December Rancher Spotlight: Grand Meadows Farm
This month we shine our spotlight on Grand Meadows Farm, Ada, Michigan. Ada is located a few miles east of Grand Rapids and Grand Meadows Farm is located on the Grand River itself.
Trivia time- the Grand River is the longest running river in the state of Michigan at 252 miles. That’s about the length from the front gate of our ranch in Elmendorf, Texas to my uncle’s driveway in La Porte, Texas. The Native Americans who lived along the river before the French and British settlers named the river O-wash-ta-nong, which translates to “far-away-water”, and I bet that refers to the length.
As I’m writing today where I am at, it’s a frosty 50 degrees with grey skies; but, in Ada, Michigan, Grand Meadow Farms is at 29 degrees with snow and a winter advisory in effect. (Shotgun not putting out hay!) It just goes to show that there are farmers and ranchers all over America working to feed the people of the world no matter what the weather!
Grand Meadow Farms is a family operation owned by the Bielema’s that started in 2000. The farm started as a small operation as David and Jill Bielema’s daughters Lindsay, Kara, and Kristin began showing Herefords in 4-H, and in the words of David Bielema, “has morphed into something bigger!” Today the farm is a seedstock operation of a 100 head, but they do sell a few show steers and heifers, some freezer beef, and contribute cattle to Great Lakes Hereford Beef.
Great Lakes Hereford Beef is a stocker operation that David started in 2009. Their mission is to pool Hereford influenced feeder calves from the Michigan area, thus providing price support by selling cattle to feedlots, and offering an entry for Michigan cattle into the Certified Hereford Beef program. Be sure to pick up a copy of the March issue of Hereford World to learn more about stocker operations and hear more about Great Lakes Hereford Beef.
David says their family chose Herefords initially because of their docility. However, after that they recognize Hereford cattle are leaders in fertility, efficiency, and the ability to compliment other breeds. Remember, Herefords are known as the “great improvers.”
Grand Meadows Farm has learned three things from their past–pencil it out, things are always changing, and keep your eye on the ball (or in this case the bull). Pencil it out meaning to sit down and think things through, figure out the return versus the cost, and the level of risk involved. Do you need to spend $200,000.00 to make $5,000.00? Sounds like a good rule of thumb for any business.
Things are always changing, to quote John F. Kennedy, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” The way we raise cattle today is more efficient than the way we raised cattle 20 years ago, and I bet you it will be more efficient in the next 20 years. Do more with less is how we think, and is the reason why farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land.
Keep your eye on the ball/bull. The bull can make or break your operation. Too much waste and you’ll get a lesser price. If he’s not in the best of shape your pregnancy rates plummet. Is your bull current by industry standards today, but more importantly does he fit your operation? Your cows are changing just like time so make sure your bull changes with them. The best bull for your operation is the one that “improves” it the most. All three points are great take-aways as an operation looks forward.
If David could make a point to a non-agriculture background person, then he would make two. First, “farmers are the best stewards” and second, “it takes work to make food.” David, you could sure say that again. But, like a lot of farmers and ranchers your actions speak louder than words! For example, stewardship and work are exemplified by the thousands of farmers and ranchers like yourself who are out in the cold checking their stock, ensuring they have food, water, and shelter. I wonder if the person leaving their car running as they bound into the corner store in bad weather realizes there is a person in that same weather making sure the pipeline of food keeps coming. I sure hope they do!
Grand Meadow Farms has brought the Bielema’s a lot of enjoyment. They have had the opportunity to see their children grow up learning the values of an agricultural lifestyle, and enjoying the accomplishments of hard work and dedication. Much like a lot of us that have grown up that way, we look to leave the world a little better than we found it. Nothing teaches that better than a little sweat and dirt applied for a goal.
We thank Grand Meadows Farm for being this month’s Rancher Spotlight. We appreciate them and all the others just like them that are helping to promote the Hereford breed, and at the same time make the world a better place.
We at Certified Hereford Beef want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as we launch into 2015. Keep Rolling!!