Archive for January, 2011

The past few days, the cowdogs and I have been rounding up cows at several different locations. It’s time to sift through the calf data and pull out the cows that have fallen off in their production and send them to town. Saturday was a busy day going back to some of the different places to sort off the cows to ship. The grand plan was to get around super early while the ground was frozen so that hauling the cattle out of the steep, hilly pastures could be done before the ground began to thaw more. Well, the grand plan was out the window since it didn’t get cold enough to freeze the ground enough. It got to 50 yesterday and the snow melt was in full swing and the night just did not get cold enough. So, I loaded up two cowdogs in the tractor and made the rounds to feed. We rounded up our cows to sort through and left them in the traps and corrals. We went home and gathered some bulls and then hooked up the trailer to the tractor. By 10 the ground was pretty sloppy. The sun was trying to peek through some thin cloud cover. If the clouds would have disappearred, the last of our snow would have also disappearred. But the clouds got heavier as the day went along and the melting slowed way down. The south facing hills are nearly 100 percent open, but the E, N, and W are still covered with 2-3 inches of snow. Sunday night we are to begin a new storm event…freezing rain, ice, changing to snow and the early estimates are 8-12″ of heavy snow. I guess I won’t be alone though. Appears the NW cold air is going to bump into a wet air mass coming up out of the Gulf. Yippee…the two systems are to converge in central MO. Looks to me like they are going to ‘collide’. I wonder if the stockyards might cancel the Monday sale again.

I guess it is a ‘whatever situation’. Whatever it does, we will have to do whatever it takes to tend to the stock. So much for trying to stay ahead of things! Hope you enjoy the pictures. I know one thing for sure though…my feet are tired of Muck Boots with cleets.

All in all, I really enjoy having some smart cowdogs that can think, process and sort through some tough situations.  We got a lot done this week and I am grateful that their Dad Bert passed along his ‘cow sense and brains’ to his kids.  Hawk and the kids are helping me carry on without Mr. Bert.  We love you Bert…

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An unexpected freezing fog (pogonip) morning. When I left this morning at 6:00 a.m. I was greeted with a pleasant surprise…no clouds overhead and a peaking pink and blue sunrise! It was a good sight to see since the cowdogs and I spent yesterday gathering fall pairs and locking the calves in some weaning traps. The agenda for today was to pour and vaccinate the calves with Bovi-Gold 5 and One Shot and pour the cows. And, we were going to leave the calves locked up a second night to see if any cows cycled come Thursday. So, we are whizzing around feeding and checking the calves in the grow lot and the yearling heifers out on pasture. We are still covered up with snow, so we also had some hay feeding to do once the calves and cows were processed. Much to our surprise, along about 7:30 out of the east I could see a white mass coming acrossed the tops of the trees. The weatherman had kept talking about the poor visibility of less than 1/8 mile and it was odd to me since we had a pretty sunrise coming. Well, the fog rolled in like a freight train and the visibility went to less than 1/8 mile. So, the cowdogs and I had to wait it out a bit. It was 10 degrees this morning so as the fog rolled through the air, it clung to and coated everything and the air felt dang cold! I took a few pictures but I have to admit it seems pretty insane to get cold hands over trying to capture some of the foggy, freezing air. About 11:00 we finally got all our goodies loaded in the pickup and headed to the corrals to start our cattle work for the day. I used two yearling cowdogs, along with Ducchess and Hawk. After about 3 hours of constant pen work and alley work, I put the yearling cowdogs on the pickup and spent the rest of the time using Ducchess and Hawk. Plus, we were done with the majority of the calves and it was down to the cows. It was best for the cowdogs and for me to not have the yearling assistants around the cows. I was not up for a penning from a cow due to a young dog making a mistake. We sure got a lot done and am glad the calves are worked and ready for weaning. It will be good to get the calves off the cows so that the cows can idle and recover.

Hope you enjoy the ‘Pogonip’!  I took these pictures from 7:30 -9:00 a.m.

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A lot of people still experience scours in their cattle. There are a lot of factors or things that can set your cattle up for scours. Marginally balanced diets, bacteria in the soil, and an on-again off-again mineral program are just a few of factors that can gradually lead to a low immune system and the advanced growth of bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that cause problems in cows, calves and bulls. Vaccination programs won’t override or fix scour issues. It really takes a balance over time of good management to get rid of all the factors that your cattle are exposed to each day that eventually get you into ‘scour’ trouble. One simple way to begin eliminating the problems is with including some by-products of the citrus industry. The January 2011 issue of ‘SimTALK’ magazine (from the American Simmental Association) has a short ‘Research & New Products’ article on USDA research involving citrus by-products, E. Coli and Salmonella.

A while back, I posted an article on my blog of the products that I have used since the late 1990’s and early 2000’s to eliminate the ‘bad news bugs’ that can wreck your stock’s performance. When you eliminate the ‘bad’ you will be surprised at the other ‘good’ things that begin to show up in your cattle herd.

I even use citric acid presscake (Citri-Stim) with my horse and cowdog diets. There is some research that has been done animals other than cattle. Like all things though, one needs to be aware that pricing and the actual inclusion rates of the good ingredients can be all over the place.

Page on down in my blog posts and look for the post on my mineral program.  Thanks for the questions and I hope this information helps.

I simply keep a bag of Citri-Stim around the feed shed. You can also check with an ADM beef cattle specialist in your state and discuss what is currently available or what can be mixed for your specific needs.

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Ever heard some people say, “Oh, it will wait until tomorrow.” I had a fella tell me one time, “You oughta just skip it, stop and smell the roses, do it tomorrow”. Well, all that may be true, but there are times when it is wiser to do it now and be glad you did. Managing land, cattle, daily needs and resources is a balancing act. For me, over the years, I have seen a lot of situations that Mother Nature delivers to our little piece of Americana. For me, it is easier to take care of things today and know that tomorrow can always deliver some unexpected unknowns to deal with. And, it is easier to deal with the unknowns if they are not piled up on the things that I should have done yesterday. I have always reminded myself that what I do today is how my operation pays it’s bills in 12-18 months.  And, I don’t enjoy the insanity of wishing I had done “x” yesterday so that I wasn’t faced with the unexpected ‘y’ that just intercepted or added itself to my current job or task…with each needing to be done NOW (well, yesterday!).

Today it is about 30 degrees below our normal daily temperature. The wind is 20-35 mph. The actual temp is around 12 right now and by evening we are to be near zero. So, tomorrow is going to be very cold. I am glad that I spent the time on Sunday to prepare for today. The cattle have ample amounts of hay to keep them comfortable until I get to them the next day. And, since it is going to be sub-zero for the next couple days I want to keep them as comfortable as possible. I sometimes hold my breath when I go to check waterers in weather like this….knowing there is always a chance of something being frozen up. I don’t really enjoy below zero weather and having to work on water tanks! Alternative watering from ponds or creeks is not available as a back-up plan.

I can look at today and remind myself of having some tremendous opportunities in the past.  One, my dad.  He instilled in me some important basics of the value of good and timely work habits.  Two, my dear friend Bert – my cowdog.  He and I walked each minute of every day and night together and could accomplish any easy or difficult cattle movement task.  Three, my mother.  She has learned to love her life on her husband’s farm/ranch way beyond her or my dad’s wildest expectations.  I appreciate her help around here and she enjoys being able to be involved and helpful.  And four, Bert’s main lady Hawk.  She and the rest of my cowdogs from Bert are learning to fill in and take ahold of the duties that Bert routinely did.  Bert owned this place and knew what to do at every moment.  I am glad he mentored Hawk, Ducchess, Bandit, Luke and Levi so well.  They are really stepping up and into their new found roles as leaders.

We enjoy sharing some of our daily moments with you all as you visit our blog topics.  Thanks for stopping in.  I really enjoy the e-mails and messages I receive as you read and follow along in our daily working ranch chores and life.

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Our snow system arrived late this afternoon. We are to get around 7 or 8 inches. It’s making for some fun driving already. One good thing so far is the wind is not too bad. But the high temperatures for the next few days are to be in the low to mid teens with the low around zero and windchills of -15 to -25. It will be time to make sure the cattle are tucked in behind some wind breaks or timber so that they can conserve on some calories. If they could hold up in the cedars they could escape some of the snow and wind.

I snapped a few pictures of the snow as seen through the headlights. Makes the flakes look kind of extreme!

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I am thinking the days are getting longer!! At least when we have some partly cloudy skies in the morning and late evening, it makes it seem like we are gaining a lot of daylight already. It’s a feel good feeling. We are pretty much in the midst of hay feeding everywhere now. I am grateful our winter is easier on the livestock than the past two winters. We have only had a couple days when the cattle were soaked, wet and cold. Last year, it was rainy, snowy, icy, and overcast for weeks on end and the cattle could never get dried out to warm up. Wet, cold cattle burn a lot of calories…non-stop calorie burning…and they need a lot of forage to keep going. So, as we watched a few weather shifts, fronts, and cold air arrive again…the cowdogs and I took a few minutes to capture a part of our visits with Mother Nature and God. Even today, the temperature was only 22 or so and it seemed pretty nice because the wind had finally slowed down. A far cry better than yesterday when you were leaning so far forward to walk that you looked like the Leaning Tower in Italy.

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We have really been lucky the past few days. The nights are in the low to mid 20’s and the days have warmed to around 40. We are being told that next week there will be some days of snow and getting colder. Then the following week is to be desperately cold. I sure hope they are wrong. The fall calves have faired pretty good in the roller coaster weather. Today, we had to gather a group up and take them home to doctor three. Got some droopy calves, running temps, wet noses, slight cough so hope we get on top of it before the wet, cold weather arrives. It would be best if it would stay at 20-25 degrees. But, one just has to manage around what we are given for weather. Ducchess and Hawk did a really good job of hunting the timber and draws to bring the pairs home. The rest of their day was pretty relaxing…just watching hay bales while I fed. Later this evening we checked the doctored calves and they looked better. Hope all is well when we return to check cattle and do chores tomorrow.

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