Dedicated farmer guarantees acreage to remain in agriculture, not parcels

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By Thelma Taylor

Margaret Lake of Bourbon County, member of the Harrison County Beef Cattle Association, said that after she completed the Master Cattlemens educational program and Cow College in 2002 and from her personal experience, she decided that the cow/calf operation was not for her any longer.

She said, I began a search for a good, honest, hard-working partner to associate with in a feeder calf operation. She chose Austin and Brenda Paul of Paris. Austin is a principal in the Barber Cattle Company of Lexington. Margaret said, His wife, Brenda, her staff, and I keep the calves healthy and growing. She said they have a health program similar to the CPH program.

Margaret and the Pauls got a new group of calves last week to feed until they reach the desired weight to send to the feed lot which should happen the last of July. These calves are already eating out of the bunks and drinking from waterers, mostly on the county water system.

Margaret said, In December or January, they typically bring in 130 to 135 head of No. 1 black and black crossed calves, weighing in at four or five weights. We get the calves up to the mid to heavy nine weight. Depending on the market, they are sold and shipped to the feedlot in late July to mid or late August.

The calves are fed stress pellets when they are first brought to the farm. After that they are fed hay, pasture, minerals and tender loving care (TLC). The calves are rotated to 16 different pastures of clover, orchard grass, bluegrass and fescue. There is water in all the fields.

Margaret said people are amazed at how easily she can change the herd from one pasture to another by opening a gate and pulling the mineral feeder behind her pickup truck to the new pasture. The calves quickly learn to follow. Margaret is very satisfied with her decision to switch from the cow/calf operation to growing feeder calves for market.

Margaret said, The feeder calf operation has been good to me. She said the cow/calf operation was a lot of hard work.

Margaret retired in 2000 from a life in the business world in Lexington. She spent about 45 years in accounting. She started working for Barney Miller in the early 60s for $75 a week. She went from there to Honey Crust Bakery, then to Spindletop Research and then to a pathology and cytology medical laboratory. She said, I worked from the peg board type accounting to complete computerization.

In 1980, the laboratory was sold. She and her coworkers were left jobless. She and some partners started the Dimensional Sign System in Lexington. She said with enthusiasm, This was truly wonderful. We made all our designs. When the Kentucky Bank made a complete changeover, we made all their signs. We fell into that pattern and did a lot of bank work. We had the most wonderful clients in the world. It was her dream job.

Margaret retired in 2000 and returned to her Bourbon County home where she was born. The house is 208 years old. We are about finished putting metal siding on a small feed barn that is probably as old as the house. I am going to mount a quilt board on the barn. The quilt pattern is an original design of my Grandmother Laura Lakes. I will put a dedication plaque on it. Her parents were Kellar and Bernice Lake and her home is on Lake Road.

In 2007 Margaret made the decision to put her farm into a conservation easement with the Bluegrass Conservancy of Lexington. This requires the use of the farm to remain in agriculture. Not in the development of small parcels and houses after I am gone, Margaret, the dedicated farmer said.

Let me add another note about the destruction caused by the deer population. After I complained about the deer loss to me and other farmers in this column last week, Katie Couric, CBS news anchor, gave a report that evening about the destruction caused by deer on the highways. These statistics are national.

She said about 200 people die each year from transportation accidents caused by deer. There are over one and one-half million accidents a year that injur over 35,000 people. The expense of deer accidents for victims and transportation vehicles runs in the billions of dollars. I couldnt catch the exact number, three to four billion, I think.

A deer landed on the windshield of a deputy sheriff in Wisconsin causing him to run into a tree, then a utility pole. He had recently returned from Iraq. He said, I didnt think Id get beyond Iraq. Then I come home and almost get taken by a deer.