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Springtime comes to McIntyre farm

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | April 10, 2022 12:00 AM

Out at the McIntyre farm spring is in its full form — blue skies, sun and baby animals.

Around the farm, the occasional sounds of roosters crowing, cattle mooing, turkeys clucking and goats bleating can be heard. Two of the farm's newest members, bull calves, Randy and Garth, bask in the warm rays of the sun.

The calves are the first to be born from heifers the McIntyre twins, Tracen and Jayden, received through the Western Montana Stockmen’s Association Heifer Scholarship Program and represent the hard work they’ve put into raising them.

Now, the work begins for the youngest McIntyre child, Cabella, a Somers Middle School sixth-grader, who was also awarded a heifer through the scholarship program this year. The heifer she named Patsy, arrived at the farm in January.

“I was really excited and also nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” Cabella said.

January also marked another momentous occasion for Tracen and Jayden when the association transferred full ownership of the heifers to them, which is the ultimate goal.

The WMSA Heifer Scholarship program seeks to help 4-H and Future Farmers of America members, ages 10 to 16, build herds by awarding heifers to youths through an application process. During the year, the association is a co-owner of the heifers as the youths learn to care for, breed and show them with the help of a mentor. By the end of the year, if recipients fulfill the program responsibilities, which include site visits by association members, full ownership is signed over.

THE MCINTYRE children are all part of 4-H. Tracen and Jayden, who are freshmen at Glacier High School and attend the Agricultural Education Center, are starting out in FFA.

Mother, Rose McIntyre, who is the principal at Somers Middle School, said the family has raised other baby animals, but breeding heifers and raising calves is new territory. Unfortunately, they missed the births of Randy and Garth.

“We actually didn’t get to see them born. It was actually kind of sad. She calved at like 5 o’clock in the morning,” Rose said, pointing to Tracen’s heifer, Loretta.

“We could hear her and we came out,” she said, but it was too late.

“And then she calved at like 3 o’clock,” Rose said pointing to Jayden’s heifer, Wynonna.

“They got off the bus and they called me, like ‘Mom there’s a baby on the ground,’” she said with a laugh. “They came out and got bedding underneath him, made sure he was OK and I hurried home.”

While both births went smoothly, Randy needed special care afterward as he was weak. At the time, one of the children’s mentors, Carol Olsen, happened to be coming over to dinner and helped milk the first-calf heifer to prepare a bottle for Randy.

“So when Randy was born it was pretty cold and there was ice. He was pretty weak, so he got to spend the night in the house,” Rose said. “That first week we gave him a bottle. Momma wasn’t letting him nurse very well, but the next morning he got up and got right on her and she calmed down. That was an experience.”

The McIntyre’s are also hoping Cabella’s heifer has a successful pregnancy.

“Next year, if one of them has a heifer we will donate the heifer back to the [scholarship] program and another kid will get the opportunity to do this. It’s something our family has decided to do,” Rose said. “If we have more than one heifer we’ll keep it and build the herd and breed it.”

BUT FIRST, Cabella’s goal for the year is to tame and halter train her heifer and practice walking in preparation to show her at the fair.

“My goal is to at least do a good job showing her,” Cabella said. “Hopefully, I get a ribbon or something.”

The cows with babies are expected to be shown as cow-calf pairs and Cabella’s shown as a bred heifer, the family says.

“These two calves could be 4-H steers next year,” Rose said. “So if they decide to do the beef project instead of the hog project then they can take their own steers or they could sell them to another 4-Her and that’s what's really cool about this program.”

Eventually, the steers will be butchered, which is a difficult part of life on the farm.

“We know we’re raising them for meat. You miss ’em, but we know why we’re doing it and we know where our meat comes from and they’ve been loved their whole life, you know,” Rose said.

One of the key skills learned from raising animals is responsibility.

“How to love and care for animals. Really, with 4-H they’ve really learned to be leaders and mentor other kids,” Rose said, giving credit to family friend Morgan Baker, who was the children’s mentor for four years and is a breeder now at Trumble Creek Hogs.

“She’s been an amazing mentor and taught them how to give back to the kids and now I keep telling them it’s your turn to do what Morgan did for you. So they are helping other kids.”

OTHER NEW members to the McIntyre farm are piglets, which the children will raise to show at the fair as part of 4-H as hogs and kids (the four-legged kind), which the family raises for milk. There are also two steers, a horse, chickens and turkeys.

When not busy tending to the animals, the McIntyre children keep busy with school. Cabella also competes in rodeo and the boys in hockey.

“We don’t usually have any spare time,” Cabella said giggling

The WMSA Heifer Scholarship Program is open to youths in Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula and Sanders counties.

For more information about the program contact a local county extension agent, 4-H or FFA adviser, or visit www.facebook.com/WMSA2016/.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 406-758-4431 or email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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Tracen and Cabella McIntyre check on one of their heifers named Loretta on the family farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Sweet Pea, the family cat, finds a sunny spot to take a brief nap on the McIntyre farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Garth, a five-week-old calf, takes a nap on the McIntyre farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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One of the two-week-old goats nurses from its mother on the McIntyre farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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The McIntyres check on their piglets on the family's farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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McIntyre heifers Patsy, left, and Wynonna feed at a round bale feeder on the family farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. Patsy displays a Western Montana Stockman's Association freeze brand, which uses dry ice instead of heat. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Two-week-old goats Gwen and Blake on the McIntyre farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Twin brothers Tracen and Jayden McIntyre check on their heifers on the family farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Randy, a three-week-old calf, takes a nap on the McIntyre farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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McIntyre heifers Loretta and Patsy feed at a round bale feeder on the family farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Cabella McIntyre leads one of the family's heifers named Loretta across the farm in West Valley on Wednesday, March 23. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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