Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Second Cow: Lacy

A while ago I share with you how I got started in the cow business with the purchase of my first cow.
Well, Sassy certainly wasn't the last cow I ever bought, and was just the beginning of a long run of heifer and steer projects I showed over my 11-years in the 4-H program.
This being county fair week where I'm from, it seems fitting to introduce my second heifer, and 4-H project, Lacy. Named after my best friend until we moved when I was four, Lacy the cow came from a longtime registered Angus breeder in the Bighorn Basin. My dad purchased several of his 4-H heifers from this same operation, and is who suggested I purchase my first Angus cow from them.

 I do not remember taking this photo, or that we haltered her that day. I do remember that this nice man had several pens of heifers, sorted by price, ready for us when we arrived. We looked through all of them, enjoyed the ones that were too expensive for me, asked if the one that jumped the fence was cheaper since she jumped into a lower priced pen, and eventually selected number 1111.

 I paid for her, received her registration papers, obviously haltered her, and took her home. That's my dad on the right ready to do most of the work on the first attempt at leading.
She proved to be 100% Angus in nature. Where Sassy was mellow, sweet, kind and laid back, Lacy was the opposite. She wasn't wild, but derived particular enjoyment in walking wherever she wanted, dragging me along as I "lead" her. She was also not mellow or very kind. She was quite the eye-opener after my first heifer!

 Despite those attributes, and my sister being born in May of that year, in the middle of a major remodel of our house, I somehow got her as ready for fair as possible when you're 10

 Here we are on show day. By the end of the day that showstick was done from whacking her over the nose every time she tried to drag to me off wherever she pleased.

But, for everything she lacked in her desired show heifer disposition, she more than made up for as a cow. Lacy was a steer maker, and I believe she only had one or two heifers during the roughly 12 years she was in my cowherd. She didn't just raise any ol' steer either, she raised good ones. The people I bought her from were carcass oriented in their program, and her offspring excelled that way. I attempted to show one of her calves as a market steer, but he too lacked the show steer disposition. We ended up having him butchered, and the butcher asked all about him and complimented the carcass extensively. That's high praise if you're a rancher.
Other things I remember about Lacy is that she could flat out walk just about any other cow on our place, and was sneaky. You had to watch her on every gather, but she always had her calf with her. And, while I could always catch, scratch and feed cake to Sassy, it was a rare day to be able to even give Lacy a piece of cake when she was a cow. She was a harder keeping cow, but was always bred and always raised a calf that was among the best each year.
It may not sound like it from this post, but I really appreciate this cow. She was another foundation member of my herd, and she did a lot of good things for me by raising all those good steers. Plus, regardless of her quirks, there is a unique bond when you show an animal, especially when you're young. I loved her.
Just like with Sassy, she eventually got old and lost her teeth and couldn't keep herself in good enough condition. Her gate slowed and her calves started reflecting her age.When the time came I sold my first two cows the same fall, and that was very hard. But, I cared enough for them and what they did for me to do the humane thing and not allow them to suffer through old age in the harsh environment our ranch is located in.


  1. About a year ago I lost one of my first cows to old age as well. I didn't show her, but she was gifted to me by my grandfather. It's always hard to see them go but they teach us such great life lessons. Beautiful post!

  2. And that people is a sign of a great herdsman (woman). Herdsmanship like stewardship is a balance between appreciation of what your animal has produced and deciding it's "purpose" later on. What a great job your parents did in raising you! I enjoy reading your posts - especially these. Blessings from Wisconsin - where it is our fair week too. My daughter's Suffolk older spring ewe won Best of Breed. Her market lamb was in a large class of nice lambs. He was a red ribbon winner. He made the minimum weight, rate of gain (0.80/day which is really good) and will be sold at the auction on Saturday.