This Friday, we are focusing in on the heart and soul of Minnesota’s cattle industry – the cattlemen themselves.
Approximately 2,400,000 cattle call Minnesota home, with 370,000 being beef cows, 460,000 dairy cows and the remainder being young stock, bulls or steers. It takes dedication, passion and an endless work ethic to raise cattle. Que the hard work, the sweat, the early mornings, the late nights, the jeans and the boots. While there are definite similarities among farmers and ranchers across the country, this post is dedicated to Minnesota’s cattlemen.
Recipe for a Minnesota Cattleman or Cattlewoman:[All the photos below are courtesy of Legacy Livestock Imaging. I truly admire Heidi Anderson’s talent and ability to capture the emotions and beauty of agriculture in her photos.]
1 group of cattle: It all starts here. You won’t find a cattleman without cattle. Whether its dairy cows in free stalls or beef steers in a feedlot or on pastures, this ingredient is necessary. Cattle are kind of like flour if we’re really taking this recipe thing seriously.
1 strong work ethic: Agriculture in general, but especially raising cattle, is not a business for the weak and unmotivated. Caring for cattle isn’t a “9 to 5” job. It’s more of a “sunrise-to-whenever the day’s work is done” kind of job. The cattleman’s work ethic is relentless and remarkable. Definitely a key ingredient.
1 strong support system: In a business as unpredictable as farming, it’s no surprise that not all days are perfect. Sometimes the calf dies, no matter how hard you try to save it. Sometimes the hay gets rained on right after cutting, no matter how much you prayed it wouldn’t. Its times like these, when the love of a family, the peace after a Sunday morning church service, and a good laugh with friends can bring a cattleman’s heart the comfort it needs.
1-2 reliable weather channels: Any Minnesotan knows that all four seasons of weather take place here. Some days, Minnesota farmers wake up to blizzards. Other days, they wake up to sunshine and suffocating humidity. All the different weather in Minnesota can be hard to predict – trust me, we get it. But when your livelihood depends on Mother Nature, cattlemen appreciate a little advanced warning. Hence, finding at least one reliable weather source becomes key.
2 sturdy boots: Minnesota’s cattle farmers can’t be stopped by unpredictable weather. No matter if the ground is muddy, dry, flooded or frozen, the cattle need to be fed. I’d be willing to bet that the latest guys’ fashion trend of “socks and sandals” won’t be found on the feet of a Minnesota cattleman. Good boots are second to a good dog in terms of a cattleman’s best friend.
1 farm dog: Speaking of man’s best friend, what’s a farm without a dog? If you really think about it, it’s pretty tough to find a farm that doesn’t have a dog. Why? Without a dog’s bark, how would a farmer know if someone pulls in the yard while he or she is in the barn? When the cows are on pasture and the kids are at school, who else is there to talk to? No matter if it’s a mutt or a purebred, farm dogs everywhere have weaved their way into the lives of Minnesota’s cattlemen and their families.
1 baseball hat: Its cliché to think of cattlemen wearing cowboy hats, but from my experiences in Minnesota (and really the Midwest in general), it’s more often a baseball hat. Whether it’s from a local seed company, feed mill, sports team, or their own farm, it’s unusual to find a cattleman without a baseball cap.
A dash of perseverance: Farmers are proud to be caretakers of their cattle and their land. However, the business of raising cattle isn’t always sunshine and roses. Sometimes prices drop, cattle get sick, bad weather hits, and there is simply nothing that could have been done to prevent these hardships. It’s times like these that an extra bit of perseverance helps a cattleman dust off their jeans, put their hat back on their head, and believe that things will be better tomorrow.
Mix all the ingredients together and let stand in a pasture surrounded by cattle. Take a moment to appreciate the unique and strong-willed combination that creates a cattleman.
Thanks for following along this month with our June Dairy Month edition of #FunFactFriday! Enjoy some beef and dairy products this Fourth of July while celebrating our great country and the freedom we are so blessed to have every day.
Until next time,