Posted by: chlost | June 26, 2011

Some boys grow up to be cowboys

Not too long ago, I made a list of the things that I’d like to do before I die. A bucket list. I’m sure almost all of you have such a list. I even posted mine here. Some lists  may be written down, others may be a list in your head, intermingled with the grocery list: milk, eggs, parachute from a plane, lunch meat, travel to China.

My husband has an informal list, his list in his head. He is not much of a list maker. I know him well enough to be able to guess most of the items on his list. One of the items has always been to own cattle.

My husband works with cattle. His college degree is in Animal Science. He loves cattle, particularly beef cattle. He is very good at figuring out which cow should be bred with which bull. He loves the calves. I have to admit that the calves are cute. They run around and jump and play almost immediately after birth. Other than that, I don’t understand his fascination. But I admire the fact that he knows what he enjoys.

After his aunt died last summer, he received a small inheritance. A few months ago, he bought two cows from his workplace. He made arrangements with my cousin to board the cows at my cousin’s farm. The farm is about a three hour drive from our home. The cows are due to calve in about a month. Yesterday, we took a drive to my cousin’s house to visit the cows and to deliver some calving supplies.

The cows are staying out on a pasture. Soon they will be moved to a new pasture when they have eaten most of the grass here.  An electric fence is what keeps the cows in the pasture. It kept me out of the pasture. I know my limits, and stepping over an electrified wire is way past my limit.

The electrified wire travels between posts through the yellow insulators.

My husband was in his glory being around his own cows. My husband and my cousin could stand out in the pasture and talk about cows forever. Farmers love the farm. Cow men love their cows.

Husband is in red shirt on the left, and my cousin is on the right.

My cousin enticed the cows to meet us at the fence by putting out bales of hay. The cows are very easy-going around people. As long as the hay held out, they were very content to stand there and allow the guys to evaluate them as they ate. When they’d had their fill, they wandered back across the pasture.

My husband’s two cows are due to calve in about a month. Newborn calves usually weigh between 80-100 pounds. These pregnant cows are a little round in the belly right now. They move a little slowly. But over all, they don’t seem to be limited in any way by pregnancy.

Hay, this tastes good!

My husband’s two cows are easily distinguishable from the other cows, because they are the only ones with two ear tags. One of the tags identifies the cow by the year of its birth and the order of its birth within the herd. So, number 507 was the fifth animal born in 2007. The other ear tag shows that the cow tested negative for TB.

The cows have pretty faces, I will admit. They have big brown eyes.  But it is not their faces that cow guys evaluate. It is the butts. Cattle are being raised to sell for beef. And the animals with the best butts are  usually the best for that. So these guys look at the butts to decide on the quality of the cows.

The cows with the best lineage and which have passed along highly desirable traits are very valuable, and are sold at auctions for tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Husband’s cows are certainly not of that standard, but they are purebred Angus.

In between chomping hay, the cows seemed to be mildly interested in us.

By the time we visit the next time, the calves will have been born. The foray into my husband’s dream of owning cattle will have doubled to four animals.  His bucket list is getting a bit shorter.



  1. I totally understand his facination. I raised day old beef crossed calves for a while but kept getting attached and hated market day. They have such long eyelashes.
    How neat to have his bucket list dwindling. I have one too and when I cross something off, I just add something else. Would hate to empty the bucket.

  2. I spent part of my summers as a child at my grandparents’ dairy farm up in central Wisconsin. I was fascinated with their herd of Holsteins so I can sort of relate.

    As to a bucket list, I haven’t even thought about one — there’s no way I could ever do most of the things I’d like to do. Poverty sucks!

  3. One thing for sure, anything to do with cows would NOT be on my bucket list.

    • They would not be on my list, either-horses, maybe, but not cows.

  4. (Pun alert) Well, if that ain’t a lesson in being careful what you wish for! I’m delighted to know there are people who put cows on their bucket list; it illustrates what a big, wide, diverse country we live in. As the used car salesman said, “There’s a butt for every seat.”

    • A good pun is always appreciated!

  5. I will soon have to change your nickname to “Wife of the Cattle Baron” 🙂

    • J.R.’s wife, that’s me.

  6. The cows are cute, but I’m too much of a city girl to want much to do with them because I can’t take the smell 🙂 They are cute, though. I don’t think I could ever eat them after meeting them, and would feel sad if I sold them as food. (I’m not a vegetarian, I just get attached to animals…) Good thing I’m not a rancher.

    I’m glad your husband is getting to live out his dream, and I’m glad you’re along for the ride.

    • A lot of city people have turned into farmers/ranchers. There is something about it that is enjoyable. But I never wanted to live on a farm, either.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Loved the clever “Hay, this tastes good!” caption! I had no idea cows cost so much or how the tags worked to keep track of them. I agree, your husband is lucky to know what he enjoys and to now have the means to pursue his interest a little further. I wonder if you’ll be sharing pictures of the new calves after they arrive?

  8. What a beautiful place. Living in MN — and right next to WI — I’m required to like cows and pastures. And I do. 🙂


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