Learning to be “Producers”

The last six months have been like a whirlwind for us. The last post on this blog was of our weekend long celebration of being landowners for one year. 20170809_063633.jpgSince then Charlie and I have participated in several learning experiences to prepare us for a cattle business. We attended the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course first. This week of courses is said to be the “largest cattle educational event in the country.” There were over 1600 cattle producers there. Notice that we are “cattle producers” rather than just ranchers. The focus of the short course this year was the role that export markets play for cow-calf producers. That’s our plan – producing calves!We attended sessions on beef cattle management (health, nutrition, genetics, reproduction), ranch management, and forage management (that’s anything plant related.)

There were both classroom sessions and demonstrations. We chose to watch chute-side calf working, cattle handling (the safe way), 20170809_073505beef carcass value determination, branding, and castration. (Yes, castration!) I figure that I need to know what is going to happen with our cows every step of the way. We’re already making plans to return to TAMU to attend the 2018 Beef Cattle Short Course.

Our next learning adventure began on a foggy morning. Charlie, Jason, and I attend the Cow Country Congress at the Santa Rosa Ranch in Crockett. Global trade impact on the cattle market was the main topic. Other topics included herbicide and forage management, 20171015_081437strategies for winter feeding and bull selection. There were several demonstrations at this event also. We were able to participate in several bull selection activities. All of the participants went to the bullpens where the bulls were being herded into a chute being prepared for the selection viewing. 20171013_154325.jpgThe young bulls were not very patient with being herded into a narrow chute and being told to wait. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and bucking! One of the bulls was determined to climb out of the chute and had his front legs over the top of the pipe fence which was about 10 feet high. 20171013_154127We felt a bit uneasy since we were standing inside the pen next to the chute! After that excitement, we were ready for testing our bull selection skills. Two bulls were released at a time into the selection pen. Using a reference page, we looked at their genetic background along with physical attributes. All of the young Black Angus 20171013_154313bulls were very handsome but some of them did not appreciate being on display. There was just a single pipe fence between us and them and some were pretty aggressive. Even the speakers from Texas A&M at one point pinned themselves against the wall of the barn trying to stay out of the way! Such pretty and power! We met outside under a large tent which was a little warm with the unusual weather we faced during the Fall. It was fun watching the cook team preparing our lunch (rib eye steaks) and dinner (fajitas) all day at the outdoor kitchen.

There are so many resources out there and so much for Charlie and I to learn. We’ve both completed our BQA certifications (Beef Quality Assurance) both for Texas and at the National level. Charlie is currently enrolled in a pesticide course to prepare him for the state license test. He needs this license to be able to purchase pesticides and chemicals for our property and livestock. I’m working on finding resources to help with growing plants. I’m looking at raised bed gardening right now and what types of plants that I want to grow. We have quite a few pecan trees on the property and I need to learn more about how to take care of them. There is an East Texas Fruit and Vegetable Conference at the end of February but we may be in the midst of preparing to move to the property.

More on our preparations for setting up our new home in the next post…



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