The truth about cows – a summer’s tail

Recently it was brought to my attention that there is a lot of misunderstanding about how our cattle get from the farm to the plate, so I thought I would give a quick rundown of the actual time frame that our cows spend on the farm.

Let me start by saying that I’m not claiming that this is how ALL cows are raised, but for the most part, most farms/ranches follow a similar calendar, depending on location, management styles, etc. But this will go a long way to explaining how MY farm works.

Here we go: 

To start with, our cows are bred to have their calves from the second week of February to the beginning of April or so. The reason being that our lots handle snow and ice better than mud and water. I’ve talked about that many times before, so I won’t bore you with the details. But be sure to check out some of my calving posts!


We breed our cows for the next year in May. Then, shortly after being bred, they head to pasture where they stay until close to winter, or if the grass in the pasture deteriorates enough to warrant them being brought closer to home.

That’s right. Our cows spend a majority of their year out in the prairie…on green grass, left to their own devices. But that’s not what you hear from animal right’s activists, is it? 


Even when our cattle are brought home, we tend to move them to a field of corn stalks or something similar to graze, instead of bringing them in our calving lots. It helps the cows to keep moving throughout their gestational period, and it provides natural fertilizer and helps break down the crop left in the field.

In average year, our cattle will come home to be fed twice a day starting in December or January…just one month or so shy of calving. 

And those calves that are leaving the farm to get to the plate? They follow a similar schedule, but are fed a little sooner, making sure that they are the healthiest they can be prior to going to a finishing operation. Generally, our cattle leaving for food production weigh about 900 to 1,000 pounds. Cattle ready for slaughter are usually about 1,200 pounds or so.

What does that mean? It means that our cattle do not end up spending a lot of time at a finishing lot gaining weight for slaughter.

Our cattle are not considered “grass-fed,” even thought that IS what makes up a good portion of their diet. And that goes the same for a majority of beef raised for your plate.

Game changers

I met a few game “game changers” today. It was an amazing opportunity that involved getting an invite to an event, and finding it important enough to buy a plane ticket to attend.

So what would be so important? The opportunity to meet and listen to Mark Lynas and Julie Borlaug. 

I’m guessing for most of you, you have not a clue as to who either of these people are, but to someone who does a lot of reading about agriculture these are celebrities. 

Mark Lynas is an environmentalist from Britain who, after spending years advocating against GMO’s, has changed his stance, understanding that there is a place in our food system for technology, including GMO products.

I am famous for making an apology.


Julie Borlaug is the granddaughter of Norman Borlaug, a man that has been credited with saving millions of people from dying through improvements in crops and cropping systems. (I’m currently reading the book “Our Daily Bread; The Story of Norman Borlaug.” Highly suggest it to everyone who enjoys eating.)

Over the next few days, I will give my thoughts and share some of my notes from the event. It was a truly amazing experience, and worth the time, money and effort to be here in St. Louis. A great thank you to the Danforth Center for inviting me…and even giving me a special seat!


Two years ago, I wrote this, while waiting out a blizzard. We’re in the midst of one again, and I’ll be posting a new blizzard post tomorrow. The good news? We haven’t had any calves born yet. But that doesn’t stop us from having to check them every two hours, just in case.
Farmers are like mailmen of old, come rain, sleet or snow…but we won’t be getting Saturdays off any time soon! 😉 Take care, stay safe and stay warm.

Wag'n Tales

Farmers and ranchers are responsible for their livestock, their land, their resources, whether it’s raining in the south, or snowing in the north. That fact is true, even during a blizzard.

This afternoon a very strong storm hit our area. Now, compared to the tsunami that rocked Japan and the destruction felt in other areas afterward, what we were dealing with was small potatoes. But for our cattle, they still relied on us for safety, shelter and food.

That’s why Boss Man spent most of the evening in the barn, or out in the lot, covered in snow, not seeing more than a few feet in front of him, making sure that no new calves were born out in the terrible conditions.

And I went out this evening, once things had settled down a little bit, to make sure things were still good to go.

Although this video isn’t the…

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Celebrating…and a new project

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am sad to announce that I am starting my final year of being eligible to be considered a Young Farmer and Rancher through Farm Bureau. If you’re familiar with the program, then you know how old I am…if not, just know that I’m still considered “young,” ‘k?

Today is my handsome little man’s birthday! Happy third birthday, George! It’s been a wild ride these last 3 years, but I’m hopeful that we are on an even keel for a bit. That is my birthday wish!

It’s been a crazy few weeks, as I mentioned earlier this week. And now we picked it up a notch. In fact, I bought an official planner yesterday, because my brain is getting muddled and I am having a hard time remembering where to be when, when to be where and who all needs to be with me. Good thing I remembered the birthdays!

I wrote a blog post earlier this week about the flawed Measure 2 in North Dakota. It was emailed to several different people, and I was asked if I would be willing to submit it to area papers as a letter to the editor. I had no problem with that, so I did.

And then began another dose of craziness.

After a back-and-forth conversation with one editor, he commented that he enjoyed my blog, and would like to feature it on their web page, with a group of blogs called, “Areavoices.” I was excited about the opportunity, and really was interested in sharing my voice with this new group of people. And so I said yes.

While trying to get it all set up, I quickly learned that I would have to give up if I went solely with Areavoices…so I decided to set up a second blog. (Yeah, I know, I need my head examined.)

Now, don’t worry, this blog is my baby. I’m in love with it, and all of you. I will continue to write about our farm, our lives, our struggles and our triumphs. I will continue to give my opinions on those things happening around the world and how it will translate to our farm. Eventually this blog will be printed in book format for each of my sons, so that they can see how we evolved and changed through the years. Yet, I had to take the opportunity to spread my wings a bit and share with others those same things.

My Areavoices blog will be more about issues and farm-related education as opposed to my family. I will connect the two and refer back and forth, but they will, indeed, be separate. Right now, I can completely see how this will work…but I realize it may evolve and change as time goes on. I’m OK with that.

So, check it out, let me know what you think…and one more quick birthday shout out to George!

Sleeping on the floor in the kitchen at Grandma's house, waiting next to Grandpa's that's relaxed!

Mommy loves you!

Super Sunday

A little over a week ago, the nation joined together on Sunday afternoon and watched a football game. But the best part of my day came hours before that.

Earlier that day, I had taken my boys to church and while waiting for them to finish up with Sunday school, I went to my parents’ house and checked in with them. My Dad was talking about how nice it was, and how he should be out ice fishing.

I took that opportunity to convince him that it would be a great idea for us to take the older boys fishing that afternoon, we had plenty of time to get there and back before the big game was scheduled to begin.

And what a day it was!

What a great day!

Of course, as usual, I wasn’t quite dressed for the endeavor. Since this wasn’t a planned event, I just went with the flow and trekked out on the ice in my knee-high boots. It was a bit slippery, and they’re not very well insulated, but it was worth the fun!

Scooter and I, enjoying the day!

We caught a total of four fish, two of them were about 8 pounds. Guess what we had for supper?

Hawaiian Farmer’s Market

The last day we were in Hawaii, my husband and I actually took some time to walk around and enjoy the view.


It was an amazing afternoon, and it made me wish that we had taken a little more time to enjoy our surroundings, but maybe I’ll get him back there some day? Ha!

Anyway, as we were walking along, we saw a sign for a local farmer’s market that was happening at a near-by mall. It really piqued my interest, so we walked there and headed up to the fourth floor, to check out this market.

The first thing that hit me, was that my connotations of a farmer’s market was pretty off-base. In North Dakota, a farmer’s market generally has raw goods. Tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, etc. At least the market’s that I have seen, that seems to be the case.

This farmer’s market was more…well, processed. There was beef jerky in packages (called “Dead Cow”…I LOVED the marketing! More on that in the future.), there was chocolate, there were prepared meals, there was doughnuts! (Or, at least something that really, really resembled a homemade doughnut, filled with cream.)


There was one stand that had tomatoes and one stand that had abolone. But most of the others were…well, just not what I expected.

What it did do was change my way of thinking. So many people discount where food comes from, and tout their way of providing for their families as better than others, just because it’s fashionable or trendy. But the truth of the matter is, that the only thing that should matter is that you’re providing…not focusing solely on where it’s coming from.

If I eat 5 pounds of chocolate and end up gaining 40 pounds, does it matter that I purchased the product from a farmer’s market? Am I healthier because of it?

Although, I’m pretty certain those deep-fried doughnuts filled with cream were fat-free…I mean, they were homemade, so they must be good for you, right? 😉

Cinnamon Raisin Fruit Falafel with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yesterday I mention that I had won the July Iron Chef Challenge over at A Latte with Ott, A. Since I was one of the winners, I was invited to participate in a bit of a bake-off. Now, this was a really big thing for me, because 1) I’ve never been a baker, but I’m working on it, thanks to my friends over at The Real Farmwives of America and Friends and 2) I’m not always creative in the kitchen, but I’m expanding my boundaries at a rapid pace (and my hubby is liking the changes!).

The challenge was to make cinnamon raising bread, using a great Taste of Home recipe. And then I needed to make something else with the bread.

I researched a bunch on the internet, but wanted to step outside of my comfort zone a bit, and try something a little unexpected. And I think I succeeded.

I will start off by saying that falafel is not something normally served in our house. In fact, I had to look up a few different recipes, to try to figure out which way I wanted to take this…and in doing so, I came up with my own recipe. And here it is:

Cinnamon Raising Fruit Falafel with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients for falafel:

  • 1 16 oz. can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 3 slices cinnamon raisin bread
  • 1 cup mixed berries (or berry of your choosing)
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • 2 tsp. orange juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. all-spice
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax

Everything I need...notice the seal on the flax? It's Dakota made!

Toast your bread until well-toasted. Break into pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse until you have a fine bread-crumb consistency.

Process your toasted bread slices into crumbs.

Place your chickpeas into a food processor. (I used a bullet-type machine, but you could even just use a fork, depending on the consistency you would like to achieve.) Process until desired consistency (mine was like a thick paste). Add it to the crumbs. Blend the berries as well. Add that to the mixture, along with the orange juice, orange zest, salt and all-spice. Mix together until well blended. (This can easily be done by hand, but use the processor if you’d like.)

Everything together, ready to mix.

Add water and ground flax seeds. Mix. Form golf-sized balls by hand and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before frosting.

The first batch of filafel ever made in this prairie house!

Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 1 package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar

Combine all ingredients until well-mixed. Frost falafel. Enjoy!

A great, high-protein breakfast snack, that satisfies the sweet tooth and starts your day off right!

After checking with my taste-testers…Scooter preferred his without frosting (he doesn’t like whipped cream, marshmallows, etc. I know, strange, right?). But everyone else loved the frosting version. And it is definitely something that is filling and not overly sweet. I’m so glad I stretched my wings a little!

Be sure to check out the other posts and recipes in the contest. And remember, Taste of Home is sponsoring this bake-off!

Ag in action

It’s amazing to sit in the audience at the North Dakota Farm Bureau’s annual meeting and watch the delegates in action. Truly amazing.

How fortunate are we that we live in a country were like minds, like hearts, like industries can come together and discuss what we would like to see in our futures. Not only that, but we can discuss our diferences, bring them to a vote and make a collective decision as to where we would like to see our organization head.

If that isn’t grassroots at its finest, what is?

I strongly urge each person reading this to get involved. If Farm Bureau isn’t your thing, so be it. But get involved. Knowing that you have a hand on the wheel that is turning our country can give you a true feeling of empowerment. If your voice isn’t at the table, then who hears you?

Today is a good day. And tomorrow will be too. How do I know? Because I make it so.