Teamwork and Hardwork
In the early 1950s, Charles and Norma Daniel settled in the Greenfield area with 80 acres each, nine or so cows and a team of horses.
“We are now setting at about 10,000 acres and run 1,000 momma cows.”
Chris Daniel, Norma’s second son is seated in her kitchen giving some idea of just how much land that really is.
A piece of ground 8 miles long by 2 miles wide would be just slightly more than 10,000 acres. Or larger, at 15 square miles, than almost any town in the region except for Springfield.
The team of horses gave way to a C International Tractor in 1952. But the team making this work is now up to five families and a total of 17 people living and working on this large farm in Dade County.
The Daniels row-crop about 2,000 acres with a good portion of that going to corn for silage. Chris estimated, “We’ll chop 2,000 to 3,000 tons and sell the rest.” Beans and wheat make up the rest of the crop portion.
The cows are mixed but the bulls are purebred Angus, Simmental, Red Angus and three Gelbvieh. “But don’t ask me how to spell that,” laughed Chris. “We just like them (Gelbviehs). We may not like their calves. When you buy a bull it may take a year and a half before you know anything.”
The Daniels spring and fall calve and it’s all done with bulls. No AI or anything fancy.
Chris describes their process. “We sort out the heifers when we wean. Anything that is not high quality goes south on silage.” And he notes that he “won’t keep an idiot” or anything with a “grey rat tail.”
Chris describes that as a Simmental with an Angus that didn’t work. “That’s what I call calves with grey and no hair on their tail.”
Chris feeds them out to about 800 to 900 pounds. From there they are likely to go to a feedlot in Kansas. And while he doesn’t like their looks, “They’ll make more money than anything we’ve got. They are not buying looks (at the feedlot), they’re buying meat. You pull the hide on them, it’s meat.”
Keeping track of who owns what could be a daunting task. Heifers are branded on the side with a Rocking D brand and steers or anything to be sold will get a brand on the hip. Chris noted that at one time, “they’d pay more for hides if they weren’t marked up.”
But it’s notching the ears that helps them ID each cow coming through the chute. Each person has their own notch; one notch on the left ear or two notches on the right; one on each ear or two on the left — you get the picture.
The main method of keeping input costs down and hopefully profits up starts with litter — turkey litter. Chris got into litter by hauling for somebody else. But now he has three barns he buys from and then hauls the litter back home and spreads it.
He does the math and the numbers somehow work to make the buying and hauling and spreading of upwards of 4,000 tons of litter each year cheaper this way than buying commercial fertilizer.
One drawback? “Turkey litter is cash,” Chris noted, “You pay for it when you get it,” rather than putting it on credit at the feed store.
According to Chris there is no slow time but summer gets busier that any other with the team putting up 4,000 or more round bales of hay.
All those cows can eat a lot: 30 to 35 bales of hay daily, One and one-half tons of salt feed and six to eight tons/day of silage.
“Doing a lot of prayer,” chimes in Norma. Chris sums it up: “This is God’s land. We’re just here.”