A day in the life of Sackmann Cattle Company.

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







May 17, 2017

#realranchmoms

& 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

Reflections--

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

Time!?!?

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

Water

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!!

June 5, 2015

Cooking--

Beware, my attempts at a food blog entry (& I might be drinking some wine, Washington vintage of course)!
Image result for pinterest logoI love to cook.  I rarely give myself enough time to actually make dinner though.  My kids are known to say something about it tastes better than it looks.  When our hired man eats with us pretty sure he expects an "experiment" or "refrigerator clean-out".  I spend way too much time looking at Pinterest.  I don't pin that much, but basically guaranteed if you see something remotely crafty or cute from me I got the idea from Pinterest (we won't talk about the execution of someone else's cool idea!).   

We also live far enough from town I don't just run in when I am missing a key ingredient or two (or six) so I improvise.  More than once I've told Jeff how I altered the "new recipe" and just don't think the experiment in question is a "keeper" recipe.  At which point Jeff says something about can I really blame the recipe because I may have made some pretty major alterations.  OK, point taken!

Apparently it is summer now (low seventies earlier in the week, expecting 100 Monday).  We are starting to harvest stuff out of our garden.  I feel salads coming on; lots of lettuce and hot weather.  For some reason the kids eat their veggies so much better when they come out of our garden.  Another blessing of farm life is lots of space to plant edible goodies.  If half the stuff in our garden grows this summer we can run our own fresh food pantry!

Another part of our farm life is freezers brimming with meat we raised.  This often means plenty of ground beef.  Nothing against chicken but I rarely buy it and most main dish salads (need meat in our main dish) include chicken not beef.  Thus begins my improvising. 

Lettuce and ground beef in hand I head to pinterest and find The Country Cook.  An Italian Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken.  Looks nummy and I have "most" of the ingredients.  Some didn't make it out of the pantry before the starving natives NEEDED dinner.  But we did enjoy a few green items out of the garden, ground beef out of the freezer and other items I had in the fridge or pantry.  Added some Italian Dressing spice mix/base to the beef and I cheated with bottled Italian dressing.  I liked it and 1/2 the kids ate it (I left the ingredients in separate bowls because I have a olive and tomato (unless they come from our garden) hater.  The other 1/2 used part of ingredients to make tacos (used tortilla shells - we're not that loyal to food nationalities).

So goes another dinner at our house.  Jeff may or may not eat the same thing - hours later than the kids and I.  We have dinner in rounds here pretty much whenever water is on (March - October).  You name the hour and pretty sure I'm getting ready to feed somebody, something - and there's still wine left.

Happy cooking (& improvising)!


May 30, 2015

Weigh & Measure

When we had our first child I was a little surprised how often the Dr. wanted to see our little bundle of joy (she's not little any more by the way - she's going to be looking me in the eye WAY to soon!).

I shouldn't have been surprised.  We have "well calf checks" pretty often as well!

The last couple of weeks we've had all the fall pairs through the corral and chute for their pre-weaning vaccinations.  Yes, we vaccinate cattle (& pigs) just like we vaccinate our kids.  Vaccinations are for specific diseases that we hope they aren't exposed to, but if they are the results can be deadly.  Besides vaccinations, all the calves also get weighed, measured for hip height and given a disposition score.  Just like kids & for basically the same reasons.  We want to make sure the calves are growing as expected and have an idea of how tall they will be when mature.  Think of disposition as the Autism checklist I've filled out at the last two visits for our youngest.  We are looking for signs of cattle that may be hard to manage.  At our place if a calf (or cow) has multiple incidents of bad behavior/disposition they will not be asked to remain in our pastures.  Disposition is passed from parent to calf at a very predictable rate. 


As for the cows they also get weighed, measured, disposition noted and a body condition score given (think BMI) in addition to vaccinations (boosters).  After everyone has their time across the scale we "kick" (no boots or feet involved, just a little farm lingo) the pairs (cow & calf) back out on pasture.  This allows the vaccinations to be more effective since the calves are under very minimal stress when they are still nursing mom.  At weaning the calves will get vaccination boosters and whenever possible we fenceline wean - meaning the cows and calves share a common fence.  This procedure minimizes the stress for both cow and calf.  With fenceline weaning we rarely see a decrease in eating and minimal bawling - both signs of distress in calves. 

Nothing like taking cattle to a new, green pasture and watching them all get to eating.  This is one of our non-irrigated pastures.

With some very unpredictable weather in Eastern WA & OR the last couple weeks we've had some pretty awesome colors/clouds in our sky's at night.  Our view while finishing up chores last night. 


May 25, 2015

Passions

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZuHPKM1mDcQ/UsW3sr8b4hI/AAAAAAAAErU/demyQt8-HSk/s1600/IMG_8793.png
Courtesy of "Raspberry Essence" blog


When you start the day off headed to somewhere that the best directions are GPS coordinates you know it will an interesting day.  I didn't take any pictures but did learn about range improvement and how local ranchers are working with a specific plant that devastated many of them 20 years ago.  Information that a select handful can truly use.

Most of the attendees were "neighbors" - a term used more loosely in some {neighborhoods} than others.  The names on people's name badges matched those on the crossroads in the area.  Men and women; young and older all wanting to learn, share and improve their lands.  Many ranchers will tell you they are first grass farmers.  If we take care of our grasses than we can properly care for the animals we have the privilege of raising.

These folks have passion for what they do; raise grass, cattle & farm.  They don't think twice about sharing their knowledge to help better themselves and their neighbors.  Grown men (many of them grandpas) wander around plots looking for a specific plant like a scavenger hunt.  There are USDA and University Extension folks who are sharing their knowledge and listening to the locals who have more experience in this specific area.  Yes, some government employees that are here to help and to also learn and respect the knowledge gathered in  pastures in Adams Co.!

Now that summer has "officially" arrived when you drive through the range lands that fill the American west know that a group of passionate, dedicated folks are constantly working and learning to improve the lands that we are entrusted.
  

May 11, 2015

Loosing it - -

You never know what you will find in the bathtubs at our house - ok maybe there is ALWAYS dirt! 

Something you may not know about cows is that they loose their teeth.  Just like us, baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth.  In cows the adult teeth fall out naturally and we can {generally} age cows by how many teeth they have (or don't have!).  As cows get older they need extra care - partially because of missing teeth and/or teeth that are worn enough they may not be able to eat as proficiently as their younger herdmates.  

Cleaning out water troughs and moving them along with cows this spring resulted in a treasure (2 actually).  Yep, that's a cow tooth that took a bath with some silly kid(s) and 'normal' bath toys.  Jeff said he didn't recall actually finding any teeth before.  Guess it was just our lucky day!!

With an early spring all the cows have been grazing on their own for awhile now.  One group will still make their way through the coral as part of our breeding schedule, but otherwise everyone is feeding themselves and putting their teeth & tongues to work!