We had some calves born later than the rest to mom cows we thought were “open”. Hah…well, the joke was on us! Happily, they all calved on their own in the pasture and raised some sturdy little critters. These young’ns have had to endure some awfully nasty wintery days since the white season hit us and I do mean “hit us”!
One fella in particular has touched my heart and even the hubby’s…so we will plan to keep him as a bull. As soon as he was born I knew I wanted to call him Joey. So now when he grows up big and bold here on the farm – he will then be called Big Joe.
I see by his heavy hair coat here, Mother Nature has provided the way for him to tolerate this frigid and challenging winter season. Another way he kept warm was to cuddle in amongst the huddling cows as they do during a blizzard. He would have been snug as a bug in the middle of that group in the picture above.
Not to fear Joey…the balmy days of spring and summer are soon here!!
In a single day of chores I have put in squats, stretches, quad work, climbing, lifting weights and a whole lot of cardio from walking, walking and more walking. And the best part? A whole bunch of fresh air!
The second-best part? I get to have my dogs accompany me everywhere…and they do accompany me everywhere I go.
So really, what dark, noisy, sweaty old ( or even bright and new) gym can offer all that?
If it weren’t for these lovely ladies and the rest of the herd I suppose I’d have to take up housework!
I wrote about Delia awhile back here on my blog…March 13, 2019 “No Sale”. She was the one lone cow we brought back home after our herd dispersal and since coming up “open” that year, she has definitely earned her keep. She produces a calf consistently for us now, her last calf (born 2021) we have kept as a bull.
But more than all that, Delia continues to charm us just being the character she is. As my title suggests, she is always the gal at the front of the line, leading the pack.
Or first one waiting at the gate to come in for pellets or water…there she is at the front of the line. Or at the feed trough, there she is…placing herself in the same spot of the first trough at the front end of the trough.
Or how about when we come into the field in the side by side with pellets…she’s not only the first one to follow or greet us…she practically hops in for the ride!
Needless to say, she keeps us entertained and amused. We look forward to many more years with our delightful, double-tagged Delia.
Joy – because our second grandchild was born two days ago, in the morning (while a -43C windchill was raging outside) and then, shortly after we got the news we had a serious farm crisis and we didn’t even get to celebrate the joy until we tended to our crisis.
I have to back up a few days to explain what led to this panic/crisis. We have been in a near-crippling deep freeze for the last week to ten days. Temperatures ranging from -25 to -35 complete with windchills sending the real temperature to almost -50….with no relief! The winds rarely let up and the sun just has minimal power to lend any warmth to any living being.
I continue to be amazed how our animals keep on keepin’ on in these conditions but they do.
It’s the equipment that starts to give up. Two of our three cattle waterers decided enough was enough and they froze up. And then the real panic, our electric space heater in the pump house quit and when we opened up the box of our backup heater….we find it’s the wrong kind….it has no cord to plug in!
If the pump house has no heat all the water lines that run to the corral AND to the house freeze solid and the whole system shuts down. In these conditions – a nightmare to even hope to repair.
We just wanted to enjoy the news of our new granddaughter – instead we’re scrambling to replace a simple heat source that we thought we had backup for but….
So off I tear to the nearest city (an hour away) to find some units and get myself back ASAP. Meanwhile, hubby and son Tyler remain behind to jimmy-rig a cord into the backup unit we found. Thank goodness we have our very own instrumentation technician in the family and thankful he was available this crucial day.
I wasn’t taking any chances, once I found them and loaded up with 2 of each.
By the time I got home things had settled down, the pump house was still warm, the water-lines had been preserved and peace had returned to the farm-site.
Our back up supply of heaters is going to be beefed up considerably now after this scare. When you don’t have a hardware store just minutes from your doorstep, out here in the country, you have to be more prepared. Still learning these hard lessons after all these years of farming/ranching!
Time now to catch our breath and get ready to meet our new precious sweet grandchild.
After last week’s post, it occurred to me that between myself and my husband and others like us in the cow-calf and cattle-hauling industry….well, we’re at the base – the foundation (as opposed to “the bottom”] of the food cycle. The cycle that brings your food from farm to plate.
We raise cattle and keep them fed on grass and fresh water. We watch over the good will and nutrition of our breeding herd so they in turn bring forth healthy, thriving calves which later a cattle-hauler like my trucker-hubby loads up and takes on to a feed-lot….. so the cycle can go on and on.
I feel very privileged and honored to be a steward of this lifestyle…even on these cold, wintery challenging days. To be responsible for the well-being of these precious animals that in turn contribute to providing one of the most efficient and high-quality proteins around.
And so we tend to pamper our herd. Pampering – means keeping the feeders full, refreshing the straw bedding after a snowfall, vaccinating against disease and maintaining a watchful eye over all for any changes in behavior or signs of discomfort. I guess, in the end this isn’t necessarily “pampering”….just good management and we take a wee bit of pride in being part of the process to bring healthy and nutritious food to your plate.
You know…for years…we have weaned our calves on a busy weekend when the husby is home just long enough to get the deed done with whatever help we can muster up on said weekend. Then, he hops into the big old Kenworth and drives out of the yard leaving me and the dogs with a yard full of bawling, stressed out cows and calves trying their best to get back to each other through gates, and fence lines and corrals.
This year I was not worried about weaning day at all because husby was going to be home for the WHOLE day and not only that – the days thereafter!! He would finally see what chaos he leaves us with when he heads back on the road….back to the off-farm job.
So I took the time to take this little video of the calm and quiet of the last day our cows and calves would be together. I was planning this post in such a way that my video capture the following day would be loud and chaotic and full of bawling and howling moms and babes.
Well, the joke is on me…..guess these gals were good and ready to say goodbye to the children. Peace and harmony prevails on our ranch today already. The expected bawling usually goes for exactly three days straight…but all they can give up is what you hear on this peaceful little video.
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.
Finally, our dear cats get the residual, a rich yummy treat…we all have our roles!
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.
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.
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.