Archive for March, 2011

Funny sight today…took 3 horses to get them shod by the son-on-law of a vet. Very good shoer. He has a youngster that’s in 2nd grade (I think). School bus drops him off at the clinic. He goes in to see na-ma. Na-ma comes out to let Bart know that Gus wants to go play with the rest of the family up at the house and that ‘playing with the flu cousins’ is out of the question. Dad (Bart) tells Gus, you go put your jeans and boots on and go look for eggs. Gus looks around for awhile and finds 8 eggs in 4 locations.

Next sighting of Gus is he’s trailing a chicken that is going through the alley at high speed and Gus is trying to rope the chicken. Next sighting of Gus is he’s in the rafters of the barn crawling with his rope to sneak up on the cat who is on the 3rd or top row of a big round bale stack. The cat is watching all this and knows exactly what is up. So as Gus gets to the bale the cat is on, the cat hops to the next bale and looks over the edge so that Gus can see that he is getting close to the cat…he’s just at the next bale over. The cat lays down to clean his paws, legs and takes a peek to see if Gus is near. Not near yet, so the cat lays down again and flicks his tail…just waiting on Gus. Gus is now at the bale the cat is on. The cat hears Gus and gets up to look over the edge of the bale. Cat is looking at Gus. Gus is lengthening his loop and tosses it up over the bale. It’s on the cat, the cat hops out of the loop and takes his paw and flips the loop back at Gus. Gus is trying really hard to ‘rope’ the cat. The cat is trying real hard to not ‘laugh’. This goes on for about 10 minutes and finally the cat looks at Gus and then leaps back to the bale where the game started. Gus is done with the cat playing him and doesn’t even satisfy the cat by going after him. The cat looks over the bale and sees that Gus is leaving. Looking kinda satisfied, the cat scratches the bale and curls up to take a nap.

The other funny part to this story were the faces of the young horses that were tied in the stalls below all the rafter action. You should have seen their faces while they watched the roping action. (Now I know that many people can read this and think OMG they let that boy do what. Well, be assured watching this little guy go gather his hens eggs, then try to rope his chickens and then practice roping his cat is a lot more rewarding of a life than sitting in front of a screen and playing some odd, unfulfilling game.)

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Excerpt from an article in the recent High Plains Journal, March 28, 2011 Soybean Issue…..   The largest consumer of  U.S. soybeans is U.S. animal agriculture.  The 2010 U.S. economic downturn lowered the consumption of meat in the U.S.   With the support of the U.S. soybean industry, the U.S. livestock industry increased sales of pork and beef to other countries.  The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reported a record high export of 2010 beef sales for Canada, the European Union, the Middle East, Japan, Russia and Southeast Asia.  Near record high pork export sales went to Japan and Mexico.  A healthy domestic animal agriculture sector contributes to the U.S. economy which in turn helps maintain demand for U.S. soybeans. 

From my cow/calf operation….I have been a retained ownership cattle feeder since 1996.  During the years, I have been a user of soybean meal in my supplemental feed sources.  Nearly all of the beef from my operation harvests at Fort Morgan, Colorado and winds up in the export market.  I have long appreciated the value of being involved in a network of producers that aim at getting the biggest return on our investment.  Producing beef is not an easy task.  It is physically demanding, financially demanding and the margin of profits can be small.  ‘Time’ is another factor that many do not include in their overall cost of producing a pound of beef. 

So from my place, I want to thank the U.S. soybean farmers and their board for being a valuable assest to helping U.S. animal agriculture with the marketing of our products.

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The last couple days it has been back to chilly weather. The rain and snow showers are not amounting to much…which is good. It was time to get up some fall 2010 calves, sort off the heifers, pour them and return them to the grow lot. We weighed the bull calves, vaccinated them with 7-CDT, and gave them the Callicrate band treatment. Growing bull prospects you really like to see good testicle development. Banding day, you wish they had less testicle development! Generally, about an hour after the band is in place the calf will be ready to return to eating.

From a nutrition management point, the calves were fed their 5 lbs/h/d of their grower concentrate first thing in the morning. I want to make sure all calves have their daily intake of the grower mix. Then about 3-4 hours later we gather, sort and process the calves. The weights taken can be adjusted back for the fill factor. Then, the next morning the calves will all be ready to meet back at the bunk for feeding. The strategy is to not take any calves off feed because of the work processes.

I used a young cowdog that is headed to San Antonio soon. He is a product of some of my new matings. He is a lot like his dam and sire…a ton of bite, but less into that ‘easy listening, easy to train’ that I really prefer. He’s been a ‘pasture ready’ cowdog for months but he needed more time to become a naturally controllable good listener for small pasture, lot or corral work. And, he’s the type of cowdog that you always have to be watching. He will head on out to work cattle on his own if you don’t keep him in check at all times. A cowdog like this just needs more time and a lot of cattle work to get him tuned in or dialed down and refined. But, he did a great job in the corral today with sorting. He was patient, and was quiet during the sorting process. The calves could walk right up to him, pass him and walk by him and he never once blasted into a biting frenzy. So, Bullet has made a ton of progress.

We ended our day with a visit from a young man with a Australian cattledog (Blue Heeler). I had Hawk and Ducchess go gather some yealing bulls from a lot, take them to the corral, and bring them back to the lot.  I set it up so that the bulls missed the gate a few times so that the young man could see how quick, quiet and effective the cowdogs were in getting ahead, turning and holding the cattle.  He has a newly acquired 7 month old pup. The pointers I left with him were to teach the dog to be respectful, patient, and teach him some basic manners. The dog has a pickup load of run, here/there energy and a few jump on you issues. After an hour of giving him some pointers they were on their way.

Our load of hay arrived on time. Hopefully that will be the last load we need for Spring. Hawk, Ducchess, Bullet and I went home to put them away for the day and to play with the puppies.

Tuesday is to be about 40 and rainy by afternoon with a chance of snow during the night. Guess it will be another slow rainy day. I will be off to see the sports medicine doc to see what it is going to take to attach my bicep muscle and tendon back to the bone. My right arm has been out of commission since Mar. 19 when things blew up inside of it….(must be that age thing!). Sure has been a painful adventure so I hope they can fix what is ailing me!

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Ten days ago, we had a snow event and I was thinking it would be ‘the last one’. Well, my neighbor informed me the other day (again) that according to the Farmers’ Almanac we are going to have a blast of snow the last weekend of the month. I didn’t say a word, because he’s been watching the past winter and 60 inches of snow from his kitchen window…while I am cleaning out his walk areas so he can get out to feed his cats. Well, guess what…he and the Farmers’ Almanac were/are right. It’s snowing today with a forecasted 2-7 inches. It started around 11-11:30 a.m….big, wet, fluffy flakes from the NE. If it were January I’d be feeling really sick because those NE storms can be cruel and deep by the time they get done.

I had gotten some much needed fall cow work done the past week or so. Once the mud got less deep, I started going around and gathering up fall cows for preg checking, mouthing and pouring. We moved some Spring pairs around too. We had brought about 50 replacement type heifers home to OCV or bangs vaccinate, but the vet was running two hours late and we didn’t get the OCVs done. So, that’s a reschedule for next week. Guess we will do OCVs and semen test bulls one day. We also have about 70 bull calves to band from our weaned fall calves. And, I guess we will go ahead and weigh and Source, Age tag some feeder calves. That will make for some good work days for some pups. Sure hope it doesn’t get too muddy again! That really slows work down and I tend to not use pups when it is deep and muddy…just makes things go too slow, too much chance for added down time and accidents.

I do know that I am glad I took two afternoons this past week to do some lot dirt work. Leveling, banking and moving bunks around. Since there was a chance for rain/snow, I wanted to get things leveled up so that drainage was good again.

I am going to be down to the wire to get my cowdogs for my production sale in good order. It’s been a winter of too much weather to do any young cowdog work. And, the rains and such of March have delayed the youngsters training. Sounds like excuses….but it’s just the way Mother Nature can impact ‘a schedule’.

I do know one thing, I am glad I have my Bert and Hawk offspring. It is all I have left of Bert and I sure do appreciate what he gave to his kids. They are by far the easiest cowdogs to train. They are loaded with manners, respect, cow sense and strategy. They love to head, they are good at gathering and bringing cattle out of pastures, lots and corrals. They can load trailers and trucks like smooth little cutting horses. I just have a lot less frustration in the teaching process with them. Thank you Bert!

If you don’t visit ‘Facebook”, I will go back and post some of the past weeks photos to here. I am still borrowing a friend’s PC to do my correspondence, so I have not posted on my Blog as much as I have my Facebook pages.

I was also overwhelmed by the degree of “Happy Birthday” wishes yesterday. Thank you to everyone who called, posted on Facebook and sent me emails and cards. And, I appreciated the mentions of my dear Bert. You all are right, I miss him so much. We were like a hand and a glove for each other.

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Canadian Grey Wolves…Angus Beef Bulletin’s Mar. 2011 issue arrived yesterday and the cover story is “Unintended Consequences” with a picture of the State of Idaho with a grey wolf and an elk. The article covers the 1994 proposed ‘nonessential experiment’ of stocking of wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. In 95-96, 66 Canadian grey wolves were released into central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. In 2008, the wolf population was out of control and hunting was allowed. In Aug. 2010, the environmentalists got the hunting stopped. Idaho’s elk, moose, cattle, sheep, ranchers, farmers, hunting outfits are all under attack from the ‘out of control’ wolf population.

If you can, get this article and read it and then call on all our livestock, production agriculture related publications to dig into and publish the impact of the grey wolves. Missouri’s conservation program is apparently stocking national forest ground with elk and wolves. Ok, Missouri…let Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming “SHOW YOU” the results of such an ‘environmentally feel good idea’.

Angela Nash posted a Working Ranch Blog article that also speaks to the wolf issue. Wolves do their work at night. The kill for sport. They kill in a brutal fashion. They might look pretty in a picture…all fuzzy and big eyed, but what if you were a cow with a newborn calf ready to hit the ground and a pack of wolves have you scattered in pool of blood just a few minutes later…

Can Beef Magazine, Drovers Journal, High Plains Journal, Working Ranch Magazine, RanchWorld Ads Magazine, Progressive Cattleman, Western Horseman, American Cowboy…and the 100’s of production agriculture related magazines…rally to effectively and honestly address this issue as it relates to their readership? Or, should we all just sit and watch and complain while another ‘feel good’ idea continues to snowball out of control?

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I don’t think I can ever remember such a wet snow. There was just a lot of water in it. I always loved traveling the W and NW during the spring thaw…lots of water, the rush of it all. But, it is different to live in it versus driving through a place on a road trip! Another day of life with the cows and calves.

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday the cowdogs and I worked like loaned out mules. Our last soggy, rain delay had dried enough to not get lost in the mud in the corrals so we gathered fall calving cows and brought them back closer to home on Friday. Saturday and Sunday we weighed, mouthed, and poured the cows and took out the bulls. Since it was still pretty muddy I did not use any young cowdogs. I used two cowdogs at a time. The largest group of cows only had 100 head so there was no real need to have too much cowdog power. And, I didn’t want to have to risk a young cowdog making more work for me, the other cowdogs or the cattle. The goal was to get done and to not take a lot of extra time…time that we really didn’t have. Hawk and Bandit did the gathering, pen, sorting and alley work on Saturday. Hawk and Ducchess did the pasture work, pens, sorting and alley work on Sunday. Things clicked right along and we worked and weighed about 200 head. These cows are now ready to ship out to Spring grass.

Well, that Spring grass was nothing but a dream come Sunday night. The forecast was for a few rain showers and possibly some light snow after midnight. Long before midnight the rain arrived.  Then, bright eyed and bushy tailed in the wee hours of Monday morning came the ‘skiff’ of snow. By 7 a.m. Monday, the skiff was about 6 inches, 8 inches by noon, and still at 6 p.m. it is snowing. Snowing less, but still snowing. Long about 3 p.m. I was still feeding and making the rounds and I turned on the radio in the tractor. The weather person made the statement, “Well, it has sure snowed more than what we forecasted.” I was moved to a grin and a sigh with the thought of ‘really’.
I do know that everywhere we went today the babies were glad to see us arrive. They obviously had been having visions and conversations of, “When she shows up we will have a dry, warm place to lay”.  Dry bedding was not to be had for long, but it gave the moms a chance to reload for the day, stoll to the mineral feeder, get a drink of water and return to the bed down spots for the night.
Soaked, wet, cold cattle sure do consume a lot more forage. They really crank up their internal combustion engines!
I am glad the cowdogs and I worked hard to get some things done. We are really feeling like we are behind with these weekly rainy, sloppy events. It will take days for today’s moisture to soak away.

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