The Pringle Ranch

(Katie) Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here on the Pringle Ranch outside of Yates Center, Kansas. Today we’ll be speaking with Beth and Dave Patterson and their daughter Becky Farha about the family’s cattle operation, their custom haying business and Beth’s work on the beef advocacy front. (Beth) We have really evolved with the times, what the consumer wants and what she needs. (Katie) So, stay tuned for more That’s My Farm.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer, here on the Pringle Ranch south of Yates Center. I’m with Beth and David Patterson and their daughter Becky Farha. Welcome and please tell me a little bit about your ranch, you guys have a long, storied history so Beth talk to me a little bit about your family and how this all started. (Beth) In the late 1870s my Great Grandfather and his brothers came from Scotland to America and eventually they came to this area in the later, in the 1880s. And they stayed here about seven or eight years and then they went to Globe, Arizona, area. And during that time they would send cattle back up here to the Flint Hills to graze the native blue stem. And then after about seven or eight years, my Great Grandfather for social privileges and schools, better schools, he brought his eight children and wife back to this area and started farming and ranching. And then my Grandfather ranched and my Father in the ’70s built the Pringle Feedlot. And then I came back in 1981 after working for two years, after graduating from K-State in ’79, upon my Grandfather’s death I came back and joined my father in the operation. (Katie) And David where did you fit into the picture and talk about your past and how you joined the family? (Dave) I grew up in this area. My Grandparents were big into native hay for all my life. I went to school in Moran, Kansas, and then moved back over in this area. And then Beth and I got together in early 2000 and then we just kind of started working together here and taking over her family operation. (Katie) Wonderful and we have the next generation still here on the farm. Becky talk to me about your role and kind of growing up and then deciding to return back to the family operation. (Becky) I grew up a little bit just helping my Mom kind of on weekends. I would go with her and open gates and ride on the back of the truck and then graduated high school in ’04. Went to Butler on a theatre scholarship, had really no interest at the time in ranching or anything to do with it. Then kind of the same thing with my Mom. My Grandfather passed away in ’05 and that kind of led me to taking some animal science classes. Then after Butler, went to K-State majored in Animal Science, graduated in ’09, kind of went off and did a few other things and then came back December of ’09 and I’ve been here ever since helping out. (Katie) So for five years now we’ve had three generation essentially on the farm, because Beth your Mother is still here and still participating in some of the activities. So, talk about working in a multi-generational environment and what your family ranch and family cattle feeding operation looks like today. (Beth) Well David does all the farming. We farm about 700 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans. And put up about 500 acres of native bluestem, so that’s David’s department. And Becky and I help him as much as he needs us to. And then Becky and I kind of run the pastures. We custom graze about 300 cow/calf pairs for other people. Dave and I have a 65 head cow herd in the spring and the fall. And then we also run some steers in the summer for ourselves. (Katie) Wonderful. Well, thank you guys. And stay tuned for more on That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here on the Pringle Ranch outside of Yates Center, Kansas. Would you two ladies talk to me about the starter lot we’re standing in now? Can you talk to me about the process you take the animals once they arrive in the lot and kind of the feeding process and the vaccination process you guys put ‘em through? (Beth) We receive the cattle, most of ‘em come from the sale barn. And so they need a lot of TLC usually. A lot of them have just left their Mama, or first time away off the farm. So, we receive ‘em and give ‘em the native bluestem which is excellent for them to kind of get their system worked out. We let ‘em rest and then we give ‘em their first shots and in another couple weeks we re-vaccinate and give them their black leg and, but they’ve always got access to the native hay. We start ‘em out on receiving chow that’s medicated and then switch to a grain ration. We just try and keep things simple. We try to keep ‘em close for two weeks and then when we feel like they’re straightened out, the best thing is to either get them out to a grass trap or to a bigger lot where they still have access to hay and grain. But we just like to get ‘em straightened out and then out on grass as soon as we can. (Katie) And Becky, you guys obviously are custom feeding a lot of these animals, so what’s essential when you’re custom feeding cause these are obviously not your animals. They are owned by somebody else. So what does that mean for you guys? You talked a little bit about the TLC, but what else goes into custom feeding? (Becky) We try to communicate with the owner as much as possible, let ‘em know what we’re doing and when an animal is sick. And he’s usually pretty good about trusting our judgement, you know if we need to go get medicine for ‘em. Like Mom said, we keep ‘em close for two weeks and if we need to lock something up and keep ‘em by themselves, make sure they have extra water and hay and a little more care. And we just try to handle them as calmly as possible, just keep them calm and stress free. (Katie) And it’s just you two. So, two females working the cattle is a pretty unique situation especially in Kansas agriculture. So, motherly instinct kicks in on some of this. Does the female aptitude help in any way when you guys are working these cattle and then just keeping on eye on sickness, and cattle that maybe need a little extra TLC? (Beth) Yea and I think it’s just how we are too. I think I grew up around my Grandfather and he was a true cattle person and gentleman and I learned respect and patience from him. And I think years ago you know, that’s how we handled our animals and I grew up that way and kinda that’s how… (Becky) And also you see other people when they do work cattle aggressively, it never works out. So, I mean you just kind of learn from watching other people what works and what doesn’t and I learned watching her what works best and that’s just calm. You know we don’t use a lot of… we really never use hot shots. Every once in a while take a flag or a sorting stick but just use our hands and our body language. (Katie) Wonderful. Thank you. Stay tuned for more on That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here with Dave Patterson. We’re on the Pringle Ranch south of Yates Center in Woodson County, Kansas. Now Dave, your portion of the whole family operation is the haying and the crops that we’re standing beside. So you come from a haying background. So, talk to me about what you do and how that works in with the cattle portion of things. (Dave) Well, part of our operation is custom hay. We hay native grass. We feed a portion of it to the cattle that we run here. And then we ship either part of it east to dairies to Indiana or Illinois because they like the calcium that’s in it, from this hay in this area. And then we ship a lot of it to the feedlots out in western Kansas. (Katie) Now, we’re east of the Flint Hills, so we’re kind of in the Flint Hills, but talk to me about what kind of grasses you guys have here that make it so unique. (Dave) The native bluestem and it is just good, cattle really like it. They start on it easily. Calves like it and the dairy people like it for what it has in it. It’s just a really good grass for cattle. (Katie) And then outside of the haying you guys have a crop operation. Talk to me about how many acres and kind of what you guys are growing. (Dave) Well we farm about 700 acres, row crop, wheat, corn and beans. And we just, we pretty much everything we grow we just take it all into the elevators and sell it pretty much, we don’t ever use any of it ourselves for feed or anything. And that’s what we do with that. (Katie) Are the acres grazed at all by the cattle? Do you guys use the actual land for anything? (Dave) Our local fields that are around the headquarter operation here we do graze the cattle on, mostly the bean stubble. They seem, they’ll be out on it most winter days. If the grounds open they just really get a lot of stuff out of the bean stubble and that. (Katie) And what you guys don’t hay, you guys have the grazing then, so can you talk to me about the winter grazing cause I know you guys try to keep the animals out on the pasture as much as possible. So, how does this grass stand up in the winter and what do you guys need to do to supplement then when the grass does dry out? (Dave) Well we have all areas for the cattle. We don’t run any cattle on what we hay normally, for the square hay. And then in the winter time, they’re pretty much on cubes and grazing that grass that’s there until really bad weather and then we’ll start feeding the hay to them. (Katie) Thank you and join us for more on That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here with Beth Patterson and we’re on the Pringle Ranch outside of Yates Center, Kansas. Beth we’re in one of your grazing pastures sitting in front of a cow herd that you guys custom graze and then custom calf. So, can you talk to me about your grazing operation, your cow herd and what you guys do for your customers? (Beth) OK. These cows came to us in April and we put ‘em out either on fescue or if native is available, but we’ll get ‘em in the Spring and keep ‘em throughout the Summer. Then usually the cows go back to the owner the first part of October. And then the cows will stay anywhere from the first of December to the first of January and we’ll keep ‘em on native grass or fescue or run crop fields and before they go back home usually to northern Kansas. And the owner then calves them out and before you know it they’re back here with their baby calves. (Katie) What’s the relationship like, I mean these are not only someone’s livelihood, they’re someone’s animals and so you are responsible for caring for them and ensuring that they have healthy animals. So, talk about the relationship of custom caring for animals like this. (Beth) I think we feel like we take care of our customer’s cattle just as good, if not better than our own. We know we’re responsible for somebody else’s livelihood and they have entrusted us with the care of their cattle and so we make every effort to make sure that the cattle are cared for and that those people they feel comfortable with us taking care of ‘em. We, on our cattle, we have Spring and Fall calvers. And we try and calve them out, this grass is really good like for calving out because that baby calf can get down in this native grass out of the wind and it’s amazing what a baby calf can endure as long as it’s got the big native grass to kind of lay in. Stay dry. (Katie) Talk a little bit about calving out and kind of a more pasture setting as opposed to more of a pen and you know a sheltered setting. You said this grass provides good coverage but also there’s wide open spaces, which means you have lots of areas for cows to drop calves. So what are the advantages and what are some of the hurdles of calving out like this? (Beth) Well, I think the cow is, she can go off on her own and kind of be by yourself and that time of year, we’re feeding and checking the cows anyway. It’s always good to have a facility available if you need to get a cow in. If she’s having trouble. But most of the time, we don’t have any trouble calving and this is just, they can and they find shelter either amongst the trees or the hills or down in a creek bottom or something. There’s just a lot of protection for that cow. And it’s how they used to do years ago out on the open range. (Katie) What does a typical day look like during calving season for you guys? (Beth) Well, we’ll try and feed first thing in the morning and check ‘em and make sure they have open water if ponds are frozen. But the main thing is just to get out there and get ‘em fed where they’ve got some energy and if they need hay and we may go back and check ‘em again later in the day. But the main thing is just to watch ‘em real close. (Katie) Wonderful. Thank you. Stay tuned for more on That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer. We’re here with Beth Patterson in one of her grazing pastures on her farm outside of Yates Center, Kansas. Beth, in addition to caring for your animals and taking care of crop and pasture ground you also do a lot of work outside of the farm in terms of advocacy and helping the beef industry in general. Talk to me about how you got started in those positions and kind of what you’re doing now. (Beth) My parents were longtime advocates in the Kansas Livestock Association and NCBA, and Cattle Women. So growing up, I was always amongst that kind of volunteerism. And then when I came back in the mid ’80s I joined KLA and just going to the meetings and convention. And then I was asked to serve on the Stock Growers Council and then was chair one year. And I just think the more involved you are, the more it means to you and I have always said I learn probably more than I give. I know being on the Stock Growers Council I felt like I just learned so much by being on it and visiting with the other people on it. And then I was asked to have my name put on for the Cattleman’s Beef Board through KLA. And the Secretary of Agriculture nominated me to serve on the Cattleman’s Beef Board. And I was very honored and have really enjoyed my first year learning about the Beef Board, the Beef Checkoff and all the things that it does. (Katie) Why is it important not only to talk about what you guys do, but how it impacts with consumers? Cause on the Beef Board, you guys are talking a lot about the end product, the actual consumer facing part of your business. Why is that important for you guys? (Beth) Well, I think we want to educate the consumer and if we can do it all together it’s easier than just one by one, us doing it, especially with the Beef Checkoff. There’s funds to educate, promote, do research and what we’ve learned also, we’re doing a lot of multi media with Twitter and we can reach the consumers that is leaving work and she can go to an app and she can find recipes or get ideas what to fix for supper that night. So, we have really evolved with the times, kept up what the consumer wants and what she needs. (Katie) Wonderful. Well, thank you Beth for letting us spend time on your farm and ranch today. And thank you guys for joining us on That’s My Farm.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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