A day in the life of Sackmann Cattle Company.

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

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!!

June 5, 2015


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


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!

May 2, 2015

Measure up!

After attending an AgChat conference and teaching a "Sustainable World Food Systems" class, I'm reminded of the importance of telling folks what we do. No matter how 'just part of the day' to us, those who aren't out here with us would like to have a glimpse of farm life.  At our conference we heard how important it is to be ourselves while telling our story. My posts won't measure up to the great story tellers or photographers you may follow. But, this is us and what we might be chasing around our little part of the world.

In the last two years we have updated from wheel & handlines to center pivot irrigation at our home place.  The pivots save water, power, labor and allow us to grow a wider variety of crops.  While there is technology available to measure every drop coming out of a pivot, in agriculture we also have to consider economics. We are using the old fashioned water measuring technique.  Jeff equally spaced rain gauges under the pivot and the kids and I headed out to record how much 'rain' was in each gauge.  Its important to equate an amount of water put on with a specific speed of the pivot.  We can also check for potential problems if there is a huge difference in the amount of water applied as you move along the pivot.
This field is a freshly {hand} planted seed crop.  Watching the labor crew and talking to the growers about labor is another post(s) in itself!

Cows graze in the background on another portion of the field that will be turned into no-till beans.  Small red beans, that is, no soybeans in our neighborhood!

Hope everyone is enjoying spring and here's to a commitment from me to give you a quick glimpse of something we're up to.