Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Price of Integrity

A guest post by Little Brother, Blair.

Pretty. But . . .
Love had paid off and my cow that was once a sick heifer grew up and became part of the herd.
She had a bull calf that also grew up and sold for a sizable sum of money.
And that’s where this story starts . . .
Oh the things that I could do with that money!
A motorcycle.
Stereo.
Maybe a motorcycle and a stereo.
I bought two heifers from Dad’s herd.
Two words: Dad. Convincing.
Sigh.
One of the heifers that I now owned was tall and growthy (Yeah, I know, but I have to use that word).  She appeared to be the picture of the perfect cow.  An orphan, she had been raised by a foster cow that had lots of milk. This meant that she had lots to eat and consequently became very big.
And fat.
She became part of the young cow herd on the ranch.
I took her to a couple of cattle shows and won first place trophies.
Eventually, my very fat, very big cow had a very big, growthy (yes, that word again) calf.  It was about then, we discovered why she was a very big, fat cow.
All the feed that she consumed maintained her large body. She had very little milk and her calf did not grow. 
Dad and I decided that she would have to go to market (Can you say Big Mac?). 
About that time, we had a visitor to the ranch. The kind of rancher that always had a good story to tell about his “prize” bull or cow at all of the cattle shows and sales.
The other ranchers would listen politely, all the while restraining the urge to roll up their pants and start ‘shoveling’. (A term used by ranchers when a fellow rancher tells stories that are a little hard to believe. I'd like to go into more detail but I am trying to be polite.)
Ahem . . .
The verbose rancher looked at all of dad’s cows, spotted my very fat, big cow and immediately offered a healthy sum of money for her.
Dad told him she was headed to market and gave him the details. 
The other rancher went pale.
Really.
I think he started to hyperventilate.
He wanted that cow.  He could get around the ‘no milk’ issue by having her calves raised by milk cows.
But dad (and I) had determined if a cow could not adequately feed her calf, she was not worthy of being a cow in our herd.
Or in anyone else’s. If a cow or its calves did not perform well, it would eventually reflect back to our herd.
The rancher was very upset and (once he started breathing normally), left dad’s place in a huff.
We continued with our plans and the very fat, big cow that had no milk went off to auction (burgers). 
And provided a healthy sum from which I bought my motorcycle one or two more calves.
Dad, again.
Sigh.  

8 comments:

  1. It became tempting to take the money and buy something that wouldn't make you any money. I made that mistake a number of times but I learned to listen to Dad. Of course the way my luck went I'd have been better off to stay away from the purebreds and the subsequent politics. That's what really turned me off ranching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. The Purebred Politics. Quite the game. Turned me off as well!

      Delete
  2. Sorry you missed out on the fun that is a motorbike, I had one when I was 17 and loved it, but wise of your dad to steer you towards responsibility.
    I understood immediately what you meant by shoveling, I've known a few people like that myself.
    I've never heard of a cow that couldn't provide for her calf, that's sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. They're one real purpose. Didn't happen often, but definitely happened!

      Delete
  3. "Growthy"...I love that word! Great story and reminds me of my farming days, decades ago now. I loved that life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly stays in your blood! I miss it!

      Delete
  4. Wise of your dad, even though I'm sure it didn't completely seem that way at the time :)

    ReplyDelete

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