In his speeches, Jerry Stokka, veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health, frequently talks about one calf that was born without a lot of "get up and go." A night in the bathtub, many days of milking out the cow and bottle-feeding the calf, several expensive shots of steroids and medicines and a fierce determination was the combination it took to strengthen that weak baby calf. After describing his toils, Stokka says, "Did I make money on that calf? No. Raising cattle isn't just about the economics; it's about doing what's right for the calf."
Calving season is never perfect, and there will always be that one calf that takes a little more tender loving care than most, but that's what makes cattle producers great. We are in the business of raising beef, but we are in love with caring for our animals, too. At our place, we are just beginning our calving season, and last night, as we assisted one of those slowing-going calves, I thought about what it takes to be in this business.
Raising cattle is certainly challenging at times. But, at the end of the day, it’s incredibly rewarding and totally addicting. There’s nothing better than watching those new baby calves race across the pasture in the spring, their tails held high, and knowing you played a small role in making sure their lives got off to a good start.
Doing what's right is just one of the ethics cowboys follow that I think can be applied to every situation we face in life. It's amazing how one little calf can spur a thought like this, but chore time certainly gives one plenty of time to think. In the book, Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, author Jim Owen shares the ethics followed by cowboys across the West. I'm printing them out and hanging them up in my house, so I can always remember to live life as cowboys do.
1. Live each day with courage
2. Take pride in your work
3. Always finish what you start
4 Do what has to be done
5. Be tough, but fair
6. When you make a promise, keep it
7. Ride for the brand
8. Talk less and say more
9. Remember that some things aren't for sale
10. Know where to draw the line
Do you live life the cowboy way? These values are something I think our consumers would appreciate learning about. How can we share these cowboy ethics with others? Are you in the midst of calving season? How's it going so far?