Paying tribute to cowsI am grateful for cows. They provide many things for my family besides tasty beef and I feel they deserve a little praise.
By: Amy Kirk, Republic columnist
I am grateful for cows. They provide many things for my family besides tasty beef and I feel they deserve a little praise.
For starters, my family has them to thank for a livelihood. Taking care of cows is a steady job; one that’s challenging and secure. Even in lean years when the market took a nosedive, our herd has always given us plenty of work to do, regardless of pay.
Taking our kids along at an early age to check cows during calving season helped simplify the job of explaining where babies come from. When my son was 6, he explained it to me after watching his dad pull a calf. He and his sister have witnessed a calf’s birth more than once and have both experienced firsthand the realities of death.
Cows also have many health benefits. Working for them is a stand-up job. Cows keep us active and physically fit by making us walk, climb, and/or sprint to handle, sort, or load them. We also get strength training through pitching hay; packing five gallon buckets of feed and 50-pound salt blocks or rolling 250-pound lick tubs out of a trailer.
Lastly, our cattle give us sustenance: healthy, nourishing, and satisfying beef.
Managing cows has helped us maintain a humble, modest lifestyle. Relying on an income that’s dependent upon fluctuating livestock prices has encouraged us live within our means.
Cows have helped us illustrate to our kids what it means to be responsible for something other than ourselves and being committed to a job. Before pursuing our own interests, livestock gets taken care of first. Handling livestock responsibilities also proves to our kids that after doing chores to their dad’s expectations, other responsibilities are easy in comparison.
Our kids have observed that owning cows means less money for yourself or essentially no money if you don’t rely on your resourcefulness when possible.
Dealing with problems related to cows has been the best way to teach our kids how to put their ingenuity and skills to work and not be wasteful by using what’s already available to them; which may explain why they are constantly using my stuff. Our cows have made us frugal thrifty, and industrious.
As a result, bad economies are not as devastating to adjust to.
Running cows instills good stewardship practices with our resources. As producers who rely on the land for feeding and raising livestock that will eventually produce our income, we know that taking care of what we have is important. How well we manage the land, water, and livestock determines the existence of our livelihood.
Most importantly, what we do is help provide a necessary and worthwhile commodity produced with pride and care; something we try to pass on to our kids.
Unlike the majority of products made that aren’t a necessity of life — essentially anything that says “Made in China” — raising cattle provides vital goods for people in our country and around the globe.
With an ever-increasing population, the demand to feed the world is put on the shoulders of people in agriculture.
Raising cows is a lot more work than some people care to do but we don’t mind it. In exchange for taking good care of our cows they’ve provided us with everything we need.
Amy and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.