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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Raising cattle makes life interesting

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ducommun's cattle provide a sense of pride and satisfaction

It's obvious from his smile and the demeanor while he talks about his cattle that Jason Ducommun has the cattle business and farming in his blood. He says he gets that from his grandfather. and having been raised on a farm himself it's no wonder.

The young cattleman and his family live on a farm just north of Larrabee not far from the place his parents, Jim and Judy Ducommun, own. He and his wife Carey have two sons, Jaden and Drew, who are already at home with the cattle. It would be all right with Jason if they went into the family business too. Carey is a nurse at Dr. Harrison's office in Cherokee.

Jason operates a diversified operation with farrow to finish hogs, and crops that include corn, beans, oats, and alfalfa. He is also a Garst seed dealer and offers custom round baling and custom seed drilling. However, his first love is raising cattle. He raises some fat cattle (cattle raised for fat), and raises cow/calf pairs.

Jason Ducommun is loading up a pair of calves that belong to a pair a cows he has just loaded into a trailer to take the pairs to a different pasture.
(Photo by Nancy Nelson)
He knows his cattle like he knows his family. He has a story for just about every cow and calf he has. For example, the latest addition to the farm yard is a young bull dubbed Tigger. Tigger had a rough time getting into this world and veterinarian, Jack Creel, delivered him by cesarean section. It must have been a fascinating process to Jason, because of the way he shares the story.

Often people compliment him on his machine shed but it has never had a single piece of equipment in it. It is the temporary home to those cows about to deliver calves. Currently there are close to a dozen cows ready to deliver any day now and along with Tigger and his mom they know Jason well as he enters the building.

Jason knows his cows so well and they him, that they have developed individual personalities. The cow known as Pink 44 has an attitude when more than one person stands at the shed gate to look at them. Jason no more than said something about her attitude and she proceeded to lower her head and paw at the ground like a bull ready to charge. Jason merely scolded her like a child and she immediately quit.

Standing out in the farm yard looking out over the landscape into the field where the majority of his cow/calf pairs mill about Jason talks about how he can't imagine doing anything else. It is a lifestyle he loves and he takes the good with the bad. Everyday is different, filled with challenges and adventures.

He says he often sits on his ATV at the top of the hill watching his cows. He likes to watch the calves grow and interact with each other. He can tell a person exactly which calf belongs to which cow because he had a hand in caring for the cow and bringing the calf into the world.

For example, he could tell without hesitation that the white face bull calf belonged to that white faced cow over there and rattled off her tag number. Why? Because the not so little guy born at a whopping 150 pounds.

Another cow out in the field is affectionately called Jezebel. As a calf Jezebel became the family pet and she thought of herself as a dog and often roamed the farm yard near the house. One day while Jason's father-in-law was working on an addition to the house, Jezebel ended up in the kitchen and wouldn't budge. Jason came home put a halter on her and out she went without a problem.

Jezebel is also of particular interest because Jason let Nick O'Brien show her calf at the Cherokee County Fair last year. Now this year, that calf, now among the cows about to deliver, is going to be shown again by O'Brien as a cow/calf pair and another one of her calves will become a cow within the herd.

The fat cattle Jason currently has were just brand new last fall. Somewhere in the bunch is the calf he brought to Roosevelt Elementary for kindergarten classmates of his son, Jaden, to see as they studied a farm unit just last fall.

All the crops Jason raises goes into feed for his cattle and sometimes he has to purchase more. The fat cattle are fed a mixture ground corn, oats, and distillers grain. The distillers grain he gets from the ethanol plant.

He has a mini orphanage at the back end of a building he uses for storage. These are the calves that have lost their mom due to illness or are one half of a set of twins or the mother cow wouldn't let the calf feed. Jason separates the twins so the cow can stay in good shape longer.

It's not all fun and games on Jason's farm. With the diversity of his farm he is busy all year round. He says you have to be prepared for anything to happen. He has had to become a veterinarian of sorts, especially in emergencies. During calving season he becomes the ever vigil watchman checking on his cattle at all hours of the night and day. When problems arise he can work all through the night or just work a few hours if the cow is delivers well. During planting and harvesting the work days are long too.

Jason serves on the board of the Cherokee County Cattlemen's Association and this summer he is coaching T-ball. He indicates that it is important to him to coach the team in order to spend time with his family apart from the farm. His family is just as important to him and knows the boys will only be this age once. He wants to be able to be a dad as well as a cattleman.

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