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It’s that time again, when one of steers had come to the end of his stay on our farm and was sent to the butcher. It was Winston’s turn this time, and though it never gets any easier (and why should it?), we’re always grateful for their sacrifice.


Winston came to us as a knobby-kneed youngster that Jack bought from someone who had extra feeder calves, right after Woody made his exit. They made the transfer in a Walmart parking lot and unceremoniously, he came home to live with us on a dreary, rainy winter day.


We kept him separate from Dolly and Daisy in a period of quarantine to keep everyone safe since we minimally vaccinate our animals. Plus, the cows are so pushy and greedy, they would have stolen all of his food without a second thought and that boy needed all the calories he could get. It was extra work, but it also gave us the chance to get to know him one-on-one. Like a lot of cattle, he was skittish and nervous but had a curiosity that often overrode his hesitation.

The key to Winston’s heart was always food. Sweet feed, corn, clover, green grass, fresh hay…there wasn’t much that he’d say no to.
Despite growing to be the tallest of our herd, he was definitely the low man on the totem pole. Daisy and Dolly are the boss cows, Daisy is always looking out for her baby, Hashi, and everyone better watch out if they get in between her and her calves, which would leave Winston to fend for himself. He’d barely get a taste of sweet feed by grabbing it with his crazy long tongue, but would inevitably get headbutted out of the way. Eventually, he got his own bucket and he got quite good at stuffing his face before Dolly or Daisy realized what he was doing and would run over to–you guessed it–push him out of the way using horns and foreheads and big hips.
Thankfully, most of the year, there was more than enough for everyone to eat. For me, there’s something inexplicably satisfying about watching an animal graze. Maybe because it’s such a simple pleasure–they are quite literally eating the plant straight from the earth and are happy about that. If only dinnertime with seven kids was that easy. I have yet to sit down at the table without hearing someone complain.

Winston was with us for about two years, growing taller than he did fat thanks to his Guernsey heritage, and his insatiable appetite reminded me a lot of a teenager. Half the time, the rest of the herd would move back to their paddock when I’d go to get them in the morning out of routine and he’d still be chowing down. When I’d move them to a new pasture, he couldn’t walk through the alley without taste testing everything. Even though he’d eaten for fifteen hours before putting him in to let the pasture rest, it never failed that he’d be pacing the fenceline, trying to figure out where he could find a nibble of grass.


It was shortly after Adam was born that it was Winston’s turn to go. He got in the trailer without a fuss, drove there without complaint, and when it was his turn, he walked in without trouble. A few weeks later, we picked up our boxes of beef and sent half off with one of my sisters and the rest is in our freezer. We say there’s only one bad day on the farm for our beef cattle, but they’re serving their purpose to feed our family, and in exchange, I like to think they had a good life with a name, a purpose, and plenty of green grass.


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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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