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It is time to sell all the feeder cattle. On Sunday, we will haul all of the calves to the livestock auction. Then, on Monday we will go to the sale and see how they do. It seems a little crazy, but this is the one “payday” for the year. Basically, we haven’t received any direct income off the cow herd since last January when we sold the calves.IMG_9462

Earlier this winter, I wrote about our winter farm routine. Well, that is just about over now! There will lots less “morning chores” and “evening chores” after these calves are gone.IMG_9444

Every day since birth (last spring) these calves have been cared for here on our farm. If you have been following along with the Farmin’ Fridays, you saw when we had these calves out to pasture…DSCN5963

….and when we weaned them. At this point, they averaged about 500 pounds.

Now, it is time for the calves to leave our farm. I’m guessing they will average between 850-950 pounds on Monday. The steers will most likely be purchased and shipped to a feed lot. If you would like to hear from another ranch woman about the work that goes on at a family-owned feed lot, I suggest Anne Burkholder’s blog. She does an excellent job of explaining the work she and her crew do in Nebraska.

They will remain at the feed lot until they weigh about 1,200-1,400 pounds. Then, they will be shipped to a processing facility and humanely harvested. calf

In a couple of months, the cycle will begin again. The mama cows will start having babies! It is sad to see the calves go, but this is part of the beauty of the beef industry – it is not vertically integrated & there are lots of ‘players.’ IMG_9479

There are lots of families just like us who raise calves. We call ourselves “cow-calf operations.” Then, there are lots of folks who sell their calves a bit earlier than we do. Those calves might be shipped to a “grow yard” where another family will feed them. Finally, the majority of the calves  end up at a feed lot. Yep, another person feeds them there, too. That’s at least three different segments, three different “areas of specialty” and three different sets of people. IMG_9435

The only downside to this structure is that the “story of beef production” gets broken into pieces. When you purchase a steak at Hy-Vee, you don’t get to hear from the ranch wife like me who really wants to say: Hey! Thanks for buying this steak. This is what we love to do: raise nutritious, safe and healthy beef for American’s to enjoy.

At least one neat company that I know of is working on coming up with a solution to this farm-to-plate disconnect problem, it is appropriately called: Where Food Comes From.

I think this will be a few years down the road but, I’m looking forward to the day when you can swing by Hy-Vee, use your phone to scan a bar code on a package of steaks we raised, then up pops a picture of our family & farm!

Won’t that be a neat trip to the store?

In the meantime, I’ll be blogging!



  1. Lori

    Good luck!

  2. Joy shelton


  3. Laurel Wilson

    Just keep on blogging informative stories like this one–oh, and fun ones like the way that Roxie sleeps.

  4. Anne Burkholder

    I love your pictures! You do a beautiful job with your camera :) One my long term goals with my blog is to get better at photography—maybe I need to invite you down to Nebraska to teach me!

    Thanks so much for including my blog link in your post today. I look forward to meeting you sometime.

    All the best,

    • Sierra Shea

      Hi Anne – Thank you for saying Hi! I think I have to give credit to my new camera, this is actually the first week that I’ve gotten to use it. I used my “Christmas” money to order a couple used lenses and a new body (Canon Rebel T2i) off of Amazon. I don’t know much about cameras, but I’ve learned enough to buy the body/lenses the “Camera moms” have – so that’s just what I did! :) My mom, aunt, and good blogging-friend all have Canon Rebels. I am having fun “playing” with it!

      I’d love to visit Nebraska & tour your feed lot! About how far are you from the Circle 5 feed lot – near Henderson? My parents (from Missouri) have fed some cattle there with Alan Janzen! Sierra

      • Anne Burkholder

        We are a couple of hours west of Circle 5, and are located near Cozad. You are welcome to visit and tour it—just give me a shout when you are down this way. I’d love to meet you.

        All the best,

  5. Uncle Jed


  6. Kathy Hasekamp

    Did it seem odd NOT to sell on Friday? <3 Another great post, keep bloggin' sweets!!!

  7. Julie

    Hope the sale went good for you guys!


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Hey, I’m Sierra Shea! I am so glad you are here. 

Where do I start with writing to introduce this blog? At the beginning, I suppose: I’ve been writing on various platforms online since 2013. I started blogging shortly after moving to South Dakota.

I am a mother and a maker at heart. I’m so grateful to be married to John and mother of three: Joslyn, J.D. and Jesse.

I am a self-taught decorator and designer. I am a brand new shepherdess and a Spiritual Director.

I love living in South Dakota, even though the winters & the wind can be a near-daily struggle.

Blogging is a grounding force in my life and it helps get me out of my head, unstuck and moving in the directions I always hoped I’d be going!