Living a Grateful Life— Reasons To Be Grateful This Year

Thanksgiving. A time for family to gather together, share a meal, and give God thanks for a fruitful harvest.  This year, my Thanksgiving was a little different than most American’s. While most everyone else was sitting down to the family dinner table, I was sitting on a runway at the Minneapolis International Airport… not moving. Waiting. Waiting for the snow crews to clear the runway, so I could join my family later that evening. I had spent the few days prior in Canada at the Canadian Western Agribition Show. Like most people who finally board the plane and fasten their seat belts, I was ready to get home. My immediate reaction to killing time while belted into the seat? Yup, you guessed it…. Facebook. I began to read all the “Thanksgiving Blessings” that each of my friends were posting, and even took the time to share mine….

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My Thanksgiving Blessings— “My Why”

But why is it that we wait until November to share our reasons to be thankful?  Its like we all fixate on whats wrong in our life and fail to focus on our blessings. We go through life like a cog in a machine focusing soley on what is right in front of us, as opposed to living like the independent self functioning people we all are and choose to focus on the blessings we have both big and small. I’ll be the first to admit… there are times, I get just as bogged down by life as the next person.  As we approach the holiday season, and begin the search for our New Year’s Resolutions, maybe we should all ponder how we can shift our focus to counting our blessings the entire year, as opposed to when the annual Thanksgiving holiday rounds the corner. What about all the blessings that we fail to acknowledge? The ones that are behind the scenes that ultimately without those blessings, our life would look and feel completely different… as I waited on the runway at the Minneapolis Airport, I gave some thought to my list of “Reasons To Be Grateful All Year”

  1. I am thankful for my parents. They laid the foundation of the importance of hard work, perseverance, and having faith in God.
  2. I am thankful for love and laughter. These are two of life’s greatest gifts. The presence of those two things can make or break my day.
  3. I am thankful for all the mentors that have changed and revolutionized my life.  I am grateful they gave me the chance to work and labor in an industry that I love. It is many of their ideas and associations that showed me how to push for progress and results.
  4. I am thankful for strength and health. Health and fitness is the key to living a long and fruitful life. The absolute fountain of youth.
  5. I am thankful for having the hunger to learn, grow, and serve. It is these traits that truly permeate my soul and my life and pushes me toward progress.— Progress. Some folks perspective of being grateful is to “be content with what God has blessed us with”. My personal feeling is being grateful is so much more than that. A grateful life is a life of hope. Sometimes being grateful is more than the gifts we have already received. It is the hope, almost an expectation that things are going to get better. This alone gives us the fuel to dare and the courage to leap toward the next goal or challenge that life has presented us with. It is those things and the hope for more that gives us PROGRESS. I think about mothering Lexi. Like any parent, you want more for your child than what you had. As a result, you push and encourage your children to take a chance and push forward for whatever goals they dream of. It is the hope of what could be for them that fuels our fire. That is NOT selfish. It is learning to be thankful for what we already have, while we pursue all that we want. It is using the talents that God blessed us with so we can use our blessings to bless others. Letting those talents expire without sharing them with the world, is not living God’s will.
  6. I am thankful for the pain and problems that I have experienced in my life. It has given me the power to grow and become more than I was before. All those experiences have brought me to where I am today. Granted, when I was going through those challenges, I often asked God, “why?”. It was those troubles that opened opportunities and unique experiences to flow my way which further blessed my life. Without those troubles, I would have never known some of the talents that I had buried inside of me or what true love is all about.

Thankfulness is just the beginning to living a fulfilled life. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. There are curveballs that get thrown at you, when you least expect it. It has often been said, “It is how you handle yourself when facing adversity and the least expected that determines your character.” The following are my tips to transitioning your life to a grateful one.

  • Smile. When you face a challenge or uncontrolled circumstance, always smile and remember you can always find something worse off than you, and look for something in that challenge to be thankful for. Even the smallest thing. It might be that one thing that gives you the hope to push forward. Smiling at someone that is having a bad day, changes the tone of the encounter and even the conversation.
  • Give yourself an inner pep talk. Your inner voice is important. Often times, it is negative. Begin reminding yourself of all your great things to be thankful for and that you can accomplish anything you want, if you want it bad enough that you are willing to do what everyone else won’t do to get it.
  • When you make a mistake in life (we all know we make plenty), learn from even the smallest things. Last weekend while getting the show cattle up, we closed all the gates, but the one man gate. What happened? The heifers went straight up to the barn and past their pens and through the man gate. It was like they knew it was open. Lesson learned? Have a solid plan, before beginning the project. Building the plane in flight, gives us set backs that if we just planned and executed right the first time, we would not have wasted so much time.
  • When I start to think about all the things that I don’t have or how crappy my life is at that given moment, it is my internal clue to see how I can help or bless someone else. Try it. It changes your tone and your outlook on your own life. Something simple like holding a door for someone, buying someones coffee, or even paying a simple complement, not only makes you feel good, but could even be the highlight of someone else’s day.

As I sat on the runway in Minneapolis, and we did not take off until we were supposed to be landing in St. Louis, these thoughts flooded through my head. This new perspective has helped me in work and life. When I got off the plane, Brock met me at the gate instead of waiting in the truck in the cell phone lot. I shared with him how thoughtful that was, which made him smile. When the TSA agent was sitting all alone with a blank stare on his face as I passed by, I smiled and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. He looked at me a little funny, and replied, “Thank you. You too, ma’am”. When my dealer called me on Monday morning, and told me to keep a grower, we had to get to $195 corn, I took a deep breath and began working on a new proposal– we hadn’t lost the sale. Sometimes being thankful and grateful requires us to appreciate the little things and its that perspective that can change our lives. Happy Holidays!

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Choose Joy!

Our idea of beautiful color, celebrating Independence Day.
Our idea of beautiful color, celebrating Independence Day

Isn’t the internet amazing? Just the other day, I was using my phone to google “Quest protein bars” and now, every time I get on Facebook, there are advertisements for… you guessed it… Quest protein bars. How does that work, anyway? Maybe if my phone is tracking my shopping searches that may be why as the calendar approached July 4, my Facebook, and emails were FLOODED with new Independence Day apparel. Was it just me, or did America’s birthday get extremely popular this year? Constant red, white, and blue clothing on the racks, email blasts, and Facebook ads. Firework stands on every corner. Every business I went into, the salesperson asked me the same question…. “Have big July 4 plans?” I felt like they all seemed to look at me like I was a crazy woman when I would reply…. “Well, no. Waiting to see if it is raining.” Did every American make some huge July 4 plans, and if so, why wasn’t I invited?

July 3, the eve of Independence Day, we had not had a rain since June 30, three WHOLE DAYS WITHOUT RAIN! That itself warranted a celebration, but any guesses where I was? In a tractor, mowing pastures with Brock. Yup, that was our date night. We were bouncing across the field beside the house, when I could not help but notice all the traffic along Highway 54 traveling to the river or the lake…. boat after boat. Brock must have noticed me observing and turned to me and asked, “What would you rather be doing, right now?” My answer, “Nothing.” While it seemed that every other American was preparing to celebrate the holiday weekend in their new bikini. Me? I was perfectly happy bouncing in the Kabota across the field with the only person I really wanted to spend time with anyway.  As it turned out, my Friday date night was a preview of how I was going to spend my July 4. As the dog and I made round after round in the tractor on the fourth day in a row we had had no rain, I thought about how most people were spending their Independence day. Cookouts, drinking beer, boats, jet skis, and fireworks ran through my mind. Does our society thrive on always having a plan, always having excitement, always having some sort of drama (good or bad) in their life. Was I absolutely crazy that I was enjoying the dog and I alone in the tractor, and that I would rather be there than at some big celebration? Maybe I am just an introvert, but what ever happened to enjoying the simple things in life?

I am a blessed woman. I have a beautiful and intelligent daughter, have found the love of my life, go to work daily to a job that I love, and come home every night to my loving family, cows and farm. In my daily travels, I interact with all sorts of folks. Some that have become some dear friends, and some that have taught be about the kind of person I aspire to become. As I watch those people that are in such a hurry they almost have road rage, or just the opposite; go so slow, that when you pass them they are so mad that they develop road rage, because you obviously shouldn’t be passing them… I mean, the audacity! It makes me wonder, why are they so unhappy? What about the people in line at Panara Bread? They are so self involved and inpatient that sometimes, if you listen to them order or try to pay, they actually don’t communicate their order clearly in the first place, yet they get frustrated at the order taker. Or when that person is eating their meal while complaining to someone about their misfortunes. Why is everything in their life so wrong? I am sure you all have that one girlfriend that insists you have some big event and it is all planned out how it “should go” in her head, but when it doesn’t go that way…. well she’s not a happy camper. Consequently, no one can have a good time. What is it about some people that they cannot choose to be joyful? I admit, I once was not the person I am now. As I look back, I think, wow…. Thank God I am not her ANYMORE! Its amazing how the circumstances in your life put blinders over your eyes to what this world is about and what the “Secret to Happiness” really is. There is no doubt, not everyday are we all happy 100% of the time. That is just not realistic. But even on the days when you have things on your mind, or someone has really pushed the button that makes you want to explode, it is how you deal with the adversity that makes the difference. When life presents challenges, here are some of my tips to Choosing Joy:

1. Smile. Smiling shows the people around you that you care about them and their feelings. Oh, and it just makes you feel good. Try it. I bet if you smile, it will be reciprocated.

2. Show gratitude for all the blessings in your life. Appreciate what you are given. But don’t forget to set goals for the next steps of your life.

3. Take a deep breath and count to 10. Its amazing what oxygen to your brain does to clear your head…. right when you are about to explode.

4. Always take the high road. Even when someone may be insulting you, it is hard, but do not react to those insults. Collect your thoughts, take a deep breath, and remember that God, not evil, should rule our lives.

5. Pray. Even when things are really bad. God will not leave you alone. It does not mean that we will always be happy with God’s plan, but he WILL support us.

6. Read the Bible. You do not have to follow the Bible to get to heaven, but it IS the recipe to happiness.

Choosing Joy has been hard for many Missouri and Kansas farmers, including my farmer. This year, we are farming 1000 acres in addition to our cattle. It is a new adventure for Brock and I. What a year to start. Over the course of the spring planting season, we have had 28 inches of rain. June alone was a record for us with rain totaling 11.85 inches, according to http://www.climate.com. Farmers were forced to simply quit planting. Missouri is estimated to have only 62% of the total soybean acres planted, leaving over .75 million acres in Missouri unplanted. For a farmer who is already facing low commodity prices but also has to pay for input costs of weed control, seed, equipment, and cash rents on unplanted acres, this becomes not only a stress point, but a constant worry.  Do we or my farmers that I sell seed to, talk daily about the struggle? Admittedly, yes. But most everyone recognizes the need to “Choose Joy.” For Brock, myself, and most all of my growers across the state, July 4 was one of the only stretches of dry weather we had seen in quite sometime. Combines were running cutting wheat, planters were planting beans, and balers were baling wheat straw. We ended the evening driving to Dairy Queen for supper and watching the neighboring fireworks from the truck cab.

Many farmers were celebrating Americas Independence Day in a similar way, unsure of what the yields were going to be, or even if they would make money on the crop. Most business people will respond with, “Then why do it? What is the point if your not going to make money.”  For us farmers, it is because it is what we know, its our life, its our passion. Don’t get me wrong. When Brock asked me if there is any where else, I would rather be, I would have loved to be on the lake with my friends, Brett and Terri, or in Ireland with my friend Katie, and I have even blogged about the importance of a vacation. But priorities always come first. The farm is the choice Brock and I have made for our life. It is our reminder from God on what is important in this life. It is not just a career, it is our values, our hope, and our joy.

Peony helping mow pastures.
Peony helping mow pastures.
Fourth of July for this MO Farm Girl.
Fourth of July for this MO Farm Girl.

Without A Passion

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Lexi earned Third Overall heifer at the Missouri AGR Show. EXAR Princess 4968.

Lexi: “Hey Mom?”

Me: “Yes, Lexi.”

Lexi: “So how do you think we are going to do tomorrow?”

Me: “Well, I don’t know. Its a big show, but she looks good.”

Lexi: “I think she looks really good… Good night mom.”

a few minutes later….

Lexi: “Hey Mom?”

Me: “Yes, Lexi.”

Lexi: “Can we go over the plan, just one more time?”

Me: “Yup, we are going to get there at 5 am, clean her up, work hair, feed, and start fitting at 7 am.” “Lexi, we have to get     some sleep.”

Lexi: “I know. I just wanted to know the plan again. Good night mom.”

Me: “Good night Lexi.”

a few minutes later….

Lexi: “Hey Mom?”

Me: “Lexi we have to get some sleep….”

Lexi: “I know, but Deb and Shelby know when to be there to help fit, right?”

Me: “Yes. I just talked to Shelby.” “You really want this don’t you?”

Lexi: “Yes Mom, its my Princess!”

Me: “Good night baby, girl.”

It was the night before the Missouri AGR Show, and Lexi and I were attempting to get some sleep. All the excitement of this big show, all the snapchats and text messages from Lexi’s show friends, the anticipation of the possible outcome of the show, coupled with the overnight hotel stay, made my 10 year old girl restless. When I finally got her into bed and quiet, the above dialogue of questions began. This is pretty routine for Lexi. She talks non-stop about the most random things. Brock and I laugh quite often, as she randomly talks about her friends, Maggie and Josie, or tells some off the wall story that Charm or Princess did. We fondly refer to her being in “Lexi Land”. But when she gets alone and quiet, the real questions, thoughts, or conversations begin. Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind, indicates that since 1986, we now take in 5 times the amount of data a day! This is the equivalent of reading 7 newspapers cover to cover. Thats a lot of information for our brain! Therefore, when we are alone without distractions of our cell phone and life, we begin to actually think and process. I admit, I am the same way. Just ask my mom. When I was a kid, my best time to think (and still is) is when I am in the shower. My poor mom would be called to the bathroom while I was showering with the “Hey Mom!” just like my Lexi does to me…. apple don’t fall far from the tree. Now that I don’t live with my mom anymore, Lexi and Brock randomly get called to the shower so I can share with them, my ideas. Those ideas expressed and the conversations, are all fueled by our desire to advance in something. Its our drive. Our Passions.

Passion is a flame that burns within each of us with such an intense heat that it glows. That passion cannot be altered by discouragement, sickness, or just plain bad luck. In fact, passion  is what drives your enthusiasm, and gives you the want and need to get out of bed every morning. Have you ever noticed that some people just seem to always get more done, have more success, and always seem to surface to the top? Whats more, is they make it look so easy… Some people say, “Well, they are just lucky.” To be truthful, it is not luck. But it is passion. We are not talking about finding the random heads up quarter.  In my perspective, passion gives you energy, excitement, and motivation. When all those are occurring in harmony with each other, this is when opportunities arise. Those people that “Seem lucky” probably aren’t as lucky as they appear. If we were to follow their daily routines, I bet we would find a solid daily regimen that “sets the stage” for the success that we see. Like my family always reminds each other, when the going gets tough, “You work for what you have.”

Success does NOT equal passion. No doubt, success is the end goal and we all define success in different ways. However, passion is the joy of the journey to reaching success. In the case of showing cattle, many kids love to “show”. They love to grab the show halter and lead the heifer into the ring, smile at the judge, and pull into the first place position and ultimately stand at the champion picture backdrop. What many kids lack is the passion to do the work to get the heifer to that level, and then take the heifer home and go back to work just like they never won the show, and prepare for the next one.  Many of these kids love to show, but they fail to learn the key life lesson that showing cattle teaches our kiddos. The goal setting and work ethic components among many others are two of the key lessons showing cattle teaches that are needed to be a successful adult. Young or old, everyone should have goals. Once one goal is achieved, the next one should already be established and steps to achieving that goal outlined. A roadmap made. After my family and I earned the National Champion Shorthorn Bull honors, I was already working on my next goal. I was asked, “When is enough ever going to be enough for you, Michele?” I looked at this person like they were INSANE. I don’t understand that language. Without goals, how do you continue to prosper throughout your life? You don’t. You become stagnant. This is a mistake many people have. It is like they set a goal, achieve it, and then decide they are the best. They have done enough to get to the top and they will always be at the top. That one banner has proven themselves to be the best and everyone should see how good they are. Ride the gravy train of success. This is not passion. They may enjoy what they are doing, but it is not passion.FullSizeRender

For many, an individuals passion is the avenue taken to achieve a stronger, internal goal. It is the avenue to make a living and a solid life for their family. For some, their jobs and careers are their passions. For others, their passion may not be their job, but an activity that couples as relationship building time for their family. Whatever the case, passion should give each person a sense of happiness and fulfillment. It should be something they love and spend time researching and become an expert in that area.  When watching Lexi with her cattle, there is no doubt, she loves to show. If you ever have the chance to watch her, you can tell it is her passion. On the morning of the Missouri AGR Show, she was up at 4 am. packed and ready for the day and set her alarm for 4:50 am, because she knew it would take 10 minutes to get from the hotel to the fairgrounds. She worked hair, helped feed, and had the supplies organized so we had everything we needed to get her heifer ready.  She doesn’t just do this at the show, she works daily before and after school on her cattle. But when you ask Lexi what her life goals are, she will be quick to tell you that she is not going to show cattle her entire life and she will attend Oklahoma State University, judge livestock and get a degree in Agriculture Business and work as an agricultural engineer. Yup, she has a plan. I am sure it may change, but as a mother, you always ask yourself, am I raising my child right?   The good Lord knows, I have made my share of mistakes and I will make more. But I am confident that I am doing one thing right. Lexi shows me daily that she understands the value of hardwork and following her heart and her passion. Passion drives each member of my family. Its the spark in each of our eyes, the source of our ambition, and our key to happiness. Whats yours?

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Vacations are for the “lazy people”

I was raised on a small family farm in southern Missouri. I was raised very simple, which has taught me so much and I will forever be grateful. As a kid, our “vacation” would consist of all the family and extended family packing up and carpooling to Six Flags St. Louis, 100 miles away and spending the day on the Screaming Eagle,  Ninja, Bumper Cars, and the Log Flume. The kids excitedly planned the day and un-patiently would wait in lines all for the 30 seconds of adrenaline rush from the rides. The dads, would ride with us, and we kids loved seeing our fathers resign their normal “we are farmers” attitude and enjoy the same rides that we kids did. All the mothers of the family packed lunches in coolers for each of us, and at lunchtime, we would excuse ourselves from the amusement park to the coolers in the trunks of the cars. I LOVED IT. I looked forward to that day all year long. It was easily one of the most highly anticipated days of “my” year. As I look back as an adult, it is a vivid memory, one that will never be forgotten and one that I have shared with Lexi many times. I remember longing for a Disney Land vacation or beach vacation but those days never seemed to happen. We were farmers, those vacations were for “rich people” and the “lazy people who only THOUGHT they worked hard”. Lets be honest, we went to Six Flags because we kids had earned free tickets for reading in school and we could keep the cost down by taking our lunch for our day vacation. We couldn’t afford those luxury vacations that many of my friends were taking, but me… I never knew any different. I loved our vacation just the same. I think back to those days and the waiting in lines and making lunches and wonder how those days were ever relaxing for our parents? Getting away from life’s hustle and bustle and not cooking are just two of the daily norms that I seek to get away from when I even begin to think about a vacation. Maybe it was just a simpler time then? Maybe it was just another example of the simple life we live where the kids and adults alike were just glad to “get away from the farm”, or maybe, it was another example of the selflessness of our parents who once again, put their kids needs and wants before their own. Whatever the reason, that vacation rejuvenated all of us, and us kids on the way home would excitingly chat about the funnies of the day until we would all fall asleep, no doubt, dreaming about the next year.

Rejuvenation. Such a powerful word that we all need in our lives. The need to hit the reset button. This is something we all need and we all find that in different places. I am a lucky girl. I just got back last night from the Bahamas. How lucky am I to escape cold, snowy, Missouri in March and come home 5 days later with arguably the best tan of my life? Some may say, how can they do that? I thought they were farmers? Others my say, wow… those vacations are for rich people, or just like when I was a kid, thought, well, they don’t work as hard as we do, we cannot do anything like that, there is just TOO MUCH TO DO. Let me tell you, “Yes” we are lucky, “Yes” we are farmers, just with great friends that come stay at our house for the duration of our trip to keep things rolling, “No” we are not rich, and “Yes.” I promise you, we will work just as hard as the next guy. Which is why we needed to hit the reset button. It seemed that this last year was awesome, and we were blessed, but the work flow never seemed to let up. You farmers out there know, it was a record harvest year, and on the cattle side, well, we have more hay than we have had as well. We enjoyed the warm sunny summer, but it was while working. Not hitting the river or lake that many of our friends were able to enjoy.

We escaped the winter for the sunny beach of the Sandals Royal Bahamian. We spent our days working out, walking the beach, playing some tennis and volleyball, and catching some rays. The best part? No cell reception, no expectations, no cooking, yet awesome food whenever we were hungry or thought we were hungry, and we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. The only real contact with home was checking in with Gregg and Brian to make sure all was good on the farm and FaceTiming Lexi. I cannot tell a lie, it took a few days for us to completely hit the reset button. It is habit to grab the phone, check the email, send a quick text “just to make sure they remembered __________.” However, after a few days in, were were present in Bahamian life. Swim suits, sun, and enjoying our time together were our priorities.

For me, the true benefit of a vacation is the after affect. Kind of like the after burn when you work out. Its the ability to handle life’s challenges without killing someone! It helps to clear your head and regroup your thoughts. There is something about watching and listening to the waves coming to the shore that helps hit that reset button. Its an amazing way to spend your morning or while catching an afternoon nap on the beach. This last week, as I lay there and watched the waves, I began to think. The ocean waves are much like life’s ups and downs. Sometimes, there are strong waves or challenges that can flat knock you down. Those waves can be underestimated and cause you to take a big gulp of salt water that probably won’t taste the best. But you get up and face the next wave. Some waves are small and calm… peaceful. Regardless of the size of the wave, have you ever looked at the sand after the water regresses away? It is smooth and perfect. A reminder that everything in life is all in God’s plan and meant to shape and form you into the person you are intended to become.

Just like my simple childhood taught me to appreciate God’s blessings both large and small, I am blessed to live a life that allows me to take a break and appreciate the world. My world has grown larger than simply driving to St. Louis to Six Flags, but those annual Six Flags trips helped shape me into me. I am blessed to have had those few days together with Brock. Not only was it rejuvenating for our minds, but also for our relationship. We were able to just enjoy being together without the stresses of daily life weighing us down. Enjoying the Sun!

We were welcomed home to 20 degree weather, snow, and lost a baby calf. The ability to hit the reset button allowed us to take life’s challenges as it come and accept that we will never save every calf. We are prepared for a busy spring with a new sense of purpose and energy. For those who still think vacations are for lazy people or people that don’t work as hard, I promise once you take your own break and truly ‘feel’ the benefits, I promise your perspective may change. The reset button works on all our electronic devices, why wouldn’t it work on us too?

“1501” A New Year of Babies

Spring, summer, winter, fall…. everyone has their favorite season for various reasons. Some like the heat and sun. Some like the cold snowy days by the fire. Me? Calving season is my FAVORITE season by far! For some, that time is now. For others, those momma cows are just getting ready to start dropping those babies. Why is this my favorite? The reasons are endless. Most importantly though, this is what we work all year for! We all care for the cattle all year long feeding, walking through knee deep mud, fixing fence, working tirelessly to get that stubborn cow up that simply won’t be smart enough to just go through the dang gate! Today is the day it all pays off!

Many farm wives out there might think I am crazy. You ladies are reading this saying, is this chick CRAY? Calving time is the WORST! Ladies, I know where you are going with this…. I understand the stress levels associated with the best season of the year. I know how the husband’s stress levels can get…. well can we say, a little out of whack. Lets face it, it can become an episode with an exchange of words that might resemble the infamous “cattle working saga” that we farm wives or farm girlfriends hear about. We all have seen those posts on Facebook…. they go something like “Farm Girl Tip: Don’t take anything he says personally when sorting or moving cows.” Hopefully this post will help you ladies out there that find themselves elbows deep in helping calve those momma cows! Remember ladies, Valentines day is this weekend. What better thoughtful gift to give your farmer than helping them prepare for the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

Anyone else think this is the BEST advice?!
Anyone else think this is the BEST advice?!

Below are some of my tips to a successful calving season.

1. Begin with the end in mind. One of my life mantras! I simply cannot understand anyone that goes through life and has no clue to where they are going! Likewise, who begins calving season not knowing how many calves to expect and who is going to calve when? Being prepared is the most essential step to successfully calving your spring calf crop.  Having your herd pregnancy check sheet organized by due date is key to knowing when each cow is EXPECTED to calve. Obviously, this is not an exact science, some cows come early, some bulls have shorter gestation, and from experience many baby heifer calves come early. (We started calving 2 weeks early this year.)  Success starts with analyzing your breeding and pregnancy check records.

2. OK ladies…. this one is the great Valentines gift… Prepare the calf bag. What calf bag you may say? We prefer a cloth tool bag. We get ours from Lowes with a $15 price tag. Totally economical. Brock looks like he is carrying a “man bag” when he is walking through the pasture with it! So cute! In the man bag, goes the following things…

All the essentials for caring for baby calves.
All the essentials for caring for baby calves.
  • Ear tags
  • Ear tagger
  • Tag Marker
  • Alpha 7 (Blackleg Vaccine, follow your veterinary recommendation )
  • Full Bottle of LA300 (We treat each new calf at tagging with 5cc, just as a precautionary measure.)
  • Steno notebook to record all calving information. (Essential for record keeping.)
  • Ziplock bag (We put the steno in the ziplock bag just in case the LA300 breaks.)
  • Ink pen to record calving information.
  • Bander with bands to band the bull calves
  • 6cc syringes with extra needles. (Follow veterinary recommendations for size.)

This is the best way to process those baby calves before they get too big to handle. It is low stress, and I personally HATE getting baby calves up out of the pasture. Its like herding cats! So frustrating!

3. Isn’t it fun, when the cow calves without any trouble? What happens if there is issues? Here is my list to be prepared. From my experience, its best to “just know” what to hand your farmer when the stress sets in when potentially pulling or assisting the cow calving.

  • CLEAN Bucket with warm water and soap or disinfectant.
  • CLEAN and DISINFECTED OB chains
  • Extra rope halters (We cannot do anything without rope halters in our life. They tie gates, etc always a mainstay in the tool department at Meyer Cattle!)
  • Calf Jack
  • Old bathroom towels (Help to get that calf dry on cold days.)
  • A good veterinarian’s phone number on speed dial. (Ladies, do NOT leave your phone in the house on accident!)

4. OK, the calf is here and ok…. now what? Be sure the calf is sucking and ok. I always be sure to have a clean tube feeder and bagged colostrum at the house, just in case. Inevitably, if there is going to be a problem, it is in the middle of the night, or on a weekend when no retail outlet is open to aid in this.  Better safe than sorry.

5. I mentioned this before, but deserves more discussion…. Establish a good relationship with a veterinarian. That person means a lot to the success  of your cattle herd. From having an accurate pregnancy check to those dreaded late night calving problem calls, you want to be able to call on someone that you trust and has a vested interest in YOUR success.

6. Weather…. the HUGE factor that influences so much in the agricultural industry. Ladies, help your farmer. Now, in my experience, Brock is the weatherman here at Meyer Cattle. I mean we go from one weather app to the next to determine what the next day has in store for us! We use the WeatherBUGG and Accuweather. Use your smartphone for more than reading this blog or Facebook. Watch the weather and determine if you need to get calving cows up to the barn lot or barn to calve, if you can calve on pasture, and if you need to bed the cows and baby calves on pasture. This is HUGE in your planning endeavor. If you know the weather is going to be rough, you can prepare and have calving pens built, use the pregnancy check sheet and sort up the close to calve cows, bed the babies on the pasture so they can bed down away from the wind and the winter elements.

There you have it ladies…. keys to success for a successful calving season. Share with your farmer! Or better yet, be the leader and start making these things happen for him! Have a great Valentine’s Weekend with your farmer. There is truly no better Valentine out there than a farmer.