Robyn Goddard: The Farmer's Daughter, Guest Blogger
Greetings from the western South Dakota Prairie, I'm Robyn.
I grew up around south central Nebraska on a cow/calf operation. Mom and Dad are still active in the ranching business. I have one younger sister who raises sheep in Iowa with her Husband and son. Sister and I are the 5th generation to be involved in agriculture on my Mom’s side of the family. My Husband, J, and I live and ranch on his family ranch. We ranch with his parents and are the 4th generation to operate on this land.
J and I both graduated from South Dakota State University (SDSU) with an Animal Science degree and Ag Business minor.
Our family raises commercial Angus cattle and a few small grains (oats and beardless varieties of barley or wheat) to harvest for hay. We have also planted corn for silage.
J and I are both conservative individuals. We take calculated risks, but are willing to make the changes we need to keep current and sustainable. In the last 12 years we have made several changes that have been positive to our operation:
1. Livestock marketing:
J’s Dad and Grandpa sold all steers in the fall and bangs vaccinated heifers in February through the sale barn. We have changed to marketing our cattle privately selling a load of steer calves in the fall and a load of bangs vaccinated heifers in February. We also run yearling steers and spay heifers to market late summer/early fall.
Working with a college contact has been a great experience for us. The last 3 years our bangs vaccinated heifers have been sold to a family acquaintance.
2. Livestock Management:
Switching from a killed to a modified live vaccination program. This has helped with “dust pneumonia” and/or late summer sickness.
3. Feed Management:
When we decided to raise yearlings we changed our calf feeding program. We bought a feed wagon and started feeding the weaned calves a total mixed ration. A few years later we started planting corn to harvest as silage. We mix a growing ration of ground hay, silage, dried or modified distillers grains and pellets.
If I were to share few important tidbits for success I would include:
1. Be Flexible: In the ag world our lives revolve around the weather. Most of our decisions and tasks are due to how we respond to Mother Nature.
2. Be Open Minded: With the fast pace of technology we need to sort out what is best for our operations. We need to find a balance between the new and know what is tried, true and works on our individual ranches and farms.
3. Do your homework: There is so much more to ranching than cattle work. Other areas of ranching include: raising grass and hay, weed control, mechanicing and equipment maintenance, fencing, etc.
Research to know your cost of production (cattle, grass, hay, crops), price around when you buy something (there can be a lot of variation between suppliers of vaccine, equipment, feedstuff, custom farming/harvesting, trucking, tires, parts and more).
4. Form Relationships- There are many relationships that are vital to a ranching operation:
If you move home you will be working everyday with your spouse and parents or in-laws.
Relationships with neighbors, landlords, cattle buyers, veterinarians, animal supply companies, mechanics are an important part of managing a business.
One of my favorite meals to make is homemade pizza/pizza pockets. I enjoy the process of making my own crust and sauce and putting the meal together. I can make J’s pocket full of meat and cheese and mine full of meat and veggies. http://theranchwifechronicles.com/pizza/
Grilled burgers are a fast and simple “go-to” meal. There are very few dishes and it always tastes good. There is nothing is better than a grilled burger in the middle of winter.
I have learned that every ranch wife needs a creative project, something that she simply enjoys. I love to read, enjoy photography, cooking, baking, craft projects and mixed media art. South Dakota Women In Ag is an organization that I am actively involved in.
I blog at The Ranch Wife Chronicles http://theranchwifechronicles.com/. You can also find the Ranch Wife Chronicles on Facebook.
Listen to Robyn's radio segment here: FARMERS_DAUGHTER-MARCH_21ST.mp3
**Robyn is also a photographer! A sampling of her photos can be found below. I would follow her Facebook page for the photos alone, but you'll also find lots of other neat things while you're there.