Fence upgrade

new fence

This new fence was a necessary upgrade from the old one. The old fence had rusty steel posts and worn down cattle panels, that wasn’t very eye appealing. Now with this new wooden fence, it’s more durable and looks like a feasible fence. Also, the 14 foot gate will be useful when some cattle get out and when liberty utilities has to work on the gas line. The new fence is great and will most likely be stands for awhile, but most of all it doesn’t look like something out of Kentucky.

NAILE Louisville 2015 class winner

poppy-naile15-sm copy

Poppy is a 5/8SM 1/4MA 1/6AN+, July, SS GOLDMINE L42 heifer, that’s out of a WHO MADE WHO 411F cow. She is a long deep body heifer, that is wide through her top line, hip and chest floor. She is also very attractive from the front end and covers her stride. Poppy held up very at the show and the show ring, as this wasn’t her first rodeo. We brought  a Fall CLRWTR SHOCK FORCE W94C heifer as well, but she only got third place. As I was showing Poppy in the show ring and after the judge had place her, I was exiting the ring the judge made the comment,” that heifer sounder then the young man leading her”. However, to save face I had been braking 18 other heifers and steers for the past three mouths and had some sharp pain in my legs the day before. Now Poppy has a nice HAUN JESSE JAMES bull calf on the ground.

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First Place At NAILE

Steel Magnolia is a Steel Force daughter on a purebred Angus cow,

Steel Magnolia

whom we own half of along with Murphy’s Angus. She was raised by one of our per-bred Simmental receipt cows. When I was breaking her, she was at first bit skittish, but after all the consent haltering, walking and washing she finally broke. NAILE was Steel Magnolia’s first cattle show she’s been to. We also took another heifer of ours to Louisville, she was a purebred Simmental out of Hook’s Shear Force. Steel Magnolia didn’t take the first day there very well, but she got over it. The day before the show we walked her from the junior building, past the west entrance to the Murphy’s trailer, so Alec Murphy could trim on her. We had her ready an hour before she showed,so we just walked her around and set her up a time or two. The Haddens also had a full sister to Steel Magnolia in the same class. The class consisted of seven heifers total and I led the class fallowed by Cody Hadden. The judge place Steel Magnolia first, because she was easiest on the move then another heifer in the class, along with other things like depth of body and over all great shape. Steel Magnolia had to be one of my favorite heifers I’d ever shown.

Collecting Bull Semen

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We are pretty proud of General Grievous. (Dad misspelled his name on the registration papers.) He has turned out to be a very good herd cleanup bull for us. His numbers are excellent for a Simmental and phenotypically he is pretty nice as well. But we should go back to the beginning.

The General  Here is the General at a couple days old with Sandy. She had him unassisted in 2006. General's baby picture

He has given us many show ring winners; bulls, steers and heifers. The cows from him have turned out to be excellent milkers and mothers. So with all these lovely attributes we decided to collect him to share his good genetics and to use it when he is gone. Thus starts our journey into storing General’s semen. Things like this are always a learning experience.

Fortunately, Interglobe Genetics is only a 1.5 hour drive for us. This is their round barn they have on the premisses. This happened to be the first week in December and it was cold.

round barn Interglobe Genetics  We were surprised that where they had the bulls unload from the trailers there is a large drain right in the middle of the floor. Of course, this spooked the General as he pranced around it. Not a good design.

They used a steer for bulls to jump. A brave guy collected the semen in a sleeve. Then they take the semen under a microscope to see his count. The General’s numbers were very good. He only had to be collected once more to get the number of straws we wanted. We drive home and wait for them to call to pick it up.

testing semen countA month later, they call that it is ready to be picked up. These tanks are only about 1/3 of the tanks in this building. A nice young lady showed us around.

large semen tanksThis is what it looks inside the large tanks. Lots and lots of canes. Lots of records to keep track of who is where.

inside large semen tankWe pick up the Generals semen and head home. Bill wants me to make up a flyer to put up at the Beef Expo. Being the dutiful wife, I comply.

General's adBut wait, we get a notice that the DNA test for the General has failed for the sire Hooks Shear Force! Wonderful. Bill is sure he used the right straw when we bred Sandy; but maybe it was Hooks Pace Setter? So we send off another hair test sample to the labs. The test isn’t done quickly. The Beef Expo comes around. We can’t put up the flyers or tell anyone we have General’s semen available because we don’t have the results back.

Then we get the results in the mail… He passes positive for the sire Hooks Shear Force.

dna test resultsSince he has been around for awhile, we have seen what this guy works with and how they grow. All his calves have been easy birthing. There hasn’t been one that was too big.

He works really well with our purebred Angus cows.  Here is a picture of a heifer sired by General and one of our Angus cows. The hardest thing with her is keeping her from getting too finished to fast to be a show heifer.  She is a real easy keeper.  She seems to put on weight just looking at hay.

daisy angus on general

He also does a decent job on club calf style cows.  Here is a steer that we raised from General and a 1/2 blood Simmental cow.  She is sired by Dr. Who.  The steer was third overall at a competitive county fair steer show and was 4th steer overall at a Simmental regional.

Clovis 3rd overall steer

Last is a picture of a bull sired by  General, he was a Division winner at the State Fair.  He is out of a 3/4 Simmental, 1/4 Angus cow.

Master Chief

General works well on many different types of cows and the best part is they come real easy and then grow very fast.  We decided to collect him and share him with others after he has sired so many good ones for us.  He is 6 years old and still walks like a cat and still is very interested in the ladies.


Bill here filling in for Judi while she is keeping busy staying warm.

Do you remember the Jeff Foxworthy comedy sketch where he talks about his wife saying “I hate my Hair” “Well we are not going anywhere for a long time”.

That is how I feel this winter. Picture is stuff that should be in the “mud” room but because of the extended periods of cold weather it is in Judi’s kitchen.Displaying photo.JPG

Water jugs were being used to thaw out energy free waterer.  We gave up on that this last cold spell, covered it up with straw bales and waiting for warmer weather.

It is just down right bitter cold.  Thank you Jesus the kids are still at home to help/ do the chores around here.  They have been wonderful through all this.

We have even put off putting embryos in cows because we think the conception rate would be down in this brutal cold weather.

I went to junior college my first 2 years and that was the last 2 really bad winters we had in the late seventies, now Isabella is driving back and forth to the same school and it is just as bad if not worse.

Set another low record this morning, just breaking records left and right.

I am still waiting for Al Gore to show up with his global warming and help outside with the livestock chores.

Cows look like they are tired of it also.  Luckily we can put them all up in barns or sheds for the winter.Displaying photo.JPG

No mud for now, of course when it thaws we will have mud forever until this deep freeze is gone from the ground.

Well I am going to quit bitching for now.


Getting Through A Blizzard

We were returning from visiting the boys’ cousins. We left early to try and beat the snow storm. After finally reaching our exit off the interstate, we couldn’t get through the drifts on Route 10. So we turned around and headed back toward Lincoln. On the way, we came across this guy stuck in a drift in the middle of the road. The boys hopped out and pushed him out in their tennis shoes and sweatshirts.
car stuck in snow

car pushed out of snow

We checked in to the Holiday Inn Express. The boys wore their Carhartts and boots to walk to Steak n Shake for supper. The next morning we made it home after the roads were plowed but they were still drifting. The car thermometer said -11. And the wind was brutal.
After lunch we headed out with the truck to see if we could get to the new cattle barn. The road to the east that we usually take was drifted shut. So we drove around to see if the road was open to the west. After jumping some big drifts we made it.

cattle barn snow blizzard

We left the truck running on the road since no one would be driving by.

feeding cattle snow blizzard

Theo is feeding the heifers and Zadok is checking the waters. William threw straw down from the loft and fed the cat.

County Fair 2013

Menard County Fair

clipping heiferAfter a very cool summer, at least the first part of summer, it once again was very hot for the Menard County Fair.  The boys had almost all the cattle clipped out before the fair except for Paloma the calf part of Theo’s cow/calf pair.  It sure is nice and less expensive since the boys have learned to do some of the clipping.  Theo won champion cow/calf.  This county fair and State Fair we took all Bred and Owned cattle even the cow.  Bred and Owned means we raised the cattle and did not purchase them from anybody else.

county 4h fair simmental steersThis is the 4-H Simmental steer show. Theo was Champion Simmental steer and Zadok was Reserve.  There was a total 18 4-H steers.  Besides the steers and the cow/calf we only took 2 other heifer calves,  and both of them were reserve champions in their breed in the 4-H show and won their classes in the open show.  We kept the big heifers at home it was just too hot.  We even put up misters in the barn.

Resv Champion 4h SteerTheo was Reserve Champion 4-H steer and 3rd overall in the open and junior show.  We have had 4-H Grand Champion steer before, but this is the first time we were close to the top in the Open show.  The judge liked Theo’s steer.

4H Steer saleTheo sold his steer in the 4-H livestock sale.

Graffs after the steer saleThe sale is at the end of the fair.  Here we are ready to go back home with the animals.  All three will split the proceeds equally from their livestock sale.  The last several years we have only been showing 2 steers and selling only 2 also.  It was still hot, but a cold front came in that night.  Just remember some of the hottest days of the year will always be during the County Fair.

State Fair 2013

Illinois State Fair

practicing with cow calf

Zadok and Theo getting Theo’s cow/calf pair ready for the state fair.  Most people do not understand how much work that has to be done to win at a major show.  The kids and Judi started with over 10 head that they worked with just to show 5 animals at the state fair.  They also started with 4 steers that was whittled down to 2 that they showed at their county fair.  That show finished less than 2 weeks before the state fair.  Lots of cattle to be worked to then just “turn them out” to pasture if we decide they then are not “good enough” to go on to the show.  They also get ready the spring born calves for the state fair and the county fair, which means  not only breaking them to lead, but just getting the calves over weaning and getting them to eat well and making sure they are just “show ready”.

  on way to showring

Going to the Open % Simmental show at 7:45 a.m. on Friday morning.  We were up, out of bed and heading to retrieve the cattle from the tie-outs by 4:45 a.m.  to show in the first class of the day for the second day in a row.  Pressure was off Theo, since the day before he was successful in having the Champion Performance Cow/Calf pair in the junior show which means he was awarded the “Governor’s Punch Bowl”.  He was sweating it since both Zadok, and Isabella had already won the “Punch Bowl”.  The Graff kids have now won it three out of the last five years.  And by the way, this was a good morning.  Grand Champion % Simmental Cow/Calf, Theo was second in his class and Z was third in a big class, not bad when we were done by 8:17 a.m. in the morning.  And if you ever hear us say look at the a$$ on her we are talking about a cow or heifer not a person.  But, man that cow does have a nice, well just look at the picture.  Our bulls would agree with that also.

state fair resv div

Isabella had a good State Fair.  This is her with a calf she raised that was calf champion in the Mainetainer show.  We are really excited about this girl’s future.  We think this heifer has what it takes to be a big time show heifer next year.  Everybody else thought she was good too.  We had numerous people try and buy her from us while we were at the fair.

Grand Champion Age Cow

Here is the picture of the Junior Show Grand Champion cow/calf pair.  The two boys, me, the husband/wife judges and Larry Wilson Junior Show superintendent holding the silver bowl.  In the Junior show once a cow wins and once a kid wins the “bowl” they are “retired” from winning it again.  So we have 3 cows that are retired and 3 kids retired from winning the Aged Performance Cow/Calf award.  They could go for the “young” cow which is a cow that has only had 1 or 2 calves.  The aged cows have to of had at least 3 calves.  The older one is harder, since the cow has to have had a calf every year of it’s production life and then has to have good performance records with each calf and then has to have a good calf by her side the year you show her, and last but not least she has to look good.  So Duchess, Ellyon, and now Padmay are “out to pasture for good”.

champion percentage simmental cow calf

Here is the open show cow/calf picture.  Isabella was also the 2013 Illinois Junior Simmental Association Queen.  The kids Grandfather really likes this cow.  She is better than her calf.  She is a half blood Simmental whose sire is Dr. Who.  She has about as good as you can ever have performance numbers for a club calf type cow.  Last thing about this cow, she never lost a class when Theo showed her as a heifer, and she never lost a class this year as a cow.  She won 13 classes in her life and retired a champion in 2013.  That’s a very good show career.

races state fair

We relaxed the second week of the state fair at the horse races.

state fair ribbons and bowl

Like I said Theo was happy.  He was counting down the years before we headed to this years fair.  He was saying “I only have 5 more years left after this one”.  He was wondering if he did not win if he would stay with this cow or try with another one.  In the end it did not matter, he won the “bowl”.


Posted by a very proud father, pictures by a very proud mother.

If National Geographic Followed Us Today

Inside Secret America:

Cattle Farm

National Geographic channel feels it needs to get the truth out about handling of livestock. Are animals treated humanely?

I do wish they would have been with us today with their undercover cameras to witness how we handled our cattle. A little of it may be shocking if they haven’t been around large animals. But mostly it’s a family trying to take care of their cow herd.

As we were feeding the cows this morning, a few of the younger heifers we show that have had a cough and diarrhea were still coughing. Today Z treated them with sulfa boluses or large pill. The bolus is given to the calf with a boling gun that places the “pill” in the back of the throat. That way it isn’t spit out. The heifers should be getting better by tomorrow.

caring for sick calf

Later this morning, Betsy had her calf. Isabella went out to the pasture to make sure everything was okay. Since both cow and calf looked fine, we left them alone. Betsy is one of the oldest cows on the farm. She knows what to do.

Animal Undercover

Checking on another pasture of cows, we saw they decided to go for a swim in the pond. It was rather cool today. So these cows aren’t skinny dipping because of the heat. I think they just like it. Later they went to dry off in the grass.

skinny dipping cows

Don’t they even look like they were caught doing something.

This afternoon it was time to treat a three week old heifer that has a navel infection along with a hernia. Our vet would like the infection cleared up before fixing the hernia. Theo and Isabella followed his instructions on getting her healed up.

All this might not be flashy enough for National Geographic Channel. There weren’t any “caught on camera” moments. And nothing really to keep secret. Just a day of taking care of cattle on our farm.

Theo at Simmental Jr Regionals

Theo took one steer, Clovis, and one heifer, Iris, to the South Central Simmental Regionals in Springfield Missouri.

Theo brushing his steer

Theo brushing his steer

On Monday and Tuesday, Theo participated in sales talk, cattleman’s quiz and livestock judging. The cattle show was on Wednesday.

Dad and Kevin fitting Iris

Kevin Johanson came to fit both the heifer and steer. He did a very nice job.

The Final Results

Clovis wins 4th overall steer

Clovis placed 4th overall steer.

Iris - 7th overall bred & owned prebred

Iris placed 7th overall bred & owned purebred heifer.

Theo - 1st place livestock judging

Theo placed 1st in the livestock judging contest.

As we were just about to load the equipment up to head home, a light came on the dash for the engine. Dad took the truck to the local ford dealership but they could fix it til the next morning. So we had more quality time in Springfield MO. On the road home a clamp on the turbo boost broke. So we had to stop and get that replaced. We did eventually make it home just before dark. That night Dad baled hay til about 10pm.