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.

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.