Maureen McMullen , Published October 13 2013
It's My Job: Rancher, daughters raise British White cattle
Located in Ogema, Minn., Rolling Hills supplies meat directly through their website, www.lovebritishwhites.com, and through Prairie Food Co-op.
What is the most challenging part of cattle ranching?
If not the weather, then getting all the bookwork done. Marketing is not something you learn growing up on a farm. On a dairy farm, you send your milk in the milk truck and you get a check in the mail about a month later.
What would you say is your favorite part of your job?
I really like the marketing; I really like being direct with people and sharing with them what we do and what we know. But I like growing the animals the best. That’s where my heart is. The animals have personality; they have depth to them that people don’t understand. Even though we see them once a month, their personality always shows through. There are the leaders, the followers, the instigators, just like kids in school.
What is your relationship like with animals that will be sold?
Half of them are retained for mother cows for our herd, and those are the ones we really develop relationships with. The males, typically, we don’t really get too attached to. We give them a number and they’re just a calf. They’re a unique breed called British White, and they’re not your typical status quo Angus cattle. They’re an old breed, and very unique just in their color. They’re sweet; they’re very gentle. They’re kind of like a Lab dog; if you play with them at all, they’ll wag their tail like, “Come on! Play with me!”
How do you play with a cow?
Scratch their head. They’re very sweet when you mess with them. You don’t have to worry about them chasing you, which is a very common concern in livestock production.
Agriculture is typically a male-dominated field. Has being a woman affected your career?
It does have challenges in that we are physically limited to how big of a rock we can move or how big of a tire iron it takes to get a bad wheel off, or how to figure out what’s wrong with an engine. But our strengths are probably in that we are very open-minded and very willing to try new things. We aren’t stuck in a paradigm where just because we live in an area where everybody grows beans and corn, we have to grow beans and corn. We can do something different and we can do it well. A woman’s ingenuity is probably our biggest asset.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Maureen McMullen at (701) 237-7311