AMY KIRK: Some good-looking figuresOur family recently worked our cattle, which involves pregnancy checking all of the cows and implementing our fall vaccination and calf preconditioning program. Now we can focus on what comes next — speculating.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
Our family recently worked our cattle, which involves pregnancy checking all of the cows and implementing our fall vaccination and calf preconditioning program. Now we can focus on what comes next — speculating.
Mid-fall signifies a time of year I spend constantly looking for a calculator. The end of the ranch calendar year is nearing.
After sale day, the new ranch year begins. Until we sell our calf crop there’s a lot of market checking, penciling-out, reviewing weekly calf sales and predicting going on at our house.
It’s a flurry of numbers around here. Figures are written on the backs of chew cans, newspaper corners, calf record books, napkins, kids’ homework and the like. All my husband wants from me is a calculator and his glasses.
As soon as the livestock newspapers arrive in our mailbox, the pages containing recent calf sales listed for area sale barns are reviewed followed by rigorous analyzing.
The market reports pages are scanned to see who has sold already, where they sold, their calf weights, what their calves brought and what the latest weigh up prices are.
This is the season when my husband spends more time checking out the figures on our cows than he does mine.
Now that we’ve worked our cows, several important numbers get recorded in the calf record book. At the top of the list are the confirmed head count of how many calves are going to the sale barn, the total heifer calves, bull calves, and the kids’ calves — heifers and bulls. All are listed on a back page of the record book.
Next is the list of opens (unbred) and lates (expected to calve late season) by their eartag numbers, then there’s the cull cows and the kids’ cull cows list that will also to go to town and their eartag numbers.
Some figures get recorded to memory instead, including the number of calves speculated to get docked for frost-bit ears, off-coloredness, rat tails, tight-hides and any other visible character flaws that are likely to cause calves to get sorted off and sold separate from the main bunch.
Other mentally noted figures are the calf weight guesses my husband and I discuss of the heavies and the lights, which will be checked against the sale barn’s scales on sale day. Even though they’re practically memorized, the lists and eartag numbers written down are reviewed repeatedly.
All of this tallying and speculating leads to further analyzing in other areas of concern pertaining to numbers.
More calculating is done on our winter feed supply. Bales in each stack yard — grass and alfalfa — gets recounted and the numbers get checked against what the record book says.
Then estimates are made on how many hayfeeding days at most we’re likely to have, how many days we’d have enough hay to feed our new herd size after culling, and a rough date of how long our hay could be expected to last.
Even when our calf check is in hand, I know better than to put the calculator away. The whole 90-mile drive home from the sale barn my husband will have me calculating post-sale figures.
He spends a lot of time checking numbers because he’s like every other rancher. He likes to see good-looking figures.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.