We decided to get a jump start on processing our calves this year. This is the North herd. We usually process them in June. By June these little buggers aren't so little, the weather is terribly hot and usually windy. Also, there are over 400 in this herd. So we gathered all the calves we could, and took them to some corrals nearby. It was slow slow going with little tiny calves.
A little stream of water. I took a picture because this is a rare site in our neck of the woods.
This is Clay on a horse he is training. It was about his 5th ride and first time out in the open. He did great.
The calves aren't very old and have a hard time keeping up. Then they get scared and confused and want turn and run the wrong way. Nothing about moving pairs is easy.
We got them into a fenced area, and the next day went out to brand. (Remember when I say brand, I am referring to how we process our calves. We don't actually "brand". We vaccinate, castrate, earmark and ear tag.)
Because we have such a wonderful bunch of people who volunteer their time to come help, I was able to take a bunch of pictures. So beware, there are way too many in this post.
You can't say we discriminate against women around here. The women make up about half of our team and rope and work just as well and as hard as the men.
The pictures tend to focus on the ropers. But the ground crew is crucial in getting the job done and done properly.
There is a lot happening on the ground. It is busy and everyone needs to stay alert.
These aren't fancy pictures, but they show what it's like at our "brandings". We have about 6 more bunches to do, so stay tuned.
I can't think of anywhere better to be to have a word or two with God than the wide open spaces of the desert. I love being out here. Just me and my horse, oh and of course, hopefully, cows. That's why I'm here after all.
It's the gather that is my favorite part of the day.
I like to show my horse's ears just to remember what horse I was on that day. Today it was Gaucho. What a good boy he is. I am afraid I have to steal him from Dave. Although, when Ryan rides he steals him from me.
I don't mind when the cows all come together and I join the cowboys. I do have to say, cowboys don't talk much. I really enjoy when a cowgirl comes along to visit with. The boys are a little boring. "Sorry guys, you know it;s true"
These pictures were taken on different days and different ranges. We are getting the cows onto their spring pastures.
We had a pretty good scatter on this North herd again. We try to get them moved before too many of them have calves. We do have some little calves out there that will have to be moved in a day or two.
Yep, that's Gaucho's ears again.
It's fun to see them all coming together.
After we got those cows moved we came home and rode through the calves in the meadow. We were checking to see if anything was sick and needed doctoring.
The idea is to keep the calves from running. That doesn't always work out.
Cowboys and horses are truly a team.
LIFE IS GOOD!
Day one of what turned into a four day journey. The North herd seems to always be our problem herd. They like to go whatever direction you don't want them to.
Day one wasn't too bad. Of course Dave and I got out there after the cowboys had done most of the gathering.
Day two came together pretty well. The cows had gone back to the previous water stop. But once we got them re-gathered and headed in the right direction they moved out pretty well.
We got the herd as far as the next fence and onto some fresh water. They were very sore footed. This particular range is very rocky. We figured the cows were so sore that they would stay in the general area until the next day.
'NOPE! These sore footed, worn out old buggers climbed the stinkin' hills, spread out on the lower ground and everywhere in between. Dang! We had our work cut out for us to get them in a bunch. I was reminded again of Lee's famous words, "you never know what a cow will do". I am so often reminded of Lee and his words of wisdom while I'm riding on the range.
For those of you who don't know who Lee was, he was one of the greatest cowboys of all time and he was the cow boss on Baker Ranch when I moved here. He worked and rode up until his sudden death at age 91.
Of course the cows were incapable of taking a step on their own in the right direction. Back and forth I went, and up and down the rocky hills and steep washes. The others were working just as hard or harder. Clay and Kyle were lucky to have had dogs. I was wishing I had one today. Thank goodness for my hard working horse Gaucho. He earned his oats today.
Ok, good. A few headed in the general direction.
Clay is way high, his cows weren't cooperating any better than mine.
Orrin was lower. Finally he got his cows somewhat in line with the mine. He came up and took over my bunch so that I could go help with Clay's bunch. Thank you Orrin.
Kyle was down lower kicking the cows up. He covered a lot of country too. Everyone worked hard.
Finally they started to come together.
The cows went as far as they could make it and would have to be picked up the next day.
I was really lucky to be able to stay home today. Clay took a few pictures of the final leg. As you can see by Maggie's mane., it was very windy. The wind was out of the North and it was quite cold.
It looks cold!
Looks like the finish line.
This is the old Swift Ford. I 'm not sure how old, but I was shocked they got it running and all the way out there. Now that is a watering system if I've ever seen one. Of course a semi is used to haul the water to this place daily. With it they fill the swift ford and all the tubs. There are 412 cows in this herd that need a drink.
The cows and horses got a good drink.
The cowboys never complain, but I'll bet they were happy to be at the end of the trail too.
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.