A day in the life of Sackmann Cattle Company.

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

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.