This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Picture this: Christmas morning on a cattle ranch. A chaotic blur of wrapping paper, children excitedly chattering, dishes clanking and the lovely smell of cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs and bacon (weirdly mixing with the smell of cattle). Welcome to our little slice of ranch life heaven. But before we get to the fun stuff, we must care for the livestock in our stead, as they obviously don’t care about any of the day’s festivities.
My husband and I will rise at dawn before our daughters, ages five and four months, awake for the day. We will bundle up and head outdoors with mugs of tea and the baby monitor to feed cattle, horses and chickens, deliver hay bales and clean stalls. By tag teaming the chores, we will be done quickly and can get back inside to jump start the excitement of Christmas morning. Hopefully, none of the water tanks are frozen and all the cattle are in the right pens and pastures – if not, our morning routine will take much longer to complete.
In the summer, our chores are much lighter – there isn’t any daily feeding for the cow herd, but we are checking on welfare and providing mineral daily. However, in the winter, when the grass has gone dormant and stopped growing, we provide our cows with hay bales, some supplemental feed like dried distillers grains and occasionally some silage. Dried distillers’ grains are a by-product of ethanol production – they are inedible by humans but when we feed them to cattle, we help the overall sustainability of the beef supply. Silage is made by chopping the whole corn plant and fermenting it for several weeks before feeding it to the cattle. We provide our cows these additional feedstuffs to nourish them and maintain their body condition so they can nurse the baby calves at their sides throughout the winter. We also make sure that they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water and free choice mineral as it helps keep their digestive system running smoothly.
In our family, we have started a New Year’s Day tradition which entails the entire family feeding cows together. During normal days in the winter, it’s either me, my husband or our herdsman feeding silage and rolling out hay but on New Year’s the four of us get in the feed truck and bump along through the pasture with hot cocoa while looking at cows and making memories. Taking care of the cattle together not only enables us to get the chores done while spending time with each other, but we also are able to teach our children valuable lessons about responsibility and animal care.
It’s during these simple moments I am reminded at how important it is to take time with our families, even if that means incorporating that time into chores. It’s not what we are doing that is important, it’s who is with us that tops the priority list. We wish you a blessed and happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.
Until next time and Happy Holidays!