KIDS, COWS AND COLLEGE FUNDS
I’m Sara Prescott. My husband, Michael, and I -- along with our children -- own a cattle farm in Lincoln, Illinois. Our girls might only be 8 and 6 years old, but they’re raising two special cows to fund their college tuition. From calving to market and everything in between, follow along as we work together to raise kids and cattle.
KIDS, COWS AND COLLEGE FUNDSWe’ve set up their “herd” as a college fund.
200 COWS, 3 KIDS, 1 FARMBetween 200 cows, 3 kids and a farm, there's never...
Always learningA lot of what we need to know is second...
Happy Cows, Happy FarmerJust like humans, beef cattle thrive and grow best when...
KIDS, COWS AND COLLEGE FUNDS
Our kids (to find out more about them read 200 cows, 3 kids, 1 farm) aren’t the only personalities on our farm – our cows are characters in our family farm story, too. Ninety-eight percent of our 200 cows are black. The other percentage is represented by “Peek-a-boo,” the white Charolais, and “Bob,” the red-and-white Hereford.
Of course, there is a story here …
On Madison’s first birthday, we decided to buy her a different colored cow so when we went to the farm she could easily pick hers out. Enter Peek-a-boo. We did the same thing with Emma – Bob belongs to her. (Yes, we have a female named Bob). The plan worked. Peek-a-boo and Bob are both easily identifiable for the girls and, because they both technically own the cows, we’ve set up their “herd” as a college fund. Each year, Peek-a-boo and Bob have a calf. If we choose to sell the calf that year, the money is put into a savings account. Just like our kids, Peek-a-boo and Bob both have personalities.
Peek-a-boo is an adventurer. She’s always moving around and checking things out – she’ll cover every inch of the pasture. She also takes
every advantage to get dirty, which is more noticeable than any of our other cows since she’s the only white one. She will be having a calf in the
next 2-3 weeks, so stay tuned for that update.
Bob is mellow. That’s really about it – she lies in the pasture, observes everyone else and loves to eat. The only thing she moves quickly
for is hay and the feed bunk. Oh, and how did she get her name? Her identification number is “808,” so “B0B” stuck.
Our family farm means the world to us and the ability to grow and involve our children in the succession of that story is incredibly important. We hope you enjoy learning a little more about our farm this year and can laugh along with all the crazy that comes with raising three farm kids.
200 COWS, 3 KIDS, 1 FARM
Michael and Sara
Michael and I both had off-farm jobs when we were first married, but always felt a strong desire to be a part of the beef business. Around
10 years ago, we bought our first heifers and developed relationships with local farmers and landowners to lease pasture land. Today, our herd has
grown to raising 200 mama cows. Michael and I are definitely a team, as he still travels for work on occasion and I’m often at the
farm caring for the cows. So naturally, our kids come along to help with the daily livestock chores.
As far as the girls are concerned, caring for the cows and doing chores with Michael and me definitely has its perks. They’re both learning
to drive the Gator, and filling the feed buckets has always been their job – it’s something they take great pride in.
Michael and I have been around farm animals all our lives, so a lot of what we need to know is second nature to us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t keep
learning. A lot of people don’t realize how many farmers today have college degrees, with expertise in areas from animal science to crop and environmental
technology. When we hear about new research into animal behavioral science, we’re serious about finding out how we can apply it to our own herd. More
and more, we’re finding out about how important it is to allow cows and calves the opportunity to perform natural and instinctive behaviors essential
to their health and well-being. So we make provisions to ensure social interaction, comfort, and physical and psychological well-being.
Happy Cows, Happy Farmer
I know for sure is that every mom feels the way I do about what she provides for her children. We all want to be sure we’re giving them the best this
world has to offer and that we’re passing on the best of everything we’ve learned. For us, that includes keeping our kids involved in the day-to-day
running of our farm, from the time a calf is born to the day it's shipped off to be raised before going to market.
People who live off the farm may wonder whether farmers and ranchers care about the animals they raise. The short answer is yes. The longer answer? It
turns out doing what makes cows happy and comfortable also makes good business sense. That’s because, just like humans, beef cattle thrive and grow
best when they’re not experiencing stress or anxiety or discomfort. So ensuring our animals have healthy, comfortable conditions is satisfying in two
ways. As people who grew up around livestock, we care about the welfare and comfort of the animals we’re responsible for. And that in turn helps us
to be successful, and to continue raising healthy, happy calves. If our animals don’t thrive, then neither can we.