May 13, 2021

From the Barns: A season of hope

The hope of a new growing season is upon us. Warmer temperatures and green grass give our souls renewed energy and create a sense of urgency that the upcoming planting season can only cause. I think decision-making is easier in the spring — planting has to get done in a timely fashion, manure has to get applied while fields are available, cows will have calves and the laws of nature are simple and spot on. If only the rest of life could be so simple.

I don’t know who first coined the phrase, “don’t waste a good crisis,” but many times it is true. While this pandemic thing has been stressful and life-changing for all of us, it has created opportunities, as well. Interest rates have fallen and the opportunity to refinance mortgages is very popular. We’ve spent the last year working with lenders to get a long-term deal done, and while it has been challenging and really time-consuming, we finally got it wrapped up.

The COVID quarantine thing sent all of Drew’s boys back to remote learning, and the Easter break gave them time-off from even that, so we decided to take advantage go to our Georgia place and gather the pairs over the weekend. Finding good cow help within the South has been virtually impossible, so we’ve decided to simplify things and bring our cows back to Illinois to utilize our extra pasture and skilled labor pool.

Our Georgia unit will become a yearling outfit and eliminate the need for winter feed and year-round labor. Getting a bunch of trucks gathered up for a mass move turned out to be much simpler than anticipated. Easter Sunday had all the drivers wanting to be home for the weekend, so they had all come home to roost at the same time and we were able to be ready to load first thing Monday morning and still get Drew’s guys back home for school come Tuesday.

Our calving season is just about to get underway, and if you’ve seen our Facebook page or website, we’ve been out on horseback a lot lately getting the heavies, the pregnant cows, camped out in the right pastures for calving. We are utilizing a lot of crop fields for grazing now as the wheat we seeded last fall is really growing. We will pull the cows soon and plant corn or soybeans on those acres. A month of grazing crop fields really gives the pasture land a chance to get a head start for the growing season.

The feedlot is really busy now, shipping market cattle that we positioned to take advantage of historically higher April markets. Of course, this is the year where the summer months may outshine April. Seems like the older I get, the less I know.

Speaking of heavies, spring certainly is the season for all things new. My nephew, Tim, who worked here at the ranch all through his college years and is now a state trooper and his wife, Kaley, just brought home their set of twin boys, and granddaughter Haley looks like she will join the June calvers and have a new baby for the summer grazing season. We are truly blessed.

Steve Foglesong

Astoria, Ill.