Melinda Bastian

Melinda Bastian

Today we are featuring Melinda Bastian, a Missouri farm wife, who writes about her sons and their involvement in agriculture and showing cattle. 

When I first started writing this, I found myself being a bit scattered. We have three generations in our farming operations here in Central Missouri and each generation has a different story to tell. I thought the best way to present our entire story would be to break it into generational segments. The youngest generation of our operation is made up of our sons, Chris and Jesse Bastian. Chris will soon be 20 and Jesse will turn 18 a week later.

Chris, Jesse, & Cody McCullough in the Chi Fitting Contest at Jr. Nationals. 
Both have always been involved around the farm and started showing bottle calves when they were 3 and 2 respectively. But showing calves is just the tip of the iceberg of what they have learned. We homeschooled both boys through high school. Homeschooling and farming combined to provide more learning opportunities than we could ever have imagined when we began! Not many young people can do their science fair projects on how to AI a cow with an actual reproductive tract or build a hover board with a calf blower and duct tape! Both were also very involved in 4-H and FFA. They earned the opportunities to judge at The American Royal in Kansas City and The National Western Stock Show in Denver in 4-H and made it to the state level in FFA. Between these judging experiences and their time spent on mission trips to North Dakota with our church youth group, they have developed communication skills I never thought I would see in them. Jesse just got back for his last youth mission trip last weekend. They will be telling our church about the trip this week in worship service. Chris bemoaned the fact he won?t get to talk in church this year. We all were a bit shocked at that statement!

Chris is a full time farmer/cattleman now. Unfortunately he?s learning just what a hard life it can be this year with the extreme drought conditions that we?re experiencing. The corn has very few, if any, kernels and the beans could still produce something, but not nearly what we are used to. Hay is done and has been for a few weeks. It is somewhat a bleak situation, but one that is bringing out some creativity in how we do things. He has been blessed with some great fitting jobs this summer that have sure helped pad his bank account.

Chris helping fit a steer for a young man he's teaching to fit.
Jesse is working at a local truck repair shop this summer and will start a diesel mechanics program this fall. We can definitely use another good mechanic around here and he is developing some great skills in this area. He felt this was a way he could earn a good income and yet still be involved in the day to day farming operation.

Chris and Jesse each have their own cow herds and some cows are co-owned between the two of them. We made an agreement with them that they could have the first good heifer out of their show heifers each year. They also run a fitting and clipping business, Bastian Brothers Fitting. They compete at the Chianina and Maine Anjou Junior National Heifer Shows in the fitting contest each year. This year they placed 2nd in the Chi contest and 4th in the Maine contest. Not too bad for a couple of boys who started fitting on their bottle calves. This October, their fitting company is going to host a Sullivan?s Stock Show U here in Mexico, MO. This will be a free event for participants and we hope to draw many youth from the central and eastern portions of the state. Give us a call, drop us an email or send us a Facebook message if you?re interested in getting the details.

Some of the cows the boys care for. Since this picture was taken,
we had the driest June and July in a very long time. 
The guys both went to AI (Artificial Insemination) school when they were 14 and 12. It has been quite nice to have them be able to breed cows and take some of that weight off Mike?s shoulders. We AI around 75 cows each spring/summer. Before the guys learned how to AI, Mike and I would often be out breeding cows in the dark when he got home from his evening shift job in town. The guys also run a hay crew (not been too busy this year though) and help out with silage chopping. Actually there?s not a lot with the cattle we don?t expect them to be able to handle.

Their days vary quite a lot depending on the time of year. Right now, Chris and Jesse are up by 6:30 and out the door to feed and rinse show calves. Jesse heads off to his town job about 7:40 and Chris takes his breakfast break then. After breakfast, Chris will check cows and calves for pink eye and make sure the mineral feeders and creep feeders are full. Right now, Chris and Mike will head over to Grandpa Bastian?s farm to chop corn silage. They?re chopping nearly all the corn this year due to the drought. Normally we wouldn?t chop that much, but we?re trying to make the best of a bad situation. Chopping silage will keep Chris busy though out the day and into the evening. By the time he gets home, it?s time for supper and then he and Jesse will rinse calves again and do the evening feeding and watering. They have to wait until nearly 9 pm to have enough water pressure to water everyone. All the cattle waterers, hydrants and our house run off the deep well. As dry as it?s been, we?re having to baby our water system a bit. Everyone?s usually in bed by 10 pm and will do it all over again the next day.

Cutting silage to preserve the corn crop.
Chris and Jesse will take the day off Saturday to go to a cattle show nearby. They are taking a few heifers and a steer we sold last year. They?ll do all the fitting as Mike will take their place in the silage. We try to make it all work out and especially since they have the job of fitting the steer.

Sundays are as much a day of rest as we can take. Mike gives the guys the morning off and does chores for them. We let them sleep in a bit then head to Sunday school and church at First Baptist Church in Mexico. After church, they rinse the calves while I?m getting lunch ready. After lunch we try to take some down time. Jesse goes to youth group in the evening and often Chris hangs out with friends on Sunday evening. It?s really a time to recharge our batteries for the coming week and to be thankful for the ways God has blessed us.

Chris exercising a show steer.
Both boys have been honored at the local, state and even national levels for their involvement with the beef cattle industry. They have learned how to explain their reasons through livestock judging, how to carve the ideal calf out through fitting and clipping and how to present their animal through showmanship. They have learned how to deeply care for animals through the care of their heifers, cows and especially their baby calves. They have learned to be quite self-sufficient ? from treating a cow for prolapse and stitching her up to figuring out what drug will be best for treating a cow for disease or illness. They have suffered losses (of cattle, of freedom, of time and of money) and they have experienced great joy (by winning showmanship contests, fitting contests and shows, by watching the baby calves playing in the pastures and by growing closer to each other). I cannot imagine how dismal the future of America would be without young farmers. Agriculture teaches a work ethic that is unparalleled. Faith in God leads them back to agriculture even after the worst of time. For everything there is a season, a right time to plant and another to reap (Ecclesiastes 3:2). I am thankful for all the opportunities agriculture has afforded Chris and Jesse and look forward to them getting the opportunity to give back to other youth in agriculture.

A major misconception in the show calf world is that all ?steer jocks and fitters? are unethical and crooks. I hope that as people get to know Chris and Jesse they see a different side of the industry. I hope they see the love of the cattle and the youth participating in shows. I hope they see two young men doing their best to present their animals in the best light and simply making a living at it. I hope they see two men who are accountable to more than just the owners, the judges and other fitters. I hope they see two men who are striving to make a difference in the world.

That?s what I hope the world sees when they see the youngest generation at Bastian Show Calves.

Thanks Melinda for the great feature! We look forward to hearing about the other generations of your farm. Be sure to check out Bastian Show Calves facebook page, website, or you can email them ([email protected]) for more information. If you or someone you know would like to be featured as a Face of Agriculture, please contact us!

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