Monday, February 9, 2009

'Tis The Season

Beef carcass ultrasound. Our family will eat, sleep and breath this three word phrase for about 8 solid weeks. What am I talking about? Well, since my blog isn't quite a year old we missed this season together last year. You see, The Prairie Daddy doesn't just ranch, he is a beef carcass ultrasound technician. We own our own business and thankfully it is seasonal (as if the ranch doesn't keep him busy enough throughout the year!). Actually, this business is a really nice addition to our annual income and it has been a really great adventure for The Prairie Daddy. He is awesome at it and we have a great clientele that we've been working with for 7 years.

Now I used to travel with him full time during the ultrasound season (Feb-April) and was his "right hand man" or something like that. After puking my way from ranch to ranch, state to state during the first part of my pregnancy with The Prairie Kid, I was thrilled to have a reason to stay home and not have to go as much...a baby. I have done a job here or there but for the most part the ranches we work with provide a helper or we hire a friend to go along.
Why don't I like to go along anymore? Let me just say this...we should have been on Dirty Jobs (and I submitted an application but they never called). First thing that gets done to the animal is the dirt gets blown off their backs with a high powered blower. Then their hair gets shaved in the area the images will be taken. Then warm vegetable oil is poured all over that area. Then the scanning.
Let me paint a better picture for you of why I would rather stay home and sip my latte in my pajamas while blogging:
Flying dirt, hair, vegetable oil, poop, pee, and occasionally blood (not from us but from cattle being dumb and hurting themselves while getting loaded in the chute) covering you while you sit in frigged temperatures and all sorts of inclement weather and push buttons on a Saran wrap covered computer keyboard all day long...over and over and over and over again. And when you have to pee (or puke when you're pregnant) you have to try and find a place to hide from all of the cowboys around, usually in a hay stack or a barn behind some big tractor tire.
I am crazy for wanting to stay home, aren't I? Missing out on all the glamour of this classy endeavor?
So what is beef carcass ultrasound you ask? Many people automatically think of babies and preg checking when they here the word "ultrasound." What we (and when I say "we" I really mean "he") actually do is take images of the meat. Know that yummy prime rib you like to eat so much? Well, instead of having to butcher a bull/heifer to see how big that prime rib is and how much marbling (fat) is in it, we can tell with ultrasound images. Call me crazy but dead bulls and heifers aren't really that great for breeding (and all of the bulls/heifers we scan are pure bred bulls/heifers getting ready to be sold for exactly that purpose).

In the slaughter plant the animal is split between the 12th and 13th rib. This is where we take images so that we can measure with software on a computer the same area of the longissimus dorsi muscle (prime rib) as the packing plant. Cool, eh? Here is a picture of an ultrasound image of a ribeye.
Did this look like your steak?
Breeders take all of this data and publish it for their potential buyers. We use ultrasound on our own cattle to cut out the outliers. If a heifer falls too far under or over our desired ribeye size or marbling score then she takes a one way trip to the sale barn. We have been using this for 7 years to get a more consistent herd of cows.
Here are some pictures of The Prairie Daddy in action:

And I have posted this picture before but it is worth posting again...the tongue...always out when The Prairie Daddy is thinking. It's genetic. I am amazed he doesn't get hair, dirt and oil on that tongue when he is doing this!

This heifer looks thrilled, doesn't she?

Well, the blog posts might be sparse for the next month. Or I might have more time to blog with The Prairie Daddy being gone so much. I guess we'll find out, won't we? We are taking off to Montana at the end of the week and then heading to Denver this weekend. I will get to stay at my mom's with The Prairie Kid for a week while The Prairie Daddy goes to Nebraska. And I am so excited because my sister, her boyfriend and my little nephew are coming to Denver while we are there! Yea! There is light in the midst of the season!


diana said...

back to montana?? miss me that much already?? :D

Beck said...

You're a braver woman than I am! I'm not sure I love anyone enough to have done a gross job like that, especially pregnant!