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.

The Winter Vigil

It begins today…first day after a crazy busy challenging-weather type of weekend of rounding-up, sorting, loading and trailering ALL our pasturing critters home.

Subsequently my vigil of watching over them and waterers and heaters and fencelines and gates(of course), officially begins today. With hubby away trucking during the week I find myself with the luxury of being in control of the chore schedule. Nothing finer than being the “one in charge”.

Sure, it’s all fine when every thing is working and every one is behaving. Here’s to smooth days ahead…and if not so smooth, then here’s to some stories and tales to tell!!

Heifer-Quieting – Day One

Loaded up the feed truck with tubs and pails of grain and headed west to our pasture to visit those lovely heifers. What a beautiful warm October week I have been blessed with to take on this mission. To think that just barely a week ago we were blanketed…no, almost buried under 9 inches of moisture-filled snow just flabbergasts me. But this is just how Alberta can be….blink or sneeze and our weather will do a full 360 turn!

My first solo visit out to these girls was not without it’s anxious moments…which is not uncommon for me and my predicaments. As can be seen by the deep tire tracks in my short video clip, I almost got my big old 4×4 stuck in the soft moisture-soaked terrain of the pasture.

 

Happily, the heifers came from the other end of the pasture to my voice…my non-descript call that has morphed into what you hear in the clip and what used to be “cu-bus”. As I said, non-descript word and non-descript sound but they do recognize me and they do come a-runnin’ from way across the field. THAT was a reward to start. I chummed around with them for a bit while they snacked and even had a few gals come up for a selfie with me (see above).

The weather continues to summer-ize for the next few days so hoping for drier conditions at next visit and even more besties in my domain.

P.S. I should maybe clarify that what you may have heard me say at the end of my video was not “a swear” but rather I was declaring “as they should”.

The Return

Now, either I can say I became lazy or I became too busy. I am going to go with “too busy”. It’s true, just as my Twitter page says….an over-active retiree. I really didn’t mean to neglect my Flicka Rancher blog over the past few months, but starting with our ever-most-challenging calving season at mid-February, I found I had to redirect my energies to the goings-on on our ranch….and we were certainly going and going on!!!

Right from the hop we ran into a series of nightmares with our heifers. The end result was just about every calf had to be either pulled or we had to call in our vet for C Sections. Every calf was saved but at such a cost…financially and emotionally…we were exhausted by March and still had the mature herd of 200+ yet to start calving.

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Had you visited our place back then you would have seen a number of our poor young gals sporting these fancy stitches on their left side. Anatomically, a C-Section is performed on the left side after the vet carefully cuts through the layers of tissue until she reveals the calf in the uterine sac. Unfortunately, this delicate surgical procedure became almost routine in our barn and subsequently hubby and I became very familiar with the steps and ultimately reliable assistants to our mobile vet….securing the cow, disinfecting, shaving, cutting, pulling out the calf, resuscitating (when necessary), suturing and monitoring and medicating both mom and calf for days thereafter. And yes, some pretty cold nights and days were happening all the same time. We were pretty pooched by mid-March.

And then the moisture came….we love moisture…so I hesitate to berate the chaos that presented but even the old-timers around here would tell us never had they seen so much wet and mud and muck and turmoil from this element of nature that is so necessary but rarely so excessive! So again, we were doubly pooched by the end of spring.

Seems funny to be writing about all that past drama now. Now, while the “lazy” days of summer draw to an end. I call them lazy with tongue in cheek….as this is when our cows and calves are out on their own in the pasture …the only time we aren’t watching their every move when they’re home with us for the winter into spring.  But a flurry of activity continues as well during the summer as we put up hay for feed.  We pray for rain and sun, we bale, we haul, we stack, we clean the barn and corrals, we check pastures, we treat sick animals. Did I say “lazy” days? More like “catching-up” days. And today I have finally caught up the return to my blog.

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And so, I am happily anticipating an “easier” season of winter-feeding our animals once all are home and the snow has fallen. Hubby has gifted me with fields of bale-grazing. The idea will be to let our cows in and out of these fields which are filled with standing bales spread out for easy grazing. Along with my dog Patty, I will just have to call the girls, open the gates, they will follow and I close the gates behind them whereby they munch away until Patty and I return before sundown and call them out, they will follow, head for water and then go to bed. The next day Patty and I will repeat the process. Sounds too good to be true, right? Stay tuned for our adventures to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got My Cows Home

When the cows and their calves come home from their respective pastures around the area I feel relieved. No more 2-4 hour drives to check on them and wonder about them when we’re not around. But now….here they are and I have some work to do!!

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Fencing never ends….always patching.

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Chopping ice for water hole for my heifers.

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Feeding grain.

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But…they’re home…let the chores begin!

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On The Road Again

Back in November of 2014 when I started this blog it was with the intent to relate the adventures I would encounter and endure as I would be alone with the critters and the chores while hubby was out trucking for days and sometimes weeks on end.

Well, shortly after that declaration, my dear hubby decided to retire from trucking and we’ve just spent almost a year and a half home together. I must admit, I’ve had it pretty easy!

Until a week ago….he bought himself a big truck … he’s back on the road again and Flicka Rancher has to pick up the slack.

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So now it’s my job to check on our cows in the pastures closest to us. My swamper, Patty came along for the first time and was great company for the eight hours of touring the pastures and driving the highways and gravel roads.

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Thankfully, every animal is happy and healthy and probably the biggest adventure endured was getting stared down by our bull when this cowgirl took the opportunity to utilize the “facilities” in the bush!!

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Moving Bales Home

We picked today to move our hay bales from field to bale stack. I timed a full cycle just for fun because there is an element of teamwork, cooperation and throttle work that goes on. A cycle of time to which I was hoping I could improve on as I got bolder and bolder with the throttle variable.
The components of our bale-moving cycle involve hubby loading the bales two-by-two from tractor to Mac Truck (our Old Faithful) from the field.

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Then he proceeds to the bale stack in yard a mile away while I jump into the same tractor and follow him back.

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He unloads at the bale stack….

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Where my dear dog Patty waits for my return and we have a short but pleasant visit during the unloading.

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Then back I follow him, now empty, as we return to the field of bales awaiting us for the cycle to continue. You see, we just use one tractor and one truck and one hard-working husband and wife team.

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A full cycle times out to average 36 minutes, each load is 14 round bales and we completed 14 of those round trips.  When you’re going back and forth and back and forth well yes, you start keeping track of statistics, by golly!

We still have another field to empty of bales which allows the grass to keep growing as it is doing so beautifully this year….but for now we have a yummy short rib supper in the crock pot waiting for us back at the house. It’s time to call it a day!

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