Cows.

Cows.

ZIRNHELT: Waiting until the cows come home

David Zirnhelt’s column to the Free Press

As I write this, many farming colleagues are in our capital, Victoria, making presentations to ministers, members of the legislature (MLAs), senior officials, and key stakeholders. They will highlight the issues facing agriculture in B.C. “Agriculture Day” in B.C., at the provincial capital was Oct. 25 this year.

I thought I should alert readers to the fact that agriculture organizations need to continually update leaders in government and key stakeholders such as the Agriculture Land Commission on issues confronting farmers in the field.

One continuing trend is fewer people being employed in agriculture, coming out of the COVID experience we all share.

Promoting awareness of the sources of our local food is a necessary function of farming organizations. For my part, I write about the real experiences that we, as farmers on the land, are having.

This week, as we approach the major marketing events (cattle sales), taking place locally and online in western Canada, many of us are still actively looking for and anxiously waiting for cattle to “show up” near home where we can gather them.

Almost everyone I talk to cannot find a major part of their herd if it has been on open range miles from home. I would hazard a guess that as many as 10-20 per cent of the herd is staying overtime out on the still lush pastures.

The unusually warm fall meant conditions are good and with little or no frost, or snow, to remind the cattle that winter is coming, many stay away from home.

Perhaps, the biggest concern is that late arrivals may miss the booked date of the fall pregnancy testing done by the overworked veterinarians. An “open” is expensive to winter and if not pregnant then she might be a candidate for sending to the auction.

Reproductive performance is, after all, the key to profitability.

One is never sure whether predators may have taken cows and calves. Sometimes it is two-legged predators (people) who see “tame game” on the range as an invitation to poach some meat. Prices in the stores are high!

Permit me a quote from an online search about the saying, “until the cows come home.”

“The origin of the phrase until the cows come home, comes from the practice of cows returning to their shelters at some indefinite point, usually at a slow, languid pace.”

The “languid” pace is certainly relevant this year. We hope and look in the meantime.

To be onside our range use licenses our grazing plan must have language about some returning home later than the normal date which for many is late October.


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