Tough Little Guy

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!!

My Farm Is My Gym

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!

My workout equipment!

The second-best part? I get to have my dogs accompany me everywhere…and they do accompany me everywhere I go.

Heading out to move cows to next field.

So really, what dark, noisy, sweaty old ( or even bright and new) gym can offer all that?

The best gym mates ever!

If it weren’t for these lovely ladies and the rest of the herd I suppose I’d have to take up housework!

I do love my job!❤

Leader Of The Pack

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.

Been Gone Too Long

I see ( and I knew without looking) that it has been almost a year since I last posted to my blog. That’s not good. This is my diary of sorts…my journal of farming activities…the part of my life that defines who I am to the core. Why would I abandon this?

Exactly…..I won’t abandon this. We’ll just say I have been on a sabbatical from “blogging” for a few months (whereby I have been anything but sabbaticall-ing….what does that term mean anyway?)

Sabbatical means a “paid leave”….hah-hah….guess we can’t call my blogging absence a sabbatical then as I’ve been anything but “paid”!

Suffice it to say…I am back to my blog. Sabbatical is “over”.

It Starts Here

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.

A big cozy straw bed sheltered by trees and a wall of bales for sleeping comfort.

Weaning

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.

When It Rains

There are numerous high-value assets here on the ranch. During my years working and living this amazing life I believe I have identified our top three – but their order of importance varies over the seasons. They are:

– a live healthy calf,

– a reliable, functioning tractor,

– a good solid three day rain.

As of last night, we are about to experience the latter and we are sure happy about that. (My regrets to the grain farmer at this time)

I also tend to unnecessarily stress a bit about those calves after a long rainy and windy night…that they’ll likely get separated from moms in the weather drama and when I hear the early morning bawling in the field it just reinforces my state.

Calves know best to lay low until momma comes a lookin’ for them.

But I have to remind myself yet again that the bawling is the seeking out for each other and a momma will always sniff out her babe. Peace and harmony soon returns if I just leave things alone.

It’s now a day to watch that rain gauge fill and listen to the grass grow…it’s a happy ranching day!!

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!

Rock Star Fencing Team

I’ve been after husby lately to supervise and ultimately teach and correct my fencing skills. Like any ranch, there is always a string of fence to mend and thanks to the county snowplow during this past winter, piles of snow had been pushed vigorously enough to dismantle quite a few spots on our east field. Jackpot for me! Training ground!

We have never had the time to properly teach me this oh-so-necessary ranching craft so once again I am benefiting from this pandemic and the way it has slowed down the pace of our lives. So, out we trekked a few days ago and Fencing 101 Berg Style began.

Before this day, my main role in fencing was simply driving the staples into the post after the wire had been rejoined and stretched by The Mr. But when The Mr is away trucking for more days of the year than home…and the fences have the regular tendency to fall apart, then I have to be ready and proficient enough to return the premises to the same secure state as when he left the yard.

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The secret then, in fencing repair, is mastering “the eye”…. He tells me to wrap it around my hand and then wrap the end of the wire fence back around itself. Make sure both ends of the string of wire to be mended have these two “eyes” that will hold the strip of barbed wire that will be looped into these eyes, then stretched with the wire puller and voila!!! All repeatable steps for each area needing repair. What a revelation…to master the concept of these eyes!! 

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I think this blog post requires a sequel in the form of a You Tube type video depicting the classic repair of a broken ranch barbed wire fence….there are a lot of entertaining steps in the entire repair of such a thing as this, so be watching for it soon!!