The Way We Really Were

By Virginia McConnell Simmons Equal opportunity to work was unending on family farms and ranches for males and females, young and old. Branding, done before cattle were put out on pastures for the summer, is being handled in this photo by the Becker sisters east of Alamosa in 1894. A Colorado Cattlemen’s Association publication (1967) …

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The Crowded Acre – The Grass is Always Greener …

By Jennifer Welch

I never did fall in love with the idea of grazing our livestock on leased property 10 miles from the farm. The idea never sat well with me for a variety of reasons, the loftiest of which has been protection from predators. Our poultry are protected round-the-clock by a 140-pound livestock guard dog who resides on our property. The Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats benefit from his protection as well – being the little bite-size nuggets that they are. I don’t worry too much about our breeding pigs, as they average 600 pounds apiece, but the freshly weaned feeders would make quite a tempting snack. And the sweet, trusting Jersey cows make a nice target while they are calving or just afterward with a small, velvety calf by their side. No, I don’t like the idea of pasturing any of these animals even just 15 minutes away from our home base, but that is what we had to do to make things work.  

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A Farmer Far Afield – Beef: It’s Really Not for Dinner

by John Mattingly In my last two columns about the beef business, I discussed the cow-calf end of the supply chain, explaining how feedlot operations benefit from the various subsidies enjoyed by cow-calf ranchers. My basic claim is that the foundation of the beef business, the cow-calf operation, is financially irrational. The beef business persists …

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Heard Around the West

by Betsy Marston/Writers on the Range NORTH DAKOTA Everyone knows that ravens can manipulate sticks as tools, and that squawking magpies enjoy teasing dogs and cats, but who knew that cows – with their bodies alone – could make pipes spill natural gas? In Bismarck, North Dakota, one cow apparently did just that, simply by …

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Beef – It’s What Eats the Rancher’s Lunch

by John Mattingly After my last month’s column that took a somewhat sanguine look at the cow-calf end of the beef business, suggesting that cow-calf ranchers are basically keeping large pets, I trust readers will have sold the 100 virtual cows I gifted them for exactly what they paid for them. Not because they didn’t …

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by Dennis Fischer

The tragedy of Mad Cow disease reminds the author of a different kind of “mad” cow.

Out here in the West, range cattle are well-known for their ornery dispositions. Their instincts for survival are strong, and stories of their aggressive behavior are legendary. The dairy cows I grew up around however are docile creatures, even considered dull-witted by some. This is the story of a cow that was neither of these things.

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Season of life and death

by Hal Walter

“Some of them live, and some of them die.”

“If you don’t want to lose any, then don’t have any.”

“At least you don’t have to feed the sumbitch anymore.”

I’d nearly given up on the cow I call “Number 30.’ During the days running up to the March full moon her udder had been swelling, and I thought for sure the calf would arrive then. Some cattlepeople say that cows tend to have calves during foul weather, but a small snowstorm passed over, then a few more days, and the calf had yet to be born.

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