A camp man’s winter work

CALF RESCUE Jace Pfenninger rescues another just-born calf in the pasture. Ensuring the new calves survive has been a challenge in brutal winter weather. | SARAH REESE PHOTO





“ANOTHER DEAD ONE…” WERE THE WORDS JACE PFENNINGER SAID as he hopped out of the pickup to load up the calf’s cold, still body.

Pfenninger is a camp man for 3B Cattle Company, located north of Floydada in Floyd County, and is employed by Todd Beedy of Floydada. Pfenninger tends to around 500 head of cattle on 3B range each day. But the job is in his blood; his father, Dave, is livestock manager at the Finney County Feedyard in Garden City, Kansas.

He told us his story through his words, but perhaps most powerfully through the photographs taken by his fiancée, Sarah Sanders Reese of Floydada, a full-time portrait and western-lifestyle photographer.

Reese is also a pretty good hand herself: she started working at the Floydada Livestock Sale during high school in 2010, and a few years later she was handling the scale and by 2018 was running the chutes as well. When previous owner LaNell McCandless retired from the office in 2019, Reese took the office manager job.

“Calving in weather like this is something I really haven’t ever had to deal with,” said Reese. “I have watched my friends on Facebook for years put calves in their bathtubs with a blow dryer, in their garage with a propane heater, in the floorboard of their pickup trying desperately to warm the frozen calf up. My heart would literally break for them.”  

Spring calving season was already well under way when this past week’s snow, ice and extreme temperatures swept through. “We know quite a few calves hit the ground last week,” said Reece. Many are turned out on the caprock. It’s Pfenninger’s job to help find and save them.

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