Let’s get something straight: Texas isn’t the only state you’ll find cowboys. They might be the top beef producing state, but Iowa is also in the top 10. Trust me when I say… there are cowboys in Iowa. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that “pssssh, cowboys in Iowa?”. Beef is big business here, providing $7.4 billion in business activity to Iowa’s economy.* I’m not going to forget about pigs, but today is about Iowa cattle and the people who care for them.
And no, I don’t mean the plaid flannel, fancy hat wearing, cute jeans and pointy-toed-patent-leather-with-silver-toe-clips-cowboy-boot wearing guys you find at a regular Florida Georgia Line concert.
Like this guy:
(image below, courtesy of buycostumes.com)
No, “big hat, no cows”, or “I bet you do ranch-y stuff in your Hollister jeans” type of cowboys. Iowa guys and gals doing the job they were meant to do. The real deal.
When it comes to my brother-in-law, I like to tell people to think more along the lines of, “if John Wayne and Clint Eastwood had a kid together” kind of cowboy. Tough, rugged, talented, and raising the cattle that become your succulent birthday steak or favorite first-of-the-summer charcoal grilled hamburger.
Long live the Iowa cowboy.
Meet Drew. He’s quiet, kind and humble. He’s the kind of guy who has his picture (stolen from my blog, oops) end up on a 1 million plus follower Facebook page, devoted to sharing images of “hot cowboys” and doesn’t think a thing of it. He loves sports, loves to have fun, but before the sports and fun he works himself into the ground and keeps working.
You need to know, this is the kind of person who makes sacrifices to ensure he has a quality product to sell, with hopes that it will become dinner on your table so he can afford to feed his family too. For him, and many people in this state, being cattlemen is a lifestyle and their livelihood. I spend so much time talking to and about pig farmers, it’s about time to get back to my roots. Let me tell you a little bit about one of my favorite people in the world, and what he tells me it’s like to be an Iowa cowboy.
First of all, thank you for not dressing like a hipster going to a FGL concert. Also, no spurs?
“My horse doesn’t need me to use spurs, for him to do his job. And, my ball cap is much more comfortable than my cowboy hat is most days. Don’t ask me what some people decide to dress up like at those concerts, it’s pretty entertaining.”
What’s your horse’s name?
“This horse I’m riding today? Well he’s young but pretty good. He still has to prove himself to earn his name. Nothing is given around here. Today… his name is Colt. Yep, Colt.”
Why horses and not four wheelers to tend to your cattle?
“Everybody does things different, some of the best cattle guys I know use four wheelers. I’m better up here [on horseback] and horses can go places that four wheelers can’t. We need that advantage in some pastures we have. Plus, it looks cool. HA, just kidding. Okay really, don’t put that in there, I was joking. I really like to ride horses, it grounds me. There’s something about being on a horse that makes everything right, I just can’t put my finger on it. Runs in the family, I guess.”
Favorite cut of beef?
“Prime rib, medium rare.”
Favorite cowboy song?
“That’s easy. Anything Florida Georgia Line puts out. They are very talented and I can relate to them. Ha. Kidding. ‘Strawberry Roan’, by Marty Robbins.”
(Special note: If you know me, you know Drew is antagonizing me with this statement. I prefer George Strait and country artists that don’t wear skinny jeans and man buns.)
Is there one thing you’d like to say to the people standing at the meat counter, purchasing beef?
“I’m a man of few words, and if it were in person I think “thank you” would do just fine. People buy food to feed their families, but I wonder if they ever stop and realize that with their purchase they are keeping food on my family’s table, a roof over our head and giving me the opportunity to do something I love to do every single day? It is pretty hard to believe. So maybe “thank you” wouldn’t be enough.”
This can’t all be about cattle, I mean: Food & SWINE. So: Bacon on your cheeseburger?
“Why are you even asking that? Of course. Yes, bacon. Yes.”
What goes through your mind when you come across a cow or calf that is sick?
“I want to get that animal feeling well, as soon as possible. Have you ever seen a calf with pinkeye? It is not fun. They don’t feel well, and if left untreated, they could go blind. In this case, antibiotics are needed so I can make that calf feel better and prevent any long term damage. If something gets sick, sometimes the answer is to use antibiotics, other times, not. Could be my kids, could be my horse, could be my cattle.”
John Wayne or Clint Eastwood? “Clint.”
Are you guys on a first name basis? “Don’t tell anyone.”
To be continued… Don’t go too far, “Newsflash: There ARE cowboys in Iowa, Part II” is coming and with a killer recipe.
*Iowa Agricultural Statistics, U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2015 Cattle Inventory Report