By Matt B. Walen
Two Hi-Line women have seen the good times, the bad times and a few changes in the cattle industry through the decades.
But the one constant for Margaret Anderson and Isabel Bitz has been found in the North Central Montana CattleWomen continued promotion of the beef industry.
The Montana CattleWomen will honor some of their oldest active members next month during the state convention in Miles City. The convention theme is From CowBelles to CattleWomen - Women who have supported our industry then and now.
Anderson of north Havre and Bitz of Box Elder have almost 70 years of dedicated service to the North Central Montana CattleWomen between them.
Anderson, 79, became a member in the CowBelles in 1956 the year the local club known then as the CowBelles was founded after her husband, Clarence, joined the local stockgrowers association.
Ive been a member ever since it started, Anderson said in a recent telephone interview. The focus of our group is to help our husbands and do everything we can to promote the cattle industry.
A lot of time has passed, but the system of raising cattle hasnt changed much through the decades, Anderson said.
It hasnt really changed much, she said. Some in the industry have different feeding methods. But, as far as our operation, we havent changed much.
Anderson and her husband raised about 100 head of Hereford cattle and grew wheat and barley on the farmland. Clarence Anderson died two years ago, but Anderson continues to raise the cattle.
Anderson was vice-president of the club in 1963-64 and president in 1964-65. She has served on many committees, including the float committees for the local music festivals, table decorations for banquets, served on numerous CattleWomen feeds such as serving for the 50th anniversary of North Montana Experiment Station, Chinook Hereford Bull Sale and Show many years, tour dinners, and working at blood drawings where the CowBelles gave away beef certificates.
Anderson said she is still active in the local club because she is still active in the cattle business.
I enjoy working with the other women who support (the cattle industry), Anderson said.
Bitz, 82, became a CowBelle in 1974 after her husband, Herb, also decided to join the local stockgrowers association.
Bitz has been the North Central Montana CattleWomen Scrapbook chairwoman for many years. She has faithfully attended meetings and is always willing to help on committees when she can.
Bitz said she remembers helping with the Chinook Hereford Bull Show and Sale, baking pies and working shifts and enjoying the many familiar faces of the industry.
Bitz said she has kept active in CattleWomen because she is still active in the industry and she loves the positive attitude found in CattleWomen and especially the idea that we all need to hang together.
The Bitz operation includes 400 head of Black Angus cows and 2,500 acres of winter wheat, barley and oats. Herb died in 1987 and her son, Donald, and his family runs the operation. Isabel also has a daughter, Margaret, who lives in California.
The changes Bitz said she has seen on the operation over the years includes bigger machinery, including a Big Bud tractor, crop rotations and use of fertilizer. Bitz said they also used some of their land for haying to feed the cows in the winter. The Bitzes also have pasture land north of Havre for the herd to graze in the summer months.
They sell the calves in the fall and keep some of the better heifers for replacements, she said.
Between the cattle and the wheat, it keeps us busy, she said. Now that Im retired, I still do a lot of work. Im still active in the operation and help with the flagging when equipment is moved.