Why homesteaders should steer clear of cattle.

Born 3-20-18
Born 3-20-18

I am watching a John Wayne movie, McClintock. He is on a wagon riding into town and stops to look over his cattle. The setting is roughly 1895. He is pleased because he is getting 15 cents a pound. His cattle are a horned range breed. That made him a rich man 123 years ago. I repeat…123 years ago.

You want deflation? I just sold a fatter version of the same steer for a whopping .53 cents a pound! Yet, you go to the store and want  one-hundred percent lean hamburger with no steroids, grass-fed and you pay 7.99  a pound! Hmm… why are farmers are going out of business? Why are farmers feeding the cheapest, crappiest steroid infested feed they can get?

I can say this, after this farmer gets through this time period; cows are off this farmer’s list. We have fourteen to get rid of. It will be the end of trying to raise cattle for us. We had thirty-four.

The death of cattle, illness, mud, freezing temperatures, heavy bags of feed, tractors sliding in the mud with thousand pound hay bales, barb wire fencing, coyotes and being put in the red before you even get started is not worth the sleepless nights, thorn bush scratches, kicks and bruises.

To Consumers who would rather pay cheap prices at the store I say: Import the meat, for all I care. I hope it is infested with black leg and pesticides. I’ll never run another steer through the auction again. I’ll enjoy my homegrown steak, but, I am not growing anymore cattle at these prices for the general market.

I am sticking with goats. At least I can make cheese, soap, and kifir then sell the goat for a twenty dollar profit! See if you can do that with a steer.

If insult to injury is not bad enough I just had our cantankerous long horn cow, Fruit-loops, sent in to butcher. I believe she is the culprit which ripped the ear completely off a hefty, pregnant cow; killing it. Fruit-loop’s baby we found dead; thrown into the hay ring.  She was using her horns to literally lift other cows up and even flipped one into the feed trough.  In one last good kick to the wallet she was an eight-hundred pound cow. I was told I her hang weight was three-hundred and forty-five pounds. Okay, so you got the fifty dollar kill fee and sixty-eight cents a pound to wrap. I got back one-hundred and eighty pounds of steaks, roasts, canning meat and hamburger. So where is the rest of the beef?  Turns out she was one-hundred and sixty-five pounds of bone. This is why you should never buy a dairy-cross or a longhorn, for that matter.

Let’s figure this out:

Cost of a two-hundred and twenty pound calf- $2.37 a pound is  $521.40

Cost of wintering three winters in anticipation for her calf:

24 scoops in bag of feed. 12 days of grain. Jan-April 120 days 10 bags x 8 is $80.00

Hay- one cow can eat a bale a day. Dec- April 150 days. $2 bale $300

We have $380 per year in feed and 3 winters into this cow.   Total  $1140

Wormer $45, protein bucket $40, salt blocks 6 x $6 ($36), shots $40, fly powder $20, fly bags $5, water hauled in $5, fence repairs $40 Fuel $20 that all comes to total $251 for her three year stay.

521.40+1140+251+butcher fees $286.40= $2198.80

So the cost per pound for the meat I got back from the butcher was the total of her cost divided by the amount of meat I got back.  So that would be:

$2198.80 /180 lbs=  $12.26 per pound.

Now 80 pounds was hamburger. If I was selling this cow I would probably sell the hamburger for $4 a pound and there would still be people saying that was way to high to spend for one-hundred percent grass-fed steroid-free beef. Someone suggested I should lower it to three dollars for a half or a whole. I had to bite my tongue. Now I might charge $6 a pound for steaks and roasts.

At the best that would be 100 x $6= 600

80 x $4= 320

So how much did I lose on this wretched cow. $2198.80-$920=  -1278.80

Yah, in the hole over a grand.

Also keep in mind, this cow cost me her calf which was a really pretty calf I could have gotten $200 for, a cow she ripped the ear off and its unborn calf which I might have got a $1 a pound at the sale for and she weighed 900lbs. So that is $900 plus the calf $200. So there is another $1300 I’m out.

Now this is why homesteaders should steer one-hundred percent clear from trying to raise beef for profit. If you can raise your own hay and graze the cow and get milk from it for your own personal use then you are ahead. A Dexter might make a nice between breed. Otherwise, find some idiot like myself, buy a half or a whole for $4 a pound and be glad you did not waste your time, and fencing, on a dull-witted animal that would be glad to run you over for a bucket of feed and kick you just because you happened to be standing there.

As for this idiot, I am passing on the knowledge of numbers and experience and I hope there is some wise person who will sit down and think it through before they try to spend their hard-earned money on a cow.

John Wayne  made a killing at .15 cents a pound in an era when a thousand dollars could have bought my whole seventy-six acre farm. Today, get out a shovel because cattle will put you in the hole and it is a long dig back out.


Fell off the Band Wagon

Okay, I started this blog with the idea I would take a half hour everyday and write something. Yah, that happened.

A little update on the farm. The feat of moving my mother and two brothers to the farm is two more trips with the twenty-four foot car hauler from being complete. The weather is unpredictable.

snowpicEnough of this stuff already.

My brother has been chopping the old trailer frame out of the way to make room for a pair of sheds. There is enough tin stacked to take to the junk yard. Every scraper has stopped to offer to generously take the pile away for free. You heard the sarcasm in that remark, correct? I do not know how it is anywhere else, but, most scrapers have to be on drugs to walk up to someone and ask, “Hey, can I have that pile of metal I have watched you stack up in one place all summer? I was too lazy to stop by and ask when you needed the help tearing things down, but, now that all the work is done, I can take that away for you and collect all the money.” Bet they did not say that, but, they might as well have. Oh, and a real hint, if you do decide to let someone take your metal away for you, it is a sure bet they have a place where they dump a quarter of it off their vehicle before they take it in. It’s best to just hop in with them and see the look on their face. Agree on a percent and do the math yourself.

Anyways, I digress. What’s been happening? Today it’s pouring down rain and I’m working on a Shopify cart to launch my books on Facebook. I am also writing a letter of introduction to a lady who lives in Oprah Winfrey’s neighborhood. I know her nephew and I’m really hoping the lady knows her neighbors. Probably nothing will happen, but, it never hurts to try something.

The hubby has yet to find work and this has me chewing my fingernails and eyeing the world of OTR again. Any writing career options will then go out the window as there is no time between runs and sleep in that world. My Uncle has been a trucker since he came home from Vietnam and he is still driving. I have to admit it gets in your blood.

We are attempting our first sales of freezer beef. With too many cows in the field we have to get rid of some mouths. It’s unbelievable how much they can eat. We are dropping rounds daily now that they have reached full size.

My family decided to move during the fall, after I returned to work driving bus. Every weekend for nine weekends I made the drive up, loaded stuff, drove the seven-and-a-half hour trip back, unloaded into their house all week, went to work, worked the farm, dealt with the rentals and tried to work on my website and writings. It has definitely been worth the struggle. Having my family this close is very comforting and a true blessing.

They do miss the hill. This is the first time my brothers have ever moved. The delapitating trailer they lived in was on its last blocks. It made the choice for them. I have been trying for years to get them to move here. In a strange way I miss knowing that I can not “go home.” It’s almost like the feeling of losing my grandmother. There was no reason to go to her house because she was no longer there. The good thing to remember is, my family is right here. I can just walk to their place. My daughter and my youngest brother are having great fun playing video games and complaining about doing farm chores in the rain and snow. I have had to update my little brother’s wardrobe with a pair of muck boots, coveralls and  a water-proof coat.

None of us are allowing mother to walk through the muck. She is officially retired from the bakery. Unfortunately I have gained ten pounds because she is still baking up a storm. Lol.


Tomorrow is looking like a full day. I am taking some animals to the auction. I have to cut down on the feed bill. It’s just too much and something has to go.

Speaking of “go” I could write a book about these renters I have right now and one of them is on the verge of going off the farm if they do not get caught up in rent. They have tore the place up, too. When they get back I’ll be having a sit down with this couple. Right now they are stuck in Georgia which has given me enough time to cool off about the damage I saw in my rental unit. How they got stuck down there is a book in itself, but, some folks just do not know how to plan well. They swear when they get back they’ll get me caught up in rent. We’ll see, then, I’ll point out the obvious damages. Tact and patience goes along with this rental stuff. It’s stressful and if I had it to do over again, I think I would take the trailer court and push it over the hill and turn it in to storage units. Come on book sales, Momma is ready for some change. Lol.


Well, back to this Shopify idea. Oh, yah, I did get another buck this year and three does. Well, two were young bucks with no horns. The hubby was throwing a fit because they might have been the next trophy bucks. I looked at him and said, “Your trophies are tasting pretty good in this fry pan. By the way, you want to lift up their tails before I shoot next time?” I am betting what really bugged the hubby was how he spent two weeks out in the cold and muck and bagged one buck, bigger than mine of course, while I spent two opening days and tagged out. Just saying….





School Days Are Here Again

Kind of ironic. I spent most of my youth wanting out of school, now I’m driving school bus. It’s a bit different from being the one shoved in the locker. This is my second year with this route. Compared to my first year I see alot of changes in the kids. They stepped on the bus in a nice manner without fighting. Trust me, this was not without a long year behind us. I treat my bus like it is an extesion of the classroom.

I expect my students to behave. Here are some of the signs I made up to remind them of the schools rules.

No eating sign NO STANDING

ticketI use this one to remind a student that once I start counting they are in jeapordy of a ticket. If anyone bites, kicks, hits, steals, or throws something which hurts another it is an instant three.

I also tried to start with the bus seats being assigned before they got on the bus. I was fouled when the bus broke down and the boss had to bring out a new bus. Better luck next year.

The Dane Girl’s dog house is getting its tin roof next. We worked all weekend despite the heat. It will be in the ninties today. Which reminds me the bus has no air conditioning. I am going to perspire. Ug.

The only thing to survive in the garden is the tomatoes- until the chickens found them. Those five roosters are going to make great stew.

On the brightside the rental remodel is done. Now we have Mom’s trailer to kick into gear. Hopefully my family does not change their minds- again. If so, I’m putting my daughter in this trailer and renting her old one out.

I’m still trying to figure out this whole blog thing. I’ve been working on “pages” and linking them over to my website. Hopefully it is worth the effort. I did figure out how to add pictures.