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.

Feed et al

Busy day for me today hosting the feed delivery guy, the fencing crew , the fencing supply guy and even hubby dropped by in between loads for a bite to eat and to drop off our cheque from the calves we sold.

These are pellets…a specially formulated feed ration that we are told will put two pounds a day on our young heifer replacement calves. Now that they are “off” their mother’s milk source we want to continue a quality nutrition program for them towards their lives as mommas themselves or as good candidates for the feedlot.

We have a fancy red creep feeder for the gals to eventually figure out and start creeping in and feeding on these pellets. For now they kind of just look at me and it….but they’ll figure it out on their own and soon we’ll be filling ‘er up again.

That’s what it’s all about it … Feeding, fencing, watering, feeding again and getting that precious cheque once or twice a year.

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!

The Ranch Gate

Much of my day is spent out in the great outdoors fulfilling my ever so important role as gatekeeper…or go-for runner, or….open the gates…or close the gates….or stand by the gate…or watch the gate….or watch out! Gate!

This brought me to pondering. You know, there is alot of psychology (or rather – drama) that centers around the ranch gate.
Many a heart and spirit has been broken at those gates. Mostly mine as I hate being yelled at. But dear hubby told me long ago that ” what happens in the corral – stays in the corral.”

A day’s plans can be altered in a split second if you miss latching the gate by some innocent oversight or you can’t run to the open gate fast enough that you’re supposed to be “watching” and a rogue animal gets through it or the entire blinking herd heads for it.

I contemplate these things now as we are in the process of bringing our herd home from their respective pastures over the next few weekends. The herd that will be my sole responsibility for most of the winter as my hubby continues to truck up and down the Alberta highways. As long as I know the status of every ranch gate – whether it be open or closed for it’s intended purpose – then I know we’re all going to get along just fine.

Bull Power

Some of the chores Patty and I get assigned to around here can be fraught with danger and excitement.

We had been pushing/walking the herd into the home field until these two yahoos decided to go at it. That was my que to back up the buggy and wait and watch at a distance ’til they worked it out or wore themselves out. My hard workin’ Patty though, still tried to do her best to keep them moving along.

The reason she and I had the job of moving critters today was to get those bad boys close to the sorting pen so they can be loaded up and taken to market. It’s time for them to go down the road after a few good years of fathering a number of great calves. A bull’s productive life on our ranch runs an average of five years. They have a good life with us…well-fed, pampered and never given too many “girls” to over-work themselves. Their “working” season runs from July to September. Otherwise they only have to graze, rest and sun themselves under the great big beautiful Alberta sky. Trouble is, when they get to the end of their years with us, they seem to get cranky and pick fights all too easily with each other.

And now the day has come to say farewell to these two…it’s definitely time…they’ve crashed through a pen and tore up a fence in recent days. I’m quite ready to say good-bye.

Although I say that now, when it comes to loading them onto that trailer, I know I’ll be a bit sad. I always am whenever my animals are taken from the yard for the last time.

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”.

Goofy Girls

I have an important self-imposed assignment this week. I have taken it upon myself to quiet down our herd of bred heifers that are presently out on their own pasture an hour away from the homeplace. We want to be able to “quietly” trail them from one pasture to another pasture next Sunday, along a public gravel road, to get them to the corral system we use to eventually load them before the real winter snow arrives. We have become highly motivated to start this “moving” activity since the recent, unwanted snowfalls have hit home.

My assignment then is to travel to them every couple days this week with grain in pails and hang out with them and talk “softly” to them – get them in a mood to “want to” follow me whenever they next see me again. This, because I will be the one to lead them to the second pasture as my hubby takes the tail-end and pushes them to me.

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We visited them today and realized we hadn’t been visiting them enough over the summer…they are a goofy, jumpy, flighty bunch of girls. I’m trusting that by hanging out with them quietly and serenely with my pails of grain and soothing conversations we can all become the best of besties and that they will behave with charm, grace and compliance during their short journey next Sunday.