South Dakota Rancher Bryce Lindskov wasn’t even aware of the derogatory remarks actor Joaquin Phoenix made toward the beef and dairy industry until three days after his Academy Award acceptance speech. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t even aware that Joaquin existed.
“I don’t really have time to watch a lot of movies, especially ones about cartoon characters or superheroes. I might catch an old western now and again, or occasionally the wife makes me sit through a chick or kid flick but for the most part we keep very busy farming, feeding and caring for cows and newborn calves”, said Lindskov.
The Lindskov family and crew, calve out 6000 head of momma cows each winter along with 1000 head of first calf heifers in the extremely harsh conditions on the Cheyenne and Standing Rock Reservations in North-Western South Dakota. Lindskov explained, “I have a crew of 10 full-time hands that assist the cows in calving and transfer them to sterilized maternity pens as soon as the calves are able to stand and nurse for themselves. We bed the barn with fresh straw and hay to keep the cows and newborn calves alive and out of the snow drifts which can reach 30 feet tall during bad winters.”
The calving crew is treated well too during their rugged 120 night and day tour of duty. “We try and keep our employees as comfortable as possible, whenever possible. They spend a lot of time outdoors checking cows for problems… usually in subzero weather with harsh wind chills as cold as 50 below zero. We always make sure the break room is warm and the fridge stocked with frozen pizzas, pop and even a beer or two for after a long shift that can stretch out for as long as 24 hours at times.”
The Lindskov Ranch facility is equipped with massive flat screen monitors and a complex camera system to monitor maternity pens as well as the heifer lot where most of the problems happen. “Heifers are young cows that have never had calves before”, explained Lindskov, “We figure about 20 percent of the heifers need assistance in giving birth.” “My brothers and our crew, which is like family to us, had one 24 hour stretch a few years back where we birthed 191 calves without one loss. Our herd is our livelihood and has been since 1951. As soon as calving season is over, we start planting crops and harvesting hay to begin the whole process over again.”
Regarding Mr. Phoenix’s allegation that cattlemen “Steal babies from cows even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.” Mr. Lindskov responded, “The only cries we hear around here are baby calves wanting more milk from their mom. They stay by her side when the grass greens up at pasture, then they are weaned in the fall and put in our feeding facility. If we didn’t harvest a portion of the herd, then cattle and all domesticated animals would run wild and overpopulate the planet. They might even eat up all of Joaquin’s broccoli and sprouts and trample his flower garden, don’t reckon he would like that much. I’m not too sure he or PETA has really thought out what would happen to the planet if us ranchers and dairy farmers opened the gates and threw in the towel.”
“Our cow herd is our livelihood and family legacy. If Mr. Phoenix would like to come out here in the real world and try his hand at ranching or even character acting like a rancher, we would gladly pay him for his efforts. He could even stay in the bunkhouse, but we don’t offer any vegan meals here at the Lindskov Ranch. I’m not sure he is cut out for this role” Mr. Lindskov said with a wry smile on his weathered face.