The Way it was half a century ago/ Cattle feeding on a Midwest Grain Farm

20 Feb

      Recently Ryan Goodman @AR_ranchhand ask if anyone could help him with information about the origin of cattle feedlots. I thought no I can’t help with that, but my mind was flooded with memories of Dad’s small feeding operation on our small family farm. I wish I could show you a bunch of pictures, but back then it was just hard work and nobody was thinking about taking pictures, so let me tell you now. Take lots of pictures even of the routine things in life. You will be glad you did later. I was born in 1947(first half of last century). My memories probably start from about the time I was five or six years old.         

      Dad had two barns connected to five lots that converged in the center around a large round water tank, fed by a windmill over a deep well(almost 200 feet). The water from this well was very unique as you could actually see rust particles in it and taste the the strong iron content. Everyone commented about it but on a hot day putting hay in the barn no one turned it down. Each barn had long wooden feed bunks, made from two by twelves. At my first memory of them they were well worn and rounded. We fed about twenty five head in each barn. Dad would buy feeder calves from Missouri and have them shipped in by rail. My first job of coarse was learning how to use a pitch fork. We had a wooden ground driven New Idea spreader. We stoped all livestock production in the mid Nineties and that was the only spreader we ever owned. My brother Doug and I put a new chain in it not long before we quit using it. We came down to the farm one day, by then we both lived In Gays, the small town just down the road.

Dad had burned the speader and sold the metal for scrap. We were both very upset but we never told him. We had two large ear corn cribs and an ear corn grinder. Much later we got a grinder mixer. I spent many Saturdays as a young teenager grinding corn into wooden box wagons. Ground ear corn  was fed from these wagons into the feed bunks by shovel and supplement was added on top. Local markets were available but if the price wasn’t right Dad would load about eleven fat steers into his 1947 Chevy ton and a half and make a two day trip to the Chicago Stock Yards. It was about a two hundred mile trip one way. I always wished I could have gone on one of these trips but by the time I was old enough to go we had begun to relies totally on local markets. I,m still amazed today that he made those trips in that old truck. Dad was a good record keeper and I,ll always remember him telling that he fed cattle for two years and with his labor donated he made five dollars. I guess you could say it wasn’t always profitable, but I’d love to try it all again. This is my first post and if their is another one maybe we’ll talk about my first show steer picked from one of these lots.


One Response to “The Way it was half a century ago/ Cattle feeding on a Midwest Grain Farm”

  1. Ryan Goodman February 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    This is the kind of stories I could sit all day and listen to Paul. I love listening (reading) about what raising cattle was like before I had the opportunity to experience. You’ve started a great thing here. Would LOVE to hear more. Can’t wait to hear about that steer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: