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Archive for the ‘Living Green’ Category

Our Weaning Process

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Calves in the weaning process.  Notice the cows on the other side of the fence.

Calves in the weaning process.


In traditional ranching, calves are typically weaned young. The purpose is to get the calves on grain at a much younger age to bulk up. Cows are then allowed to recover quickly from nursing and be ready to be bred again at a faster rate. Traditional ranching is interested in getting beef faster and quicker.

On the other hand, grass fed beef ranching is truly a part of the slow food movement. We are interested most in quality. Therefore, we keep our calves at their mama’s sides for a much longer time. At Cross Creek Cattle Company, we typically aim for weaning at eight months. We feel that this gives the calf the best start.

Of course, we carefully monitor the condition of the mama’s. First calf heifers can sometimes not nurse a baby for eight months without losing condition in her own body. If we observe this, we wean the calf a little earlier.

We have just weaned calves again. We try to make this stressful time for both calf and cow as stress-less as possible. We separate the calves into a well-built pen, but do not cart them to the home ranch immediately. Instead we leave them in the pen with alfalfa cubes, hay, and fresh water for a few days so that the mama cows can be right on the other side of the fence.

The calves settle down in the presence of their mamas. The cows begin to dry up. They eventually will leave to go graze like any normal day. This is our signal that the weaning process is complete. We then will trailer the calves to the home ranch.

A few of our eight-month old calves.

A few of our eight-month old calves.

We want what is best for our calves and our cows. Doing what is best for our calves and cows also translates into what we believe is best for our grass fed beef customers. Cross Creek Cattle Company is dedicated to raising quality beef at affordable prices.

Real Cowboy Work

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Jake on the right riding Jack in the middle of the competition.

Jake on the right riding Jack in the middle of the competition.


At the 2013 Grimes County Fair, Jake DeHaven competed with two friends in team penning and team sorting events. Unlike speed events like barrel racing, these events are a test of true working cowboy skills on horseback. In fact, the event was created to enable cowboys to showcase their horsemanship skills. Because one of the boys on the team is sixteen years old, they had to compete in the senior division.

In team penning, the contestants are given a number announced over the loudspeaker as the time begins. The number corresponds to three calves in a herd of thirty. They are to sort the three calves out and pen them in a small pen at the opposite end of the arena. The fastest time wins. Deductions are made if any other calves cross the sorting line. It is harder to do than to describe in writing.

In team sorting, the contestants are also given a number as the time begins. It is similar to team penning, as they have to cut the calf with the said number out. Then they have to go in numerical order and cut out the remaining cattle. For example, if the judge called #5. Then they would remove #5 and then 1,2,3, and 4 in order. The fastest time wins with deductions given for mistakes in the order.

This was Jake’s first time to compete in either event. It was a joy to see him out there giving it his best effort. There are so many factors in a successful run. The cowboy has to be focused and paying attention. He/she has to have a reliable horse with cow sense. Together they make up one team. Then add two more riders and their horses and the teamwork needed increases.

We are proud of Jake and the other members of his team. They brought home the 3rd place prize in the Senior Division for both events. Regardless of the prize, they gained valuable experience that can only translate into better horsemanship skills on the ranch. At home or in the arena, Jake can do real cowboy work.

Excitement on the Ranch

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

We have had some excitement on the ranch in the past week. First we have gotten some much needed rain. Storm systems came through dropping good rain for a few days in a row. We have not had flooding like Houston or the tornadoes which occurred in northern Texas yesterday, for which we are very thankful. We still pray that God will continue to bless our land with rain throughout the summer.

Last Sunday a week ago, my youngest son, Andrew, grew ill. We thought he had contracted a stomach virus, but something about it seemed odd. In order to make a long story short as well as spare you the details, early Monday morning it became apparent that he needed medical attention. My husband and I drove to the nearest good medical hospital, which for us is in College Station.

Andrew received excellent care and had to endure an emergency appendectomy. After a total of three days in the hospital, we were released to come home. He is still recovering from the surgery, but is doing much better.

The challenging part will be to keep him from getting hurt for six whole weeks. Boys will be boys and we discussed no wooden sword fights, no trampoline, no wrestling, etc. Instead, we have been entertaining Andrew with playdough, Uno, Legos, go fish, puzzles, etc.

After dinner on one of our first nights home, we went on a slow walk through the pasture after a light rain. We ate our weight in dewberries for dessert. It was such a blissful evening. We delighted in the normal scenery. There were the horses grazing in green pastures. There were the cows in belly high grass. There are fish jumping in the lake. We were home!

We are so thankful for the rain and the health of Andrew. We caught the appendix in time before it ruptured. He is getting better each day. As I researched all there is to know about the appendix, I am also thankful that cows do not have them. That would really put a different spin on herd health management. It was hard enough to get a five-year old to articulate what he was feeling. I cannot even imagine having to monitor appendicitis in cattle.

Please pray for Andrew’s continued recovery and for rain to continue to replenish the soil in all the drought stricken areas of the United States. God does listen.

Whole Foods Grilling Tutorial

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Learning how to cook grass fed beef takes practice. It really involves understanding time and temperature differences from traditional cooking. Against the advice of many, you do not have to treat grass fed beef with kid gloves nor do you have to marinate everything for 24 hours. We give our customers “6 Cooking Tips for Grass Fed Beef,” which comes from an article on this blog with the same title.

Still, I get questions specifically pertaining to grilling steaks. I found this short video with very simple instructions and ingredients from Whole Foods. I liked it because it was so simple and the video does not spend the whole time extolling all the virtues of eating grass fed beef.

Instead it focuses on the how-to of grilling grass fed steaks, which is what our customers want. They already know why they have purchased the grass fed beef. Take just over one minute to watch a tutorial showing you a simple method of grilling.

Industry, Diligence, and Initiative

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Most people would agree that a child’s natural bent is toward laziness. Who does not want to linger in bed for as long as possible? Who would rather sit in the shade than bend their bodies in half weeding a garden? The answer for most of us is obvious. Laziness is something we have to fight.

Developing a desire to fight that which is a natural tendency is really a battle of self. Therefore, the first place to begin is with yourself. As parents of five children, my husband and I share a strong desire to develop within our children, male and female alike, industry and diligence. We also want them to take initiative and not wait to be told what to do. So we try to model industry, diligence, and initiative in our own lives.

I ask my children to be “productive” each day. That does not mean that one must work from sun up to sun down without taking a break, but that one be involved in some work throughout the day. It could be painting a piece of art, baking cookies, cleaning a horse stall, writing a short story, mowing the yard, etc. At the end of the day, you can feel a sense of accomplishment in something you have done.

Living on a ranch lends itself useful in instilling these character traits in children. There is always something to do. A tree has fallen on a fence, a gate latch breaks, the cows need to be fed hay, the float on the water trough malfunctioned, etc. From mechanic work and welding, to plumbing and construction, there are a variety of skills to be honed by just living on a working ranch.

Most of our grass fed customers who travel to Cross Creek Cattle Company in order to pick up their orders remark at least once “how lucky my kids are to be raised on this ranch.” It is true; however, my husband and I are just as fortunate to live in an environment that cultivates the need for hard work and productivity. This in no way means that city kids cannot find ways to be productive; they absolutely can in a variety of ways. The ranch simply furnishes us a ready environment.

Our ancestors’, the pioneers who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and/or crossed the unsettled plains on their way westward, lives required work for their survival. Even though our lives are not pinned between life and death in such clear cut terms, we want our family to thrive and not just survive. Today, you can survive without working hard. In some ways we are not only fighting our inner selves, but also what have become cultural norms. Success, in many ways, is measured by getting paid the most for doing the least amount possible.

However if you know that working was God’s design from the beginning for mankind, then it changes your perspective (Genesis 2:15). Work requires discipline and denial of self. It makes your body move and sweat. It engages your mind and builds knowledge. It places food on your table and a roof over your head. Work is good, and it is good for your body and soul (Ecclesiastes 3:13).

At Cross Creek Cattle Company, we are hard at work to develop high quality, nutritious grass fed beef. We come from a long line of ranchers in Texas, six generations in fact, but we are also busy training up the next generation by instilling the same characteristics that our ancestors exemplified: industry, diligence, and initiative.

Pony Express Riders

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

My daughter, Kyla, riding a spirited paint named Cheyenne between Bedias and Iola.

My daughter, Kyla, riding a spirited paint named Cheyenne between Bedias and Iola.

In the spirit of the Old West, the youth in the Grimes County Jr. Deputy Sheriff’s Mounted Posse coordinates with the same organization in Harris County in a Pony Express ride. Riders run legs in a relay fashion covering many miles on just one day as they take this opportunity to visit with the officials in each town inviting them to come and support the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLS&R).

In the early morning hours of January 28th, my children were up dressed and saddling their horses. We made the long drive to Bedias, Texas, which sits in the northern section of Grimes County. The Lions Club of Bedias also got up early and prepared a hot breakfast for the participants. At 8 o’clock sharp, the first proclamation was read and the Posse President, Rheaghan Pavlock, rode out of the town of Bedias, which kicked off the Pony Express ride of 2012.

In mile to mile and a half legs, riders rode as fast as they could safely go from town to town. They carried a baton, which city officials signed, and they carried a saddlebag filled with the invitations to the HLS&R. It was a crisp morning and the horses were feeling spunky, but our children are experienced riders. As an extra measure of safety, two deputies escorted them along the roadways.

My son, Jake,(on the right) and his friend and fellow Posse member, Tyler, riding as a team down Highway 105 between Plantersville and Navasota.

My son, Jake,(on the right) and his friend and fellow Posse member, Tyler, riding as a team down Highway 105 between Plantersville and Navasota.

We stopped in Iola, Anderson, Plantersville, and eventually ended up in Navasota. In the latter city, our posse merged with the Harris County Mounted Posse. They had ridden from Tomball to Navasota in a similar fashion. The two posses were quickly arranged in a combined formation and paraded around the Go-Texan celebration at the Grimes County Fairgrounds.

My children had a wonderful time. It was so fun to watch them ride with so much more confidence than just last year’s event. Everyone had safe rides and the day was a beautiful one for January.

We learned a few things from this year’s Pony Express ride. First, we have so much respect for the Pony Express riders of old. In the age of texting, emailing, and computers, it stands in stark contrast of what our children (and adults) are used to. We now realize how slow and unreliable the mail had been back in the day. We had one team of riders who lost the baton on just a one mile ride. Imagine if it had been a personal letter of importance!

Cross Creek Cattle Company is a proud sponsor of the Grimes County Mounted Posse. We are proud of the youth involved. There are only 12 counties in the state of Texas that re-enact the Pony Express ride. We are honored that Grimes County is one of so few.

Posse Trail Ride 2011

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Zorra (Cathey) and her horse, Shania

Zorra (Cathey) and her horse, Shania

We had such a great time last Saturday!  Our trail ride was so much fun.  It was a beautiful, slightly cool afternoon.  The horses felt great and did a wonderful job crossing the creeks, cutting through the woods, and walking through open pastures.  We had experienced riders as well as beginners ride the trail and all did a great job.

Isaac is catching a ride with an Indian (Kyla) on her painted horse, Dolly.  To the right is Jake as a deer hunter.

Isaac is catching a ride with an Indian (Kyla) on her painted horse, Dolly. To the right is Jake as a deer hunter.

For me, the best part of the evening was seeing everyone come dressed up to the ride.  When the costume contest was first announced, I did not think that the Posse members would actually dress up.  Boy was I wrong.

Most people came in costume.  We had rodeo contestants, Indians, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, a deer hunter, a Western outlaw, and a gypsy.  Cathey Holliday came as a female Zorro.  She was my personal favorite; although, my daughter Kyla looked pretty authentic as a Native American.  Kyla researched actual symbols that Indians would paint on their horses.  She painted them on her horse, and dressed the part herself.

It was fun to see these costumed riders riding across Cross Creek Cattle Company.  After the ride, the Posse held their officer election.  We awarded two costume prizes.  One for the best dressed horse and one for the best costume.  The Sheriff judged the contest and had a hard time making his decision.  We also ate dinner and visited with one another.  All in all, we hosted a fun evening for the Posse.

Since this year’s costume contest was such a hit, it will probably occur next year, too.  They will have all year to try to top this year’s costumes.  As evidenced by the costumes this year, the members of the Posse not only ride horses well, but they are very creative.  Below are the costume contest winners.

Dorothy (Samantha Roesler) and Toto

Dorothy (Samantha Roesler) and Toto. Best Costume 2011.

Timber Thomson and her very painted horse, Patsy. Best Decorated Horse 2011.

Timber Thomson and her very painted horse, Patsy. Best Decorated Horse 2011.

Fly Eliminators

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

 

I am all for natural alternatives to pretty much anything.  However, I get a little skeptical when the natural alternative requires releasing another animal/insect.  There have historically been some major mistakes in this area. 

For example, Hawaii has a large rodent population.  In an attempt to control the number of rodents, they imported many mongooses.  Unfortunately, the mongoose are active during the day while rodents are more nocturnal.  Mongooses have actually created more problems for the small native fauna than they have eliminated the rodent problem since they were introduced in 1883. 

At Cross Creek Cattle Company we own many horses.  At night they are stalled in a barn.  Needless to say, during the hot summer months, the fly population around the barn can be unbelievable.  Keeping the stalls as clean as possible did not help as much as you would think.  Flies were a nuisance to both man and beast. 

Cathey Holliday researched and found Fly Eliminators from Arbico.  She decided to order them and give them a try.  They soon arrived in the mail and we began Operation Fly Be Gone.  We have now put out four or five packages of the fly elimators, which are fly parasites, in and around the horse barn. 

Last week I was cleaning stalls.  By the time I was in my sixth stall of the day, I realized that the fly eliminators were really working.  It dawned on me that I had not been pestered by one fly that entire afternoon.  I kept my eyes peeled for flies for the remainder of the horse stalls.  I saw maybe three. 

Unbelievable!! Fly Eliminators really work.  If you are looking for a natural alternative to controlling flies, check into these fly parasites.  Even a skeptic like myself, sees major improvement.  Considering that the flies torment animals and residents in Texas from the end of February to mid November, I am looking forward to a virtually fly-free horse barn for months to come.   

Unlike Hawaii, we have not experienced any ill effects from releasing the fly parasites.  They do their job well.  We could not be more happy with the product.

Soil Aeration

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Since our cattle rely on high quality grasses, Cross Creek Cattle Company is interested in doing all we can to improve our pastures.  Proper pasture rotation is critical for not over-grazing.  It also prevents erosion.  It aids in weed control.  But what else can we do to naturally improve our pastures?

The answer is quite simple: soil aeration.  Aeration is the method of removing small plugs of earth from your soil.  When to Aerate lists the following benefits of aeration.

  • reduction in the amount of weeds
  • a greater amount of nutrients reach the roots
  • prevention of soil compaction
  • an increase in growth of your grasses
  • improvement of oxygen circulation at the root level
  • an increased activity of vital organisms, such as earthworms

According to our local co-op, soil aeration yields a 15% improvement to your grass.  With just the aeration, you should see quite an improvement.  Adding compost tea or composted manures to your soil after aeration increases that percentage even more.

Knowing when to aerate is key.  The best times are late spring and early fall.  If you have mostly clay soil, you will want to aerate both of these times.  Ranches with mostly sandy soil can choose either time, but most aerate in the spring.

My husband is busy aerating our open pastures.  It is the perfect time to start reaping the many benefits from soil aeration.  From your pasture to your yard, soil aeration offers a way to improve your grass naturally.

Fresh the Movie

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

I saw the trailer for Fresh this past week as part of the Real Food for Rookies cooking class that my children and I are taking together.  I was so intrigued that I have sought out more information.

There is a movement afoot.  A movement to get back to the basics.  A movement to grow and/or raise our food naturally without herbicides, antibiotics, etc.  Cross Creek Cattle Company is part of that movement, too.

As producers of grass fed beef, we have transformed the way we raise cattle.  Some ranchers call it re-inventing ranching.  That might be the most appropriate term; however, we don’t need to re-invent the wheel.  American ranchers/farmers need to find our way back to the way God intended our food to be raised, which is what we are trying to do with our ranching business.

Cattle were created to eat grass.  They were created to stay in a multi-generational herd.  Since we raise cattle, it only makes sense that I discuss beef all the time.  But today, I want to use a different animal to illustrate this point.

When you cram thousands of chickens into a facility in tiny cages, you are simply creating problems because chickens are supposed to forage.  They roam around eating bugs, worms, and grass.  They will peck at each other in these tight quarters so to remedy that problem farmers have to clip their beaks.  The stress of their lifestyle lowers their immune system so farmers regularly administer antibiotics.

The way our country has been raising animals, fruits, and vegetables has created problems that have led us to our current food system.  Scientists have genetically modified many of our vegetables as they look for ways to grow disease resistant, fast growing, new and improved produce.  According to many experts, the most commonly modified foods are corn and  soybeans.  We consume hormones, antibiotics, steroids, pesticides, and/or herbicides as we eat our “healthy” grilled chicken, salad, and corn on the cob.

Joel Salatin, a fellow grass fed rancher, says that he is “in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.”  From this statement, I gather that Joel Salatin feels a strong need to heal our country.  Again, the theme is not necessarily re-invent, but instead restore.  Mr. Salatin was made famous in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Delight. He also appears in Fresh.

I really want to see this movie, but alas there are no showings anywhere near our ranch.  The public should be able to purchase the video soon for personal use.  If you are lucky and live in an area where there are showing of Fresh, please write and let me know your thoughts and impressions of the movie.

Until I hear from you or Fresh comes out for sale, I have the trailer to watch.  I am including it here at the end of this article for you to view as well.  Whether you see the movie or not, a movement is occurring in our farming and ranching communities.  Consumers want better, healthier foods.  Together we can all work to improve the state of our food supply.  Together we can restore and heal the practices in our country.



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