Archive for February, 2011

Email Problems for 6 Wks.

If you have sent me an email through my website or from my ‘tjgscows’ email account during the past 6 weeks or so…I didn’t get it. If you think I am ignoring your email request(s) it is because of problems with my email accounts and hacker issues with my home computer system. I have periodically used a friend’s computer to try to keep up with facebook traffic and ‘in-a-round-about-way’ a few of my emails that were trapped in one of my spam filters. If you or someone you know is wondering why I have not replied to your emails…now you know what the deal is. It won’t be fixed until next week when my ISP can be contacted to help get things fixed.

I appreciate your patience and tolerance as I get my technology malfunctions squared away!

UPDATE…Monday, Feb. 28, 2011…it is official…if you sent me an email during the past 6 weeks and did not receive a reply then I did not get your email delivered to my Incoming Mail Server.  So, if you are angry for no reply, you can ‘unangry yourself’ and relieve yourself of the frustration of my not replying.  As of today, I will temporarily access my email via another route until I can get my home internet service back up and running.  It’s just a technical problem and it can be fixed (sorta).  In the meantime, if you got a pup, cowdog or training advice from someone else that is good.  I do appreciate your attempt to try to visit with me.  If you have any other things you would like to discuss in the future, feel free to contact me.

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I am calving now. The blizzard is gone…history! Now it’s raining. Makes me think I am never satisfied! I can’t remember a winter where the night skies are nearly cloudless and the stars are ‘right at your fingertips’. Then to find at day break, the clouds are rolling in and it’s dreary all day…snowing, raining…whatever. But, I am grateful it is not snowing and raining all night while I am calving. I much prefer to not have snow and rain coming at night. I’ve lived through a lot of those times and they are not fun. I do admit that living in Nebraska in the sand was a lot more fun to calve in. But, we take what we get. I slept right through my alarm that went off at midnight and was still buzzing when I woke up at 4:30 a.m. Talk about an accelerated panic. I was so in gear I tried to put on two pair of heavy socks and was wondering what in the world was wrong with the socks since I couldn’t seem to get them on my feet!

Hawk and I left at 5 in the pouring rain/snow mix. Stiff wind out of the west. All was well in the heifer pasture. All was well in the 3-4 year olds. All was well in the mature cows. All was sort of well in the 5-6’s. I had one cow about 3/4 mile away at the far end of the pasture and hanging around the stream tucked in the cedars (don’t you just love these type of situations). She was just getting started so Hawk and I went on home.

Two hours later. We go back. She’s highly agitated, bawling around, calf is kicking around in her. Each time the calf bounces around the cow sucks up, squats, bawls. I’m thinking ‘breech’. I’m thinking ‘great, water is broken, and she’s not appearing to be the type that wants to take a friendly stroll to the barn lot’. The wind shifts, I am cold and huddled behind a big cedar. Contemplating my next move. She’s not going to let me just sweet talk her into letting me help her here. She’s going to fight a cowdog. Too brushy for a horse to do me any good. Can’t rope her since my arm has too many plates in it and to rope her on my own would just be an unwise decision.

For an hour I use the power of positive thinking…okay missy roll up, rock around, spread your pelvis, lay back over and push, get up switch hips, do it all again and don’t lay with your butt up hill or back down hill. She’s doing all the right things and finally a foot shows up and the toe is down (yeah). Then the next foot tip shows up. BUT, it is turned too far in and I am thinking that’s the main reason she can’t make any progress. With the foot tipped inward the knee and shoulder will be turned outward and the head will be too far forward.

I go ahead and have Hawk come to see if we can coax her towards the barn lot. Well, that work for about 100 yards. She whirls around on Hawk, Hawk loses her footing on the slick ground and gets a front foot stepped on. With all the bawling, the rest of the heavies and pairs show up. I decided to make it easier for all of us. I go home, get the tractor and a bale of hay and a second cowdog – Bandit. I give Bandit and Hawk the ‘bring ’em on’. It takes Bandit and Hawk a minute or two to line the cows and calves out along with the problem cow. And, of course, she does not want to leave from where her water broke. Bandit and Hawk are presistent and patient. I was in the tractor headed around all the trees on the opposite side of the stream…meaning I was of no help to the cowdogs.  They keep things moving forward and finally they decide to crank it up a notch on the problem cow. I was really proud of the cowdogs’ thinking. They were good about not really making her hacked off but then they insisted that she best get on along with the rest of the cows and calves. The cowdogs did a great job of handling the whole situation. Enough force when needed and backed off when things were going well. Handling 2-7 day old calves is not an easy task but I could not have asked the cowdogs to have done a better job. They moved the cows and backed off the babies. Bandit was so proud of himself and Hawk was glad to get it done because her foot was swelling and hurting. But, she is not a quitter and made a great reinforcement in helping Bandit.

The calf’s position was as I suspected but we got the calf out and all is well.  The cow does have a cut on her nose and a nip on the ear, but she did what she needed to do at the time and that was to finally stay with the herd.  A learning experience for her.

Bandit and Hawk’s last chore of the day was to watch the gate while I got eight bales of hay out of the barn. Hawk was not too keen in wanting to lay in the soupy mud so she found a more dry spot to watch from.

I really like smart cowdogs that listen, are easy to handle and can sort through a tough situation and not make a mess of things.

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Have you ever had one of those days where you are all geared up to get a lot of things done? I tried that today. I bombed out bright and early, saddled up the 4-wheeler with tagging supplies, calving book, pulling straps and loaded up Hawk and off we went to make a buzz around the calving pastures. All was well. A few new babies but alas no unfortunate mistakes. My next mission for the early morning was to get to town early and get some lumber, metal brackets, screws, extension cords and 3-way cord plug-ins. Then off to pick up some dog food. Then get back home to check cows again and get the feeding done.

I get to the lumber yard, get my things, load them up, check the phone…gad…a call from a friend and a message. This particular friend never leaves a message so I knew that something was wrong. I call him. I have about 50 heifers in my mom’s yard and along the highway. He jokes that my mom is going to kick my behind because the yard is all tracked up and the flower beds have been rummaged through. I tell him to flip on his flashers and I’ll be home. I call the sheriff to let them know I have cattle on the highway and ask if they had a deputy in the area to go stop traffic. They tell me to get home (okay….) and they will send someone out to stop traffic. I don’t want to get a speeding ticket, so I am driving the limit (sort of) and I am tailing a guy who is sauntering along while he talks on his cell phone. There are no places to pass, so I take several deep breaths and do my best to not tailgate him. And of course, he keeps taking the same turns that I do. I get home. No sheriff and my friend has just shut the gate to the lot. The postman, my mom and my neighbor successfully took care of everything. I am grateful and shaking my head that I can’t even leave for an hour without something hitting the fan. I unload my lumber, head back out to get dog food. I get home and it’s nearly noon (wishing I had time for breakfast)! Hawk and I make our laps to check cows and heifers. All is well in the calving department but we skip tagging calves so that we can get to feeding since we are a few hours late and the natives are getting restless.

It’s nearly 4 and the next item is to go check the cowdogs and puppies. All is fine but the cowdogs are disappointed that I have not been there earlier in the day to let them out to play and visit. I assure them, “I’ll be back”. I zip over to the shop and get my tape, saw, drill, screws and make me a platform box for the rear of the 4-wheeler. The ultimate initial test is if Hawk and Levi will load up and like it. I tell Hawk to load up and she hops right on up into the box and ‘lays down’…as if to tell me, “’bout time you made me a better place to ride”. Levi, well, he loads up and hops off and stares at it. I tell him ‘tough’ and get your fanny back in the box. I take Levi home, tell him ‘good boy and thanks for your help’ and then Hawk and I head out to check the cows and heifers.

It’s nearly 6. The sunset was beautiful today…so I snapped a few pictures as we drove along. We get to the back side of the heifer pasture and spot a heifer with her back down hill on a ridge. I think, “Gad, you can’t make this stuff up”. We get to her and she is alive but she’s been at it for a while…I roll her over and get her up but she is weak and staggering. I put Hawk on her to trail her home. Thinking as we go along that she seems like she’s giving up. We get her home, head to the house to round up some supplies and go back to see if she’ll lay down in the lot. I sure didn’t want to attempt to put her down the alley to the chute. I had visions of her laying down and then having a real mess on my hands. She goes ahead and lays down in the lot. She’s so tired she doesn’t have any desire to push anymore. But I can tell the calf is alive because he is thrashing around and the heifer is cringing from the commotion from the calf. I decide to go ahead and pull the calf. The heifer cooperates, I get the calf pulled and now the urgency is to see if I can spin the heifer around to keep her from prolapsing. I drag the calf out of the way so that he’s not in harm’s way in case the heifer tries to get up and I don’t want her to fall on him. I mean, I take like seconds to drag him a few feet and as I turn around…bingo, she prolapses. Off to the house to get more supplies. Of course, it’s dark and ready to rain any time. I get the heifer up and have her tied to the 4-wheeler. I get her to the fence post and tie her. I get the uterus back in without any trouble. The heifer is desperately weak and I am thinking she’s bleeding internally. She falls, the uterus spills back out. She’s now in a rut along the fence. I go get the tractor so that I can pull her up the hill away from the fence and the rut. I can’t get the uterus back in so call the vet. He’s 1/2 hour away. He arrives, we roll her up on her haunches, I tail her and straddle her back so that she can’t get up. The uterus in now back in, she is sewn up and quietly takes her last breath. We milk her out, retrieve the calf, feed him, pick up the supplies, the vet leaves and I put the calf next to his mom and get him to suck. It’s starting to rain so I tell the little guy, “I’ll be back”.

9:00 p.m. …what a day and it’s not over.  Looking back on the day I ask myself what I could have or should have done different to have a better day.  And honestly, we did not waste any time today, we were diligent in our duties and stuff just happened…but, ‘You Can’t Make This Stuff Up’.

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Feeding cattle is a snail’s pace the past few days. I started getting a lot of calves the past few days. So, I have spent some time pushing snow so that I can get some bare ground exposed for the heifers and cows.

I spent 3 hours this morning pushing snow off hilly areas so that the sun would expose some bare ground. The cattle appreciate it too. I had takers once I’d get an area cleaned off. The cows have been going from one tree to the next to find some bare ground to lay on. Now they can have more room to space themselves out. The last thing I want is for a baby calf to get crushed or stepped on. One thing about having some sun and warmer daytime temps now is that if one calves on the snow the calf can get a little footing and have the sun’s rays to help with making the whole experience a little warmer. I’ve been through those icy deals where a calf can’t get any footing and can wind up in a branch or creek bed just out of sheer sliding down a hill. I’ve pushed out calving areas and piled the snow as a drift to keep the calves from sliding on down into a waterway. I sure hope all this extra work pays off…saving one calf and I’ll be glad I took the time to do it.

The melting yesterday was somewhat like the weather person’s description of the blizzard, “one of epic proportion”.There was snow 2 feet deep that was full of water from the run-off and melting. I am not a 4-wheeler expert, but it did not take long to figure out that the power steering, locking differential and the 4WD lock were all nice things to have. And drive like H. However, today my luck ran out. I got the 4-wheeler stuck…thought I had picked a good place to cross a terrace…wrong, I sank like a rock and when I dismounted the buggy, I sank to my knees. What an illusion of ‘not too deep there’! I left Hawk at the 4-wheeler to keep the heifers away from it…plus she was not keen on hopping off into the crud I drove into. I took Bandit along for the walk home to get the tractor…telling myself the whole while that I should have just taken the tractor to check the heifers in the first place. I wish I could say I enjoyed my walk home, but I didn’t. I need to work on my foot placement. I decided that those oversized Muck Boots with the snow cleats are making my feet strike the ground like a bow-legged cowboy. And, even following the directions of ‘wear with heavy socks’ isn’t even enough to keep them from pulling off your feet when you step in slush deep enough to suck the Muck’s right off your feet. Keen piece of wisdom if I have to wear these things in the suction cup mud.

We got home about 8:30 tonight and it is still 48 and a stiff wind. A few more days of sun and warm temps and the Feb. 2011 blizzard will be just another memory.

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Eleven days ago we were ready to take on the blizzard. Yesterday morning it was -13 degrees and a cold wind.  But with the forecast of several days of warmer weather it was time to think ahead and get ready for the thaw, feeding cattle on higher ground, moving the weaned fall calves to the grow lot and spring calving.  So, yesterday and today the cowdogs and I switched gears to take on the thaw. The snow is still pretty deep. In many ways though, the snow was a good thing. It has insulated the ground and grass from the subzero weather. It was in the low 40’s today with a SW to W wind. It still felt cold with the wind coming across the snow pack. So I tried to feed the cattle where they could soak up the sun and have some protection from the wind. Saving calories!

The spring bull calves in the grow lot were moved out and the fall calves were moved to the grow lot. The fall calving cows were moved further from home and the spring calving heifers were moved home. It took a little longer to feed today because of clearing the snow out to make some areas for cows and heifers to lay to calve. With a day or two of sun the ground will show through and give the cows and heifers a better place to have their calves. Hopefully, the snow will all melt away before I get too many calves. It will make life easier on the cattle, the cowdogs and me.

Kinda feels like we got a lot done today as we get ourselves ready for several days of warm weather and the beginning of the spring calving run.

I sure enjoy my cowdog partners. They make days like today a breeze!

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Thank you to everyone for the comments and questions sent my way about the days and work accomplished by my cowdogs and me. The blizzard has been mostly a nuisance. There have been some pretty scenes from all the snow. I really liked the find of the little pockets of water yesterday in the draw. I passed by the same spot this morning just to see them again. They are peaceful and beautiful.

I have some questions about unrolling hay. My preference is to unroll hay for feeding. It spaces the cattle out, it gives all cattle equal time to feed and reduces the trampling and competing for feed, it is a great way to distribute the benefits of cattle manure and urine, it distributes grass seeds in the hay, just to name a few of the advantages. When spring calving, it keeps the incidence of bacteria build-up to a minimum. I do bale the majority of my hay. I use two types of twine (1) a treated sisal and (2) a solar degradable synthetic twine. Both naturally degrade and are not a nuisance when harrowing or haying ground. Plus, the haying season benefit is that if you get rain or simple ground moisture drawing before the hay is hauled the sisal will weaken or rot and the solar twine stays intact and holds the bale together. For me the two together are a great combination.

The days seem to be quite long with all this feeding. I’ll be glad to see the snow go away. And, the amount of daylight is already noticeably longer. That is a good feeling too.  We managed to go from -3 to +13 today, tonight we are to be around 5 and snow beginning around 10 p.m., snow tomorrow, and still low teens for the daytime high.  But, we are to be in the low 50’s by Monday. 

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February 1st gave the central Missouri area a bit of history with the blizzard that strolled through. A week later, it doesn’t look much different. The main difference is the fluffy, puffy snow is now crusty, hard and annoying. One good thing is that through the past several days I have successfully managed to keep my tractor step intact, not bent, and still attached to the tractor. But…it is getting a little tense at times when I can now hear the step drag on some crusty deep snow.

Saturday I went ahead and sorted off my fall calves again. They are doing fine. They haven’t bawled much up until later this afternoon when I took the cows about a mile away to feed them out of the wind. It is to be below zero at night for the next three nights and not much above 10 or the low teens during the day. Then, the weekend is to be in the 40’s and one weather person says 60’s next week. A second person says after the snow of the next two days there won’t be anymore snow the rest of the month. I’m tellin’ ya, I got excited and mentally skipped right past the next few days of below zero. My mind shot right to next Monday! It is really going to be muddy around here for a long spell if the nights don’t get down to 20.

I pushed out my grow lot on Sunday and used the snow to build windbreaks since we are to have sub-zero temps this week. The young bulls in the lot were really enjoying the protection and the fact that they could lay on the ground with less snow under them. It is a cold ole lot. I need to tear down the old shed that is shot and use the space to build a true windbreak. But, like many things, that means removing a part of the place that has been here forever and my mother can balk at talk of changing things. Kinda like the old smoke house. It needs to hit the road too, but…..

It would be good to use the next couple cold days to move some spring calving heifers home and get them settled into their calving pasture and surroundings. Might just put that on the list for Wednesday.

I took some pictures of a little stream of water in a draw near where I fed cows up north. It looked so peaceful and undisturbed that I thought of serenity. In a few days, the scene will be gone. Hope you can enjoy the peaceful moment that I saw as the water peeked back at me through the trees!

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