Archive for September, 2009

The Summer of Cows (part 2)

September 21, 2009


On the 18th of May, accompanied by my spouse, my friend Rose and her daughter, we headed for the livestock sale barn in Calhan. The sale barn isn’t for the faint of heart or the sensitive of nose but it has the unique designation of selling cows. Rose and I tromped through the aisle between holding pens to check out possible candidates for our purchase.

Satisfied we had potential steak dinners, we perched on the wooden bleachers and waited for the cattle sale to begin. Our goal — to purchase at least four calves.

My husband had set a goal of fifty cents a pound per calf in order to pay for the critters with money advanced by members of the coop. Lesson one—anything which was healthy enough to take home skyrocketed to between eighty cents and $1.25 per pound. I am sitting between my, not so patient, husband and my anxious friend my number paddle firmly held down so there’s no confusion.

At last a likely animal flew (yes, I mean flew) into the arena, horns and hooves thrashing. Old ranchers flanking us literally sat on their hands.

“Go, go,” my husband urged elbowing me.

“Get that one.” Urged my friend.

“I don’t know I just don’t like the looks of her.” I commented.

“Hurry,” urged my husband.

I raised my paddle as the auctioneer shouted, “Sold #218” (To the idiot in the middle row was missing from the statement but it was implied.)

After a few more animals shuttled through the area, I was able to buy two relatively calm- looking Angus. We shuttled home three animals to their heavenly green pasture, agreeing that we would have to return for more since we didn’t have animals for all the Coop members.

My brother-in-law’s pick-up pulled the trailer into the pasture. We opened the door and the three animals shot from inside at the velocity of the circus man shot from the cannon. Our summer was beginning.



September 18, 2009

Many of you may wonder why you’ve lost touch with us this summer. It isn’t from dislike or pure laziness but frankly because we have lacked the time to even sit down much less do something as relaxing as writing an e-mail or a note. That’s because the summer of 2009 has been “The Summer of the Cows.”

It all began last year, when I decided that leasing the pasture to a neighbor for his horses was not the most profitable venture and perhaps there would be a “better way.” My ranch roots in conjunction with complaints from friends about the beef quality available in the grocery store, lead me to decide we should raise some calves for ourselves and others. The CALF COOP was born.


Only with assurances to my adult son and daughter that once the fence was in place it would be like tending to “BIG hairy dogs you can eat”, was I able to gather a fencing crew. The pasture had slick wire for horses, but this would not do for cattle. After purchasing barbed wire and steel posts, and promises of a good noon meal, the fence crew headed out on a cool May Saturday to fence the 40-acres. Hum! This task took many complaints, one smashed toe, cuts from barbed wire and sheer exhaustion (mostly from me) to complete. After two weekends and a fence you could almost play like a banjo, the task was completed. And we were proud.  More next week.