May 13, 2021

From the Barns: Hands-on learning

Of all the craziness and terrible things that have went on this past year, there have been few bright spots. One of them has been the opportunity to have the boys here working on the farm almost full-time. The boys — my son, Wyatt, 16, and nephew, David, 17 — like most kids have been restricted to part-time in school or full-time remote learning.

Dad and I have enjoyed the privilege of having them here and spending so much quality time together. Not just the extra labor to get so much work done, but the chance to teach and instruct them on how things function here on the farm — the good and the bad. And their grandma has relished the chance to cook noon dinner for them most days and have more of her family there to spend time together.

Not to diminish the idea of a formal education, but as all farm families know, there is so much for young people to learn spending time and working on the farm. The value of that type of education is priceless and whether they remain on the farm as adults or not, what they learn here in work ethic and building a strong mind and body will stay with them for the rest of their lives. What a blessing it has been for me to have them here so much.

March saw four loads of feeder heifers sold into Texas and one load of steers heading up to northern Illinois. With calves and lightweight yearlings in great demand for grass cattle, prices have been such that we have laid off putting new cattle in to replace those we sold. Hopefully, we can jump back in soon and replenish our inventory. High feed prices continue to be another reason to hold back on placing any in.

To limit the impact of high feed prices, we are now utilizing the rye and ryegrass we sowed last fall. With a few hundred head of yearlings out grazing, it is a beautiful sight to see them out on the lush, green forage. We are anticipating some good gains over the next two to three months and hope the freeze we had last night doesn’t stunt the continued growth of the grass.

Calving season so far has been sailing along really well and I don’t remember a better success rate to this point. The fall calving cows and heifers have all been recently pregnancy tested and results were quite good. They are now out placed on what will be summer pasture, including a set of commercial heifers that we aim to sell. Soon we will be semen testing bulls and running 70 open replacement heifers through the chute for their second round of vaccine as we prep them for the upcoming breeding season.

Hoping the spring weather straightens out and we get away from the ups and downs of temperature fluctuations, and a dry spring would be nice, as well. But, as usual, we will gladly accept whatever the Lord sends our way, counting it a blessing just to have the opportunity to raise our cattle that He has allowed us to have.

Jeff Beasley

Creal Springs, Ill.