A snapshot of our bulls sale by numbers:
- 9o Bulls sold
- $590o average price per bull
- 200+ customers at the sale
- 1 auctioneer
- 3 wingman
- 1 multimedia company working the videos
- 2 families involved with multiple generations working the farm
- 12 dozen donuts
- 75 lbs of beef for beef on a bun
- 1100 sale catalogs & DVD’s
- 1000’s of miles on the road & man hours on the farm
Wednesday was our big old sale day and I’m very relieved to report that it was a success. We had a huge crowd, a sunny day, and a lot of buyers.
This day is our single largest income source of the year. We have 2 extended families involved, although many of us also support ourselves through off farm income, it’s a big deal for us. One of the things we use the income from the sale is put towards buying future herd sires for our cows.
The bulls we sell are mostly used to mate with mama cows to produce calves that are raised for beef. A handful of our very best bulls are sold to other purebred breeders.
What’s a herd sire? They’re bulls that are the daddy’s of these dudes, costing anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 for us. Top price for a bull in our breeds sold for over $100,000! The quality of their genetics (the ability to consistently produce sound, productive offspring) make them pretty pricey.
The purebred cattle industry does come with extra investment. We need to pay to feed the bulls themselves, plus their mama’s that raise them. Unfortunately, not all our bulls are the quality we feel is needed to be sold as breeding bulls and about a quarter are sold into the beef market. These bulls don’t have any other reasonable purpose and produce great tasting beef, but we sell them at a bit of a loss. The other bulls we sell need to make up for that difference. We spend more money on feed, veterinary costs, marketing and incidentals for our purebred cattle compared to cattle that are strictly raised for beef. We also have our babies in winter compared many beef producers that have their babies in the spring out on pasture (grass), so we have more infrastructure too (barns, corrals etc).
Big plans are already in place for next year. We’ve already loaded up our best bulls and cows for harvest their genetics (a post for another day), next year’s bulls are born and we’re planning our breeding for the 2018 calving season. It’s been a good run and we’re hoping to build on our successes for our 28th Annual Sale next April.
This week my bigger two kids are on spring break and we are busy prepping for our biggest day of the year, our annul bull sale. It’s hectic and we have to be inventive on how to manage our kids to busy and safe at the same time, but there is no where else I’d rather raise my kids.
My kids learn the value of hard work, the miracle of birth, the reality of loss/death and a whole lot science, common sense, math, and so much more on the farm.
The kids help outs as much as we can allow safely. This week, that means pushing a lot of brooms for them. And wiping down things. I inevitably have to re-wipe after them…
My helpers…one looks a lot more happy to help than the other, but I assure you they were both having fun!
Jobs take a little longer, but my heart sings when they say they would rather keep working with us as a family than take a break on the swings. Some of my own fondest memories are from working as a group on the farm as I grew up myself. I loved helping on days we were putting up small square bales. My jobs as a kid was to make sure they bales fed smoothly from one hay elevator to the next. It was a pretty small job, but it felt amazing to be part of the big team.
I fandangled a napping station in the back of my SUV for the baby and we are off to the races.
My kids can explain possibly a wee bit too much about biology and reproduction, but they can also tell you what we use wheat and barley for and how exactly a combine harvests grain. They apply math skills on a regular basis. They are learning social skills and marketing when they accompany dad or uncle to sale. They are always watching…they may have learned a few choice farming words as I call them along the way. I call that a lesson of wisdom, knowing when and where you can share certain experiences (*ahem* calving biology) and vocabulary.
Matt checking calves
We may not get off the farm too often, and we like it that way. It’s our home, our business and a pretty great place to raise our children.
This week we were blessed with yet another drop off cat. Meet Jerry. He’s super sweet, neutered and most definitely was someone’s house pet not too long ago. Thankfully, we welcome cats and have a vet in the family to provide free care, so, we keep all drop offs as our pets. But, this weekend getting yet another cat got me kind of rant-y about the concept of “Duty of Care.”
Jerry, our newest member of our feline family. They 7th (I think) drop off cat we received this year.
I get my hackles up as I feel that farmers are sometimes portrayed as money grabbing tyrants that don’t care for their animals. I assure you we do.
This fall, we were flattered to be asked to be featured in a local cattleman’s magazine. At the farm, we believe that any chance to share our farming story is a good thing, so we agreed. There was a lot of back and forth between interviewing my husband, Kelly, and I as well as fact checking for the story.We also, were lucky to have a photographer come out for a day in December as we were moving cows home from pasture.We’re pretty proud of our operation. The article is geared toward farmers, but anyone interested will learn about the way we run the farm. Take a look at the story here.
Spring seems to have sprung very early this year- I hope I’m not jinxing anything by this post! Our winter has been crazy mild and we are looking ahead to this year’s pasture season. Our yearling heifers are currently on grass at on our home quarter and will likely stay here all summer. I started my evening walks to see these girlies. I love their curiousity and frisky demeanour. Heifers are naturally super curious and the spring air gives them lots of energy for frolicking. Check out this video of us strolling about together and some geese flying back home to prove my point that spring is here.
It has fallen upon myself and the kids to gentle the heifers; getting them calmer around people every spring/summer. We go out to visit them multiple times a week. Sometimes we will bring a pail of grain as a treat. By the end of summer, they gentled down to be quiet at minimum and many get quite tame. It makes it much easier and safer to handle them when we need to do any health work for the cows and around calving season. It’s really important to me to quiet animals that my kids can be around them and I love getting to “know” my girls. I know the mama’s of many of the girls in this group and a good number of them I “remember” from when they were baby calves and in the yard at my in-laws. This year is my third summer on the farm and it’s so heartwarming to see the first generations of cattle now growing up that I have known from birth. I look forward to seeing these girls develop over the summer!
Old and new- some long retired machinery out to pasture and the future matriarchs of the herd.
This month we decided to diversify our place a bit….into chickens.
Kelly and I thought the kids could use a project that teaches them responsibility and possibly makes a wee bit of side money. So we are now in the business of laying hens.
We bought a 10 × 10 ft shed, insulated it and got our feeders etc. We built nesting boxes and a roost from scrap lumber around the yard. Our neighbour sold us 15 laying hens and off we are to the races.
The ladies have settled in nicely and are laying 8 or so eggs a day. We gave our first dozen of eggs to grandma this week and we are enjoying eggs for breakfast!
So far the kids love excitement of picking eggs everyday and all are hens are still here, so I’d say our venture is a success so far! We have 30 chicks that will be arriving in a month and that will be a whole new adventure raising them up to lay on the fall!
I’ll admit i, I’m a fan of New Years. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, I look forward to the New Year, putting down goals for the year and getting back into routine. Plus, for us on the farm, it’s getting close to my favorite time of the year – calving!! I see the turn of the calendar as an opportunity to adjust and look forward. I’m not about huge changes or rash judgement and don’t jive with the big “New Year, New You” mantra out there; not for my fitness nor for my farm planning. I like to reflect on the previous year, note the wins and losses for the year, and then set my new goals. I set them often, not just at New Years. I’m a fan of quarterly goals. For the farm, that means a changing of seasons and new projects to look forward to. Personally, that means after 3 months, you have pretty good idea if your goal is working for you, whether it be fitness, nutrition or just getting the darn office desk organized (this one is my nemesis).
My tips for Goal Setting:
- Write them down.
- Be specific.
- Review the goal as well as what has and has not worked in the past for you.
- Priotize and organize. What are big goals and your small goals? I break mine down to 1st, 2nd, 3rd priority.
- Break your goals down into small steps.
- Share them with someone.
- Seek out support.
- Leap…go for it. Do it!
So here’s to 2016’s goals. I’m 5 days in a loving it so far!