Monday, February 6, 2012

The Adventures of JessAnn Simmentals

Greetings to Rural Women Rock followers and thank you for taking the time to read!

I am a co-owner of JessAnn Simmentals with my mother and brother.  My mother does a lot of the heavy lifting, in more ways than one, but we utilize our different strengths to make our small cow-calf operation work.  I love working with Simmental beef cattle because they make excellent mothers, muscle well and tend to have pretty good dispositions (although our cattle dislike men, for some reason). We refer to ourselves as hobby farmers, and as a hobby, beef cattle can be expensive and stressful at times. But when things go well, and the cattle grow well, then it is the most satisfying work that can be done.

I bought my first Simmental, Lady Nick, from Bartlett Island Farm in 1998. I selected her using the most scientific method possible that only the best judges use: I liked the way the she looked at me. Not the way she looked TO me. She made eye contact and I decided I wanted her.  Lisa is the last daughter of Lady.  Lisa reminds me a lot of her mother, both in looks and disposition. She is now bred to a purebred Simmental bull, after being bred to Holsteins two years in a row, so I hope she has a heifer in the spring.

Mom thinks Lisa is spoiled. She will violate the "hula hoop rule" of personal space with people when grain is involved, and I never have corrected her for it. I'm not the only human spoiling bovines in the operation, however, and I would say that Mom's favorite is Maebelle.

Our cows are as important to us as we are to them.  We do everything we can to ensure they are healthy, safe and content.  Despite our personal off-farm struggles, we have been able to continue developing our herd.  Through this process I learned what my mother is capable of doing when her back is against the wall (which is only part of the reason she is one of my top Rural Women Rock Stars).  Her ability to handle everything on her plate is simply remarkable. I also gained a greater understanding of how important beef cattle, rural living and supportive friends and family are to me.

Thank you Rural Women Rock for the opportunity to share my story, and I hope you enjoyed a little slice of life from Maine.

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