CGND | Our Pasture View | April 2021

Maria Bichler

Maria Bichler is a wife, young mother of three and owner of Bichler Simmentals in Linton, N.D. She works from home as a journalist alongside her husband, Doug, as they manage their family’s 100-year-old farm and ranching operation.

We have been occupied with spring planning around here. While spring cleaning of our home and many outbuildings would be a most-welcomed venture, I will be honest in admitting the deep satisfaction that only comes from knowing the cobwebbed nooks and crannies are clean, the windows spotless, the dust evicted is not happening this spring.

Instead, tasks such as, “Buy duckling crumbles,” and, “Order seed varieties,” grace my to-do list. So, too, do assignments like, “Choose semen.” Life on the farm is never without its oddities.

Behind the idealistic image of cows grazing lush grass, chickens strutting throughout a coop and shiny tractors navigating the field is an immense amount of decision-making.

We are expecting 15 ducklings in two days and 30 chicks in four. Our 20-some ewes will launch into lambing within the week, and the cowherd will fill the farm with 250 calves in May. And, one never knows when the odd barn cat will plop another batch of kittens into the world. Do we have enough of the correct food for every species? What about bottles, nipples, heat lamps, boxes, ear tags? What about straw bedding and woodchips? Where did we put the waterers? All this thinking only to discover some necessity is broken at the very moment its use is needed.

In the last week, Doug pondered how best to put a fence on a portion of land. He needed to consider how he intended to rotate pastures and where the cross fencing should go. He purchased the seed for planting crops in our fields. This is not like walking the isles of a store and choosing your go-to item. Of endless varieties, he appraised seed traits like growing degree days required to be harvest ready, drought resistance, disease and insect resistance, yield and, of course, cost. He has been analyzing our heifers to decipher which will be sold at our production sale in November. Of those chosen, he will soon determine to which bull every heifer will be bred to.

Seasons of preparation come and go on the farm, and sometimes they take us by surprise. From procrastination to unexpectedness, the decisions we make can carry extreme risk. However, the decisions we commit to not only affect the animals and the land in our care, but they also affect the environment and our community now and in the future. If we are not successful, then we impact others in a not-so-good way. Our farm is our livelihood and our business, and choices carry consequences. But, with research, education, some rain and a prayer, we hope to be poised for another year.

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