From chickens, pigs, sheep, cattle, goats, and now
Peat (the #doginsheepsclothing)... we've had a little of it all.
In The Beginning...
When my grandparents bought the original farm in1928, they started with one milk cow, a garden, and some chickens and pigs to raise. Not too long after, they started their family with their first child (my Aunt Arline) being born, followed a couple of years later by my Uncle Richard. But the 1930s brought the depression and drought, and my grandparents had to find a way to survive. They bought piglets to raise and sell, and those piglets helped keep the farm going when many others were being forced to let their farms go.
While sheep and cattle were both incorporated into the farm, all the sheep were eventually sold in 1998. We've been a cow/calf operation for as long as I can remember. That means that we raise our own replacement heifers. So when a female cow has a calf, that calf becomes the next generation in our herd if she has the characteristics that we look for such as docility and good maternal qualities.
Because of that, you really have to think about and carefully observe the cows frequently. My grandpa was an all-around amazing cattleman, stand-in vet, and businessman. But my dad, with only a high school diploma, was one of the best animal behavioralists that I've ever seen. He understood what was going to happen with the temperament of the cow almost before the cow knew herself.
I feel like I got the best of both worlds from watching my grandpa in the business, understanding the land, and being willing to take a leap; and learning from my dad what to watch for in the cattle.
About The Cows
There are a lot of factors to think about when choosing what kind of cattle to raise. The cattle we've always had are Poled Hereford. History declared that 'Herefords won the west' in the late 1800s and early 1900s. If they were good enough then, they're good enough for us now. They are great mothers, grow nice sized calves on grass, and don’t have horns.
If a cow has horns, they know how to use them. This can create injuries in other cattle and they can get themselves stuck in fences. And, since we work in the cows a lot, and most of the time as a solo operation, we're less likely to get injured ourselves.
We pay close attention to things like how easy it is for a cow to calf, how well she's going to feed the calf, what's her milk supply, is she calm but not too calm that the calf will get eaten by a coyote, etc.
With the bulls we choose, we've had both Hereford and Saler bulls.
The biggest thing to note here is to make sure the heifers are going to be able to have the calf without help. Sometimes the calves are too big to birth easily, which is dangerous for both cow and calf. We look to have our calves come out easy, grow quickly, and marble well on grass alone without supplementation to fatten them up.
The 'Other' Animals
The other animal fixtures around Osage Orange are my two Weimaraners, Pistol and Gunner, a couple of goats, Frank and Paul, and the newest member of the family, Peat the Sheep who is a dog in sheep's clothing.
Questions, comments, requests?
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