Questions and Answers: January 2019 Edition

WoW! I guess not having many Q&A sessions last year let you stock up on questions!

From Dawn:

I’m learning a lot from the Big Trails blog about ranching, but I do have a few questions! 

<For those of you who don’t know or remember, Brandon has a weekly blog over on his website You should go look at it! His photos are great, and it’s fun to hear his version and mine of the same topic!>

First, do you ever end up bottle feeding calves in the house? My mom talks about that happening when she was growing up on the farm in Iowa in the 40’s. 

<Oh, yes. It happens. We’ve all had them in the house, I think, though recently Daniel seems to get more since he lives closest to the calving shed. It’s not something we want to do by any means, and our calf warmer has helped with that situation quite a bit, see that here. You might enjoy this video with a bottle baby… there’s a sweet cameo at the end by someone I loved…>

How often do you make a grocery store trip, and do you buy things in bulk, since you live so rurally? Any tips? 

<I don’t have a set schedule for shopping, it revolves around what parts or supplies we need! Plus with four families, (Johnny, us, Daniel, Brandon), it seems like there’s always someone headed to town. It’s pretty standard policy to say, “I’m headed to town, need anything?” Even with our neighbors and friends… We buy stuff for each other all the time! I do buy in bulk. I also really stock up twice a year when my local store has their case lot sale. It’s pretty hard to beat those prices! They would order case lots throughout the year for me if I wanted… and I did that once, but now I’m in a rhythm of buying the case sale, so that works. It’s quite a drive to a big box store, and I’d rather support the local guys if I can. I’ve bought from the local cleaners and local industrial supply stores, too… Vernon is big on buying his gatorade and snacks from online stores. I’m not shy about buying pork chops or bacon or similar items in the family packages, and then repacking them before I freeze them! Much cheaper! Don’t forget freezing and canning my garden.>

What are some of your family’s favorite ground beef recipes, aside from the obvious summer burgers on the grill?

<Maybe I will make this a separate post in the near future! I hope that’s ok!>

From Denny:

Questions: Do you have a problem with predators killing the calves? Do you practice controlled burning on your land? Are there still cattle rustlers? Do your sons have other jobs or are they full time ranchers? Do you push your cattle to the stockyard or do you have cattle trailers haul them there? What’s your biggest problem, gov. interference, market prices, weather, disease, etc.?

<Holy cow, Denny! Way to ask some good questions! OK. a)No, thank goodness, we don’t have a predator problem with our calves. Honestly, I could see it in our future, but for right now, Wyoming is trying to handle the predator problem as best they can. b)We have been in a drought period, so there hasn’t been much controlled burning going on. We’re still scared of fire getting away, so we fight it. We’ve used it in the past, so have our neighbors and the BLM. It’s a good tool if conditions are right. c)Yes, there are still cattle rustlers. Again, thank goodness, we haven’t had that problem. d)My sons are full time ranchers with us on this place. e)Buyers send trucks for our steers when they buy them. When we ship to local sale barns, we hire semi trucks to ship them for the few hours drive. f)MMMMMMM…. Our biggest problem????? I suppose all those you listed could rotate depending on the year… 😉 . I’d have to say… Price. Market price versus the consumer price is very different. It’s not like we can store steers in a silo until the price goes up… I’d love to get some high prices like those direct to consumer people can get some places, but without a USDA certified meat processor, it’s not possible. That would be a government regulation problem… ;-). Actually, the price has been decent for the past couple years… but if I can’t wish for more money, and who doesn’t do that?, then the hardest thing we have to deal with is probably Mother Nature. Drought, blizzards, wildfires… those are what we battle against the most in our situation we are in right now.

<to be continued>

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