You have seen some of the recent highlights of our life and activities. For all the things that I share here, there are many other things that are going on behind the scenes. Sometimes, it is the ugly things that just don't make for good blog posts and other times, it just isn't quite as exciting.
This year, we have intentionally and unintentionally made some changes in our herd. We have had babies, sold cows and lost some others.
We have used Mitchell as our herd bull for several years now, but that also means that we have more and more cows in our herd that he has sired, meaning we have to use a different bull. We aren't quite ready to get rid of Mitchell, so that means we have to change up the cows in our herd.
Over the years, we have kept more and more of our cows. We aren't really trying to grow our herd, we just don't want to get rid of any of them. Each cow brings particular qualities to our breeding program, but that also means that we have narrowed our genetics.
The past several years, it has become apparent that we need to thin the herd. Mostly, because space limitations are making it harder and harder to maintain the quality and health of our herd. We have struggled for a long time with which cows need to find new homes. Some of the cows are part owned by Isaac and Walker, so they are very much a part of these decisions. There have been many long discussions over how many to sell, who to sell, and why or why not they should stay in our herd.
But along with selling, are the decisions of buying new cows to diversify our genetic program. Each buying decision is intense. We have some strong opinions in this family, but we don't usually make a decision until everyone is on board. This ensures we all have the same vision for our farm.
The biggest priority has been to collect more semen from Mitchell. We have sold quite a bit of semen over the last several years, especially as his offspring have continued to do well in the show ring. Sometimes it takes several years for people to see the results of a particular bull and figure out what dominant traits he passes on to his offspring. We have Mitchell pretty well figured out and really like what he brings to our herd.
However, we were running scarily low on our semen supply. I have only had a few panic attacks fearing he won't collect again, but thankfully, we recently got a decent collection off of him and plan to do more soon.
Last year, we didn't know if Missy would make it through the winter. Thankfully, she did survive, but we knew her time with us was limited.
Missy was the matriarch of our herd and has been the boss since the day she arrived. She is one of our original four, and has always had a special place in our hearts. After all, she is the one that baptized us by fire with a c-section that first year.
Daniel always said Missy would die on this farm, but over the summer, we knew we were going to have to make some hard decisions. Missy turned 15 this year, hasn't bred in several years, had a back/hip injury that made it difficult to walk, and was skin and bones. Our freezer supply was getting low and we didn't want to pay someone to dig a hole, so we made the tough decision to let Missy feed our family.
Rose was the last of our original herd. She was twelve years old, but we were hoping to get a couple more babies out of her.
You may remember a couple of years ago when we had such trouble with Rose bloating. We never did figure out the cause, but each fall, she bloats...and then comes out of it just fine.
A few weeks ago, as we were getting ready for a rare Sunday afternoon nap, the neighbor called to tell us there was a dead cow back in the field. We are assuming it was the bloat, but Rose had died. Luckily, the neighbor has a backhoe and we were able to call in a favor.
With the bad always comes some good. We had a new heifer calf born just over a week ago.
We still haven't figured out a name for her yet, but she is doing great and it looks like she and Angel have already become friends.
We sold several bred cows this year to make room for new genetics. It has been several years since we have bought any new cows, so it was time to bring in some new ones.
We went all the way to Iowa to pick up Spirit. She is part owned by Isaac and she will be his show calf for the year. She was purchased, not just for the show ring, but for the genetic differences she will bring to our herd.
There is always a plan.
Part of the long-term plan...but not necessarily the plan for this year, was the addition of Barbie.
We have been talking for a long time of doing some experimenting, but we don't have a lot of money, land or time to do much experimenting. We got wind of an opportunity, so we went to look at some cows. That opportunity didn't pan out like we had hoped...but it led us to Barbie. The more we talked, the more we knew Barbie was going to be a better fit anyway.
We may show you the glitz and glamour of the show ring, but it is these big decisions back on the farm that really lead us to the show ring. The industry is always changing, so we always need to be changing to keep up, innovate and try to stay with or ahead of the curve. It is a constant game, but a challenge that stretches us and makes us better.
For me, the best part is seeing our family in this together. The dinner table conversations, the debates out in the barn, the final decision...that only gets changed again and again.
The boys are all in...and they see these cows in their future. Isaac is beginning to realize that some of these changes won't see results until after he graduates, but that hasn't deterred him. He is a part of this farm and plans to be here right beside us for the long haul.
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Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.