Sunday, January 23, 2011

Young at heart

Leaving the ranch to serve industry is something with all kinds of positives but also a fair share of potential pitfalls. To leave for 36 hours right in the middle of calving season for anything is never easy. I want to thank Christine and Dakota for making it possible for me to be away. I have two of the greatest cattle women in my life and they take on way more than any women should ever have to just so I can continue to live my dream. Thank you for everything and doing a stellar job of covering ladies.

Despite a persistent cough she has been fighting Christine and I started Friday morning at 4a.m. We fed and checked the first calf heifers, the fall pairs, and the yearlings. I then headed out to Pendleton Oregon for the 2nd annual Pacific Northwest Young Cattlemen’s tour. The tour is for anyone “young at heart” and I went for several reasons. Being WCA President certainly is one but I also believe in this industry, youth and a bright future for this industry. Any “kid” that is willing to ride a bus and tour a feedlot, a dairy, a port, an ethanol plant, a seedstock operation and then spends the next day listening to speakers about issues affecting the industry has my support. Last year was a excellent tour, this year was even better!

I probably should have recorded the whole event from end to end. I give the kids all the credit in the world for their attentiveness, politeness and ability to engage and participate. Last year these traits were the most impressive to me mainly because I guess I had low expectations. I cannot say enough good things about these kids but I can tell you our industry is very lucky to have them in our corner. As impressed as I was with the kids both years I was overwhelmed by the “veterans” of the beef business and the incredibly pertinent, honest and valuable advice they gave these kids. I missed several astute and sage quotes from a verbatim point of view but I will do my best to paraphrase many that I found amazing. Even when it was not a quote, the advice and reasoning behind each and every point of view and nugget of advice was inspiring.

Beef Northwest ( and their feeding facility was our first stop. If any college aged kid involved in agriculture is looking for an incredible opportunity to get a valuable internship from a great company they should get in touch. What I felt was the most important part of their internship program is that the intern spends time at every facet of the business. From the feed trucks, the feed mill, maintenance, the processing and veterinary hospital as well as the office including commodity hedging, ration formulation and many other aspects of the business are all exposed to the intern. I can attest that learning any business from the shit scooper to the owner and everything in between makes for successful people.

We also toured Threemile Canyon Farms ( and their Columbia River dairy which has 16000 cows producing over a million pounds of milk per day for Tillamook cheese ( sustainability and management practices of this forward looking operation were amazing. We then visited the Port of Morrow ( ) where millions of dollars of farms products are shipped all over the world. While there we had a great tri tip lunch provided and sponsored by many companies in the beef industry. After lunch we visited Pacific Ethanol ( which was very informative and interesting from a beef industry perspective because of their use of corn and the resulting by- product of wet distillers grain used to feed cattle. Our bus also made a stop at the LGW ranch which raises purebred Black Angus cattle. Lon and his wife Sheri each gave unique and excellent advice to the kids about everything from working hard to finding a good partner in the business. At each stop I was very taken with the advice of the presenters and the focused attention of the tour participants.

After a somewhat icy ride to Baker City we were served a great steak dinner at the “party barn” at the Thomas Angus Ranch ( after dinner, rotating speakers with careers in the beef industry gave their perspective and insight into the opportunities and the future of this beloved business. On Saturday morning we reloaded the bus and headed back to LaGrande Oregon for a full day of speakers and information on different aspects of the beef industry. I want to thank all the participants, speakers, sponsors, and the tour committee for all they did to make this a tremendous success. I am already looking forward to next year!

Today was spent checking things and feeding and tagging the calves that were born. Everything went very well and we are very close to being half done calving. The weather has been fairly mild and I sure hope that continues. I need to get my camera clicking more often this week and I will continue to share those pictures here.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Black widow spider aka Latrodectus Hesperus.

Today’s picture is cow that we call nothing more than “number 2” this horned thing is a great calf raiser and lead cow. She knows how to use her horns to her advantage. I caught her awhile back after she had apparently decided a blowing and dancing in the wind clump of canary grass was some kind of threat to her new and still untagged calf.