Today on the TCA blog, we feature Ginger Peak of the Arrowhead Ranch. Ginger shares how she and her husband, George, got into the cattle business and how they were able to be successful along the way.
How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
When we moved to Tennessee in 1995, we bought 154 acres in Erin, TN with the intention of raising cattle. At first, we had a commercial herd but some of our family members wanted to go into Registered Angus so we bought our first stock in 2005. As time went on, they went on to pursue other interests, leaving just the two of us to continue. By then we were very involved with the breed and all the aspects of having a registered herd.
Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, what are you proud of, etc.)
My husband (George) and I (Ginger) raise Registered Black Angus on our ranch with the part time help of one other person. We have 48 in the herd at this time but more calves are due this month. George retired last year and is now running the ranch full time. I have an off-ranch job as well so most of the work is done by him. We are most proud of the strides we have made in our genetic program. We DNA test all our cattle to determine their genetic value at birth. When you have a small herd with limited resources, it is essential to put your efforts into only those that will provide you the results you want to achieve.
Both of us grew up in the Midwest but not on working farms. That has made this effort such a learning process. However, we both love to research and learn about cattle and are not hesitant to put new ideas to work. The benefit is that we don’t have “the old way of doing things” to get in the way of how we operate now. Our favorite part of having our ranch is the freedom it allows us to have our own business and we get to enjoy our cattle and the nature around us every day.
What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?
It is difficult to grow a business with limited resources and only a few people to rely on. This is a full time activity with no days off. There is feeding, fencing, repairing machines, seeding fields, and much more that is involved in building and maintaining our facilities and pastures. Add to this, breeding AI, calving, finding the correct nutrition, keeping records, and marketing the cattle. All this goes on no matter what the weather. You have to love it!
What is the one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
It is hard work and you have to be engaged 24/7. However, you are free from a human boss and get to enjoy your cattle, some beautiful days, and the satisfaction of watching a new calf get their first milk from their mom. You can watch calves running and playing together and get to know the funny things about your herd—like the calf that took the key out of your UTV and ran off with it. You meet a lot of good people willing to share their knowledge with you and to offer a hand.
What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?
The grandkids love to visit the ranch. They take part in roundups and feeding the cattle. They get to go fishing and ride ATVs. We are fortunate to be able to share this with them and make memories that last forever. It is a great advantage to work together for the same goals. You get to celebrate successes and share disappointments. But when you work together for your future, it makes it all worth it.
Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?
Operate your farm or ranch as a business right from the start. Document everything and keep good records. Don’t expect a quick return at the beginning; you need to be in it for the long haul. Embrace new technology and keep up with social media. Get involved with associations related to your livestock. Enjoy this way of life and do it because you love it.
Is there anything else you can share with us?
Be a good steward of your land. Keep up with all the advances in technology with the tons of cattle resources available. Read everything you can. Attend learning courses that are offered. Take advantage of Tennessee programs for cattle producers (like TAEP). The state of Tennessee is very favorable to agriculture.