers. Many times, he has done  the examinations manually. But this time, he brought along a helpful machine. It's like a sonogram machine for cattle.

I seem to have mostly gotten Bruce's reflection in the photo below, but maybe you can also see an image, too. It's a little hard to see what you're photographing when you're taking the shot over someone's shoulder in bright sunlight. (Thanks for your patience, Dr. Bruce!)

 Most of the first-time moms were 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 months pregnant. 

I was the secretary for the ladies' doctor's appointments and also helped move them up the lane. Dr. Bruce inserts a wand to get the image and determine the approximate gestation, based on the size of the baby.

When I saw 001 come through the chute, I had to take a close-up. I knew I'd be able to find a baby photo of her. She would have been one of the first babies born in 2020, and she would have been born to a heifer, too.
August 2, 2021

January 25, 2020

No. 001 was pregnant, but three of her pasture mates were not. Those three - and an Angus bull - made a trailer trip to the Pratt sale barn. 

To make the sorting job easier, Randy always marks the  "open" cows with "O" on their sides and puts a chalk streak down the front of their faces. 


We sorted them off from the rest, and they had a chauffeured ride to Pratt, where they'll be sold on Thursday.

As one was walking away at the sale barn, I realized the Hereford-looking one was my 2020 Valentine's calf. I always thought she was so pretty, and I also noticed her as we fed silage this past winter. But, just like a sports team, you have to make tough cuts to the roster. And not being pregnant is a big deal for cattlemen.

Notice the "heart" shape on her chest: She made an appearance on the blog in February 2020.

 The rest of "girls" were transported to a different pasture, where they will graze as "ladies in waiting" until this coming winter when they will deliver the Class of 2022.


  1. I have been enjoying reading your posts for about a month now and thought I would finally leave a comment to say Hi and thank you for such a nice blog! My brother went up to the family farm in Neola, Kansas to see the feasibility of running cattle on it... Since I couldn't travel there, I went online and tried to find local bloggers to get the sense of what farming or ranching was like in the area. I sure did hit the jackpot finding your blog! -Lillibeth from Oregon

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. Neola is actually very close to our farm. (There's not much at Neola any more, but I do know where it is.) It is south of Zenith, where we haul our grain. We are north of Zenith. I'm curious as to what he discovered. My best to you and your brother!

  2. You most certainly did, Lillibeth!
    An O on the flank was OK but I felt the ultimate humilation was the streak down the face. Would a chauffeured drive to Pratt be enough compensation? [I jest]

    1. Yes, I always feel a bit sorry for the "open" ladies. But saying goodbye to them at this point is easier than if they lose a calf at birth. I must admit I have campaigned to retain a few over the years when they lose a baby in the winter (though my appeals have fallen on deaf ears. And I do understand the business decision.)