Prior to the trip, I didn’t have much knowledge in cattle farming. I’d been to a processing center before but never learned much about the process prior to that point. Driving up to Sawyer Land and Cattle in Mcpherson, KS and hearing the cattle who had just been weaned from their mothers “crying” was an experience in itself. We were quickly assured that these cattle weren’t actually crying as we’d define it, but instead just making a little noise in wonder and confusion as they filled out their new environment.
Listening to the Derek Sawyer and his wife Kate speak about their farm, it was easy to see that this is where their heart lies. This is a family operation, that is in its 4th generation. While Derek’s dad works on the farm as well, Derek himself has taken on the responsibility of running it. A responsibility that comes with its very own ups and downs, as I was soon to learn.
I always assumed that farming had to be pretty profitable. Why else would anyone want to do all that hard work, right? Wrong. While the goal is, of course, to make a profit… farming can be extremely expensive. From the land, to the machines, to the animals themselves and all it takes to care for them like food, vitamins, and medicine (we saw an antibiotic given to cattle who needed it that cost thousands of dollars!).
Truth is, the farming aspect isn’t always profitable, especially at this smaller more intimate level. At times, these farmers work the whole year only to break even. While most of us would turn our nose up to such an unpredictable and unguaranteed income, these people show up to work every single day and put their all into it. They love the animals like they are a part of their family, and take care of them in a way that allows people like you and me to visit the store and grab meat that is safe and delicious, without having to put much thought into where it came from. Farmers like the Sawyer’s do what they do for us, and for the next generation. If there’s one thing I took away from their farm, it’s the importance of family and leaving a legacy behind that their children and children’s children would be proud to be a part of.
Reeves Cattle Farm
While it was interesting to see the Sawyer’s Cattle farm, Reeve’s Cattle Farm gave an entirely different perspective that was just as insightful This farm operates on a much larger level, and is actually a feeding farm (essentially a place where the cattle are bulked up before heading to processing). The thing that stuck out to me the most was the efficiency.
They were constantly looking for new and innovative ways to preserve water and make the most of the crops produced to feed their animals. This seemed to be a common trend on all the farms we visited.
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