Sometimes…A Little Help

There are times during calving season- actually many times – when the rancher has to step in and help Mother Nature along.

For instance, sometimes we have to teach the calf to latch on to momma’s teat, especially if she has a “big bag and big teats” that might be too much for the little gaffer to figure out on his own. But once he/she gets that first satisfying “pull” – well, there’s no turning back – off to the races and good health! That all important first suck from mom is the key to establishing a good dose of immunity against the hazards ahead.

That first “dose” is called colostrum and if a newborn calf hasn’t received this natural elixir within its first few hours of life, his/her chances for thriving dwindle fast.

We like to have this colostrum stored as a backup if we’re ever in a position where a calf is just too weak to even be coaxed to suck. I thought it might make an interesting story for the blog to share this all-important process and task that we undertake from time to time when we have a cow with an abundance of milk to share and store like good old Flopsie provided for us this year.

Husby steps up for the extracting task (after all, he grew up with dairy cows). I step up for the cleaning and storing task. We all have our roles.

I like to strain the raw milk from the natural blah that comes from milking the cow out in the corral.
I like to label who the colostrum came from and when and then it all goes to the freezer. I have a feeling not many folks bother doing that – but, it’s important to me.

Finally, our dear cats get the residual, a rich yummy treat…we all have our roles!

No waste!

I Bid I Bought

I had the neatest experience back in early March (before Covid 19 took over our daily lives) and came away from it without one picture!!! Further reason, methinks, to invest in that go-pro camera to document my daily adventures that beg to be blogged and/or “vlogged”. What had happened, back in March, was that I attended a bull sale/live auction at a local ranch by myself and bought us a bull! I have attended many bull sales and cattle auctions but always alongside the hubby and he did all that bidding stuff and chinwagging and strolling around the pens before and after the sale. But when the bull we want is for sale, and the hubby is away trucking, well…I get to stretch my wings and head out to buy a bull. By the time I got done my chores that day, showered and changed (because these are quite the social affairs!) and drove myself through the muddy country roads to the ranch …I had missed the homemade lunch but was in time to register for my buyer’s number….my first and only very own buyer’s number! #75…going to laminate this and keep it in my 2020 record book for sweet memories. wp-15876954062393643989114538353298.jpg I found some acquaintances in the stands once I made my way through the stands…never comfortable walking into a show and sale ring when the sale is going on and you’re right there in front of everybody bidding on the bulls in the ring. But when you see some familiar faces ahead you stride forward and plant yourself alongside. Thankfully I arrived well before the bull we wanted came through the ring and I got to watch the strategy and routine with the auctioneer and the ringmen watching us buyers in the stands. The key is eye contact…yes, indeed…as soon as that auctioneer caught my eye when our bull came in he was my best friend!! It happened so fast but all of a sudden after just three nods from me we had our bull … for $500 below the upper limit we had set…woohoo! I think I could do this again! Heady stuff!! So I share this wordy story now mostly for my own personal memory and recollection of this unique time for me, but ultimately to record that it was this week that we had our bull delivered to our place – in the most socially distanced way we could.  And I finally got my picture of me and the bull I purchased all by myself with my #75. wp-15876954810174659318883531627947.jpg

My Day For Chores

 

The husby (rancher/trucker) got called to haul today so I get to run the corral routine my way for a wee while.

My dog Patty is always ready to assist and her “sister” Ruby is overly anxious to do so …younger, rambunctious and very assertive, so she requires a little more control. But between the two of them, they sure make chore life alot easier!

Now I know I’m not supposed to be proudful but I have impressed myself a smidge by my feed pellet rig-up. Before, the arrangement was to fill the chop pail and drag it towards me through the resistant ground under the bin and then haul to the trough. I felt there had to be a much easier and lower-back-friendly way to drag those old pails. Lo and behold – there is!! What better use for a couple spare plywood planks than this??

Let’s just say…I’m happy and back-healthy … instead of puffed-up proud.

No Sale

I can’t believe how happy I am even though we’re in the midst of selling our cows. How is it that one cow can make my heart flip? I’m pretty sure my macho rancher/trucker hubby has a really soft heart for this gal too. We get to bring Delia back home!!!
Turns out she’s “open”…not carrying a calf…not pregnant. This means she got sorted off with a few of the other open cows that would be sold another day…not in our dispersal sale. However…good thing I came to the auction market today and got to watch all our cows go through the chute as they were being preg-checked and tagged.

Good thing I was there, because when I heard the vet call out “she’s open” I turned to hubby with my big sad puppy dog eyes and said….”She’s coming home with us!!!” He didn’t turn me down.
I wrote about Delia a couple years ago when she almost got sold as a market calf instead of being chosen as a replacement heifer to keep with our herd. I think I did the puppy dog eyes act then too and it was a successful strategy. And so, here she is again…saved from the sale pen and back home where she belongs.

Hard Decision

In less than a week now my husband and I will be selling our beautiful cows. We are having an official herd dispersal. When the human body parts tell you it just might be time to reconsider your limitations and your frailties…..well, you just have to be ready to make some hard decisions.
Hubby asked me to create a video that could be shared with potential buyers and the general public. I designed it in such a way that hopefully the viewer will understand how much we have cared for and continue to care for our herd. The kids have helped us so much along the way and I was heartened to be reminded of this and their part in all this as I went through my thousands of images over the past few years.

And so, not really sure what the next chapter is going to look like…we have a much smaller herd of young animals we have opted to keep with us at home because, let’s face it, a cattle guy and a cattle gal will always have a wee bit of cows.
Rest assured however, Flicka Rancher will continue to share her “chapters”.

Fancy Fella

When this guy was born back on May 10, 2018, he sure caught my eye. Such a showy fella with his perfectly goggled right eye, his four shiny white socks and white-tipped-tail.

He got a name right away – Fabian – and I decided I would keep my eye on him as long as he was with us from the yard to the pasture and beyond. Because they don’t stay with us long, I rarely name the steer calves, but how could I not?

He grew up big and strong and so I know he ended up in the heavier group of steer calves that we sent to market. I watched that sale on my computer that night and although I noted who the buyer was it remains a mystery what feedlot he was taken to.

When I get caught up with my new set of winter chores and the farm books for year end, it is my intention to do the background work and research and find out where my big handsome Fabian is living, feeding and growing now. Wish me good luck!

My Chore Team

Here’s a couple of characters I sure couldn’t do without around here. Patty and Ruby….my chore team….and my cheer team too.

We keep each other company throughout the entire day. Ruby holds her post in the tractor at my feet.

And my dear Patty follows me everywhere else except the tractor. This rancher gal never needs to feel lonely with these two around.

Here is an example of them assisting me with returning our bulls back to their own pen after being out for watering. I have all my penned animals on a somewhat rigid schedule so I can keep up with the myriad of indoor activities on a farm gal’s plate…like bill paying, book keeping, meal planning and preparation, baking and sewing. (Notice that house-cleaning doesn’t always make-the-cut….hah-hah).

Needless to say, Team Patty-Ruby are invaluable to me and the entire operation on this ponderosa.

Making New Friends

Every year, post-weaning, I end up with a pen full of young heifer calves. These are the gals that didn’t go to market a couple weeks ago along with their brothers, the steers.

In this pen will be a few select girls that we keep to stay with us to grow up quiet and healthy and become momma cows amongst the rest of the herd.

The quiet part starts with me. Part of my daily tasks are to walk amongst them numerous times a day and get them used to me (and the dogs) and carry on quiet conversation and just general strolling around. The ones that already come up to me get added to my ongoing list of “Flicka Rancher Keepers” that I keep available in my smart phone tucked away in the pocket of my coveralls…always handy actually for snapping these pics and videos and posting to the blog on-the-fly.

I fear that list will probably end up including all of them because I can tell already they want to be friends.

Situation

Over the past twenty-plus years raising cattle and handling animals, my husband and I have developed a code word of sorts when things have, or will, or might – go horribly wrong. We call it a situation and both of us better be paying attention.

One most memorable adventure was probably the advent of this code word about 12 years ago. It was during calving season. It was a dark and stormy night. We had a heifer calving too long and subsequently needed our help. We needed to get her into the barn into the headgate where we could all be safe. But she went rogue on us as soon as she entered the supposedly secure environment of the barn.

Of course she did! She was a heifer! First calving experience, first time inside the barn and two humans poking and prodding her already stressed-out-self. By rogue, I mean she charged us both within seconds! Headed me up the steep stairs of the barn loft and my nimble hubby onto the top rung of the pen panel.

As she continued to roar, push and beller, we looked at each other from across the barn on our respective precarious perches with her between us in the throes of mid-calf distress and trauma and hubby could only gasp….

“What a situation”

We chuckle about it now and even did so then (nervously so). It was the type of predicament we honestly couldn’t see ourselves getting out of at the time. I can’t seem to recall how we were able to get her secured…we must have simply tuckered her out eventually and managed to pull her calf successfully. What I do recall vividly though is the incredulous look on my hubby’s face and the sound of his subdued voice as he declared our situation from the top of that pen.

From that day on whatever we define a “situation” has definitely got our respect, attention and wariness.

Weaning Day

My least favorite day of the year. We weaned the calves today…the racous, noisy, stress-filled day when we separate the young un’s from their mommas. To clarify, after helping hubby roundup our herd this morning I sort of got the day “off” from corral duty thanks to my wonderful step-children and “they” weaned the calves. The three of them showed up in full force to help us today…just like the good old days.

So I was quite happy to give up my position and prepare them a warm ranch-worker-meal complete with ranch-style-potatoes…just like the good old days when they were younger and around the ranch more often.

The male (steer) calves were loaded up and taken to the auction market by hubby before sunset and behind him remains myself and 200 bawling mother cows milling about the pen where the heifer calves now reside after being pulled from their moms. Of course those heifer calves are bawling too and looking for escape holes to get back to mom. It’s a very noisy place right now.

But, quite predictably, the bawling will stop within three days. Every single year and probably every single ranch experiences this predictable behavior. But for now it sounds like this….turn up your volume!