February may be the shortest month as far as days, but I'm here to tell you it always feels like the longest month of the year. We calve our heifers in February and it is a lot of work. This year, however, we have had mostly great weather, which makes calving so much easier.
Even with the warm weather we still have some mix-ups. Being first time mothers they sometimes need some help finding the right calf. This is why we put a number tag in the calf's ear, which matches the mother's tag. We do this shortly after the calf is born.
About every other day we take the two day old calves and their moms out of the calving pasture and move them to the next pasture over. Getting the calves out helps with the confusion.
The process of moving the little tiny calves and keeping them with the mommas is slow. It helps to have several riders to move them along and keep them paired up.
The little stinkers are cute, but not always very cooperative.
They test our patience.
The horses learn patience too. Well, unless I'm on Jewel. She likes to hurry things along a bit.. I have no pictures of that I guess. She's like a cow dog and nips the calves to make them go.
If there is an obstacle within a 100 yards the calves are drawn to it, and always seem to get hung up.
Thank goodness for our good, and patient, crew.
This guy is part of our crew every year. He and his partner are here every calving season. I feel like they are our supervisors. It is really fun to watch them and be able to be so close to such an amazing animal.
As if there isn't enough going on with the heifers , the cows on the desert range aren't behaving. Dave and I went out last Sunday to take this herd back to water. I'm not sure where they thought they were going. The cowboys are often chasing cows on the desert when they aren't with the heifers. It's just that time of year. Busy busy.
We'll keep plugging along and enjoying this beautiful place we are lucky enough to live in.
Up until now we have had a very warm and dry winter. But that all changed the other night. Of course it comes when these heifers are getting close to calving.
It isn't this heifer's first cold winter. Notice her ears. She was born on a very cold morning which froze her ears right off.
Stella, the Corgi, isn't upset about the snow. She's having a blast.
The cowboys had a long and very cold cattle drive the other day. I was really happy to not be there. They took a few pictures for me.
There is feeding to do.
Stella loves feeding the bulls.
Early morning heifer rounds.
Of course the first calf waited for the storm.
Yesterday I did head out with the guys to give them a hand. It was terribly windy.
These cows were headed home. Oops, wrong way girls.
Whenever it snows the cows on the desert seem to head somewhere, not usually where you want. So snow = cow chasing.
What was I thinking? Brrr!!
Clay and his dogs came to my rescue.
He took a picture of me. The big bundled blob. The pictures never show how terribly windy it is.
Two of Clay's dogs. Cato and Callie. They were good help.
I am so glad we have Orrin on board. Him being here means I don't always have to go. He is so much tougher than I am.
Headed back to shuttle the truck.
Here come the cows. The final stretch.
I took pictures of them making their way to the water.
The white cow is the only white one in the herd. She serves as a herd marker. The cow next to her must have a runny nose. haha
The storm caused the cows to go on a walk-about. They traveled much further than they had to. So they were pretty thirsty getting to the water today.
Today the cowboys continued the journey across the valley. The wind was still blowing, and I didn't think they would need the extra help, so I opted out. I loved my ride yesterday. But I am happy to be out of the wind today.
Shipping for the year has begun. We sent four loads off today. We raise our calves to about 900 pounds and then send them off to a finishing feedlot where they will be fattened up before going off to butcher. Of course it is always a little sad, but the cycle must continue. It's our business after all.
The cowboys show up early with their horses and a couple of good dogs, ready to get the calves out of the pens. Above is Miss Jezabel.
Dave meets with the sales rep and the vet. The vet always checks out the calves we are selling to ensure they are healthy and uninjured.
Here come the trucks.
Getting the calves out of the pen.
I think the dogs have it handled.
Below is Sally. She is a fuzzy. I think that is an actual breed. She is a good cow dog and so cute.
Still dusty in January.
They count and weigh the calves.
I was distracted by the dogs. They were working hard.
The scale house
Oops, I got distracted again.
Another important person in the cast of characters is the brand inspector.
Loading the trucks.
The calves have to be loaded properly. Each compartment of the truck holds a certain number of calves.
We sent off four loads today. That is just over 200 calves. We have about 1300-1400 calves to send in all. We will continue shipping calves throughout the month of January and February.
Here we go into another new year! As you can see, we are into January and still no sign of precipitation. The fluctuation in temperature has been interesting - to say the least. For example, this morning it was only 11 degrees when we went out. But if this day is like any other lately, it will be in the 50s or 60s before the day's end. We start bundled up and then end up stripping off long johns out on the desert somewhere. It's kind of a funny site to see cowboys stripping down in the middle of nowhere.
The crazy weather is hard on the animals though. So here's hoping we will get some storms in the near future.
Today we gathered up the last of our herds that still needed to go onto winter range.
We had some of the neighbor's cows in our herd, so we had to cut them out.
Clearly this black and white bull does not belong.
Hang on cowboy Orrin! His young filly was having a hard time behaving this morning.
Off we go.
Dave and I just helped get out of the fields, then shuttled the truck around. This is a picture of the "boss's rig"
We haul water to our cows on the desert. This is the Hampton tank where this herd will water for a while.
Happy New Year! Hope to blog more in 2018
Last week we headed out of the fields and onto winter range with another herd. We will take them over the hills that you see in the back ground.
It is December, but as you can see it is still really dry and dusty.
I only went for a little while to help get the cows out of the fields. The cowboys have things pretty much under control these days and don't need my expertise much. But, I got my old girl, Jewel , out for a little ride.
As you can see it was kind of cold, so it was ok with me not to stay out there all day.
Notice the cow on the right jumping. When I saw this picture I laughed.
These days are perfect for the cowboys to do some horse training.
There was a large herd of antelope that weren't sure which way to run.
I caught up to the cowboys later with some hot stew for lunch. I think they appreciated that more than me riding.
Stella the corgi came along for lunch. Here she is keeping the cows in line.
Future cowgirl. We start 'em young.
I failed to mention that about half of these cows came back home the next day and the cowboys had to do this all over again. As Lee Whitlock would say, " you never know what a cow will do". I miss him.
Here's wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays.
November and December require the cowboys to start getting ready for winter. It involves a lot of work in the feedlot, on the range and in the fields. We are having an unusually warm, dry winter so far.
The vet comes out and preg checks all of our cows and our first year heifers. This is many days of running the cows through the chute. After the vet checks to confirm pregnancy, they are then given vaccinations and dewormed.
The cowboys have also been working hard in the feedlot vaccinating the calves. They are given vaccinations when we brand, at weaning and then again a few months later as a booster. We vaccinate the calves to prevent disease. This is no different than you would do for your pet or your children. It is good herd management.
Different herds are made up to go to the winter desert range. The cows are brought into the coral and then sorted through, and separated according to breed. The different herds will get certain bulls put with them in the spring.
Some of the herds have been taken out to their winter range. Others are still in the fields and will be taken out as the feed in the fields gets eaten down.
Our cowboys haven't needed my help much so far. But I should be back on the range soon taking more photos. Stay tuned.
I've been playing with some filters lately. The black and whites have turned out kind of cool.
Dust makes for good pictures, not so fun to work in though.
Ryan out East.
The caring cowboy.
Young cowboy in action.
Yesterday we headed to the winter range with the Gonder herd. It's a 20+ mile cattle drive. For some reason these cows feel the need to run up the bench, over the mountain pass, down and across the other side. I feel like they are running a marathon. Of course we discourage this behavior. It's too hard on the cows to run that far.
The poor old girls ran up the bench and were already getting tired. We stopped them for a breather before heading over the pass.
I may have been parked in the wrong place, and Clay may or may not have gotten annoyed with me.
We recently hired a new cowboy. Welcome to our team Orrin.
Notice the white patches on the cows. This is a paint mark we made when we preg-checked them. Dave is hoping to be able to spot them from the plane.
Clay stopped the herd at the top, we gave them a rest and had some lunch. The next stop was my turn. I waited for them at the gate.
You can see how hard the cowboys are working.
Coming down the bench. Yep, I'm waiting at the gate. I did a lot of truck chasing.
Clay counted them through the gate. He counted 160. Little did we know we should have had 163. Kind of a big oops on our part for not knowing this information before we left. We were out 3 cows. The cows must have taken a wrong turn somewhere in the trees and will turn up at some point.
Headed across the hardpan.
Tired cows, but they are on the home stretch.
The water is through this gate. They made it.
This cow's name is David, yes named after Dave. She had a hard day. She developed a hitch in her get-a-long. She will be glad to just rest and graze. I promise there is feed beyond the hard pan.
The cowboys made it too. They even took advantage of this soft ground to do a little training.
Both boys were riding young horses. It was a good day for some training.
The three of us did pretty well. I really wish we hadn't lost three cows though.
We all keep learning.
It's time to head out to separate the mommas from their babies. It's bitter sweet. The moms know it is time, but are sad to see the babies go, at least for about three days until their milk starts to dry up. Then it's on to grazing and loving life.
The days have been starting early because it's so hot. We get up way before daylight, feed the horses breakfast, feed ourselves breakfast and head out to saddle.
Oh it is a beautiful time of day though.
It's always dusty going into the corals where we separate.
These pictures were on several different days, in different places. Not any specific order. Just gathering cows and calves from the meadows and taking them to holding areas where we separate them.
I took advantage of the morning light to get some nice pictures.
A sea of cattle.
Sorting cows from calves in Baker feedlot.
This day we actually got some rain and it made the alley quite muddy.
Sorting at the Gonder coral.
Gathering the Gonder herd.
Loading calves onto the trucks.
Sunrise on Burbank Meadows.
We took the calves home. After a few days we ran them through the shoot and gave them their vaccinations.
Sometimes you about need to be a gymnast to get the job done.
The calves are starting to calm down and eat.