Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Farmers and Chefs

Recently while I was doing my annual livestock records for FFA I realized something while I was making lunch that day. I realized livestock farmers are kind of just like a big chef. When I was filling out my records with feed cost I was flipping through what my dad likes to call his Bible, his cattle binder filled with all his feed rations, feed cost, cattle weights, and prices. I had to write down all the rations for different weights of cattle. It actually reminds me of a cookbook.

During harvest season I helped my grandma in the kitchen. It wasn’t until then that I found out how much work it was to create the perfect recipe. Certain ingredients at specific measurements are mandatory if you want your cookies to come out of the oven looking like cookies. My grandma even made me my own little cookbook of my favorite recipes. She wrote down all of the recipes and put it in a little notebook for me. Since then I have been attempting these creations and if our fire alarm in our house could talk it would definitely tell you I have had multiple fails. If you asked my brothers they would say it’s okay, but it definitely doesn’t taste like grandmas no matter how exact I follow that recipe book.

All livestock farmers have their own recipe book. Not every ration they mix up is like the ration the next door neighbor uses. However, just like in a recipe book, each entry is designed to get to the same end goal. To fill you up. Every livestock farmer does it differently, but their livestock always reach their market weight and get full. So livestock farmers if you have always said you can’t cook, I believe you are fibbing because you cook up a mean ration for your animals everyday. They must like it too if they keep coming back to the bunk for more. Happy recipe testing, although my brothers claim I still need more practice!

- Kesley Holdgrafer

Change is Good

For some people change is bad. Most people like to keep everything the same. However with the crazy times we are living in right now, nothing is the same. The way we go about our everyday life is changing. We have even gotten much better at accepting these changes. Farmers have always been good at adapting to various situations and they know that plans can easily change in an instant. I think it is because farmer plans tend to revolve around the weather and we all know how fast an Iowa forecast can change!

This past week I had to adapt to change because my plans changed within a moment's notice. I was on my way to Oklahoma in the Cedar Rapids airport when my flight got cancelled. It was a crazy day. I had to quickly change airlines and airports. I was headed to the Cattlemen’s Congress, which was actually a change in venue for the Denver National Western Stock Show. Even locally, we have had to adapt to change. The pandemic is not allowing big gatherings, so the Clinton County Cattlemen will change their agenda as well. Their usual steak dinner banquet with an auction is now a drive thru ribeye meal.

Farmers have learned how to make changes on the go and many are used to it, however they haven’t accepted other things that need to change. Farmers usually dislike new clothes. They stick to their original uniform; plaid shirts, jeans, and boots. It’s never a good day when their favorite work boots have been discontinued and they must break in a new style, especially if their new boots give them a blister! Which reminds me, that’s my new nickname. When I got home from Oklahoma, I quickly changed my clothes and headed out to the cattle yard. My brothers were working some new cattle they just bought. As soon as I got in the yard, Brad was letting a calf out of the chute as he hollered, “Hello Blister!” I must’ve looked confused as he quickly explained, “You always show up when the work is done!” I would really like to change my new nickname but I must admit it was funny and I was really glad it was the last calf! 

~Kesley Holdgrafer


Winter Activities!

We were welcomed into the new year of 2021 in a glorious Iowa fashion, with a huge winter storm covering the ground in a brilliant fresh winter white color that also graced us with multiple layers of ice leaving us with slippery roads and slick sidewalks. The year 2021 welcomed me with a big grand hello. On New Year's Day while walking to the truck to do night chores, I slipped on the ice and fell face first on the cement. Happy New Year to me!

While I wanted to spend my first day of 2021 playing in the snow and doing fun winter activities, it started with work first. I quickly realized that the older you get, the snow days do not just mean a full day off to play in the snow. It begins now with scooping bunks in the feedlot yards for Dad before he feeds the hungry cattle. This especially was not fun this time when most of it was ice chunks stuck to the bunks. However, once you finish shoveling, scraping sidewalks, and pushing snow in the driveway and around the yard, that is when the real fun starts.

Sledding used to be my favorite thing to do as a kid when it snowed. Now since we are all older we like to tie the sled to the back of the gator taking turns sledding around the whole farm. With three brothers I usually get bucked off pretty regularly. Also around our yard and even all around the county you can find snowmobile tracks.

I have learned that once you get older you advance into a different version of sledding. You start getting pulled in a sled by a parent as a toddler to sledding with your own plastic sled on a small hill until you realize you don’t have to walk back up that hill if you attach the sled to a motor. Then as you grow even older you realize the best version of sledding there is, a snowmobile. My older brothers finally got rid of their older junk sleds and recently bought bigger snowmobiles. It was simply amazing how fast they could scoop bunks and feed their cows last week! They couldn’t wait to play on their new toys. All in all, even though it’s cold, snowy, and icy, you can still find the joy in it. Even if you happen to do a face plant on the hard ground by slipping on ice, it is still possible to enjoy a good old fashioned fun snow day with your family!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer