Sunday, September 17, 2017

Starbucks In Boots

Living in the middle of nowhere has its benefits. Minimal traffic, no houses in any direction, and most importantly, plenty of space for cattle.
The downside; however is that Starbucks is at least 35 minutes away. I am not a coffee drinker by nature, but I do enjoy Starbucks. The fact that I do not get it very often makes it an even bigger treat.
The last time I was in Davenport, I was passing through on my way to a cattle sale. The line at the drive up was awful, so I went inside to order.
I do not wear boots to the cities much and I was certainly conscious of them that morning. You would think I had walked out of a comic book the way people starred. Apparently, boots and bling are out of style in this area of Iowa. Caramel chai in hand, I headed out the door and back to the safety of my gravel covered car. 
Looking back on the experience, I am still amazed at the rift that separates us from them. Even though cornfields surround the Quad Cities, the gap between farm and city is getting wider. Part of me is sad at this, but the other part looks at it as a conversation point. As an agriculturalist, it is my duty to find a way to bridge this gap. It is a personal goal that I have over the course of the next year. Keep reading to follow my progress!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Monday Morning Bliss

While bliss is not usually the word I use to describe my Monday mornings, having the day off makes me more inclined to be kind the beginning of the work week, especially when it involves working cattle.
For as long as I can remember, working cattle has been one of the activities that I adore on the farm. I think this stems back to my childhood when we conducted a good old fashioned round-up every fall, complete with horses and Iowa cowboys (no, that is not an oxymoron, we do have a few!). In the early years, I was not allowed to ride with the guys, but after enough whining, dad finally allowed me to watch some obscure gate at the back of pasture. Of course, no cattle came my way, but it did not matter. I was on my horse and I was helping!
Since then, my help has evolved from watching obscure gates to working the chute, which is exactly where I was on this particular Monday. I still marvel at how much technology has evolved even if the process we use is much the same. The chute we were using had a slide gate behind it that locks into place behind the cow or calf. While this might seem trivial to some readers, if you have worked cattle using a wooden board or a metal pipe (I raise my hand for both), I assure you, a sliding door is a treat!
With three of us, the process moved rather quickly. I kept syringes stocked, ear tags ready, and ran the pour-on gun, while Duane ministered the injections and Scott keep things moving from the holding pen. Once each pair made it through the chute, we loaded them on the trailer and hauled them to the pasture.

There is something truly special about watching a cow and her calf wade into a pasture of thick, green grass that brings a smile to any stockwoman’s face. It is one of those moments in life that reaffirms the choices we have made; a moment that separates those on the outside into them and us. Sure I can pull on a pair of high heels and go shopping in the city, but at the end of the day, a cow on green pasture will look better to me than anything I pull out of a shopping bag, unless maybe they are new boots I picked up yesterday.
While some may think that working cattle on Labor Day goes against the meaning of the holiday, it doesn't really. Owning livestock is a labor of love, and yes there are days where it is stressful, but through the years, the routine has become a comfort; a simple pleasure that I look forward to at the end of each day.