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beef

Featured

Never Give Up- A Tale of a Premature Calf Born on the Dot Seven Ranch

August 13, 2017

Fall on the Dot Seven Ranch can only mean one thing: calving season. We start calving about the end of August but this year was much different. About two weeks ago (end of July) my Mom was doing a routine herd check on a Friday morning when she noticed one of the first calf heifers going into labor. This was not a good sign and we were prepared for the worst.

Calves born an entire month early typically don’t survive. They are underdeveloped and much too small, not to mention the heat of the Central San Joaquin Valley is often far too intense for a newborn to handle.

Fortunately, the heifer had the calf without any complications. Step one was a success. Much to my Mom’s surprise, she also found the calf alive! We knew at this point that although we had a LONG way to go, we were going to do anything in our power to help this calf survive his unfortunate entrance into this world.

Not surprisingly, this calf was TINY. His hair was very short and coarse. His ears fit in the palm of my hand, a little bigger than the likes of a golfball. He was a tiny heap of bones with all the obvious signs that he should have baked a little longer.

First order of business was getting colostrum into him as soon as possible. We knew if there was any chance of him living it would be because of the colostrum and our intervention. My mom also administered (injected) some vitamins and minerals to give him a little extra boost. We call these our “weak calf shots” and they come at the recommendation of our veterinarian.

It was soon decided that Maximus would be his name. After all he needed something strong going into the hard battle he had ahead.

Maximus couldn’t drink from a regular bottle, the nipple was too big for his mouth. It was off to the feed store for a smaller goat nipple. And that was just the ticket. He drank a healthy amount of colostrum considering his size; that was when we started to think he had a chance.

The heifer was in a small pen in the coral that we use for these kinds of unexpected calving season scenarios.  Shade, fresh food, & water were provided and after his feeding we put Max back with his mother.

For the next week-and-a-half trips were made morning and night to feed Max and try to see if the heifer had any milk. In the beginning, my mom would get about a quarter cup each feeding so we continued to supplement Max with the hopes that his mom would start producing much more milk soon. After all, she wasn’t supposed to calve for another month.

Slowly but surely everything progressed. Max got stronger. His mother’s natural instincts kicked in. Her udder filled out a little bit at a time. And Max drank less and less of the milk he was being fed.

At two weeks old, Max is no longer super wobbly, he bawls and play and kicks like a normal calf and his mother cares for him very intently. We are proud to say that this pair has moved to a larger pasture where he will continue to grow. We will monitor them closely for many weeks to come. And my mom still makes the heifer take Max to the shade every single day.

Sometimes, ranching isn’t easy but lessons are learned and the rewards far outweigh the sweat and tears. For more updates on Max follow my instagram @meetyourbeef or @thebeefboutique . I share updates on my stories often 🙂

 

Dairy, Featured

June Dairy Month- An Inside Look at a Livestock Market

June 20, 2016

Dairy cattle not only produce milk but eventually become beef, along with many other byproducts. In the agricultural industry not a thing goes to waste and dairy cattle are no different. In fact, if you have ever enjoyed one of those famous west coast In-n-Out burgers the chances are very high that the beef is from a dairy cow here in California.

I recently went on a field trip, of sorts, to Fresno Livestock Commission where I learned a little bit more about how these dairy cattle are brought to and through a cattle market. I have been to many cattle sales in my life but most of them were beef. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts, pictures, and a few things I learned along the way.

Although the kind folks of Fresno Livestock Commission have been family friends of ours for generations, I had never visited (shame on me!). What a treat it was to see a day in the life for the entire operation; the owners (family owned), the auctioneer, the buyers, the office staff, the ring-man,  all the help in the pens out back (receiving cattle, sorting in and out, and loading out), etc.

The people above are responsible for a very important part of the dairy/beef life cycle and one I think is often taken for granted or just plain overlooked. Markets like these are what move cattle throughout the nation and to the processing plants.

When I arrived, it was apparent that this company takes pride in their business. Everything was freshly painted, pens were clean, and repairs on the fence were being made. Trailer loads of dairy cattle from local dairies were being dropped off, one after another. The cattle came off the trailers slowly and were put into a pen close by.

There was a brand inspector present, employees counting off cattle, paperwork being completed to track the cows and owners information, and animals were inspected for health. Once they were off-loaded, back tags were attached with adhesive to each cow.

Co-owner Cindy Tews says “back tags are an integral part of the ADT (Animal Disease Trace-ability) program. When an animal arrives on site, they are accompanied by a Transportation Slip that clearly identifies the animal offered for sale. It must have the owners name, address, phone number, number of head being consigned, and brands that those have on them for identification. There is a consignment slip filled out by Fresno Livestock personnel that will include color, breed, and class (SL=Slaughter or FE=Feeder). We also include any ear tag numbers. If they have a brand they are drawn in and if there is not a brand that has to be stated. Back tags are placed on the animals and correspond with the animal being described. All back tags are registered and have the livestock markets identify number and then 4 digits that bring up the animal when entered into our computer. Thus as the animal(s) go through the sale ring all pertinent information is available. Upon sale of the animal, the tag follows the animal through either the processing channel or is used to identify origin if it is going on to feeding.  Should the animal go to the processing plant, that tag is kept with any other identifying information. Should there ever be a reason to trace that animal back to it’s origin, it is usually done within 48 hours.”

Once the tagging was completed the cattle were sorted into pens. As you can can imagine, it was cool and comfortable under these shades; the cattle were quiet and calm. Due to the efficiency of the crew pictured above and the people who transport these animals, these cattle spent very little time here in these pens before the sale began.

As I observed, I realized that so much of this operation depends on the people much like other areas of Ag. From cattle handling to working with customers to the exchange of money, you could tell immediately that these people take pride in what they do. It radiated through a quiet yet friendly confidence.

“Working with my family is a blessing” says Tews. “My father and I have been partners for 15 years. We share the same work ethic and communication style. Some of our common interests include: Customer service/relations, hearing how and what the families of our customers are doing, attending fundraisers and other community events, running pasture cattle, and developing new and better ways to execute our sale through the use of proper animal handling and employee management tools. We spend many hours together on a day to day basis. Very few disagreements have been encountered and we strive to view each others perspective before reacting to a situation. It is challenging from the standpoint that we are up against the clock in maintaining a speed of commerce that our buyers expect. Whenever there is the pressure of time, ones demeanor can be tested. I always remind myself that I want to be welcome at Thanksgiving.”

As the clock reached 12pm, the buyers shuffled from the cafe and picnic tables located on the grounds to the ring and took their spot. The sale began and with the hum of the auctioneer, fun memories with my mom and grandfather flooded my mind.

Each animal spent roughly 20 seconds in the ring before they were let out to the other side. As one cow left another would enter. Cattle were moved about the ring so buyers had full view of what they were bidding on.

And just like that the sale was over. The office was buzzing with people, questions, and the transfer of money. Cattle were loaded onto the respective trucks and all the pens were again empty.  Time to clean up and get ready for the next one!

I am so grateful for this opportunity to have learned and broadened my horizons. The Tews Family is a direct representation of the breed (pun intended) of people that represent this industry I work in and advocate for: honest, sincere, hard working. Cindy, thank you for allowing me an inside look at your operation and for all your wonderful contributions to the cattle industry. You are one of a kind!

 

Calving Season 2014, Featured

Home Grown Beef and the Circle of Life

May 9, 2016

In just a few short weeks, the freezer will be overflowing with Dot Seven beef. Beef that was given the highest level of care from birth until death will nourish our bodies for a long time to come. The more I learn and immerse myself into the ranching lifestyle, the more gratitude I have. I’m so proud that my family raises safe, nutritious beef for myself and others to consume. I am proud of the quality of beef we are producing (more on that later). But, perhaps the most rewarding part of this lifestyle is my growing understanding and appreciation for the end of the life cycle. I know that must sound so strange but it’s true. As a kid, I hated the fact that cattle had to die in order for me to enjoy a hamburger or a steak. I preferred to only be a part of caring for the animals while they were alive. We can probably all agree that death is a complicated topic but that it is most definitely the circle of life. If it weren’t for my immersion into the livestock industry, I’m not sure I wouldn’t still be slightly uncomfortable with the subject.

Death sucks. There’s really no getting around that. Although, at the wise old age of 30 (ha!), I now have a different perspective on death as it relates to the beef I eat. Cows are amazing creatures. Yes they can be dirty, smelly, and possibly run you up the side of the fence when they’re trying to protect their baby calf… but in the end they give their life in the most noble way so that we may sustain ours. I truly believe cows were put on this earth to make use of the land where we cannot plant crops. As humans, we spend our lives searching for our purpose here on earth. Cows are born with a purpose. Their life directly corresponds to the quality of ours and for that I am so thankful. Because of this understanding, (that I believe most ranchers have) we at the Dot Seven assume greater responsibility to treat these animals with first-rate care the entirety of their life. We owe it to the animal just as much as the consumer.

The steer calf in the picture above was born on the Dot Seven and was the first calf of the Fall 2014 calving season. He spent the first seven months of life with his mother, was then weaned from her and moved to another field of native grass for the next six months. From there he went to the feedlot to be finished on a ration (diet) that included grains. My family prefers the taste and health benefits of grain-finished beef; the more marbling* the better!

**Warning: The pictures below this line may be graphic to some. If you do not wish to see what a carcass looks like hanging in a meat locker, this would be a good place to stop. But I really hope you don’t :)**

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Featured

Mitch Behling- A Millennial in the Beef Industry

April 29, 2015

I can’t tell you guys how excited I am about this interview! Mitch has been a part of my family before he could walk or even talk. I consider him and his brother cousins although they are of no blood relation. Back story: my grandfather’s mother died when he was just 13 years old. Shortly there after he went to work for Bud & June Sample who would be Mitch’s great grandparents. These people not only gave my grandfather a job but took him in and treated him as a son and brother. Although that was three generations ago, Mitch’s family and my family still celebrate the holidays together. Better yet, Mitch and I are usually on the same team during family games… and by no chance at all, we are usually the winners! 😉 Sorry Brett!

Without any further ado, here he is!

1. Give some background info on your ranch. Family history, how many generations, specific location, sector of the industry (cow/calf) and the type of cattle you raise.

I am the fifth generation in my family to ranch in the Central Valley. The current ranch in which my family owns and operates was founded in the early 1900’s. It is located northeast of Clovis, California at the base of the foothills. We run a commercial cow/calf herd of Angus cattle.

2. What is your role on the ranch? And does having another sibling help in the sharing of responsibility?

My role on the ranch is helping my dad. The tasks can range from cattle work, to welding projects, building fence, putting in water lines, or various other improvements to the ranch. I have an older brother who helps however he is now attending school in Idaho.

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Dinner on the Dot 7, Featured

Beef with a Buzz

March 13, 2015

People…People…People…. (If you don’t know the significance behind this, firstly, I pity you, secondly, you need to watch McClintock )

We’re going to start this party with one of my favorite childhood recipes. Let me tell you about a tyke…me. Here I am (on the right). We have always rolled hard, however, I feel we were rolling ESPECIALLY hard this day. Also, this is the perfect time to introduce you to the clown on the left, Kate from Salinas, and the Director of Operations in the middle, Sarge.

The three of us received this cookbook when we were little, some of these recipes still find their way onto our tables monthly. Today we are making ‘Q is for Quick Cheeseburger Pie’ (yes, I’m serious….put your gavel away and quit judging).

Just like with any project, preparation is key. So, I opened a bottle of wine for Brooke and myself, Reed opted for a beer.

Now: food. This recipe has it’s own recipe for Pat-in-Pan Pastry. While I am completely on board with patting it in, mostly because I am bad enough with a rolling pin sober, I prefer a different recipe. Pioneer Woman’s (we will call her P Dub–>credit to Rachel Aja) recipe for pie crust has a little more flavor. So get to pattin’ like nobodys’ business. Put that little number in the oven at 425 for 15 min.

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Dinner on the Dot 7, Featured

INTRODUCING: Dinners on the Dot Seven

March 12, 2015

You guys, I’ve got some really exciting news for you all! So I have this friend, Jane Cochrane, who I met in college. Back then, she was my “CRAZY” friend and still to this day that hasn’t changed a bit (you will understand this very soon).

About six months ago my family started to talk about renting out the house at the ranch. Jane was looking to move at the time, when the light bulb went on! A month later she had moved into the house at the dot seven and we haven’t looked back since. She’s been the perfect fit. Not only does she understand livestock and put the dang horse away when he unties himself, but it’s allowed her and I to become great friends. And I am so thankful for that!

Recently Jane and I were discussing ways to share beef recipes on the blog. Between the two of us, she is the much better cook, so I gave her the reins. YIKES! If you know Jane, you know I am taking a bit of a risk here. There are two things I’m confident in: her sense of humor and her cooking. If she curses or makes a fool of herself, take that up with her, I’m not responsible! But I will tell you she’s going to bring a party to this blog and I hope you all love it as much as I love her!

Featured, Meet Your Beef

A Beef Lovers Christmas List

December 7, 2014

So I’ve jumped into the Christmas spirit head first and thought I’d provide you all with some Christmas ideas for the beef lovers in your life!  There is something on this list for everyone. The OCD in me is having a hard time with the fact that I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10 items.  There just wasn’t one item I could part with! Feel free to leave your favorite beef loving product in the comments below!

1. I Heart Beef Apron – because we all get a little messy when we BBQ!

2. Meat Thermometer – because food safety is super important!

3. Extra Long Stainless Steel Grilling Tongs – because no one likes to burn their hands or their beef!

4. Steel Cow Canvas Print – if anyone wants to get me Betsy for Christmas I would gladly accept!! My momma’s name is Betsy so that previous sentence is a little strange 🙂

5. Make Mine Beef Bumper Sticker – you gotta support an industry you love.

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Meet Your Beef

Perseverance, Some Strong Rope, and Serious Luck

September 20, 2013

Over the last weekend we had another set of twins (remember how I said twins were a pain in the butt? That’s definitely still true). We also had a different cow that sadly lost her calf last week due to unknown reasons. Losing a calf is horrible and far from ideal but, the fact of the matter is, when you deal with animals you deal with nature and nature is sometimes a force to be reckoned with. These circumstances left us with yet another opportunity to graft a calf (taking one of the twins and giving her a new mother). The video above shows her happily (you can tell this just by looking at how fast her little tail is goin’) having supper with her new mother for the first time.

Getting these two to accept each other is somewhat of an art and will be a VERY long process for us on the .7 Ranch. You may remember from the last post how we grafted that calf by taking the hide from the calf who died and attaching it to the twin just like a little jacket. We got lucky with that situation as the timing was perfect and that method is virtually foolproof. This cow had lost her calf 5 days before the twins were born and therefore we did not have the hide to use.

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Calving Season 2013, Meet Your Beef

Wasn’t broke but needed fixin’

September 9, 2013
Cuteness overload!

Cuteness overload!

Can we talk about how cute this calf is?  Just for a second though because we’ve got to get down to business here.  But first, make sure you notice she’s got white eyelashes!

Besides her eyelashes, you may also notice some duct tape around the lower half of her front leg.  Let’s discuss that.  This little heifer was born with what you call “contracted tendons”.  The result of this is the calf being unable to properly extend its leg(s).

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Calving Season 2013, Meet Your Beef

Turning a Negative into a Positive

September 4, 2013

It’s been an interesting Labor Day weekend on the .7 (dot seven) Ranch.  Let’s just say the title of this holiday is quite fitting!  While my brother and I we’re celebrating my birthday a littler early in the mountains, my mom was checking all the cows.  Saturday we had a set of twins.  One heifer and one bull calf, both healthy.  Twin calves are often a bit of a predicament.  Because our cattle are pretty close to the corrals, we bring the twins and their mother in so we can make sure that the calves are nursing and getting along just as they should.  So that is just what my mom did.  Sidenote: Generally a cow has a hard time raising twins.  Sometimes she may not even accept the second calf.  It takes a heck of a cow to raise a set of twins, one that is in great condition and has a really good udder.  For this reason twins are not the optimal situation.  Twin calves that are left on their mother tend to be quite a bit smaller than average.  Since raising these animals is how we make a living, we want one mother cow to one calf so she can raise one big stout calf instead of two mediocre calves.

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Calving Season 2013, Meet Your Beef

Calving Season 2013

August 27, 2013

Well, it’s here!  The best time of year (besides maybe payday and my personal favorite, Christmas).

Calving season means a lot of things for us on the .7 ranch.  It means having all hands on deck 24/7 watching the cows by checking on them multiple times a day.  It means new life and sometimes harsh realities of life but it also means the beginnings to a paycheck.

This last Sunday my mom had spent the morning checking all the cows and bringing up the first calf heifers* who were getting close to calving.  She had let my brother and I know that there was a heifer that she thought was starting to calve and to check on her first thing when we arrived.  When I got there that afternoon, said heifer was certainly in labor. A crick in her tail and some mucus coming out her back end.  About 10 minutes later there were three of us there watching her every move.  Below are the chain of events in pictures.  I apologize for the vulgarity of the first picture but I warned ya it was my intention to show exactly how this ranching thing works 🙂

image-1  image-4image-5

*Clarification: first calf heifers are the females who have yet to have a calf. We pull them out of the herd (always with a buddy) and put them close to the barn so we can monitor them more closely in case there are any complications.  Because these animals are rookies to being a mother we take extra precautions to ensure live and healthy calves.