Raising Kids and Cattle
By Kimberly Lowry, Ranch Sales, Licensed in MT
For my family, raising kids and cattle go hand in hand. My kids were born on a cattle ranch surrounded by livestock and were wheeled out amongst the cows during calving in baby joggers before they could walk by my side to check on the herd.
Raising kids and cattle often means 2 am trips to the barn during calving season if the weather is cold, and it is all hands on deck at times to care for newborn calves that would otherwise not survive inclement weather when born in the middle of the night. This lifestyle can be humbling, rewarding, and creates a sense of resolve and an awareness that sometimes another being must be prioritized above our own needs.
At times juggling kids and cattle can be a challenge, but truthfully, I would choose no other way of life for my kids. Instead of filling every waking moment with video games and TV, they have learned to wake up early and head to the barn to take care of morning chores and feeding before eating breakfast themselves. While raising cattle, hogs, and lambs, they have also been actively involved in 4H and shown all three species successfully locally and nationally. Despite their many successes, they have also had their share of failures learning valuable lessons of resilience. Things do not always work out as you hope or plan, but the more failures you have, the more you will enjoy your successes. It is an important lesson that applies throughout life.
While showing a mountain ranch recently with limited cell reception, I got a phone call that some of my cows and calves had broken out of their pasture. My neighbor reported concern that the cows had gotten out but then quickly added that my daughter was out there on a four-wheeler with one of the cow dogs and had successfully gathered the pairs and returned them to the pasture. The clients touring the ranch with me were astounded that my 14-year-old daughter knew just what to do to protect the cattle and ensure their safety.
Working with livestock requires you to think fast on your feet sometimes and make critical decisions. Raising kids with cattle and other livestock species results in maturity and a sense of responsibility often absent in their peers who may not share in the same experiences. We work to involve the kids in decision making, and they will offer their input when making breeding decisions. With goals to raise quality, competitive livestock for our kids and other 4Hers, these decisions often go hand in hand with a successful livestock project. It is rewarding for the kids to take an active role in these decisions and see the results, which can apply to many facets of life in the future.
Kimberly and her family challenge the kids to set goals and to work towards them. In January 2020, the family enjoyed success as her daughter Isabelle reached one of her “Dream Board” goals and earned Grand Champion Beef Showman with her class winning market steer at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
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