There are certain “big” days marked on our calendar. Every year they come around – every year the day is greeted with great enthusiasm. Around the first of December the first calf is born. Everyone is excited to see that first baby – every year!! Feb. 22 the bulls are gathered and put out for the breeding season. April 15th the calves are worked – we then have a good head count of heifers and steers for our contracts. End of May the bulls are picked up. Yes – that is a 90 day work schedule and then back to the bull pasture for good food – rest and relaxation. But the biggest day is shipping day!!! This is the day we work for all year – our pay day – one time a year.
We prepare for weeks before the actual day. Everything matters because it is all about the pounds and every mis-step will cost us. There is a process of bringing the cattle into smaller pastures – each one closer to the pens as time progresses. We have to be sure the pens are in order – loading chutes set up in one location – roads graded for the trucks – cowboys scheduled – trucks scheduled.
Even with the best laid plans – things happen. Like the one year that we had had no rain and then at 4:00 AM just as we were getting to the barn to saddle our horses, it started raining – hard – blinding – 6 inches in a few hours. The trucks were already headed our way – the contract was to be filled. So we had to bring the cattle in differently and swim them across a creek that had already left its banks. Or there was the time that we had everything ready – calves sorted – and our buyer was on the phone with the truck driver yelling at him about where he was. The driver kept saying I am in Elkhart – the buyer kept saying you are not!! After a few minutes of this dispute – it was determined that the driver was in Elkhart, Kansas – not Elkhart, Texas.
We loaded 3 trucks this year – one load of heifers and 2 loads of steers. Our weights were better than anticipated – that always makes a rancher happy. The calves really did perform well this year. It is a great deal of work to get to this day so when buyer and rancher are pleased – it’s a good day!!