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It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that Woody was born on our farm. He was the first non-human, non-poultry baby we’d welcomed onto our farm since we lived in Iowa and were thrilled to have a bull calf join our family.

Dolly had been running with an angus bull when we bought her and we had been anticipating his birth for months, not really knowing when she was due. Then one evening while we were outside and checking on everyone, I said something to Jack about how if she didn’t give birth within the week, I’d be shocked. Woody was born the next day.

As expected due to his lineage, Woody grew big and beefy. He nursed off his mother forever and eventually we had to separate them to let her dry off because he was the stereotypical fat kid who would have sucked her dry.

Always watching to see what we were up to.

He also seemed to live by the philosophy that indeed, the grass is greener on the other side, whether it really was or not. In all my years of caring for horses, I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve had one escape, and that was almost always because someone forgot to shut the gate. With the cows, and Woody in particular, he escaped on a regular basis. Every weakness in the fence, every time the electric fencer was off, and with every muscle he had, he’d get through and merrily wander around the neighborhood. He’d never go far if Dolly was still stuck in the pasture but once in a while, he’d lead a jailbreak and everybody would run amok. If an animal ever threatened to give me an ulcer, it was Woody.

The ornery cows know how to handle a steer when they don’t want to share dinner.

Woody wasn’t all bad, though. He was curious and gentle, appreciated whenever he was fed, and made sure to belch heartily to show his gratitude. He made us laugh with his silly antics and we enjoyed watching him play, graze, and nap in the afternoon sun.


But, the day came that it was his turn to fulfill his part as the beef steer for our family. Like Parton, it was extremely bittersweet to say goodbye. He had a charmed life, never wanting for anything from food to affection, and I don’t think animals preoccupy themselves with fearing death the way people do. He lived happily right up until he ran off the trailer into the butcher shop.


The day Woody was sent to the butcher was an appropriately gloomy day. I was left behind at home, nursing my injuries from the car accident earlier in the month, so a friend offered to come pick up Jack and Woody for us. The yard was slick and greasy with mud, so we were especially grateful for a neighbor who was watching and came over to tow the truck and trailer out with their little can-do Jeep.


On the way back from the butcher shop, they swung by another farm and picked up Dolly, who’d been running with another beau named Sammy. We were never successful getting her artificially bred and will have to wait a few months to know if she is pregnant but fingers crossed, she’ll calve later this year.

Meet Winston.

Since Dolly didn’t give birth last year as we’d hoped, we had a gap between calves, which would mean a gap in beef. We’d been keeping our eye out for calves for sale, specifically looking for a feeder calf so we didn’t have to worry about bottle feeding it. Rather miraculously, right before we were going to take Woody in, Jack found someone selling a scruffy Guernsey cross. So after dropping off Woody, bringing Dolly home, Jack and another friend went south and picked up the calf. He’s a bit tentative and shy but is warming up to being on our farm.


About a week after dropping off Woody, he came home, tucked neatly in a dozen cardboard boxes. He’ll feed our entire family, another family who’s buying half of him, our dog and cats, friends, extended family, and neighbors.

One sirloin steak from Woody! 😳

Being part angus, Woody produced A LOT more meet for us. He filled up the deep freeze, the spare fridge freezer, and our upstairs fridge freezer. We’ve already tried steak and hamburgers and as suspected, having a life of comfort produced some very delicious, tender beef.


Sometimes people ask us if it’s difficult to send a steer we know so well off to the slaughter and the short answer is, yeah, it is. I will readily admit to crying over every animal that dies here. But, such is the circle of life.

One steak fed our entire family. 

We’ve named the new calf Winston (I love ridiculous, snooty names for animals, haha) and he is falling into the daily routine. He loves sweet feed so much he snorts and burps as he eats it and since he’s been quarantined long enough that we’re sure he’s healthy, he’s been sniffing the other cows through the fence. He’ll be out on pasture as soon as the grass is green and my fingers are crossed he’s not an escape artist like his predecessor.

Goodbye Woody, Hello Winston.

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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