A baby is born!

Often the first sign of a cow in labor is her raised tail. She will look for a place to be alone. The membranes may appear as a water "balloon" that will burst and you can then see the calf's front feet.
I usually don't get to see calves actually born. We have nearly 300 calves on our ranch each year, but when I see a cow in labor, I leave her alone to have her calf and I return in about 30 minutes to see a live calf. She will be licking it and teaching it to nurse. So when a heifer was in labor yesterday in the sunshine, I decided to get my camera and sit and watch. From the point of when the calf's feet are showing, to delivery, it should only be about 30 minutes.

A heifer should calve within 30 minutes of the feet being presented. I check to make sure the calf is presented correctly by how the feet look. If they're upside down, the calf is backward and we need to help her deliver.

Uh-oh. She seems me! Cattle like to be alone and protected when they calve. Soon she is too busy pushing to worry about me. I hid behind the feed bunk!

You can see the calf's nose now. The front feet should come first, with the nose and head next.

Soon the head is pushed out with the calf's knees (or elbows?!). The membranes are still around the calf.

Very quickly the cow pushes the calf out. The shoulders can be a difficult part. But this time, the calf's shoulders slide right out.

The cow is really concentrating and I can sneak closer.

She has the calf pushed out to his rib cage, and he tries to breathe, but he can't yet because his rib cage is still compressed. His tongue is sticking out reaching for a breath!

As his rib cage is pushed out, he stretches out to take a breath. The mama cow is still focused on her contractions.

The hips can also be a point of difficulty. If the cow's pelvis is shaped wrong, or if the calf is very large, it may become "hiplocked." As the calf is born, it rotates slightly to free the hips.

Unfortunately as the calf rotates, this time his head becomes rotated and his body pushes it around. If he doesn't straighten out quickly, he may suffocate!

The heifer finishes pushing the calf out. She must now stand up soon and begin licking the calf to get him to breathe immediately.

Another successful delivery! Congratulations, it's a boy!

Cooking Prime Rib--tips from a rancher!

Who better to ask than a rancher how to cook the perfect prime rib? Many people are overwhelmed by a prime rib roast and it is a relatively expensive cut of meat. So you don't want to screw it up--but it is really pretty easy!

My "Boys of Fall"

I couldn't resist sharing this post from a number of years ago. My boys have now all graduated from our small town high school and the oldest has even graduated from college. But their time on the 8-man football field in our little town surrounded by community members cheering them on has grounded them and tied them to our little community.  So even though this was a few years ago, this post still gets me....The Boys of Fall!

Small town sports are like no other! Last week was our first football game of the year for our small town high school. I have three boys in high school and they all play football. My oldest boy is a junior and the other two are twins who are freshmen.

I have to admit, I am not a great football mom. I'm a big chicken! I can barely sit on the stands and watch my boys get tackled without yelling, "Get off him!" But I control myself and when they do get an especially rough hit and take an extra few seconds to get up, I make myself stay on the stands and not run to the field to ask, "Are you okay, honey?" I've been told that is not helpful.

Italian Wedding Soup - with a beefy twist!

The following is a guest blog post by my friend Leslie Williams--an amazing cook who is a very gracious host! I think you will enjoy her meatball soup recipe. I also believe that I will try this recipe in my electric pressure cooker during Christmas break while I have a houseful of kids home to feed! Thanks for sharing this recipe with it's "BEEF-y tweaks," Leslie!!

“No soup for you!”  The Soup Nazi, Seinfeld

I was scrolling through Facebook a couple of weeks ago and came across this recipe for an easy and quick Italian Wedding Soup from Jenny Rosenstrach in her blog, Dinner: A Love Story.   I work from home so soup is a great option to have on hand for a quick and filling lunch.  Here is Jenny’s soup with my own tweaks and tips.  Enjoy!

I’m married to the BEEFMAN (@REAL_BEEFMAN) so it’s unlikely I’ll ever make this with ground turkey but to each his/her own.  I used mild Italian pork sausage the first time I made it and it was delicious but a little salty so be sure to taste before you add the salt in the “soup” portion of the ingredient list. 

Today, I made it with ground BEEF and used BEEF broth instead of chicken broth.

Do ranchers care about animal welfare?

Guest post by Paige Pratt, a friend of mine from my hometown and lifetime family rancher in Kansas. I recently saw Paige and she said she had attended a meeting that Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the US was one of the main speakers! Mr. Pacelle is often considered an enemy of animal agriculture and many people are afraid to confront him in person...but not Paige! She even asked a question during the Q&A and clearly showed him that as a farmer and rancher, she is involved in animal welfare every single day.  Below are her thoughts from the meeting...

Paige Pratt, a lifelong farmer and her son take a break
from feeding cattle to pose for the camera.
Earlier this week I went to the Bob Dole Institute for Politics and attended a session entitled Animal Welfare in America.  The speakers were Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Nancy Perry, Senior VP of Government Relations, ASPCA.  The topics of the evening ranged from puppy mills to horse slaughter to food animal production.

Being a farmer and rancher, I was very intrigued by the discussion regarding food animal production, especially when Mr. Pacelle indicated one of their top priorities is to shut down all intensive confinement operations.

Let's talk!

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