Monday, March 21, 2011

Share your story

Spring arrived on Sunday, March 20, and so did the EJE’s first calf of 2011(click on the pictures for a larger view).

The little red and white goggle-eyed heifer weighed 75 pounds and was already dried off and had nursed by the time the sun was topping the east horizon. A lively little thing, she was already prancing around a bit in the warming dawn.
As the first day of spring arrived on the EJE Ranch south of Kimball, Neb., so did the first calf of the year. This little heifer was born without any problems at all to a four year-old cow.
When I came back to tag her a few hours later she was dozing in the sun, digesting a belly full of rich milk. Tagging, vaccinating and weighing her took no time at all and her mother, a five year-old cow, watched carefully but quietly from a few feet away.
As she sticks close to momma, this newborn heifer calf looks at a brand new world, including the photographer, with curiosity.
It was a good day to be a newborn calf, with temperatures climbing into the low 60’s and only a bit of south breeze.
This little newborn heifer calf seems to be wondering what the bright thing in the sky is as she gazes heavenward last Sunday on the EJE ranch south of Kimball, Neb.
On the day before, Saturday, March 19, a ranch visit by family members from Sidney and Chadron prompted an afternoon prairie hike.
Several members of the Evertson Family enjoy a prairie hike Saturday on the EJE Ranch.
The weather was nearly perfect for mid-March on the High Plains. The sky was deep and wide and blue, with only a few fleecy clouds hunched around the horizon. The sun was bright and warming but not yet hot, and illuminated a shortgrass prairie ecosystem coming alive after months of frozen winter.
Jake, Julia, Austin and puppy Desi pause for a rest in a canyon cave Saturday as they hiked across parts of the EJE Ranch south of Kimball, Neb.
Underfoot the ground was pleasantly springy; no longer frozen hard as iron in winter’s arctic grip. While in the long view the prairie still looked drab and sere, covered with dry, stem-cured grass, in the near view the green of new growth was fairly bursting from the warming soil.
Julia, Austin and Jake take a breather in a dry wash Saturday during a family hike on the EJE Ranch south of Kimball, Neb.
As the five of us – myself, brother Matt, and his kids Jake, Julia and Austin – meandered across the quickening prairiescape, we slowly walked through the scattered cow herd. It was a good opportunity to field the endless stream of questions posed by the youngsters. Though they’d all been to the ranch many times, this was their first excursion afoot among the cows, and they were a bit apprehensive at first. “Will they chase us?” Will they stampede?” Will they eat us?”

As they relaxed into the experience, their questions changed. “Are they really going to have babies soon?” “How come that one is pooping?” “Why do they eat this yucky grass?” “Do they really drink that yucky water (from the stock tank)?”

I think that sometimes they ask questions just to hear a story. But at another level, they seem to have a great deal of interest in the how’s and the why’s of ranch life and raising cattle.

Regardless of the motive, though, their questions provided a great opportunity to explain. And explaining our ranching operation, or “telling our story,” is an important part of preserving our ranching lifestyle and heritage.

Whether to family, friends, or visitors, telling our story is vitally important to all of us in the production ag sector. Most people in the US are three or more generations removed from the farm/ranch experience, and most have only a superficial and simplistic understanding of what we do to produce their food. With a very few exceptions, what people “learn” about farming and ranching from newspapers, radio, television and in the classroom is incomplete at best, misleading and dishonest at worst.

The slick anti-ag efforts of HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) and other well-heeled and well–organized activist groups to legislate livestock into extinction are coming closer to fruition each day. HSUS Chairman Wayne Pacelle is on record as saying that he wouldn’t be bothered by the extinction of food animals, as they are essentially “man-made” creatures and therefore not “natural.” He’s also said he has the time and money to spend the rest of his life on a quest to rid the US of animal agriculture.

Pacelle can only succeed with the consent of the American people. But so far, his voice has been the loudest, the most heard, and has carried a superficially reasonable message. Who doesn’t love animals? If you love animals, you must rid the country of “brutal factory farming.”

So share your story whenever you find the opportunity. Be honest, forthright, and open. People are smart, and few if any Americans want Wayne Pacelle to mandate veganism as the law of the land. They’ll understand if they have the opportunity to see and hear the truth.


  1. Nice looking heifer calf. Is that one of your Lowline bulls in the background?

  2. Thanks. She sure looks like a Simmental! And yes, that's ol' Zeferelli in the background. Should be having some calves out of him in the next 10 days or so when the heifers start calving.