A Little Bit Western


Herd Bound

May 24, 2016

As our kids grow older, they are gaining independence and observing things around them – which leads to questions. Lots of them. Questions like, “how old were you when you started driving?” and “when did you get your own tractor?” My personal favourite is “how old were you when you got an iPhone?” which I enjoy answering with a confident “twenty-nine.” That usually shuts down the Q&A session while their young minds contemplate my mind-blowing answer.

For several years now, our children have been asking us how old we were when we got our first calf. My husband and I each started our respective herds around the mature age of seven or eight, he with a purebred Gelbvieh female and I with a commercial heifer named Patches. We have descendants of those foundation females in our herd to this day, but what is more, our fledgling herds helped support our education, instill responsibility and business sense, and foster our entrepreneurial interests. Of course, at the time we didn’t really care about all of that, we were just excited to have a calf!

Many ranch families give their kids a calf when they are first born. Having birthed our twins during our own peak calving season, selecting a nice calf for them didn’t make our priority list. Later on, we thought it might be nice to wait until the kids were a bit older and could understand the concept of raising cattle before we arbitrarily assigned them their own calves.

This year, we could no longer ignore their interest in starting a herd of their own. All of our kids tag along on our daily ranch work, but our older two kids in particular have been helping us chase calves, brand, rope, and notice calves that require special attention, even when those calves fly under the radar of the adults around our camp. They are interested and invested in caring for animals. It was now or never.

One evening, my Other Half took our boys out to check cows in the pasture and they returned with a big grin and a list of their top pick plus a spare just in case. (Having had a special Sweet Sixteen birthday heifer that ended up in the deep freeze myself, I appreciated the value of having a Plan B). One of our sons chose a nice stout black heifer calf and the other chose a red commercial heifer with a patch of white down its nose. Special calving books were developed and pertinent information was noted. Names were carefully considered in consultation with their little sister.

Maybe these heifers will help fund whatever passion our kids develop as they grow up, or maybe these calves will be the start of their own ranching careers. No doubt, it will be the start of something big and exciting for them and I’m looking forward to watching the events unfold.

Welcome to the herd, Alice and Lou Lou. I hope you have a long and productive career around our pastures.

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