Today is another in our series of the best posts of 2016. And, since just last weekend we welcomed our first red calf into the family, I figured that it was the perfect time to post this.
Raising livestock is in my blood. Husband’s too. For generations, our families have raised cattle, sheep, and horses. So when BB came along, there was really no doubt that he would be raised along with the livestock.
Already, we talk a walk every night so that BB can talk to his cows. He now says “cow” despite still refusing to utter the word “Mama.”
As he grows up, he will learn to bottle feed lambs. He’ll be in charge of watering the cows. We’ll teach him about sire selection and how to know when a lamb needs pulled and what medications to use when one of them is acting sick. He’ll know the different breeds of cattle and how to tell the grade of a staple of wool and how to tell a snaffle bit from a hackamore. My guess is that he’s always going to be as excited as we were as kids about branding and jumping in the wool sacks during sheering and his life will eventually revolve around stock shows. He’ll probably ride past the house standing up in the saddle and has already developed a sincere love for green tractors (yet another word he’s mastered before Mama…)
I don’t know what BB will be when he grows up. If I had to guess, based on the way he always wants to touch everyone’s teeth, maybe a dentist. Or maybe he will be a train conductor as he runs to see them every time he hears the horn. Or maybe he will work in the oil and gas industry like his Dad and Granddad or be a lawyer like his mom.
But even if he doesn’t go into agriculture, he will take the lessons he learns here with him. He’ll leave here with a strong work ethic. He’ll understand responsibility and sacrifice and how to balance a checkbook. He’ll understand the circle of life. He’ll have memories of good times with his grandparents and parents and sister, many of which will happen in a barn. He’ll learn to be a fierce competitor, a gracious loser, and a humble winner. He’ll be able to identify different types of grasses, understand why the percent protein matters in a ration, and I’m sure he’ll be able to tell a good steak based on the amount of marbling it has. He’ll understand that life isn’t always fair. He’ll know where his food comes from and why America needs her farmers and ranchers so desperately.
And my bet is that these things will make him a better dentist or train conductor or [whatever he chooses to be] A better husband. A better father. A better man.
That’s the point of these cows and the sheep. Sure, we are raising meat to help feed the world. We are hoping to make a slim profit at some point. But more important than that, we are giving our kids a legacy and a way of life.