KIDS, COWS AND COLLEGE FUNDS
I’m Sara Prescott. My husband, Michael, and I -- along with our children -- own a cattle farm in Lincoln, Illinois. Our girls might only be 8 and 6 years old, but they’re raising two special cows to fund their college tuition. From calving to market and everything in between, follow along as we work together to raise kids and cattle.
Opportunities in the Show RingThe kids have learned a lot this summer.
Update! Peek-a-boo and OreoPeek-a-boo and Oreo had a pretty great summer.
It All Started at the FairCelebrating our 10th anniversary at the 4-H fair.
The Show RingOur show career has officially started again.
Happy Birthday!Peek-a-boo finally had her calf! Baby is healthy and mama...
Calf Watch 2017She is the one and only cow who surprises us.
KIDS, COWS AND COLLEGE FUNDSWe’ve set up their “herd” as a college fund.
200 COWS, 3 KIDS, 1 FARMBetween 200 cows, 3 kids and a farm, there's never...
Always learningA lot of what we need to know is second...
Happy Cows, Happy FarmerJust like humans, beef cattle thrive and grow best when...
Opportunities in the Show Ring
Showing animals gives the kids the opportunity to have something of their own and to have someone depend on them. They definitely have a sense of pride when they parade their animals through the show ring and even if they didn't always make it to the top, the most important thing was that they did their best and had fun. They also met new friends this summer that love livestock as much as they do and it was a great opportunity to watch friendships develop.
The kids are learning that it takes a lot of hard work and patience to raise livestock. They are surprised at how long chores like cleaning and feeding can take. We have tried to instill in them the importance of finishing jobs and doing them to the best of their ability. The animals depend on them and they have created a special bond together. They ultimately see that they act differently towards them then they do for Michael and I. They have built trust with one another and as a mom it is a special thing to witness because I know myself what a great bond I had with my show cattle. All in all it was a special way to gain another friend for the summer.
Update! Peek-a-boo and Oreo
Peek-a-boo and Oreo have spent the summer the way we all wish we could - with lots of water time, lounging around and just eating our way through the day. Basically, they both had the best summer ever and I hope to someday be able to describe my summer like this –or at least a day of the summer like this!
Oreo has continued to grow and is getting to be quite the big bull calf. He probably weighs around 500lbs already and in another month he will be weaned from Peek-a-boo and put on an all grain and hay diet. We started giving the calves some grain this past month to help ease that transition and they are really enjoying their new feed.
It All Started at the Fair
It seemed only fitting that Michael and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary at the county fair with the kids this year. After all, the 4-H fair was where we first met, so many years ago! It's hard to believe that 10 years have already flown by this quickly. Here's to more county fairs, making more memories, and many more happy years together.
The Show Ring
I think it is official to say that our show career has officially started again for this family. My little girl, who isn't so little after all, showed her first heifer calf (a female who has not given birth) in May at the Logan County Fairgrounds. To say that she enjoyed every second of it would be an understatement. There were some nervous moments, high levels of anxiety and moments of tears (all mine mostly), but at the end of the day confidence prevailed and the look on her face after she won Reserve Champion Hereford Heifer said it all. I couldn't be more proud of Madison and loved watching her follow in her mom and dad's footsteps today. I think her and Autumn are going to have a wonderful rest of the summer together.
Peek-a-boo calved on April 9, 2017 and had another baby skunk! This calf has a white circle on his back and a nice white tail with a black tip at the bottom.
He also is all white underneath. The bull calf weighed 75 lbs., which is the size we often hope for – a healthy weight that’s not too big or too small.
Baby is healthy and mama is happy enjoying lots of green grass and sunshine with her brand new calf.
Calf Watch 2017
Each year the excitement and anticipation grows as Peek-a-boo gets ready to calve. She is the one and only cow on our farm who surprises us with a calf that we don't already know what color it is going to be. Since 99% of our cattle are black, we know the calves will be all black or black with a little white on their faces. Peek-a-boo is the exception. She has had red calves, black calves, a black calf with a tail like a skunk and last year she surprised us with a beautiful white baby who looked just like her. That was also the first year she had a heifer (a female calf), so we kept her on the farm, named her Paisley and gave Madison the opportunity to expand her herd.
I checked Peek-a-boo for the final time last night and I knew it just wasn't the day for her to have her sweet calf. But at nine months pregnant, and as a mother myself, I can relate to how she’s feeling. She’s not her usual self –she sighs often and is moving slower than normal. She is ready for that baby to come - and honestly we are, too!
KIDS, COWS AND COLLEGE FUNDS
Our kids (to find out more about them read 200 cows, 3 kids, 1 farm) aren’t the only personalities on our farm – our cows are characters in our family farm story, too. Ninety-eight percent of our 200 cows are black. The other percentage is represented by “Peek-a-boo,” the white Charolais, and “Bob,” the red-and-white Hereford.
Of course, there is a story here …
On Madison’s first birthday, we decided to buy her a different colored cow so when we went to the farm she could easily pick hers out. Enter Peek-a-boo. We did the same thing with Emma – Bob belongs to her. (Yes, we have a female named Bob). The plan worked. Peek-a-boo and Bob are both easily identifiable for the girls and, because they both technically own the cows, we’ve set up their “herd” as a college fund. Each year, Peek-a-boo and Bob have a calf. If we choose to sell the calf that year, the money is put into a savings account. Just like our kids, Peek-a-boo and Bob both have personalities.
Peek-a-boo is an adventurer. She’s always moving around and checking things out – she’ll cover every inch of the pasture. She also takes
every advantage to get dirty, which is more noticeable than any of our other cows since she’s the only white one. She will be having a calf in the
next 2-3 weeks, so stay tuned for that update.
Bob is mellow. That’s really about it – she lies in the pasture, observes everyone else and loves to eat. The only thing she moves quickly
for is hay and the feed bunk. Oh, and how did she get her name? Her identification number is “808,” so “B0B” stuck.
Our family farm means the world to us and the ability to grow and involve our children in the succession of that story is incredibly important. We hope you enjoy learning a little more about our farm this year and can laugh along with all the crazy that comes with raising three farm kids.
200 COWS, 3 KIDS, 1 FARM
Michael and Sara
Michael and I both had off-farm jobs when we were first married, but always felt a strong desire to be a part of the beef business. Around
10 years ago, we bought our first heifers and developed relationships with local farmers and landowners to lease pasture land. Today, our herd has
grown to raising 200 mama cows. Michael and I are definitely a team, as he still travels for work on occasion and I’m often at the
farm caring for the cows. So naturally, our kids come along to help with the daily livestock chores.
As far as the girls are concerned, caring for the cows and doing chores with Michael and me definitely has its perks. They’re both learning
to drive the Gator, and filling the feed buckets has always been their job – it’s something they take great pride in.
Michael and I have been around farm animals all our lives, so a lot of what we need to know is second nature to us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t keep
learning. A lot of people don’t realize how many farmers today have college degrees, with expertise in areas from animal science to crop and environmental
technology. When we hear about new research into animal behavioral science, we’re serious about finding out how we can apply it to our own herd. More
and more, we’re finding out about how important it is to allow cows and calves the opportunity to perform natural and instinctive behaviors essential
to their health and well-being. So we make provisions to ensure social interaction, comfort, and physical and psychological well-being.
Happy Cows, Happy Farmer
I know for sure is that every mom feels the way I do about what she provides for her children. We all want to be sure we’re giving them the best this
world has to offer and that we’re passing on the best of everything we’ve learned. For us, that includes keeping our kids involved in the day-to-day
running of our farm, from the time a calf is born to the day it's shipped off to be raised before going to market.
People who live off the farm may wonder whether farmers and ranchers care about the animals they raise. The short answer is yes. The longer answer? It
turns out doing what makes cows happy and comfortable also makes good business sense. That’s because, just like humans, beef cattle thrive and grow
best when they’re not experiencing stress or anxiety or discomfort. So ensuring our animals have healthy, comfortable conditions is satisfying in two
ways. As people who grew up around livestock, we care about the welfare and comfort of the animals we’re responsible for. And that in turn helps us
to be successful, and to continue raising healthy, happy calves. If our animals don’t thrive, then neither can we.