Archive for December, 2010

It’s the last day of 2010 and you would think it is the middle of April. We had rain nearly all night, temps around 54, woke up to the ground all washed off and looking like spring. All we needed was robins scampering around the pastures plucking fat earthworms for breakfast. From 6:30 a.m. to about 8:30 a.m. there was a break in the rain so I hurried up to let the cowdogs out to run and play while I cleaned up the barn and outside pens. THEN, it thundered and began to sprinkle. Take note of who stayed out to play and who came back to the barn! Being done enough for now, I put everyone away in their clean pens and fresh water. I got Bandit, Ducchess and Hawk and headed out to try to get the calves fed in the grow lot before it began to pour. We got about half done and it was too scary to keep going. The lightening was quietly snapping around. Twice I had that “white light” flash and snap as I went to the grainery. It always amazes me that you get the flash, snap of lightening and then a few seconds later you get the boom. It was too close for comfort so me and the puppy dogs called a time out and headed to the house to eat breakfast. We are under flash flood and tornado warnings. The cold front that is coming in from the west is about 50 miles west of me. It is to be mid-20’s by mid to late afternoon. I sure hope the rain leaves before the cold gets here. Our last two winters have had lots of tree breaking ice storms that left our timber ground literally looking like a war zone with the trees all broken and striped down from the weight of the ice and the wind tearing things apart. During those winters, you could stand outside and hear trees breaking apart and it lasted for days. It sounds like the mountain states west of me are really getting the snow and wind again. I got some notes from friends letting me know that they are graciously sending me more cold weather. Thanks!!

I took advantage of the warm day yesterday and took pictures of my December puppies. They are really growing. They will be big cowdogs before you know it….well, in their minds they will be big cowdogs in a few weeks.

I do wish for all my friends…a good year to come, no sad times to have to deal with, and a positive move forward for the economy. I know I sound like a broken record, but I miss ole Bert. I hope I can learn to cope with not having him here with me. I appreciate all the well wishes sent my way.

Well, the weather man just said to think about taking cover. Guess I best get off the computer!  These pictures were taken in a span of 45 minutes.  The last ones are the terraces filled with feet of rain that has fallen in the past 30 minutes.  The run off sounds like roaring white water of a river. 

5:00 p.m.  Good-bye 2010.

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Our last Monday of 2010 opened up with some spectacular scenary. During the night, out of the East we had fog set in. With the wind out of the East everything became layer and coated with ice crystals. I was out before the sun came up and in the headlights of the pickup there were sparkling, beautiful crystal formations on everything. As the day wakened, the cowdogs and I went about our chores and every once in a while we took a few moments to capture some shots to remember. It would have been a great day to be armed with a real camera so that you could really catch the beautiful crystal details of the ice. They were truly amazing in their geometric shapes.

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Our Christmas day was snowing and dark all day. I loaded up several cowdogs to go along to do the feeding in the grow lot and in a couple pastures where I am putting out a bit of supplemental grain…yearling heifers, first calf heifer pairs, and a weaning trap for about 100 other fall calves. It was day 2 of snow and the cattle had come out of the windbreaks and ravines to find water and some hay. The wind blew a pretty good lick all day and it was kinda chilly. Sunday morning it was still snowing a little. By 3:30 p.m. the sun started to show its face and it was certainly a welcome sight. The cowdogs and I just kinda had it easy the past few days. No troubleshooting to do really. Had a snotty nose calf to sort off and take home to doctor. Doctored him on Friday, and by Saturday when we went to look for him, he was doing pretty good. Today, he looks on the mend and no others look like they need attention. Glad it was just an isolated case (fingers crossed!!).

By the end of this week we are to be 50+ degrees for a day or two with rain during those days, then back down to 20. These roller coaster temperatures can sure make it challenging on the calves. I am pretty lucky to not have much trouble, but there are quite a few people whose luck is not so good. It can make a ‘tight calf supply forecast’ look even tighter. Every day forward, we gain more daylight. That will be a relief. Won’t be long and the spring calves will be arriving. It’s coming into a busy time around here!

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Sure seems like it’s been a long week. A week ago we got some freezing drizzle and rain. For a week, I have been traveling afoot with my newly purchased cleats. What a great buy! We have been through icy winters for the past three years and my last ‘4-wheel drive’ cleats were totally worn out. This morning the sun was trying to peak out and for the most part we have seen some sun all day. The ice is thawing pretty good and all the stock are really enjoying the sunshine. The cows and calves are out browsing or laying around soaking up some rays. I only had one bull that seems to have gotten an ice injury so the cowdogs and I gathered up some spare bulls, sorted one off, took him to the pasture, gathered up the cows and bull, unloaded the one and loaded up ole sore foot. It is going to get to the mid 30’s today. Feels like a heat wave.

I had to chuckle this morning when I got to the grainery. I got this mouse that works on my broom every night. He or she chews up a few broom straws and neatly forms a new perfectly round nest. Hawk can’t wait to blast through the door every morning so that she is in position when I pick up the buckets. She is determined to ‘get the mouse’! My ole buddy Bert was a hoot too when it came to the word ‘mouse’. He sure was a good cowdog and friend. Miss the ole poop.

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There are times in a ranching chore day that you absolutely have to go high-tech to get a job done. Here is a great example of do-it-yourself high-tech at my place. This is a multi-purpose piece of equipment….feed scoop, water trough cleaning device, dog do picker-upper. The great advantages to such a handy ranch chore device are price, availability, functionality, diversity, flexiblity, virtually weighless, virtually indestructable….the list of advantages go on and on! Might even make a great gift for the person that has just about everything.

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I am really glad our first snow hasn’t been too bad. The extent of my need for cowdogs today was just for pleasant company in the pickup (Thank you God!). We might have a few inches on the ground, but the wind has blown so hard all night and throughout Sunday that the snow has raced off to places east of where it originally fell. The only places we have drifts is in all the inconvenient places…buried the hay in the calf feed racks, buried the back door to the house, drifted the shop door shut and drifted a waterer under. Thinking I had all my waterers in great shape proved wrong. The one tank with the greatest wind exposure was frozen tight this morning. So, it was off to the shop. I decided to skip trouble shooting elements and thermostats and opted for replace them all…it will be quicker and easier. If it wasn’t 40+ wind speed and zero something for the feels like temperature I might have taken more time to diagnosis the situation. However, it was just too dang cold to take any extra time to check this and that. And, when all was said and done, when I got everything switched out, guess what? No heat. So, it was off to the shop again to get (what seemed like a few miles of extention cord and a trouble light) Plan B. I was so dang cold by then that I ran my cord, plugged in my light, flipped the switch…guess what…no light cometh on. Dang. So I took the light to the outlet and prayed, “Let there be light”. Thank you Lord for answering my prayer of giving me light! I went back to the tank. Ah, the reason I had no light at the other end was I failed to plug the two power cords together. Duh! See what happens when you get so dang cold your brain freezes. I ran my cord through some PVC pipe to give it some degree of protection from cattle traffic, anchored and secured it with come concrete blocks, thawed out my tank, shut it all up and asked God for one last little favor, “Please let this work for a couple days until it gets above zero and I can take care of things properly. If you’d be so kind I’d be most appreciative. Thank you.”

Long about noon the sun came out. I am grateful for that too. Solar rays will heat the cattle back up from the long night they had and prepare them for tonight which is to be even colder. What a Sunday.

I’ll be up off and on all night. I received a litter of puppies last night. It’s the first litter for the female and she’s a bit clueless about motherhood. So the puppies are not nursing like they should. Guess I should have gotten the mom a video on birthing and what to do when the puppies get here. I pray I can make it all work out for the best.

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As I was driving out of my driveway this evening, the sun was quickly racing away. As I passed by a hedge post that I set I was looking west at the big fireball in the sky. The sun seemed to be perched on the post and I could not resist, I had to back up and try to capture the sun in it’s perched position. The sun was peering through the white oaks as if to tell my old hedge post, ” Good night, ole post. I’ll see you tomorrow.”  The hedge post I cut. The 4-barbed wire I stretched and tied to that ole post. The anchor that ole post was for the bend in the fenceline.   The sun simply reminded me of a day long ago…a day gone by.  The ranching skills given to me by my dad.  The sun given to us by God.  All reminders to me of wonderful times in those days gone by.  The sun will be back tomorrow and so will those memories of those wonderful days gone by.

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