Stay tuned for pictures of this process.
As I've mentioned before, we are in a terrible drought. This means we have no choice but to thin down our cow herd numbers. One way we are doing that is by mouthing, (checking teeth), in our cow herd, at least in the older cows. If they don't have good teeth, then they won't be able to graze well, especially where the feed is more scarce and short.
We catch the cows in the chute, the cowboys look at their teeth. This isn't as easy as it sounds. The cows aren't always very willing to say "cheese".
The cows are loaded into the chute by a cowboy on horse back. This takes a good horse and a skilled and quiet hand.
The cows that, "make the cut" are turned back in to the meadow.
The old girls with no teeth, or poor teeth, are loaded on a truck and will be sold. I know it sounds cruel, but it isn't. It would be worse to see an old cow starving all winter because she doesn't have teeth to eat.
This was last month, and still very hot out, so we always started in the early morning. And of course in the dust.
We have started the next step in thinning the herd. We are preg-checking. The vet comes out and checks every cow to make sure she is pregnant. If not, she too gets sent down the road. It's just the way life is on the ranch.
Stay tuned for pictures of this process.
Wow, I can not believe I have not posted since March. It has been a hard, hectic, rushed and really tough spring and summer. Our continuous drought has made things very stressful here on the ranch. We have pushed ahead most of our work as much as possible. We started our branding in April, and brought cows off the range as early as we could. We had to wait until a little grass grew in the meadows. And now we have already weaned. Unfortunately, due to the drought we are forced to sell some cows this year. That is hard on ranchers, who have spent years and years building a herd of cows they are proud of and also attached to. We all have our favorites in the herd and we may see some of them head down the road this year.
We came off the desert in April and May. It was a dusty and dry spring, which has continued on throughout the summer.
We spent several weeks with several hard days gathering cows off of the desert range. Some cows found a little feed high on the hills and hiding in canyons and gullies.
We had our first branding in April. After last year not being able to have gatherings, this was great fun for everyone.
Branding season went well. It was great to see our friends again.
We have such a great bunch of friends, and they are such terrific help.
We moved cows and heifers often trying to make the feed last and not over graze any one meadow.
It's always exciting to see a stream of water.
It has been brutally hot, so the cowboys start every morning before sun up.
We just finished weaning our calves. This is usually started in a few weeks, but due to lack of feed and water, we needed to get calves off the cows sooner. Then we will sort through our cows and sell anything that is old, broken mouthed, (no teeth), poor udders or injured in anyway.
Weaning is over. It is always bitter sweet. The cows and calves adjust quickly.
And now the tough decisions are ahead.
Pray for rain.
We have been in a terrible drought, so the site of a little snow in March made us all very happy.
Some days we are lucky enough to get some extra help with the cattle. Future cow boss right here.
Spring means new babies!
We have been moving our cows onto spring range.
The cowboys and cowgirls, are working hard. But maybe the horses are working the hardest of all.
This photo was taken by my daughter in law. What a gorgeous site. We really love and value our horses.
A couple of weeks ago we went out on a frosty cold morning to corral the heifers.
It was cold. You can see the steam coming off of the heifers.
It was so pretty. I couldn't stop taking pictures.
That is steam coming off the cattle.
These heifers will start calving in a couple of weeks. As much as we need and want snow, we are glad that most of it has melted before the babies hit the ground.
Stay tuned for baby pictures soon.
Snow, it's been a long time coming and it's much appreciated. So much so that we didn't even mind getting a little cold and wet.
We had our youngest cowboy with us again today. Ranch kids are taught at a young age, that no matter the weather, the job has to get done. He was tough today and seemed happy to be there.
I should remind you that every time a take a picture I have to take my glove off, and it never fails, at least once in the day I drop it. I should explain how big of a deal dropping my glove is. For one thing, I am wearing about 42 layers of clothes and warm boots. I also ride a VERY tall horse and for those of you that don't know me, I am a whopping 5 foot 4. So getting off and back on does have it's challenges.
The snow was at our backs, at least until we went back for the truck that is.
Good cow dog
My snowy horse.
My Gaucho,. He's really a good boy.
Well here I am, the look I have after dropping my glove.. haha.
Here's hoping for a much much better 2021.
Happy New Year!
It's December and still dry as a bone. We had only one small snow storm in November, but it didn't amount to much.
We have had the cows in the fields as long as possible, but now it's time to take them out to their desert range.
The range is dry, but to my surprise, there is still feed on most of it. We have some amazing plants that grow on the desert, which provide great nutrition for our cows. Plants like white sage, (also known as winter fat), indian rice grass, curly grass (galleta), and sand drop seed, to name a few.
We will monitor the cows closely and move them about often so that we don't over graze.
My horse watching the cow dog anticipating a confrontation.
The next generation is in training. He will be a good hand soon.
2020 has been quite a year. Pray for rain and pray for for peace.
It's been a tough year already. As if everything else going on in the world isn't enough, we have had terrible heat and drought in our neck of the woods.
Due to the lack of rain, there is a lack of feed, so we decided to wean the calves a little early this year.
We start early in the morning to beat some of the heat.
Some water in the irrigated meadow. This was a treat for the cows and the horses.
Despite the weather, it's still another day in paradise.
Well it's been a long journey, but I'm back, at least somewhat. I'm not quite up to full form, but am headed in the right direction. I am 8+ months post multi-level spinal fusion surgery. I was medically cleared to ride again. What great news. This is my first day back on a horse. After that major of a surgery, I found having strength and balance to be a bit of a challenge. But I actually had fewer muscle aches and spasms after riding a little.
Even though the first day back was a terribly windy and dusty day, I couldn't have been happier. Being out of it for a while gave me a new perspective and realization of just how much I love what I do.
The cowboys have spent the last month or more bringing the cows into the pastures on the ranch from the desert range. These days are long, slow and can be frustrating at times. Not to mention the weather in the spring can be anything from cold to hot, and almost ALWAYS windy. I just got in on the tail end of the job, helping bring in the last bunch.
Once the cows are in the pasture, we need to process the calves. This starts by us corralling the cows and calves, sorting out any dries, (dries are cows that did not come in with a calf ), then separating the cows from calves.
Normally we process our calves by roping them, which involves quite a large group of people. Because this year has been crazy with the COVID-19 pandemic, we needed to stick to a small crew to get the calves processed. So we used a calf table. Process, in our case, means to vaccinate, castrate, ear mark and tag the calves.
It works well to run calves this way, but is not the chosen way of the cowboys. They sure did a great job of it though.
My mom is here and she even got in on some of the action.
This little calf had a perfect heart on her forehead.
It takes only about 1 minute to process each calf once they are on the table. Then they jump out and go on their way without too much stress or trauma to them. When they are processed they return to their moms and go about grazing in the green pasture.
I hope to be sharing more of my story in the near future. I hope I haven't lost all of my followers. It's great to be back.
It saddens me greatly to say I have to hang up my spurs. I hope not permanently, but for quite some time at least. My body just can't seem to keep up with my mind.
This line of work is hard on the body. My back has given out again and requires surgery to fix it.
I will miss this view and riding my beautiful horses.
Maybe I won't miss the cold days all that much.
Thank you for following my blog over the years.
HAPPY TRAILS, UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN.
About a month or so before we wean our calves, we pre-condition them. This simply means we vaccinate them. The reason we do this before we wean, is to cause less stress on the calves at weaning time.
We separate them from their moms, run them through a chute and give them two shots. Then they are turned back in with their mommas and go about their day.
The cowboys always start very early in the summer to beat some of the heat. It's a great way to watch the sun rise.
We gather each herd out of the pasture and put them into a corral where they can be sorted.
Then we run them through a chute to give them the shots.
This is just one of the many jobs the cowboys have been doing this summer. Stay tuned for more summer photos.