Lonely Statues

My son, Nathan, is guest writing today!

Lonely Statues

Standing on a faded red and white thirty foot tall tower, the white Charolais bull statue at the junction of Highways 5 & 36 in Laclede, Missouri, is a local legend.  Erected in 1972, the statue has for many years informed passersby of the location of Lamme Farms, the now-defunct ranch once run by June Lamme and her late husband, Bill.  Despite the statue’s landmark status, many people have forgotten that Lamme and her husband were instrumental in the introduction of Charolais cattle into the region.  Lamme Farm Charolais sign

Initially, Lamme’s husband raised Charbray cattle, a Charolais-Brahma cross developed in Mexico, but Lamme says, “They were really touchy.  They wouldn’t let us pet them, we couldn’t get close to them.”  Their experience with the Charbray taught Lamme and her husband they would prefer to work with a breed that was more approachable.

Finally, in the early 1950s, her husband made the decision to “breed up” to full-blood Charolais, which was a tamer, gentler animal.  He then bought full-blood Charolais from the Wrigley family in California.  When asked if she meant the family that founded Wrigley Company, Lamme exclaimed, “Yes, and Bill always said it like that, ‘Wrigley Chewing Gum people is where we got our start!’ ”  With this choice, Lamme Farms became one of the first breeders to introduce pureblood Charolais into Missouri, along with the McGinnis brothers of Lathrop, Missouri, and the Litton Charolais Ranch of Chillicothe, Missouri.

Lamme and her husband then joined the American-International Charolais Association, or AICA, a registry designed to prove the pureblood pedigree of Charolais cattle.  This required them to send in paperwork and documentation for every animal to the headquarters of the AICA, which at the time was in Houston, Texas, but was later moved to Kansas City, Missouri.  She remembers travelling with her husband to the international meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.  Lamme tells how one year she and her husband were invited by their hosts to dinner at their host’s home in the mountains, “We could look down and see Phoenix, and see all the lights.  This was quite an experience for me.”  She sweeps her arms apart as she speaks, to symbolize the magnitude of the view, and her eyes sparkle as she stares into the distance.

The Lammes also worked to promote the Charolais breed as a whole, and in 1963 they helped found the Missouri Charolais Breeders Association, or MCBA, an organization devoted to the promotion of Charolais cattle.  Lamme laughs as she passes on the wisdom of her husband, “Bill always said it’s easier to sell someone else’s cow.  You can brag on it and it doesn’t sound like you’re the one bragging.”  Mr. Lamme would be elected to the first board of the MCBA, and would later serve as president of the organization.

When asked about her role in the group Lamme says, “They’d give anybody a job.  One time, they asked me to be in charge of decorations at our Charolais Congress in Kansas City at the Muehlebach Hotel.”  The Charolais Congress was an educational event on the promotion of Charolais, which preceded a “Red Carpet sale,” held in conjunction with the American Royal livestock show.  “For the first time [the Charolais Congress] met, I had these beautiful flowers for the head table, then I would move them to…wherever there would be a meeting.”  Lamme smiles as she reminisces about the splendor of the event, “Then we moved, on a Sunday, to the Red Carpet sale… We used the same flowers all around where the red carpet was and the cattle were brought out on the red carpet to be introduced to the crowd, who would then start buying… Who’d ever heard of going to a cow auction and have flowers there?  But the Charolais people did it up right.”

Despite all that, in the mid-1970s the Lammes decided to sell their herd, after Mrs. Lamme began leading tours.  “In 1970, I planned my first tour to Europe.  It was 21 days long and it cost $750… We had enough [people] that we did two tours.”  Mr. Lamme had planned to join her for the first tour, but one of his bulls injured him and he was unable to travel.  The next year, however, was different.  “Bill got to go this time, and he realized what a wonderful trip it was, and I enjoyed it so much more when I could share it with him.”  A fond smile tinged with sadness crosses her lips as she describes travelling with him, “I’ve had a wonderful life, and gone on wonderful trips, but those years when Bill and I went together, those were the best years, looking back on it now.”

Shortly after those first trips, Mr. Lamme began contacting other ranches, looking to sell his herd.  Lamme sighs wistfully before completing the story of their herd,  “He had been writing this ‘special report,’ as he called it, a list of every Charolais breeder that advertised in any magazine…he knew quite a few people through that, so he talked to somebody up in Canada, and they came down and bought all of [the Charolais].”

Lamme Charolais cattle 1990

The Lammes sold their herd, and after everything they had done to promote Charolais, they were now out of the business.  Mr. and Mrs. Lamme would go on to start the Green Hills Travel Center and would lead tours around the world together until Mr. Lamme’s passing in 1991.  Now, many people have forgotten the history of Lamme Farms, and this story ends where it began, a lonely white statue atop his tower, watching over pastures long void of his kin.

Lamme, June.  Personal Interview. 2/9/2015

Heifers and Mature Bulls

This advice goes for all animals species, not just cattle!  Our personal experience is that we prefer to breed those virgin heifers at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years of age.  Breeding them to calve as 2-year-olds is comparable to a girl giving birth at 14-15.  Breeding and calving later can reduce calving difficulties by allowing the youngster to fully mature.  Even though conventional wisdom says it’s not profitable to miss out on that first calf and that by selecting for early calves, you are selecting also for early maturing, is sound business.  However, there are some ranchers who feel they more than pick up on the other end with their cows producing until they are 14-15, rather than dropping out of the herd at 10-11.  So, right or wrong, we don’t necessarily ‘develop’ the heifers, we simply let them grow up with the mature cows and become sensible, healthy, and productive females.

Here is another thought from Burke Teichert, a man whom I’ve yet to meet, who has words of wisdom and experience worth pondering taken from his column “Strategic Planning for the Ranch” in Beef magazine.

Don’t overdevelop replacement heifers.

“It will cost you money in several ways.  If some don’t breed, take heart in the fact that the “good ones” did.  At first breeding, 55% of expected mature cow weight is adequate in most situations, as opposed to the 65% that’s long been recommended.”

Don’t take better care of bulls than they should need.

” Since a bull doesn’t need to gestate or lactate, if he requires exceptional care, do you really want his daughters to become your cows?”

Burke Teichert, a consultant on strategic planning for ranches, retired in 2010 as vice president and general manager of AgReserves Inc.  He resides in Orem, Utah.  Contact him at burketei@comcast.com

“Not-To-Do” List

Here is another thought from Burke Teichert, a man whom I’ve yet to meet, who has words of wisdom and experience worth pondering taken from his column “Strategic Planning for the Ranch” in Beef magazine.

“We can all think of things we used to do.  We quit doing them because we discovered they were not necessary –often long after they’d ceased to be necessary, if they were ever necessary in the first place.  I’ll guarantee most of us are still doing things that don’t need to be done, but cost us time and money.”

Burke Teichert, a consultant on strategic planning for ranches, retired in 2010 as vice president and general manager of AgReserves Inc.  He resides in Orem, Utah.  Contact him at burketei@comcast.com

What are some things you do that are time wasters?  I know i have some, but it seems like they come from poor planning rather than day to day wasting (although this blog may easily fall into that category, but I am hoping it will build into a business someday).  Questions i ask myself:  What am i doing right now?  Is it costing me time and money? or is it a good investment for my time and money?  If it is a cost, why am I doing it?  Sometimes we do things because we enjoy them and that’s okay IF we can afford it.  For example, if we have no debt, if we have some serious savings, and if we can easily live within our means.  But if we struggle with finances, we need to seriously slash those costs that yield no income.  Don’t fall into a trap of justifying anything.

Rust, Rot, Depreciate

Here is another thought from Burke Teichert, a man whom I’ve yet to meet, who has words of wisdom and experience worth pondering taken from his column “Strategic Planning for the Ranch” in Beef magazine”

Cut Overheads

“If it rusts, rots, or depreciates, you want as little of it as possible.  Think of ways to function with less labor, facilities, and equipment.  These decisions are often more emotional than rational.”

Burke Teichert, a consultant on strategic planning for ranches, retired in 2010 as vice president and general manager of AgReserves Inc.  He resides in Orem, Utah.  Contact him at burketei@comcast.com

Before purchasing something that will rot, rust, and depreciate, think hard about whether or not there is a better way to deal with an issue.
Before purchasing something that will rot, rust, and depreciate, think hard about whether or not there is a better way to deal with an issue.

Repurposing Lumber

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Assembling the tools and supplies usually takes longer than accomplishing the task!

Last summer, we took down the old horse barn behind our house and salvaged as much lumber as possible.  Built in 1899, it had far outlived its usefulness and had become, not only an eyesore, but unsafe as well.  Jeff McCotter used some of the planks and timbers to build a stunning platform bed, as well as, these beautiful picture frames.  I finally got around to taking some old glass to Hometown Hardware  and having glass cut for them, then i finally ordered and received the frame turn buttons to hold the photos in and the hangers, then finally cut foam board pieces for backing.  Then FINALLY, this morning, assembled the whole affair.  If you had frames made like i did, would you want them to come back with glass, backing, turn buttons and hanger already installed?  or would you prefer gathering the materials and doing those parts yourself?

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Turn buttons and hanger installed on one picture. I discovered that the screwdriver set for my DeWalt 18V power drill did not contain a driver small enough for these tiny screws. I ended up using a hand screwdriver which was probably the better choice for this job anyway.
Finished and hanging.  Might look better stained darker, but for now, i'll enjoy them au naturale.
Finished and hanging. Might look better stained darker, but for now, i’ll enjoy them au naturale.
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Hand crafted platform bed built entirely of planks and posts from our vintage 1899 horse barn from the Lamme Farm.

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Unrolling Hay

Bitterly cold today and with ground frozen hard, the best job for today is to unroll hay for grazing.  The plan is to strip graze it for the remainder of the winter.  This will add considerable organic matter to the soil. When the cattle and sheep have cleaned up the hay and pooped all over the paddock, I’ll broadcast legumes and grass seeds over the area.  Hopefully, i’ll have a chance to unroll more hay over the top for grazing, but our weather is so unpredictable that that is not a certainly.  I may just walk the cattle around on the area to encourage seed to soil contact, then graze it occasionally as the original grasses grow.  Once the new grasses take hold and grow (all depends on the weather), then the livestock will not have access for about 60 days for full growth.  Sure hope it all works.

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Looking back to load and unload.
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Controls for the Hydra Bed
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Two hay bales loaded for moving. Each weighing about 1700 lbs.
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Unloading.
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Slicing through the net wrap with a box knife.
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Pulling off the net wrap in preparation for unrolling.
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Threw the wraps for 32 bales in the front so they wouldn’t get in the way of hauling hay.
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Downtown Linneus, Missouri
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Should have left just a little bit earlier. No problems, though, just locked into four wheel drive and kept to about 40 mph. About a 25-30 minute drive home.
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My office view today!

Think Return per acre not Return per Cow

Mr Teichert is a cattle ranch consultant, so he thinks in terms of cows, but this thought can apply to most livestock and may even extend to orchards (think dwarf vs standard trees) and other horticulture schemes.  Here is another thought from a man whom I’ve yet to meet, who has words of wisdom and experience worth pondering taken from his column “Strategic Planning for the Ranch” in Beef magazine”

Think Return Per Acre Rather Than Return Per Cow

“We often get so caught up in “maximums” that we forget the distinct possibility that running more cows that are small and give less milk might provide a greater return per acre while producing less return per cow.  The calf-crop percentages might be greater, while cost per cow and cost per acre might both be significantly lower, which will greatly increase profit.  We want to improve the productivity and profitability of our entire ranch, not production or profit per cow.”

Burke Teichert, a consultant on strategic planning for ranches, retired in 2010 as vice president and general manager of AgReserves Inc.  He resides in Orem, Utah.  Contact him at burketei@comcast.com