Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 10-31-11
Way back in 1974 when my husband and I married, he was a US Army officer stationed in Germany. He wore Airborne wings and a Ranger tab, yet he longed to farm and ranch. When a farm in our old stomping grounds came up for sale, the decision was made – he would resign his commission and we’d go home to work in production agriculture.
Shortly thereafter we built a dairy setup for a Grade A dairy and continued that for five years. Since the farm is irrigated, we had to either hire someone to do the farm work or the dairy work. We were advised it’s better to hire the farm work done because if an uncaring or unobservant milker were to mess up something with a cow, it would be much more costly than if he didn’t get a few corn rows watered. After the five years we were able to sell the dairy herd and go to farming and run beef cows. That worked much better for the operation.
My husband had always said he would keep on doing this until it wasn’t “fun” anymore. The fun part included being able to physically do the work. Last winter one night when it was minus 25 and he needed to bring in a calf for warming, he told me, “It’s not fun anymore. We are selling the cows.”
So that winter was our last calving season, this fall we will sell calves at the sale barn as we have for most of the past 30-some years, and that will be our last calf sale. Our older son is buying the cows from us and we are not going anywhere so we’ll still see the fruits of our labors.
My husband will still farm and do a great amount of custom farm work and irrigating. I’m sure we will be available to help our son at the drop of a hat as we have been doing since he starting his own cattle herd. However it will no longer be “our” cattle; they will be his and the burdens will be on his shoulders.
We’ve heard rumors that we are moving to town, and our son is taking over the place. It was interesting to learn that! And it’s not true. It just goes to show you how small town gossip goes awry. I’m sure these same people who figured this out also had the next 30 years of our lives planned. They’ll just have to find someone else to shadow and talk about. We are staying put.
It will be nice to not have to plan the winter around “what ifs.” What if my husband is gone for the day, there’s a calving problem and I need help, but our son is already knee deep in his own cow difficulties? Now the boot will be on the other foot and he can rely on us for help more than he did when we had our own cows. I like the sound of that.
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