My Generation
30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Long Haul

30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Long Haul

Day 6: Why livestock husbandry has a past, and why that makes it great.

My friend, Monica Stevens, shared a most awesome photo with me the other day. She'd been going through her grandparents' old farm magazines and photos, and she came across a page of ads in the 1973 Shorthorn World. And on that page, she found ads placed by her family and mine, right next to each other, nearly 40 years ago.

So very cool! In part, because I love history and I love old cattle photos and old livestock publications. They represent years of breeding, refining, planning and commitment.

Photo is courtesty of Monica Stevens, whose family's ad appeared on the left in this 1973 Shorthorn World magazine. My dad's ad is on the right. Check out the language they used: "building on a solid foundation" and "dedicated to the betterment of the breed" and "breeding to retain soundness." It's the language of a cattleman.

My young years on the farm were often spent with cattle, because my dad raised purebred Shorthorn cattle and we showed all over the lower Midwest. I can remember in my early years how a lot of the cattle still had horns, but that Dad was working to breed that out. Thus, Polled Shorthorns. The purebred cattle business is about genetics and maternal soundness, structural soundness and a lot of other genetic traits that cattlemen spend hours of their lives studying and debating. Dad talked endlessly about good feet and legs. My mind will forever hold the term "cow hocked" and the mental picture of what that looks like.

The livestock business is not really a fly-by-night venture, and though some people will flit in and out of a breed, the vast majority of purebred cattlemen have raised their breed of cattle for generations. My good cattle friend, Anne (Jordan) Burge, came from just such a family. She was the third generation to raise Shorthorns. Her nieces and nephews are the fourth because, no surprise, the Jordans are still going strong. I love that.

Cattle genetics are debated in and out of the show ring, all across the country, all the time, but perhaps especially so at this time of year, as the best animals in the country head to Louisville this weekend for the North American International Livestock Exposition. National champion animals will be selected, and their genetics will become the hot tickets in the year ahead. It's good stuff.

And when it's all over, everyone will head back to their farms and ranches, and just keep on keeping on. Breeding, refining, planning and committing. It's what makes the cattle business great.



The archives: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm

Kickoff: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm

Day 1: Working Kids

Day 2: Biotechnology

Day 3: Harvest Eats

Day 4: Church

Day 5: Biotechnology, Again

Day 6: Long Haul

Day 7: Hormones

Day 8: Weather

Day 9: Milk

Day 10: County Fairs


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This Land, This Life, This Farmer's Wife: 30 Days of Thankfulness on a Family Farm

Farmgirldays: 30 Days of Farm Kids Trapped in the City

My Cows and Pigs: 30 Days of "What's that?"

Dennis Olmstead: 30 Days in a Row

White House on the Prairie: 30 Days, 30 Posts

A Colorful Adventure: 30 Days of JP

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