Our Story: The Bridge
January 20, 2024
I am calling this part of Our Story the Bridge because I am going to focus on our cattle operation. Cows have always been, and will hopefully always be, an integral part of Our Story. They were there in the beginning as a teenager alongside my Papaw and Dad, in the middle throughout college and our earlier years of marriage, currently with a herd of Momma cows and a few bulls, and will hopefully be in the growing alongside Cruse.
Growing up you could find me in the fields, which I now call home, with my Papaw and Dad. At about thirteen, Papaw thought it was time for me to have my own little cattle herd so he bought me a few heifers to help me get started. I quickly learned about responsibility and what it was like to have something that depended on you to survive. After graduation, I got the “great” idea to raise some Holstein bottle calves to make some quick pocket money. I bought about 20 because I thought if I was going to have to feed one, then I might as well make it worth it. Needless to say. it didn't take me long to realize I was in over my head. Those 20 bottle babies needed lots of attention and feeding twice a day. I'd wake up before the sun rose to make 20 bottles, feed them one at a time, and do it all again before the sun went down. But, I wouldn't have changed those early mornings and late nights in the barn for anything.
During college, I spent most of my weekends coming home to the farm. After all, my responsibilities didn't go away just because I did. My Dad managed my herd during the weekdays and I came home on weekends to help as much as possible. I began bringing Abby home to the farm in 2014 and she quickly fell in love with my two staple cows, Janet (a black baldie) and Ruby (a Hereford). We spent many weekends on the four-wheeler checking cows in the valley and then in the hay fields in the summer. Lucky for me, Abby grew up with cattle since her Dad is a manager of a beefmaster cattle operation. The only downside to that is she tends to try and name all the babies and gets a little too attached.
The idea of owning cattle has never changed, but the way I’ve raised my cattle over the years has changed. I currently focus my time and energy on pasture-raising my Momma cows. Since purchasing the farm from my Papaw in 2018 I have cross-fenced the pastures to rotationally graze our cattle year round. The goal is to extend the grazing period a little further and further each year by drilling intentional forages and stocking piling grasses for the winter months. I put up temporary electric fences using step-in posts and poly wire to create different-sized paddocks that allow me to control their grazing during the growing season. The goal is to take the herd off of a paddock and let it rest and regrow for at least 30 days before they come back to it and start the cycle again. I may not be in school anymore but I am constantly learning through grazing classes, podcasts, and of course YouTube.
We hope that Cruse grows up to be whatever he wants to be, however, it would be awesome if he loves cows in the process! One of his first words was Cow and he has had the moo sound down pat for a long time now. Abby lovingly named a heifer calf Crusetta the spring before we had Cruse and is the only calf from ‘22 and now ‘23. Her goal is for this heifer to be the start of Cruse’s herd!