1. a tract of land, usually with a house, barn, silo, etc., on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood.
2. land or water devoted to the raising of animals, fish, plants, etc.: a pig farm; an oyster farm; a tree farm.
1. an establishment maintained for raising livestock under range conditions.
2. Chiefly Western U.S. and Canada. a large farm used primarily to raise one kind of crop or animal
[…which naturally led me to]
17. Also called rangeland… an area or tract that is or may be ranged over, esp. an open region for the grazing of livestock.
Erm… so what are we? Farmers? Ranchers? Farm says ‘ red barn’ to me… and we’ll have one of those. But longhorns seriously say ‘ranch’ to me… and we have a ‘range’. But we’ll also have hay, which screams ‘farm’ to me. I’m having an identity crisis here. I leave it to you to decide. I’m wearing an apron no matter what.
Many of you have emailed and asked about the whole longhorn thing. ‘Why?’ you ask sincerely. ‘Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?’ ‘Why not black and white cows?’ ‘Why not horses?’ ‘What do you do with a longhorn?’ ‘Did you just wake up one day and decide you want cows?’ ‘Aren’t you an Aggie and therefore allergic to longhorns? They’re gonna take away your diploma.’
First and most importantly, I am an Aggie Class of 1999. I see no problem with an Aggie owning, managing, and being the boss of longhorns. We will, however, be avoiding genetics that lead to orange and white hides. I’m also just kidding about the rivalry here, folks. I’m over 30. It’s done.
We will eventually have a couple of horses, for love and for work. When Ry is old enough to ride, we’ll start tackling those. Both Curt and I love to ride. It’ll happen, but later.
Why longhorns? Well, this is a fabulous story, really. See, longhorns are amazing. They are gentle and beautiful and athletic and lean and long-living (20+ years). I don’t know quite how it started, but Curt wanted cows and I wanted a barn with stalls and a pretty fence. We didn’t want to raise cows just for eating and such. We wanted a farm that was tangible and friendly. We wanted something unique. We wanted animals we could leave alone for 2 weeks while we went camping. We wanted cows with stories, and we wanted our kid(s) to grow up with them. Longhorns fit all of those characteristics plus have a Texas connection which thrills me to no end.
Longhorns have a terribly romantic history. Closer to extinction than buffalo, one man riding in to save the species, ranchers banding together to save the herd… this stuff has my name all over it! Longhorns can certainly be used for beef, though they take quite a bit longer to mature than your average commercial cow… so that’s not a major draw. Longhorns are raised to preserve history and to try for the largest spread of horns. Their horns grow throughout their life, but are largely finished before they are 10 years old. It’s really a lot like raising dogs for show. You pay close attention to genetics. You try for good matches and good confirmation and good offspring. It’s a hobby. A use for land. A part of history. A good way to practice the old ways.
What will we do? We’ll start small (like, 4 cows) and work our way up to less than 50 over the next 20 years. Hopefully, somewhere in there, we’ll have some absolutely gorgeous cows that some rich oil man would like to buy for his front yard. And we’ll sell those cows and pay for
my retirement villa in Tuscany Ry’s college. In between, we’ll love on ’em and play with them and feed ’em and give ’em a good life. Yes, some will eventually feed my family and yours, but that’s part of this whole experience. It does not freak me out.
Here are some definitions that will help you:
cow – a lady who’s had a calf OR just one of the herd in general
bull – a boy lookin’ for a lady and a little action
steer – a boy that cannot [ahem] reproduce… these boys are for horns and meat
heifer – a lady over 1 year that hasn’t produced a calf… she is innocent in the ways of love
pair – a mamma and her calf
I know, right?! It’s more interesting than you ever imagined possible.
OR, it’s more information than you ever wanted to know.
But I love you for pretending you love it.
Ellie, I’m hoping you’ll make cute little ear tags for all of them like the ones you consigned. Wouldn’t that be so awesome? I am not even kidding.