Archive for April, 2011

Here are a few pictures of part of the Hangin’ Tree Cowdogs that will be in the cowdog production sale on May 13, 2011.

Updated 05-03-11:  added pictures of Wrinkles (red cowdog).


Name       Birth Date         SirexDam             Wt.        Heeling, %   

Gus          Aug. ’08             NitroxJewel             52             70:30  

Toby        Sep. ’09              NitroxJewel             59             50:50

Will          May ’10               NitroxWhiskey        58             50:50

Howie      Oct. ’08              JakexWhiskey         57            50:50

Jack          Oct. ’08              JakexWhiskey         54            50:50 

Clyde        Feb. ’09             JakexJewel              56            50:50

Wrinkles   Mar.’08             FlashxQueen            55           50:50

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I thought it might be helpful if I started posting some thoughts from discussions I have had with folks.
Q1. Do you recommend using the training method of not letting your dogs see cattle while they are kenneled?
  A. No. (1).  I don’t want my cowdogs to be like ravaging, high-speed pack animals. They need to learn that working cattle is something we do together. We work cattle when I need cattle processed. Freelancing, taking off for the heck of it, and pestering/terrorizing cattle is not encouraged or allowed here. It all goes back to being a good listener, respectful, well-mannered and a partner.
  (2).   I don’t have the luxury of 1,000-10,000+ acre pastures. It is easier to undo a wreck in 10,000 acres….generally less fence gets torn up. I have 50-200 acre areas to work in.
  (3).  Physically, I have cattle everywhere on my places.  It is not realistic for the cowdogs to ‘not see cattle’ while they are in their pens.

  (4).  Training methods can also be a reflection of the handler’s personality and work ethics. I don’t rely on e-collars as the method of choice to stop or knock a cowdog off of cattle. I spend a lot of time on training for listening and easy retrieval of cowdogs.

Q2. Do I use ducks, goats or sheep to start my pups?
  A. No.

Q3. At what age do you start your young dogs?
  A. By 4-6 months I have had the pups in the grow lot and corrals letting them explore and learn their way around where they will be working. It really helps them learn to be comfortable with the surroundings. Comfort=confidence. It makes a lot of sense to set up their training regimen so that they learn to get around, listen, and not be afraid of going into close or tight spots. They learn how to crawl under gates, get through the fence, where they can and can’t go. It is fun for them to go along and learn that where I go there is going to be something new and exciting to do. And, if I have some calves in the lot, then we learn to walk into/through the cattle in a quiet and orderly manner…and it gives me an opportunity to see each pup’s intentions and responses to ‘that’ll do, let’s go, get a drink’. It’s like gathering personal data on each pup. Do they follow the parent, do they listen to me, to they just have that wild freelancing look!

Q4. What really makes a dog a good dog?
  A. Your total devotion as a person to mentoring the dog. The best dogs are dogs that go everywhere with their owner. You build a bond. You learn each others’ silent body language. The pup/dog watches you and how you are with the stock. Your dog grows into a cowdog by what he/she sees in you.

Q5. Are the cowdogs in your sale going to be ready to ‘do it all’?
  A. No. First off, you need to take the first few weeks or months to get to know your cowdog. Become friends. Bond. In some ways he/she is not going to know what to do or where to go. In some ways, the cowdog is going to be smarter than you. You need to “spend time getting to know each other”. You need to spend time “showing the cowdog where they are going to be working”. You need to spend time letting the cowdog go along so that the cattle can visually see the new addition to the operation. Cows and calves are pretty smart about knowing different cowdogs. For example, Bert could go anywhere, do anything and the cows and calves would never lift their head to recognize his presence. He simply blended in, didn’t take cheap shots at them as he passed through. As I added cowdogs or pups to the daily travels, then the cows and calves would immediately take notice of a ‘different looking dog’ or a ‘stranger’. In all you do, I cannot emphasize enough the value of “patience and time”. These are personal character traits that many people lack or have little of, but, they are traits that can really make your life a lot simpler. When I have a bad day with a dog and my patience runs thin I can tell how the dog reads the message I am sending. Bad days happen for all of us. But, remember that your dog or cattle’s actions are a reflection of your tone that you set or present. I can still see my dad. He could drive through his cattle everyday and they’d just ignore him. But if they were up in a lot, getting a drink and just browsing around, if they saw the pickup coming at a higher rate of speed, then it was a signal that they best head to the gate because something was up! If you can be around your stock and not put them into flight just because they see you and your dogs coming, then your work day will be a lot more enjoyable. You can argue that these thoughts don’t apply to all situations and I’d agree. But I can tell you that cattle that are given the chance to learn that a pickup, dog or horse are not something to fear and take flight from then life will be easier. Even folks that run on land permits or large grazing leases know the value of cattle that don’t automatically take flight. But, if you do have the flighty cattle, or cows/bulls that get on the fight, then a good, stand their ground cowdog is sure handy.   (Also see my first Blog post for a little more insight on this question.)

Q6.  How are these dogs around people and little kids?

  A.  I spend time socializing with my pups.  I have a lot of folks that have small children or small grandchildren and they are not interested in a dog that is going to be unruly and possibly mean to a child.  I do not use cowdogs in my breeding program that seem to have social issues.  I don’t appreciate bad manners, bad behavior and fighting with other dogs.  The dogs are protective to the premises or property.  They will bark or growl at strangers and I don’t consider that a bad thing.  I am glad they are protective of their home environment.  I cannot stress enough that ‘dog fights’ are not acceptable here.

Q7.  Can you use these dogs for working things other than cattle and do some of your customers use the dogs for other types of livestock?

  A.  Yes.  First off, they are specifically bred for instincts geared for working cattle.  I don’t let them go to bring the horses in.  Here, the work is cattle and only cattle (well, there is the occasional coyote to run off…).  I have ranchers that do use their cowdogs to bring the horses or pack mules in.  I have farmers with beef and dairy cattle.  I have ranchers with cattle and sheep.  I have horse operations that use their cowdogs as turn-back helpers in cutting training.  I have rotational grazing people.  I have ranchers and cowboys that have over 50,000 acres to gather yearlings.  I have bucking bull breeders.  And, here, we work cattle of all classes from baby calves to ton-plus bulls. And, I insist on the cowdogs being respectful to baby calves.  I don’t have a use for the dogs that are bred or allowed to be rough, unruly and hard to use.  If you own your cattle then you understand the value of having cattle that do not have torn, ripped out or ripped off ears or tails.  A cow can go from $70/cwt. to $10/cwt really quick.  I’ve seen ‘trainers’ that don’t correct head swinging/tail jerking dogs they are working with and it is simply a matter of not thinking or caring about the ending value of the cattle at the point of sale.

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For directions to the sale site, please go to my website page “Contact Us”.  There are directions, a map and airport services listed on the “Contact Us” page.  The staff at the airport at Jefferson City are very helpful with car rental services, recommendations and possible discounts for lodging, and recommendations on places to dine in the evenings.  They will also be able to assist in alternative places to fly into in the event that the Missouri River bottom is flooded.  They will probably recommend Columbia Regional Airport (with car rental services) or the local airport at Eldon.  Eldon may not have car rental services available…the local auto dealerships have closed because of the economic downturn.

    NOTE:  Jefferson City Flying Service…(573) 636-5118…Car rental service is Hertz.

As far as lodging for Jefferson City.  Here is a list of some places:

From the NW side of Jefferson City (along US Hwy 50):

Hampton Inn, 4800 Country Club Drive, 573-634-7440
Fairfield Inn, 3621 W Truman Blvd, 573-761-0400

From the SW Side of Jefferson City (along US Hwy 54):

Best Western, 1937 Christy Dr, 573-635-4175
Budget Inn, 1309 Jefferson St, 573-636-6167
Days Inn, 2100 Jefferson St., 573-761-3600
Econo Lodge, 1926 Jefferson St., 573-636-2797
Holiday Inn Express, 1716 Jefferson St., 573-634-4040
Motel 6, 1624 Jefferson St., 573-634-4220
Super 8, 1710 Jefferson St., 573-636-5456

Saturday, April 23, 2011…There will restrooms available, places to wash up, we have food – sandwiches, snacks, Gatorade, water, Pepsi and apples to eat.  Watch for updates later regarding the weather forecast.  You might need slickers and such to get to/from the buildings to the corrals.  If it is raining, I will do the demonstrations inside the hay barn.  We are not a fancy, show driven outfit.  It’s a working ranch and not a ‘put on the glitz’ deal.

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Hard to believe that on December 3, 2010 I began to post about having … ‘cowdogdays11′ … my next Hangin’ Tree cowdog production sale.  May 13th is the cowdog demonstrations and sale of some newly started Hangin’ Tree cowdogs.  Friday, the 13th!  Saturday and Sunday are reserved for working with those individuals that wish to stay and work with their new cowdog purchases.

The cowdogs in this sale are from new matings that I have tried over the past three years.  I kept a few pups back to see how they have grown – mentally, physically, and in their working abilities.  I have also wanted to measure their degree of respect for other dogs.  Some people raising cowdogs do not care if the end result is a dog that can be respectful around other dogs or around the kennel area.  To me, getting along with other dogs and people is important.  It is another measure of mental ability.  There was nothing magical about how the pups were selected to keep.  I took the last pup or last two pups born in some litters.  That is about the best way to not be biased. 

From these pups, now young adult cowdogs, I have learned some interesting things.  Some are a little harder to get and keep their attention.  It has taken longer or more time to groom these dogs into ‘willing to listen’ and ‘willing to pay attention’.  But, all of the cowdogs in the sale have achieved ‘willing to listen’.  For these cowdogs, it is not necessary to have an e-collar on them to get them to work and be easy to handle.  I am not a fan of having an e-collar on a cowdog at all times for working cattle.  I simply don’t have an appreciation for a cowdog that has to be linked to my thumb when we are at home or at work.  I also don’t appreciate having a cowdog that wants to be on the hunt or roaming constantly – on his/her time or my time.   A cowdog needs to be with me and paying attention so that he/she is ready to do what I need done.  Freelancing is not needed, creates downtime and is annoying.

Some of these cowdogs have some horseback pasture gathering experience and some don’t.  The reason for the limited amount of horseback time is I have dealt with a broken left arm, then a broken right arm and in March I tore some ligaments and muscles in my right upper arm and shoulder.  Lifting a saddle, roping, and horseback work has been slim to none for nearly 2 and a half years. 

I have used these cowdogs in the grow lot and corrals.  They have achieved being quiet in the pens and have learned to be patient and confident in working in close areas.  A big part of working in tight spaces is to learn to be a good listener and quiet in your movement.  All these cowdogs have been kicked numerous time and have not faded, cut and run or quit.  They have also learned to not get angry and go ballistic because of being kicked.  All of the cowdogs head and heel. 

The amount of training and work time from January through the end of March has been limited due to Mother Nature.  Central Missouri went through record snowfall, cold and rain and it was all we could handle just keeping the cattle fed, weaning fall calves and spring calving. So training young dogs did not happen in feet of snow and below zero temperatures. Normally, I’d have cowdogs at this age with more hands-on work experience.

All the cowdogs in the sale will be solid cowdogs that simply are at the point of being ready for hours and miles of work.  They are mentally grown up and past the goofiness of being a pup.  Each cowdog will have a base or minimum price.  I get calls from people wanting dogs that are not pups but not too started.  I look at this sale as a real test of what people say they are looking for.  We will see…!  My own personal working cowdogs have more ‘bells and whistles’ to their training than what many people would use or need.   I will say that all the cowdogs for sale have shown me the confidence that they will make good lead cowdogs.

I will post some pictures and more information so that you can see the cowdogs that will be demonstrated and offered for sale.  I will also work some more experienced cowdogs so that you can see additional levels of capabilities. 

If you want to visit more about any of the cowdogs, pups or general use of my Hangin’ Tree cowdogs you can send me a message, call and leave a message on my home phone (573) 782-4912 or call my cell phone (573) 659-5971. 

Lastly, for those who have called or written to me about Bert.  I appreciate all the calls and comments about Bert.  When he died in September of 2010, a large part of me simply went with him.  He sets the standard for all my cowdogs that I want in my cowdog program.  It takes natural talent, cowsense, patience and time to create or allow a cowdog to achieve the status of ‘a great cowdog’. Some cowdogs become great cowdogs and some cowdogs make it to the point of being good. 

Don’t hesitate to call if you want to visit about working cowdogs!

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Our central Missouri week was a mix of great, wonderful bonus days and then a bit of a weather hiccup at the end. While our storms came, they sure did not leave the mess and devastation that southeast Oklahoma received. The same storm system seemed to build up speed and waged war all along the southern states and on up the east coast. Nature is an amazing force to live and deal with. Up north and west of me it was the opposite of rain…it snowed. Schools were closed, roads and stretches of interstate highways in Colorado and Nebraska were closed. South and west of us, another opposite…drought. Western Oklahoma, north-west-southwest Texas are burning up…literally burning…as over a half-million acres of Texas have burned away. The pictures of burned up cattle, horses, and buildings is past heartbreaking. The entire state of New Mexico is past bone dry. It seems like when we look back on the past several days it can leave a person speechless.

The only thing we are certain of is that the sun comes up and goes down regardless. Our week was filled with some odd happenings in the cattle department. I’ll write more once I get a bit of time to relax and reflect. What a week it was…beautiful, busy and sad at times as well. I guess the saying, “Such is life”, really fit the week to a ‘T’.

And like the week being a bit out of order, I see I posted my Thursday and Friday pictures out of order.  And, another saying, “Things are not always perfect”, would fit the start of my Sunday!

I hope we will be back….

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With Sunday being a ‘day of rest’, Hawk, Ducchess and I had a relaxing morning going around and checking some cows and calves. I had skipped breakfast. Before we headed south to check pairs and a heavy cow I stopped by to fix a sandwich to eat on the road…and to share with the girls. It ended up being a shared experience with only Hawk…Ducchess turned me down because of the mayonnaise. Hawk on the other hand loves mayonnaise and had no doubt in her mind that she’d eat Ducchess’ shared tidbit…as well as lick my fingers to not waste the mayo. Ducchess just trotted on ahead to search for pasture nuggets.

It was seriously too hot by 11:00 this morning. The cattle were taking in some shade and some nasty face flies invited themselves to hang around the cattle. It is just way too early to be needing to start fly control…but, I guess I should just get in gear and plan to get on top of the flies now.

There were a few memorable moments in the pasture this morning. I stopped as I passed by my last two cows that are daughters of a bull I got out of South Dakota back in 2000. A 1999 model Platinum son from one of the Longbrake outfits. I used him on some Red AngusxSimmental cows and got some really good daughters and several great sons.

This particular pasture or farm was nothing but a dense, grown up bunch of brush when my parents bought it in the 1960’s. It was a homestead at one time for the family known as the Hagers. So, we call it the Hager Place. The old pear trees that have been blooming are here amongst the cows now. The old style daffodils that seemed dormant and doomed to never bloom again dot the pasture and fencerows. I credit the feet of snow and the piles of cow pies for granting new blooming life to the daffodils. But, I noticed yesterday and today that the 5 old pear trees did not fair the cold, relentless winter as well as the daffodils. The south sides of the 5 old ladies are barren and not with blooms. The south sides appear to be dead. One would have thought the north and east sides of the old girls would have been the dead parts since the harshest winter weather to hit them came from the N and E.

There is one of the pear trees that I always check on each year. It has a red cedar and a wild grapevine growing around and through it. They are entwined like triplets or siblings. My dad always said, “That old vine will die off in a couple years.” This was back in 1970. He made the comment simply because when the wild grapevines are disturbed and put into direct sunlight after having their surroundings bulldozed away they would usually die out. But this ole gal has clung to the old pear tree and thrived. And the red cedar joined in at some point in time. I just wonder if the old pear tree will be able to hold its own. While Ducchess, Hawk and I paused to take a few pictures of the partners – the cedar, the grapevine and the pear tree – we were startled by the loudest snorts we have ever heard. Scared all three of us. It was a couple of bucks and a few does in the neighbor’s cedar patch. Ducchess growled and barked and they took off. I guess we had invaded their Sunday space.

The rest of our day was taken up with gathering some feeder calves to doctor a sore eye. We got in the yearling bulls and trimmed them up a bit. The last chore was to get out a couple of cowdogs that I am going to tune up for the cowdog sale in May.

As night set in it was clear and evident that we were indeed in for a potentially stormy night. I guess we need a sprinkle of rain to settle the dust in the lots. But the folks west and southwest of Missouri need the moisture more than us. If we could share the rain we sure would.

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Life is quite a journey. We have gone from a record making Winter for snow of 50-60 inches (depending where you stood), with rain and mud mixed in, to a record making hot Spring. We have hit the upper 80’s and low 90’s on more than one day and today is to be the same. We have an amazing crop of face flies already. The baby calves just hate them…landing on their faces, trotting all over their milk soaked noses, flipping in and out of their eyes. Listening to the garden experts on the radio they too say it is way too hot way too fast. But, we can’t dial it back can we. Take time to think of the ranchers and farmers in the W and SW that are looking at more drought. I’ve lived through those drought spells and it is sad, depressingly sad. Every inch or foot of snow we had, someone else needed more than me.

We have been wrapping up the fall calving season with pregging cows, pouring, shipping, weighing, banding, vaccinating, etc. OCV or bangs vaccinating heifers, semen testing yearling and 2 year old bulls. Dashing around to those straggler Spring calving cows…checking the ones that are okay and dealing with the wrecks we find. I just dread the first week of calving and the last week of calving. That’s when you practice all your ‘odd ball skills’…backwards calves, legs back, more twins, a cow that doesn’t clean…whatever. All I can say is I am grateful to have cowdogs that I can depend on to make the days easier. I WOULD NOT RANCH WITHOUT THEM. I learn more each day the reasons why I like cowdogs with cowsense, the ability to think on their own, the ability to grow up and learn to read my mind and read each cattle handling situation…read it and read it right, not see it and do it wrong just for the heck of recklessly chasing and biting something. One might call that comment a ‘poor handler situation’ when a wreck unfolds. But, that is a great ‘culling process’ for me for those cowdogs that are great and those that are just okay…might be great workers and tough, but they also might need to have a thumb on them at all times…those are cowdogs that I like less. And, I say that because I cannot be with them every step of the way to ‘keep them in check’.

There is just way too much to do this time of year…sure wish these smart cowdogs could learn to drive tractors and pickups!  But along the way the past week we have taken a minute or two to just pay attention to the details around us.

We have missed our dear friend Bert, but we can’t dial that back either.  God bless you Bert.  We know how much you loved calving, playing in the snow, eating pasture snacks and the occasional trip to town for a double cheeseburger.  Bert loved his life here, loved people that came to watch him work and loved all his sons and daughters.  What a special part of our lives.  There isn’t a day go by while I watch Hawk and his kids working that I don’t see ‘Daddy Bert’. I am such a lucky person for all he gave me, what he did for me, what he taught me and what he left me.  Kinda like my dad.

I had some folks here from Minnesota last weekend and I shared with them a thought.  I have struggled to find the word that best described Bert.  While he was tough, courageous, loyal, funny, a hard worker, smart, cowwy…the word that escaped me that I found the other day while I was pitching up hay to some calves…the word to describe Bert to a “T” is ‘devoted’.  If your cowdog ever gets to the status of  ‘devoted’ then you know that you have something special.  “Devoted” wraps all the other words up into one neat, tidy package.

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What a week this past week was. One minute I am laughing at a youngster in the rafters trying to rope a cat and the next sequence of events leads to a ‘first for me’. After I returned home from getting horses shod I went to check my heifers. I have a few stragglers left. And as it turns out, they are nearly all out of the same sire group. Good indication they are a bit later maturing! I head out to the field and spot a heifer laying in the hay on the down side of a terrace. I have to admit I sighed…thinking, good grief I hope she is just getting started versus having been trying to do her thing the whole time I was gone with the horses. I could see that her water had not broke yet. I got her up and she walked away with one of those looks. A look like she’s tired, or if I am lucky she’s just getting started. I decide to leave her for a while and buzz on to do a couple other end of the day duties. I come back an hour later at 6 and she’s now on another terrace…laying straddle across it (experienced sign of not a good thing).

I have Hawk go ahead and gather the other 7 heifers and head them towards the lot. I have Hawk go back and get the calver. We get her in to see if everything is positioned okay. Feet are there, heads in good position, water is not broken, calf is active when I pinch his leg, heifer is not dilated much so I turn her back out to watch her. I go back at 9 and the heifer is laying by the fence doing nothing. I get her in to go ahead and just pull the calf. Well, the head is now missing…it’s totally layed back against the ribs. Of course, I am now thinking…shouldn’t have waited! The calf is still active. I get the head pulled around and in position and the little rascal automatically turns his head back. With my right arm helpless from the torn muscles I can’t hold the head in place and rachet the puller.

So, I call the vet. Vet gets there around 10 and by 10:20 he declares we aren’t going to get him out…we work like the dickens to keep him from turning his head back. We shove him back in to get the pressure off the heifer’s pelvis. I go get the trailer and off we go to do the big C. In all my years, this is my first C-section in my own cowherd. A few days ago I had just commented to Hawk that paying attention to pelvic size has sure paid off…jinxd myself didn’t I! I leave the heifer and her ‘not too lively’ baby at the vet’s since it’s now 1:30 and I am to be in an MRI tube at 8. We are laughing that I can take a nap then!

I decide to just take the pickup and trailer and will park it at the doctor complex. It will save me an hour of time so that I don’t have to go home and then back track to get my heifer and the calf. I sure took up a lot of parking places, got a lot of funny looks and a few frowns as I hopped out and trotted across the parking lot. I am going to be a few minutes late. I get inside and find out that there is a mix up in the appt. time and now I am an hour early. I smile and look at the lady and say, “Could you please see if they will go ahead and work me in now?” She kinda glares at me, types and pecks around and then says, “Well, it’s your lucky day. The appt. at 8 canceled.” I am thrilled and say, “Yippee, I’ll take it!” What an experience the MRI was. The assistant said it is going to be loud and noisy so we put head phones on you and play music to help you relax. “Do you want classical or country music?” I reply that I don’t care because I am going to take a nap. She kindly tells me, “No, you can’t nap because you have to lay extremely still and hold your arm in this exact position.” They roll me into the tube and I am in so much pain I am thinking the heifer is getting even with me. It was all I could do to maintain my composure. What an experience.

I get to the vet and my calf is still alive. He looks pretty alert, but he can’t get up. No big deal but I am glad it is 38 degrees and not 10 degrees out. I get the pair home, milk out the heifer, feed her and feed the calf. I could tell it was going to be another one of those ‘in a few days’ project. So here we are at Sunday and tonight the little guy was excited enough to try to get up on his own. I am thinking that by tomorrow I may be off ‘milk the heifer’ duty.

It’s been a very windy Sunday. The ground really dried out a lot today. Just in time for the thunderstorms that have been pestering central, eastern Kansas and NW Missouri the past few hours. I sure wish we could share all these every other day rains with the folks in Oklahoma and Texas. I took a pup that I call Track along for the afternoon to hay some calves, feed and work with the C-sec baby, go to check the heifers and pitch up some hay for the calves in the grow lot.  It was 92 degrees (+10 degrees over the all time high) this afternoon and I think he was wishing he was back at the pen playing.  But he was a trooper and enjoyed learning to go along.

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