No two Texas days are alike at Flanagan Cattle Co.
My name is Christy Flanagan. My husband, Craig and I live in Leonard in northeast Texas. We have a 13 year-old son named JT and we’ve been married for 20 years. My husband is the 5th generation to live on and work the land around our home. Farming and ranching is all Craig has ever done. He and his parents worked together until his father Wayne’s unexpected passing in October, 2011.
For several years, my father-in-law told me that I should submit a ranching journal to the magazine, and I never had, so in honor of him I’m finally writing it. I had helped my husband some in the evening and on weekends, but always kept a “town job”. I had a banking career for 17 years. After Wayne passed away suddenly, we decided the only way to keep the ranch going was for me to help Craig fulltime. So in January of 2012, I quit my banking job and went to work on the ranch. We’ve got about 400 crossbred Gelbvieh mama cows and some years we run about 500 head of wheat pasture calves as well. We bale hay for ourselves and about three neighbors. In a normal year, we roll about 12k rolls of hay. We are also sales representatives for Nutrition Plus mineral.
My husband Craig is the hardest working person I’ve ever known. He always does whatever it takes and never quits. He’s a cowboy, rancher, farmer, mechanic, truck driver; you name it he does it. But he’s also my best friend, the best husband and father to our son that I could ask for. He’s my superhero!
We have two guys working for us, Marty Mitchell (our brother-in-law) and Chad Brewer (our friend and neighbor). We also have an older man name Jimmy Helms who helps us during hay season.
We love what we do and are very blessed to be able to work together doing what we both love. Most couples say they couldn’t work together, but we love it and we pray that the Lord continues to allow us to do it for many more years.
12-Day Journal of Christy Flanagan
Sunday, February 26, 2017
My father-in-law, Wayne, would have been 68 today.
Up early this morning and getting the semi loaded with round hay to haul about three hours west of here for a neighbor. As soon as we get Craig’s truck loaded and strapped down, he heads out and I start checking our spring calving cows. As soon as I have everything checked and accounted for, then I put our mineral and mix a batch of feed for the yearlings we have at the house.
We had over 20 new babies today; it was a good day. Craig got home early evening. We quit early and got cleaned up to go see my brother and his wife and my nephew Koen. I hate to miss a chance to hold the baby. On the way home from Denison, we had a neighbor call with a cow out, so we stopped and helped them get her back up on the way home. Time to hit the sack for tonight
Monday, February 27
I got up at 5 a.m. this morning to fix a cinnamon roll casserole for my son’s teachers. Craig spent most of the morning on the phone taking bids from cattle buyers for our calves. We’ve got 240 head of 7 weights ready to ship.
I checked all the spring calvers while Craig was dealing with the buyers. Then it’s time to mix another batch of feed. While I’m doing that, Craig has to work on the overhead plumbing on our feed bin. He fixed the plumbing so I can add the liquid feed to the feed mix. We have a set of about 50 1st calf heifers at the house that we are calving out, so one of us checks them about every two hours.
We had lunch in town today at a new café and it was good. After lunch, I loaded the tank trailer and put out liquid feed in all the pastures. Craig & Chad were working on repairing some rods in the working pens that were broken. After we finished for the day, we cleaned up and went to town so I could buy groceries (one of my least favorite things to do).
Tuesday, February 28
My good friend Joni (who is also Chad’s wife) took JT to school this morning for me, so I got started a little earlier than usual. One of my first calf heifers had twins – are all doing well. Craig and I took a small square of haygrazer (Editor: forage crosses – sorghum, sudangrass, etc.) and caught a few more of the yearlings that we need to sell to make even truckloads. As soon as we have them in the pen, we go back to the shop and hook up the cattle trailers and start hauling them home.
We get all the calves home and push the ones behind the shop into the pen then we start sorting. We ended up with about 180 head so we sorted them into two pens of splitting the steers and heifers. We get them settled in the pens and mix a batch of feed so we can feed them.
We had to quit about 5 p.m. to clean up to go to a mineral meeting the local feed store was having. We started pulling out of the driveway to go get Chad & Joni and we saw the steers were out and crossing the creek. It was nearly dark and there was nothing but a hotwire to hold them so we knew that we had to get them up before it got dark. We jumped in our old feed truck and started calling them and sounding the siren. Fortunately, the pasture they were in was where our 1st calf heifers are and they are broke to the feed truck. They came running and brought our wayward steers with them. We pushed them all up and sorted the steers out (the last few minutes were by flashlight). Since we had missed the meeting, we went to the café and ate a steak before calling it a day.
Wednesday, March 1
Craig went to the “coffee shop” first thing this morning. I dropped JT off at school and dropped off his school uniforms to the drycleaners. Craig had to move some hay around with the semi so we had enough hay to mix feed for the calves and to feed the 1st calf heifers. While he was moving hay, Chad went to feed our fall calving cows and check on them. I worked on getting the tires aired up and flats changed on our homemade feed trailers to use in the pens.
We all met in town at the Mexican food place for lunch and then went back and finished our jobs. Once we were finished and had everything fed and tended to, we went south of town to get some bulls up. We went back to the pens to sort off 70 steers and 70 heifers to make two truckloads to sell.
Craig had to go check on a field that we are going to sprig as soon as we get roots. We’ve decided after talking to the buyers that OKC West is the best avenue for us to sell our calves this time, so we’ve lined up two semis to be there first thing Monday morning. Had to make a late run to the next town for some more plumbing supplies.
Thursday, March 2
I dropped of JT at school then picked up Craig at the body shop where his truck was going to be painted.
I had to make a quick trip to run Craig back home and double back to Bonham for a FSA County Committee Meeting. The meeting took longer than I had expected but I was out by 11:30, so then I headed to Fort Worth to pick up a load of mineral from the plant.
Later, I stopped by a feed store in McKinney to discuss mineral with them. Chad and Craig moved hay around, fed, and checked the cows while I was gone. Marty has been running the field cultivator this week getting the ground ready for sprigging.
Home for the night. Grilled cheese for supper and catch up on laundry.
Friday, March 3
Joni took JT to school again this morning, so Craig and I got the plowing tractor moved to the next field that Marty needs to run in today. Chad is spending the day welding at the pens and making gates. I mixed a batch of feed and fed the calves. Craig is cleaning up one of the feeding tractors and servicing it.
Lunch with Chad and Joni then back to work. I spent the afternoon checking my spring calvers. We’ve got about 70 babies on the ground so far. I killed a wild hog while I was checking cows. Didn’t have my A/R with me, but I did have my .44 pistol. Craig and I had to go south of town and take down a barbed wire fence and put up a temporary hotwire so the landlord could do some dirt work on the dam of the pool. Head home and start supper: Shrimp Scampi for JT and I and chicken wings for Craig. Set out some meat to thaw for tomorrow’s lunch.
Saturday, March 4
Saturday is our Sabbath, our rest day, and we don’t work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday unless it’s an emergency. It was cloudy and misting rain this morning. I fix breakfast and get JT out the door to church with my mom. The youth is doing a special mission’s fundraiser for kids in Africa. Clara Belle (my yellow lab) and I checked the 1st calf heifers on the side-by-side.
When we got back, I started a roast and a pot of beans. Once I had it cooking, I started on a big pan of spaghetti for a local family in town whose daughter is battling bone cancer. After the spaghetti, I whipped up a big pan of enchiladas for us to eat for lunch. Mexican food sounds good on a dreary day.
Clara Belle and I go to check the heifers again after lunch and take a quick nap. JT is headed back to church this evening for youth program practice. Craig and I take Chad and Joni’s daughter, Courtney, out for Hibachi.
Sunday, March 5
It’s misting rain and cloudy again, but we go ahead and mix a big batch of feed and get everything fed. On our way to Bonham to get a new pipe wrench and some air fittings we delivered two round rolls of haygrazer to a friend from church. Grabbed a hamburger from Braum’s.
Craig and JT cleaned up the shop while I met some other FFA Booster Club families to take the food to the family I mentioned. Stopped by Chad & Joni’s on the way back, I bought Courtney a pistol and I want to surprise her with it. We mixed another batch of feed and feed the calves as it’s getting dark, they will ship in the morning so we want them to be good and full before they go on the truck. Got cleaned up and went out for Mexican food, we’ll save the pot roast for tomorrow night.
Monday, March 6
Shipping Day! JT doesn’t have to go to school today since we’re shipping calves. I meet the trucks at the nearest truck stop at 7a.m. and lead them back to the pens. It’s still misting and raining and yucky today but the trucks can stay on the rock to load. We loaded 70 steers on the first truck and 70 heifers on the second truck.
As soon as the trucks are loaded and gone, we set in checking cows and feeding. Craig and I met Chad and Joni for lunch at the café. Craig and Chad worked on setting some line posts for a neighbor. JT and I head north of town to check the spring calvers. Craig, JT and Chad are going to the neighbor’s to help him load his trucks while I must clean up and get to a PTA meeting at JT’s school. But I do manage to get all the cows checked before I leave.
Tuesday, March 7
Started raining about 3 a.m., not a big rain, but enough to make the pastures slick. After I took JT to school, I went north of town to check cows and managed to slide my truck off the pool dam and in the edge of the pool. Spooked me a little, but Craig was nice about it when I called him to come pull me out even though it was my new truck. It took him a couple of tries but he finally got me out. I finish checking the cows and start feeding. When I got to Trenton to feed the fall calvers, there was a 300 lb. heifer with her head stuck between the barn and a tree. I had to work at it for a while but I finally got her out.
Craig and Chad working on the plow today. We need to quit and get cleaned up mid-afternoon to go to a funeral for one of Craig’s cousins. Just as we’re grabbing a quick bite, we get a phone call that we have two yearlings out on a busy highway in Trenton. I jump in the feed truck and head that way to make sure they aren’t in the middle of the road. Craig and Chad pay out and then meet me up there. We’re able to get them back in fairly easily and without incident or anyone getting hurt. We get the fence fixed and Craig and I head home to shower and change for the funeral. Headed home, my mom had brought JT home from school and he’s got a project due tomorrow that he’s been procrastinating on, so I set in and try to help him get organized so he can knock it out. We work on it until 10 p.m. but finally get finished. Craig checked the heifers for me. I cooked breakfast food for supper and we all crashed.
Wednesday, March 8
Up early and on the road. Chad is going to work on welding on a new set of pens we’re building north of town. Marty is going to be plowing. We’re headed to Oklahoma to look at some young bulls. Today is the day our calves are selling at OKC West so we decide to go by the sale barn and watch them sell.
We decided to go in the café and have a steak while we’re waiting on our neighbor’s calves to sell. We get on the road by about 7 p.m. so we can be home by the time JT gets home from church. Long day, lots of miles, but it was a good day. And the windshield time always gives Craig and I a chance to brainstorm and discuss new ideas, future plans, and count our blessings. We are truly blessed.
Thursday, March 9
I took JT to school this morning then helped Craig get moved around. He’s putting out fertilizer for a neighbor. After I get him situated, take him fuel and lunch, I decide to sneak away to meet my friend Traci for lunch. I walked in the café and sat down – just as I was about to order my drink, Craig called and he’d blown a hydraulic line on the sprayer. I told Traci I was so very sorry and I had to leave right away. She said she didn’t have anything planned for the afternoon so she decided to just go with me. We went and got Craig and took him to get a new line made then got him going. Traci and I spent the rest of the day checking the cows and feeding the calves. It was nice to have the company.
Well this was just a brief glimpse into the daily activities around here. No two days are ever the same and we usually start on Plan A and end up with Plan M or N before lunchtime. But it’s a great life and we are truly blessed beyond measure.