A day in the life of Sackmann Cattle Company.

The pictures, stories, and crazy times in our world.

March 17, 2018


Looking out the window this morning, while there may not be snow, the green seems slow to come.

Besides daylight saving time (ugh!) spring here also means the return of irrigation water. Spring calving is about 1/2 over and Jeff has started delivering bulls.

Molly and a fair steer.     
One of my favorite parts about farming is that no two operations are the same. We are located in a fairly large irrigation project. Thanks to the mighty Columbia River a desert is transformed into an oasis.   Washington is second only to California in the variety of crops we grow. Our county fights for the top position in the state for total farm gate value. Yep, Ag is a big deal around here!

Over the years I've been blessed to meet and visit farmers from across the nation (& even a few around the world)! What sticks out the most? Everyone's passion for what they do. We feed the world! Each farm works with their set of conditions (climate, topography, soil, etc., etc., etc.) to make their farm work. Is a single operation perfect? Doubt it. Are we always striving to make it better? Absolutely! In our immediate area we are relatively small farmers. In other areas of this country we are huge. 

So? Well rather you milk 120 cows in the upper Midwest or 2000 in California we are all in this together! There aren't many of us left feeding the rest of America. Yes, it may look greener on the other side; the big guy or the little guy may not have the exact same concerns you do. But today we all need to take the time to tell our non-ag friends & family about what we do & why. Tell YOUR story, answer questions you are familiar with, introduce your non-farm circle to your (different) ag friends. 

Guess what? This coming week is National Ag Week! Commit to writing a quick story, posting a blog, sharing some pictures about what you do on your farm. See a fellow farmer's post/picture that is right on - share it! We are all in this together!

December 9, 2017

Hat: Livestock Nutritionist

Some of you may know one of the hats I wear is Livestock Nutritionist, M.S. and all. I work part time for a local company out of Othello, WA. I (we) are blessed to have a boss/owner/manager (ok same person - Todd) who has allowed me to work part time almost exclusively from home so I can primarily wear my mom, wife & farm/ranch wife hats.

Anyway, when Todd calls and asks "Are you sitting down?" something is up. This week it has to do with a fire in Germany. If you weren't sure we were in a global marketplace this is one that leaves no doubt. A fire on the other side of the globe (in a BASF facility) = serious issues for Vitamin (A, D & E particularly) availability. So?

Go grab a feed, mineral or lick-tub tag. Likely there is some Vitamins A, D &/or E in there. Sorry to my pig & chicken guys, you are just going to have to swallow this very expensive pill until supply issues get straightened out (hopefully April'ish). Feeding ruminants? You may have some flexibility.

If this was the growing season I could almost blanket say (to my beef customers) pull the A, D & E and no one will notice. Green growing grass and cattle enjoying our 300+ days of sunshine have their needs met from what they eat and sun exposure (just like you and I).  But, unfortunately it is the time of year I traditionally make sure we have A, D & E back in mixes. Dang it!! For a quick refresher on why we feed A, D & E click here.

First free choice mineral I priced with "new" vitamin prices saw a $200/ton increase! Ouch. What should you do?

#1) If you work with a nutritionist for your vitamin/mineral needs - call them!!
#2) Consider yourself warned if the local feed store has a serious price increase.

If you are my customer - I'll ask you questions. I prefer to answer questions with more questions (BTW I'm a horrible salesman; preferring to wear a consultant's hat).

Vitamin A:
Animals have some storage capability, so what did their diet look like Sept-November (green or brown/stored or fresh)? What do your cows traditionally eat December-February? If you came off of dry native pasture and headed to cornstalks you may still need to supplement A. Had irrigated pasture/crop regrowth and/or will be feeding 2017 hay (green)? You may be ok skipping A this winter. 

Vitamin D:
Let's play weather forecaster. 😎⛅ Is December-February going to look like earlier this week or are our 60 days of not sun going to come in one horrible, dreary, foggy block (boo!)? If only I knew!
Vitamin E:
Refer to Vitamin A comments. Very similar conditions minus the storage capability.

Next is stage of production.
Dry cows not calving until May? Much more flexible. High-stress calves - yikes - may not want to mess with their diets! Remember we may feed higher levels (beyond basic requirements) of Vitamin E to animals in high stress conditions. This might be the year where you FINALLY try some of the feed supplements not fed generations ago. Yes, if you use the right pro-biotics and yeast products they really do work. Thought these options were expensive? Maybe not now compared to increased costs of those extra couple hundred units of Vitamin E!

If you are able to get different mineral mixes for different groups of cattle or one mix for December and a different one for the month/two weeks prior to calving, do it! Yes your nutritionist or mill manager might roll their eyes BUT we understand. Everyone's goal should be to get the animals what they need and still keep all of us in business.

Just in case you thought you had this livestock raising thing figured out......

September 28, 2017

Preach it...

...beyond the choir! Or you - farmers and ranchers - tell people what you are really doing out there!

Beef. It's What's for Dinner in Washington State posted a link to a scholarly article about livestock use of feed resources. It confirms what we all know - livestock farmers are using what others don't want as much as possible to produce food and fiber!

For us in the fall that means crop aftermath. Corn stalks, wheat, grass or alfalfa regrowth are all great cow feed. Pictures aren't great as this was one of the days earlier this month when we were smoked in. I'll just say this about wildfire - cows, sheep and loggers are a huge part of the solution!

All of our cows and heifers carrying calves to be born next spring are currently eating bluegrass regrowth. You know that plant that you enjoy as a lawn, golf course, or sports field. These fields were harvested for seed earlier in the summer. The kicker about bluegrass for seed production is it wants/needs to be "shocked" to make more seed the next year. I grew up in the Bluegrass country of the Northern Palouse. In that area to make bluegrass seed production work farmers need to burn their fields. Fire has been taken out of the farmer's toolbox in that region making seed production no longer viable on a large scale.  

In the Basin the bluegrass straw is baled and removed (after the seed is removed from the seed heads with a combine). Following baling, bluegrass seed growers like to have cows come in to graze the regrowth down to "shock" the plant. Our crew spends lots of time building single strand hot (electric) fence to keep cows in specific areas of a field. This allows our cows to utilize the nutrition of the bluegrass while helping the farmer have a better crop next year.

In the case of grazing cornstalks, cows are replacing the tractor! Cows adequately grazing standing corn stalks (after grain has been harvested) will decrease the times a farmer will need to till a field to prepare it for next year's crop.

So when you drive through the Basin on I-90 this fall and winter and see groups of cows on what looks like crop fields, you are right! Cows utilizing what humans can't and helping the farmers.

July 4, 2017

   Happy Birthday America Image 4th of july fourth of july happy 4th of july 4th of july quotes happy 4th of july quotes 4th of july images fourth of july quotes fourth of july images fourth of july pictures happy fourth of july quotes

4th of July!

We hope everyone has an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on our nation's birthday.

In the last week we've made 3 trips, each about 2 hours from home; there and back same "day".  Milton-Freewater, Grand Coulee Dam and Reardan.  At least one leg of each trip was done in the daylight. Some roads we've probably never traveled, others we've been on countless times.  

We are admittedly country people and thought it was awesome we could count the number of cars we saw between our house and Grand Coulee Dam (via Almira).  Where we live is rural - but not really THAT rural.  I always love the opportunity to go and be in more rural. Our little adventures took us through beautiful country. After a nasty winter and wet spring crops in the dryland area look awesome (would undoubtedly appreciate another shot of water or two, but compared to recent years - wow!).

I call our blog "On the Chase", we are always chasing something.  And often it is what is on fire - not literally; and here's to already having enough wildfires for the entire season - what needs to be done NOW (if not three days ago).  I also read a great Facebook post (from someone I don't know) that got shared many times.  Author talking about seeing farmers working in the fields at 1 am and appreciating the get'r done attitude of farmers.

free Patriotic printable perfect for Memorial Day & 4th of JulyEvery farm area has their own busy times.  Harvest sticks out in dryland areas.  This is one of those pretty quiet times for those that rely on water from the heavens (saw some fallow being worked) and produce dry grain. Here in irrigated country it is go time! Last night we pulled off the freeway at our exit at about 11, we had to wait for a group of big bale stackers before we could get off the exit ramp.  On our Milton trip we saw a field outside of Othello of grass hay. Headed south they had just started baling, with too much equipment in the field to count. On our way home (in the twilight) the same field was still full of equipment (lights moving everywhere) and they were almost done. The harowbeds were almost keeping up with all those little balers. Living on the edge of irrigated country it is pretty obvious to drop into the project and go from huge, dark fields to the irrigated ones that are dotted with the lights of circles and see equipment running at all hours of the day (from now till Sept).  After just visiting the area our water comes from makes the foresight of previous generations even more appreciated. 

Free Summer Printables 4th of july printable

On the anniversary of a seemingly impossible task I am thankful for all that have given so much to allow the rest of us to do what we do. So much to be grateful for amidst the natural beauty and bounty we find ourselves.  


May 17, 2017


& realfarmmoms!

Last Sunday was Mother's Day. Three kids brought breakfast in bed, Jeff brought flowers & the Sunday paper & Molly gave me this homemade card (can't find that verse in the store!). Yes, I don't make my kids do morning chores on most school days.  And the livestock nutritionist in me requires cattle on grain to be fed twice daily.

Besides the necessity for custom cards, ranch & farm moms also require flexibility!  What we drive often showcases this. We have 4 kids - so I drive a full size SUV.  But also because you can haul stuff with it & check cows (with or without groceries on board).  8' posts - sure just put a couple of seats down.  Picked up at the same time as supplies for synchronizing cows, replacing the roses that winter killed (grrr.....), chick feed, and a new rosemary plant (fresh rosemary is SO good with beef!). With room for a kid or three still available.

Next project is picking up feed/mineral & moving panel gates between two corral projects. Yes, stick shift operation is mandatory!

Run into a group of farm/ranch/dairy/rural moms & you will also find the necessity for shared carpool duties.  Get an extra kid, give an extra kid; whatever.  While we have awesome husbands the farm/dairy/ranch doesn't always allow them to help us get multiple kids to multiple places at one time.  Amen for the mom who has kids a similar age as yours and understands your chaos!!  And those trips to town aren't always quick - so sharing duties makes everyone's life go smoother.  My favorite from this week is "neighbor" bringing daughter over to go to softball game.  Takes longer to get to our house than I think it should - whatever I run late ALWAYS!!  When they get to our driveway, softball player also has uncle in car.  "Got a call to pick him up from swather on the way by" - yep flexibility & seating for a few extra are MANDATORY for farm & ranch moms!!

April 29, 2017


It is spring.  Spring = crazy.  

I found myself thinking about everything we had been a part of the last few days this afternoon.

I'm just not a fan of the phrase "it takes a village". Maybe it is because of who I associate that saying with on a national stage.  But, the last few days the villages my little family find ourselves a part of are rather amazing.

Thursday and Friday found me at a "video bootcamp" with Washington Farm Bureau volunteers. Women I'd never met and have know for years that share a huge passion for agriculture, who came together to learn how to share our story. There was even loud, crazy hotel lobby laughing at maybe too late at night.

Friday evening found us at a Washington Junior Angus Field Day.  With Molly and a registered steer in tow we got to see some of our Angus friends.  Cheers to farm dads.  The guys who worked as long as they could, still got the kids to the show, and figured out how to make the last spot left to pen cattle work.  Yes, there was baling twine involved!  

Shows also mean other moms who are willing to braid Molly's hair (I totally fail at this task!), other kids to help clean pens, walk cattle, and the list goes on and on! I realized we've been to enough shows now I actually recognize & can name more kids than not.  Just love that Molly is excited to go to 4H and Junior Angus events because she gets to hang with a different group of kids that are just as cool - and more likely to know about cow licks - than her buddies at school.

The Angus morning that started at 4:15 turned into the opening day baseball/softball parade.  We're blessed with volunteer coaches who received varying degrees of arm twisting to step up.  Maybe for the first time but with the commitment to help our youngsters learn something but have fun and not take the whole thing too seriously.  I guess we aren't overboard about the sports thing since we would rather have the coaches smiling and laughing for our first year sluggers (hitting will come right?).

After appreciating the company of Farm Bureau folks on Thursday and Friday, Angus peeps on Friday and Saturday, I found myself having a little quiet time (I had left all my kids in someone else's care!) enjoying fellow moms in our local community.  Did I talk about different things with each group? Yep!  Were my kids just as comfortable with the kids from each group? Yep!  

So as I listened to the National Anthem and watched our beautiful flag waving in the WIND it just struck me how blessed we are to have so many great people in our lives.  They may run in different and overlapping circles but they make our crazy life so much richer. We greatly appreciate the care and concern so many people around us show for all of us - each in their own way!

I hope you are able to take a moment and reflect on the various people who's life intersects with yours and truly hope you are as blessed with as awesome of people as we are!!

March 21, 2017

Ag Day 2017

Oh good grief - really a year since I have managed a post!!

Anyway, with that acknowledgement we really do chase plenty of different things around here.  However, being a tremendous writer is a hat I don't wear. I often ponder a blog post but (obviously) never get around to actually typing.

In honor of National Ag(riculture) Day - here goes!

Yes, I spend too much time on Facebook and Pinterest.  Yes, most of my "friends" on Facebook are farmers or certainly tend to have closer ties to farmers than the average American.  I scroll through my feed and see fire, flooding, and mud other farmers are dealing with daily.  Seeing the pictures and video of 4H'ers feeding orphan calves and load after load of donated hay rolling through towns headed to burned out ranchers choke me up every time. 

Farmers - here in the United States - there just aren't that many of us anymore.  Bad stuff happens and we rally to each other.  And guess what those folks get up in the morning and keep going - why?

We love what we do!

“A farm is more than land and crops. It is a family’s heritage and future.” ~ Unknown #farmquotes:
We love working with crops & animals, with our families, with mother nature (even though she does mean stuff to us sometimes) and feeding the world! 

What grows on our farm is not only sold but also helps feed our family.  No, we don't feed our kids hay; but we do feed it to our cows and we enjoy home grown beef.  And some of that same hay has made it as far as UAE (the camels were hungry too!)

We've just survived a crazy, long, cold, snowy, icy winter here in the Northwest. Don't worry I whined plenty. I seriously think I've worn my insulated bibbers and muck boots more in the last 4 months than I might have in the last four years (& it's not because I was outside more this winter!). 

Spring is FINALLY here and that means new growth.  Litters of pigs destined to be cared for by local 4H & FFA'ers and shown at the local county fairs, calves, and new green plant growth.
Some weaned pigs chew on my boot.

Jeff & Spot check spring calving cows on pasture waiting for warm soil and sun. 

Cows look on as irrigation pipes remain stacked.  With all our winter snow the ground is well saturated so we probably aren't in a huge hurry to start irrigating, but last year at this time we were.  Water should be available in ditches shortly. 
Longer days also find the whole crew out in the dirt.  Yes, kids would rather be outside than do homework this time of year (for some reason).

We plant a relatively extensive garden.  Why? Do I not trust the produce at the grocery store - absolutely NOT the reason! Fresher is better, rather grown as part of backyard garden or a multi-acre field.  Kids eat their fruits and veggies better when they help grow them.  For some reason a kid that won't touch tomatoes that magically appear on the dinner table can be caught eating them by the handful off the vine.  And bonus - don't tell the kids - a garden is a tremendous teacher; responsibility, science, math, with the added bonus of fresh air and fingernails that always need to be cleaned!
Two girls plant a row of cold season crops.

So on this National Ag Day take a moment to appreciate how the food you ate today got to you.  The farmers, the workers, the truckers, the grocers, etc., etc.,. 

If you have a question about agriculture or how something is grown ask a FARMER - and maybe more than one (because what we do on our farm is not exactly the same as someone else).

Subscribe to an ag blog & ask questions! There are so many great ones (that post more often than I do).  Yes, we spend hours in our barns, pastures, fields and tractors but thanks to social media and smart phones we can communicate with consumers and still get our work done.  

March 8, 2016

‪#‎IWD2016‬ ‪

Here I go with an attempt of two posts in two weeks!

Today is The International Day of the Woman.  Certainly agriculture can't overlook the importance of women.

On my facebook feed this morning I saw a challenge to post a picture of #ilooklikeafarmer.  While I didn't manage a selfie, I promise I was looking like a farmer today.  Interestingly enough our day was all about babies.

The vet was here to ultrasound pregnancy check about 2/3 of our fall cowherd.  Since the morning round of preg checking was in the middle of a pasture the vet set up his ultrasound screen in a box to avoid the sun's glare.  I got to run the "box" and see all his images!  Always fun to see little babies moving around inside their mom's. 

Our youngest farm girl helper.  Painting & digging in the dirt during preg-check.  Not only am I not an experienced selfie taker, but when cows were actually going through the chute - I already needed another hand!  
When the first group of cows were done Nia & I headed home to check on a gilt (female pig that has never given birth) that was about to have her first litter.  She ended up doing a stupendous job; delivering 11 babies completely on her own and being as calm as can be. 

The kids had a half day of school today (conference week) so they even got to join in on the fun.  Four kids did sit quietly in the isolet (little pig barn designed for farrowing) for 5 to 10 minutes.  After that they played at the barn where the usual desire to make noise wouldn't disrupt the gilt.  The kids seemed to rotate in and out and help get those little babies nursing.  When you only have 4 sows and they are having fair pigs they definitely get special attention.

All of our girls (4 legged variety) didn't cooperate with where we were supposed to be!  Luckily we have two great teachers at school that seem to embrace the craziness us {and our kids} bring.  We'll get those parent-teacher conferences made-up!

There are so many women in agriculture who tell our & their story so much better than I.  As we look towards National Ag Day next week take a moment and read some of what they have to say about their lives on today's farms.

Here's a perennial favorite post about being a farm girl:

20 Reasons Being a Farm Girl Rocks

August 26, 2015


Wow - it seems I've lost a couple of months; again.

At our house we keep a white board calendar with two months showing.  I avoided putting up Aug & Sept until we were at least a week into Aug.  Why? - because both months are/were a little crowded.  And I didn't write in things like "calving", "haying" - you know the things that pay the bills!

We might all feel like this!!
The kids started school today - let's just say 2 days is not enough recovery time for a 9 year-old after a week long fair.

I know I'm weird but starting school has always been bitter-sweet for me.  I enjoy having the kids at home and the opportunity to give them an education in all the things we think are important or that school just doesn't get to.  But at their current ages I do get more stuff I should/need to get done when three of them are at school.

Herdsmanship is a family affair!
This year seems to be even more emotionally interesting.  There is so much going on around us (without even being a follower of national news!).  Our beautiful state is on fire - literally.  Friends, family and bull customers are in danger and so many people still don't know if their livestock is alive.  Other folks have live cattle, a house and absolutely nothing else - including nothing to feed those animals.

Closer to home kids/families whom have suffered tremendous tragedies are a part of our local fair livestock auctions.  Monies raised to honor a young man taken from this earth way to early and young showman who lost their mom (while they were at the fair!). 

What do these things have in common? 

How many watermelon can one family eat?  

First they make you stop and think about what is really important.  Our Molly did very well at her first fair.  It sure keeps kids grounded to know show friends are in the path of a huge fire and to remember the young man missing from the showring. 

Next, it makes you appreciate being part of small towns and the huge community that is agriculture.  If you can please take the opportunity to help in our region's small communities hit so hard by the current fires.  Send your resources to local agencies that will use your contributions in the most effective and efficient manor.  If you aren't able to support financially watch for opportunities to give your time.  This last summer lots of help was needed to rebuild fences.  Guess what - even more fences will need to be rebuild following this disaster.    

More fairs to come -
While I've never been accused of having a way with words - I hope you take the time to appreciate those around you.  If you are blessed enough to be a part of a small community and/or agriculture know that more people than you will ever know are cheering and praying for you.  For anyone dealing with fires there are so many people keeping you in their thoughts and prayers.

God bless ---

June 27, 2015


Yes, we are farmers.  Farming is not just what we, but who we are.  If you even want to start a conversation with a farmer/rancher and aren't sure where to start go to weather.  I guarantee it is too dry/wet, cold/hot, windy, something!

This summer I'm following the ETHAN Project online.  A new challenge for every summer week for life with kids.  This week is water.  What this challenge means to me (daughter of a dryland farmer married to an irrigated farmer/cowman) is probably a little different than most following ETHAN project.

This summer for agriculture and now even non-farmers (in some locations) water is of the utmost importance.  California and most of the west is DRY.  Dryland crops don't look good, some irrigated farmers never got water or are loosing water earlier than normal.  Other areas are drowning.  Good 'ole Facebook shows me pics of corn dying of excess "dihydrogen monoxide" in the same feed as dry pastures and fields.  We have a friend fighting fire in Alaska and fire is of huge concern in our state and its not even July.

We are spoiled and blessed to be in the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project.  Thanks to the Columbia River we are still getting irrigation water as planned.  And with temps in the triple digits we've got lots of water on - except on the hay fields that are now officially in second cutting.

Needless to say our world revolves around water.  The first and last project for Jeff every day is changing/checking/fixing water.  Our kids get to spend time with dad in their irrigation boots and our yard certainly enjoys the benefits of multi-horse pumps.

Jeff sent me a video of tadpoles in a shrinking puddle (in a draw of an alfalfa field that was cut today).  The little guys' house was quickly disappearing.  So we headed over to play in the mud and try to move some tadpoles to the overflow pond at our house.  Hey - I'll take some muddy kids in favor of the hopes of a few less bugs and being serenaded at night.

Nia was the funniest.  She kept telling us every time she saw one.  She even caught a few.

Life's pretty good when you are a kid chasing tadpoles in the alfalfa field!!