Culling The Herd

On the farm tough decisions are often made. One of them is culling animals. I hate this job. And it always seems to fall to me. My husband works long hours at two and sometimes three jobs, so its only fair I pick up the slack and cover this area. And besides, if it were up to my soft hearted husband we would never cull anything and my breeding program would be a mess…OK not that things are great right now but still.

My little Angus herd is a sad affair right now. I have two mature cows I raised from bottle babies seven years ago, and then one weanling heifer born to one of said mature cows this past spring. Yep, that’s it, that’s the herd. I sold off ten black Angus last year to cover bills and unexpected expenses. 2014 was a trying financial year for the HK Bar, and 2015 is proving no better. So I’m slowly rebuilding my herd.

In that I’ve recently decided to cull one of my beloved cows, Ebony. The past four years she has only produced one live calf. She will catch, but no calf ever appears. Every season she didn’t calve I have said to my husband, “I hate to say it, but I think it’s time. We can’t afford to feed something if she doesn’t have a job.” And every time he would say let’s give her another go, and because I had blood, sweat and tears in this cow, I’d agree.

Everyone that knows my husband and I well would think I am the soft heart and that my husband is the cold hearted one when it comes to animals. But its the exact opposite really. Of course I love my animals deeply, and many of them become dear friends to me. But with cows, chickens, and the hogs it is me who is cold hearted. Unlike my husband who would let Ebony live out her days on the HK even when she was a financial drain and provided no income, I am the one to make the decision to cull her and sell her.

The HK Bar saying has always been, “We don’t do fancy, we do real.”

And culling is the very real NOT fancy part of the HK Bar. The time has come. I’ll be loading Ebony in a few short days and taking her to market. A part of me will be sad to see her go, and know that I am the one ultimately sealing her fate. We all know what happens to cows that won’t calve. It’s not a story book ending. And then that other part of my will make my heart go ice cold, because I know that this is the way things work on a farm. No matter how hard, I have to make decisions that make sense financially, not because it will break my heart.

I always pray for my cows I cull. It’s usually short and to the point, but I thank God for the chance to have cared for these animals, and to have benefited from them both financially and nutritionally. These animals are what make the HK Bar what it is. And to them I am thankful.

Maybe the emotional toll I go through culling is the price I pay for all the gains that they have blessed me with.

From The HK Bar to the world what needs culled in your life? Culling is a necessary, sometimes painful process, yet an absolutely necessary one to make the herd stronger.

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Ebony (far left) Fortune Cookie (center) Ellie (Far Right)

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