Happy New Year!! We hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas and that the new year is jumping off to providing you with many blessings. As I currently write this blog post, we are in the middle of a very strong winter storm. On the ground to this point is 10+ inches of snow and it’s supposed to start blowing this evening. That means that it’s time to nestle down and prepare to be snowed in.
Our family spent the Christmas holiday in Brittany’s home town in Ohio. We took the kids to see the Columbus Zoo (again), and spent lots of time soaking in the city in the middle of a busy holiday season.
October and November were spent preparing to ship our calves. Shipping day was a challenge as we had winds up to 80 mph stirring up dust and making it hard to breathe, hear, and see. The truck was barely able to make it to the coral, and had it not been such a crucial day for both us and the buyer, it would have been rescheduled. However, sometimes you cant change the circumstances, you just have to “Cowboy Up” and get it done. If you follow us on social media, Brittany did a great job of documenting that challenging day. At one point the wheels on the trailer were off the ground due to the high wind.
By the end of November, all steer and heifer calves that were not going to be kept were shipped out, letting the mommas recover and focus on the next generation. November was also our time to pregnancy check the mommas. Our veterinarian comes out to ultrasound each individual cow to see if she is pregnant or open. The pregnant moms go out to pasture for the winter while decisions are made to keep the open ones or sell them based on their previous production and health.
This winter has started off harsh and long. December brought us record breaking low temperatures. Temperatures reached -30 degrees with a biting cold wind chill. I had many people ask “What do you do to keep
your animals warm without barns and shelters?” The quick answer is you do everything you can, and then have faith that God will take care of you and your livelihood. The hard answer is there has been many ranches and farms that have been devastated or at a minimum set back due to harsh weather like deep blowing snow and hail. As a rancher, you do everything you can but it is always a battle between you and mother nature. That’s the game, and as we have stated before you have to be willing to make moves and countermoves.
To mitigate loss and keep our herds healthy during this cold snap, much of our time and energy was spent opening water sources just to return in a matter of minutes to break ice again. To combat these harsh conditions, we fed our livestock extra feed and tried to keep them in the creek bottom where the trees provide cover. A fun fact, a cow that is covered in snow and ice is actually better off than a cow that the snow and ice has melted off. The fact that the snow and ice have melted is showing that the cow is not able to regulate her body temperature and she is losing heat. The cow that is covered in snow and ice is regulating body temperature at a healthy level and is just fine.
Sometimes its not just the initial storm that does the most damage. Cold temperatures intermixed with warm temperatures often can lead to sicknesses like pneumonia. In the days following an extreme weather event, great care is needed to make sure the animals are eating well and drinking water.
In the end, we faired great through the extreme cold temperature. Winter is always full of fun challenges and frustrations. Water sources freeze, equipment won’t start, every small task that should not take a long time is somehow compounded when snow and cold temperatures are added. However, we continue to look for the joy in everything we do.
West Cattle Company completed our second year of selling hogs and it was a success. We delivered our customers pork on January 7th, and while it was full of challenges and delays, we believe overall we delivered a high quality product to our valued customers. We took our freezer trailer down to Loveland to deliver, and also offered bundles and individual cuts of beef. It was such a success, that we are talking about coming down once a month to sell our grass fed and grass finished beef straight from the freezer. We cannot express to you all how much your support of this growing small business means to us. We love what we do, and we hope to continue to do it for a very long time.
Thank you so much for coming along with us on this great adventure. Thanks to you, we have started 2023 off with a bang. Here is to a fantastic new year full of blessings, fun, and health. Stay warm and until next time, continue to live the legend!
Brandon & Brittany
West Cattle Company