Archive for December, 2011

Our Christmas day was certainly a busy one.  Hawk and I left early, knowing we needed to feed calves, cows and get around to feed some hay.  We fed the calves in the lots while it was still dark:30.  Our goal was to be ready to head out to feed hay shortly after the sun was up.  Our 2nd goal was to be home by 9 so that we could get to church by 10.  Goal #2 was intercepted just a bit.  Three cows out cost about 10 extra minutes.  We left to head N to feed hay to 53 heifers and a bull.  The heifers came along, but when we returned home the bull had flat-foot jumped a new 5 wire fence and was tending to another bull’s business.  But, Hawk and I had to go on because we were now going to be late for church.  Seems these days that if we get there when the bell is ringing we are ‘on time’…a hair late.

I was having a dickens of a time with Hawk today.  She’s a little sad.  I think she is going to come into heat and when we are at home, I find she has trotted off and gone to lay down next to Bert’s grave.  Bert is buried in the back yard, right in front of where we pull in and park the pickup.  She definitely misses him and lays with her head right over where his head is.  She rolls around in the buffalo grass, stretches out across his grave and just lays there.  You can hardly get her to budge to go along.  She comes if I call her twice and follows along.  It sure is sad to see her so sad.  I know it sounds odd, but I have no doubt that she misses her love…Daddy Bert.

So our Christmas day was kind of a sad day.  We both miss dear Bert.  The pastor’s church service was very good and sure am glad Hawk and I made it…even if we were a tad late. We got home and buzzed off to get the rogue bull in.  Which meant we were late to start the cooking of the pot ‘o shrimp.  Some of the family understood.  Some of the family didn’t.  But, isn’t that how it is in families!

I hope my friends who have come by the Blog had a good Sunday and a good Christmas.  Guess we are going to be busy this coming week.  Next thing you know it will be 2012.  Our weather the past two days has been pretty fine…upper 40’s and maybe a 50 or two this coming week.  Sure beats last year all to pieces.  And, I don’t like to say that too loud because last year about this time we had to endure record cold, blizzard conditions and record snow levels, then it rained all spring clear up until May 20th – when I had shoulder surgery.  We don’t want to repeat 2011!

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Gloria and Oscar’s pups are 4 weeks old and beginning to travel around the whelping box.  They hear me coming and really get excited the last couple of days.  My voice means play time and food.  There are 4 blue merle pups and 2 black pups with a little white on their toes.  Sexes – 4 boys and 2 girls.  Might get their first pictures taken tomorrow.  It’s been raining, gloomy, overcast and dark in the barn and I thought I might get some pictures today, but it’s just too dark.  Stay tuned.  I’ll be calling my deposit people in the next few days to get them started on the pup selection process.

Dec. 24, 2011.   To ID the pups, just hover over the pictures and you will see a #__, a sex and color, and a (__) to show poses 1, 2 or 3 per pup.

~~Update January 16, 2012.

These pups have really been troopers.  Smart. They learned the morning chores and routine on day one.  They learned the potty training routine on day one. 

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Rainy Day Getaway

So Hawk and I loaded up about 1 p.m. yesterday to do a rare, “Just Us Girls Shopping Trip”.  It’s rare alright…once a year maybe for a couple hours!  Mission…small crocks.  So off to town #1 – California.  No small crocks, but found a near pint size brown crock moonshine jug from Westin, MO with all the lettering and details in mint condition…$14 bucks.  Saw my concrete forming neighbor who found a Leona Williams record in mint condition that he bought for himself.  He’s a real antique nut.  And Leona Williams was a local gal back in the 50’s or so that went to Nashville and was married to a couple of famous men singers (the Hag for one).  Town #2 – Apache Flats.  No crocks, but found an old original Tupperware lettuce keeper in mint condition – $5 bucks…guess what my mom is going to get someday!  Town #3 – Jefferson City.  No crocks at store #1.  Told Hawk, “This trip to look for crocks is turning into a crock! We’re going home!”  Stopped at my little friends bakery (BK Bakery) and got a mocha latte/no whip, a chocolate chip cookie and a dark chocolate crème puff filled with delish Bavarian crème.  It’s not a wonder I felt like a sick calf that didn’t want to come to the bunk by the time I got home!

Last night.  Cell phone battery is all pooped out of life.  I really don’t want to go back to town today.  But, I guess I might have to.  There is one more possibility of a crock location…hummm…  I need to get these piddly road trips out of my system!

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Have you ever had a day on your place when you think, “You can’t make this stuff up?”  From time to time I have written here about those ‘rare’ moments in life.  Sometimes they make your heart race because the state of affairs is critical.  Sometimes the event is mildly believable.  But.  This past Wednesday the event that had me saying, “You’ve got to be kidding” was a first for me.

This past Wednesday.  I had gotten up early, like today, at 4 a.m.  Lots of things to do.  It was the second day of  being overcast and rainy.  But Wednesday the rain was to be more like bursts of heavy rain with periods of no rain.  I had ladies from church coming at 11 a.m. to pick up some reports and that was going to take about 2 hours of my time.  So, I needed to leave out to feed early so that I could get back home by 11.  I had my strategy and travels all plotted out in my head!  I had Bandit and Hawk with me.  Never leave home without a cowdog!  We head to the shed, get the tractor and 2 bales of hay.  We head N to feed the replacement heifers and the fall pairs.  As we are traveling along I notice a cow standing on a S hill-top.  All the other cows and calves are heading my way.  First notion, hum…must have a sick calf.  Second notion, great…of all days.  We feed the replacement heifers on a ridge out of the wind and head back S to the pairs.  We top the ridge and in the distance, the cow on the S hill is still in the same spot.  Still looking back towards the S towards the woods.  Third notion, ok…this is not looking good…dang it.  We feed the pairs and head back home.  So, in my head I’m torn as to what to do.  Go ahead and head to the SE to feed about 2 miles from home and come back to the ‘lone cow on the S hill’ or go ahead and check out the lone cow.  I decided to take my chances.  The cowdogs and I went on to the SE.  We feed and check the SE cows and calves and on the way home, ponder, hope I made the right decision.

We get home. The ‘lone cow on the S hill’ is still in the same spot.  She’s not frantic.  She’s just still there looking S with a periodic bawl.  And the tone and pitch of her bawl is not a stressful one, it’s more of the ‘come on, lets’ go’ type of call to her calf.  Well.  Don’t ya know.  It begins to pour.  So, I figure, I’ll just stick with the tractor and not get soaked with the 4-wheeler.  As we crest the S hill, I can see a calf standing in a grove of trees.  Just standing there.  As I get closer, I begin to think, “Hum, it looks stuck.”  The closer I get, I can see the calf is standing in a puddle of soupy water.  And, I begin to think, “Surely you don’t have your head stuck in something.”  And, I think, those two trees do have a ‘V’ where they grew together at the bottom.  Well folks.  Guess what.  The 5-wt heifer calf had stuck her head in the V of the trees.  She was so curious about the coon den entry that she then sniffed around and got her head stuck.  And with the rain and her trying to get out, she peddled around to create a puddle of soup and her elevation was low enough that she couldn’t seem to raise her head high enough to get out. Let me remind you….it is now pouring.  I am thinking of not getting home in time to meet the ladies from church!  But, the calf is the priority.  Fourth notion…I am so glad I drove over here with the tractor.  I’ll just gently push on the tree and see if I can create any additional room in the ‘V’ of the tree so that I can get this silly sister out of the coon’s den foyer!  By this time, Hawk is clued in to the fact that a calf needs help.  She’s whining.  Bandit, who can’t see what is going on is curious as to what his mother is whining about.  I tell both of them, “You two stay here.  I’ll get it.  And don’t break the ignition key off in the tractor!”

Luckily for me, the calf had been stuck for some time.  Probably all night.  She was not fighting me as I tried to help her.  I moved her as far as I could to the right to see if she’d raise her head and pop on outta there.  Nope.  I moved her as far as I could to the left to see if she’d raise her head and pop on outta there.  Nope.  So, I kept moving her right to left and trying to grab an ear to get her head turned just enough to pull back and get loose.  It took a while and don’t you know.  It worked.  I was so grateful.  Thank the Lord, was all I could say.  The cow was good to simply watch.  The calf gets loose and is weak and shaking.  She looks around for her mom, bawls and finds the comfort of the udder.  I’m just shaking my head.  Bandit and Hawk are glued to  the glass of the tractor door.  They see me head to the tractor and resume their positions.  I tell them, all is well.  Look at my clock for the time and begin to think of the ladies from church and that I might just have time to head N and feed the cows at the Windmill.  I decide I am going to take my chances and go ahead and feed.  Surely, if I am a tad late the ladies won’t scold me.

As I back out of the grove of trees and turn to leave…I notice…2 rain soaked coons coming out of the cedars…headed to their den at a run.  I’ll bet they cussed that heifer all night long for having her head in THEIR HOUSE.  So, in people terms, I wonder who assessed the damages and who put the house back in order…him or her!

Six northern geese must have spent the night on the pond.  It was dark when we first saw them.  The wind was stiff out of the ESE and the geese were in a perfect ‘V’ formation facing the wind.  They saw us coming and drifted out of the ‘V’ to a group huddled together.  We watched a bit and they eventually began to swim back to being separate from each other.  They seemed tired and hungry.

~~ Friday Update ~~  I fed hay today near the area where the heifer got her head stuck in the “V” of the trees.  Still shaking my head.  So took a couple pictures just to remember the day and the laugh the days later.

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Another AI season is recorded in the calving books.  Bandit and Hawk did a great job with the patient work of gathering, sorting and working the alleys.  Our CIDR process might have had a glitch in it though.  Some of the cows began to ride and stand sooner than they should.  So, Saturday night we got the cows and heifers in to sort off the cattle that had been riding.  Everything else was left to drift back to the lot.  The cows and heifers that appeared to be coming into heat began to come back to the corral.  So we put them into a separate trap for the night.  The group left in the larger open lot were left to spend the night there.  Generally, then when morning comes the cows and heifers should be already ‘pre-sorted’ and we don’t have to hassle them around for a sort for the insemination process.  When Sunday morning arrived, we strolled through the cows and heifers and didn’t need to do any additional sorting.

We will see in approximately 274 days how it all works out…the calving season will determine the AI success!  We hope to see a lot of Rookie and Combination calves skampering around in the Fall of 2012.

All in all, the daily ranch chores part of the AI season seemed to go off without much fanfare.  Just another set of work days. The CIDR AI process is labor intensive and probably the most expensive method, but, it can be very rewarding once the calves hit the ground.  And, from a weather standpoint, the calving season should not have much bad weather to contend with.  It won’t be extremely cold.  It won’t be extremely hot.  The flies will be next to nothing.  The calves will be old enough to be prepared for the coming of winter.  We shall see!

It was good to see Richard Brooks again.  He is a great person and extremely effective in his insemination techniques.  One of his largest clients lives near Arapahoe, Nebraska.  So Richard and I can visit about all the little places between here and there that we like to stop at when we travel the 525 miles along the way.  It’s always interesting to compare where we stop for fuel and food!  He’s had some health scares this past spring but he’s back to his embryo and AI’ing travels and that is a good thing. He and his helper are a good team when it comes to the AI process.  And, he gets a kick out of watching the cowdogs work. 

Richard really enjoyed my dear friend Bert.  As did I.  I miss you ole Bert!  And, I know you are proud of your mate Hawk and your son Bandit!

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My internal clock seems to be off the past few days. Part of it is because of waking up and thinking of things that I need to get done.  Part of it is because I ‘have to get up’ to get the things done!  What a life, right! This morning it was 3:00 a.m. – wide awake.  But, it did not surprise me too much because I had fallen asleep in the chair the night before around 6:00 p.m.  Yesterday was an absolute marathon of activity.  We started at 1:00 a.m. with the job of getting stuff to the corral to pull CIDRs and inject Lutalyse.  Next, after the sun came up the truck arrived to ship calves to Nebraska.  Next, we sped around and fed whatever was left around here at the home place.  Then, we ventured off to feed some cows.

 After that bit of sprinting around, a few cowdogs and I went to check for a missing cow that should have been in the CIDR group from Friday afternoon.  The neighbor to the west…well, we found a deer tangled in the fence and partially consumed, but no cow.  So we went home and got some fencing supplies – stretchers, tie wire, barbed wire.  Then, back to fix that 1/8 mile of torn up fence. We head back home and scouted the neighbor to the N from the ridge…didn’t see anything, but their place is a grown up mess of cedars and Russian olives.  We go on back to get the 4-wheeler.  I just happen by the house and notice the phone blinking.  Message.  It’s the neighbor to the N.  They have a black cow with an ear tag out in the field to the W of their house.  I call and say thanks!  That was luck!  The cowdogs and I find her after traipsing around in circles through the cedars and Russian olives and I decide it’s going to be easier (for me!) to just cut the fence, take the cow down the road to the gate into the pasture I own just N of where the cow is currently located – she’s staring at some pairs in my pasture.  Will take much less time than trying to figure out a way to take her a 1/2 mile back the other direction through all the brush.

Mission accomplished.  The cowdogs and I figure out a path back to the 4-wheeler and all along the way I wonder how the rabbits get around this place.  Hawk and I get back to civilization but Bandit is nowhere in sight, can’t hear him in the brush or grass, and 15 minutes later he finally shows up looking at me like, “What the heck, you crawl a fence and leave me behind! Dang, I thought you abandoned me!”

We spend the better part of 3 hours stretching, patching, tying fence on the N neighbor’s fence.  What a time.  What a time.  Near dark, I think it would be really nice to see that lunar eclipse they are talking about.  But, I laugh to myself, “I’ll be too tired to care!”

So, this morning when I wake at 3 it’s getting cloudy out.  But by 6:30, it was clearing up.  I got a frisky chilly morning glimpse of the event.  But, we never saw the ‘fire ball’ effect.  Guess I’ll look it up on the internet!  But, I took a few pictures over a 20 minute span so that we have a memory in the digital scrapbook of our life.  Life is recorded under the ole pine tree that my brother planted in the early 1970’s as a part of a tree planting project with the FFA (Future Farmers of America).

Life is good…

~~ Evening Update! ~~

Nothing like AI’ing cows,

By the light of the moon,

Listening to the coyotes,

Singin’ their familar tune.

Bandit, Hawk and I had 10 cows to AI this evening.  It sure gets dark fast.  But, in about a week and a half…guess what…the days begin to get longer!

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I can almost see the end in sight. This morning Hawk, Bandit and I got up and left at 1:30 a.m. to get some heifers in to pull CIDRs and give them their Lutalyse shot.  The weather man had once said the night was going to be clear and a near full moon.  I thought that would be great because of the extra help from the moon light.  But last night the weatherman said, “The forecast has changed.  Snow beginning around midnight and snowing through the early morning hours towards sunrise.”  I had to sigh.  The lots and pens are already muddy and sticky from the little bit of snow we had on Tuesday.  But, you know what it’s like…you just do what ya gotta do.

But, alas, it wasn’t snowing!  It wasn’t frozen…but, I didn’t care about the mud…because it wasn’t snowing!  I got all my supplies and such out, staged, ready, spare light and cord in place (just in case a critical light bulb blows up!).  Sent Hawk and Bandit out to bring the heifers to the corral and we got started right on time…2 a.m.  The goal was to be done by 3:00.  Everything clicked along like clock work.  Well, until the light behind the chute blew its bulb.  But, the halogen standby was ready!

I had to kinda laugh as I was pulling CIDRs.  Thought of a friend in South Dakota that I used to do some AI work with years ago.  We had this running debate of how to insert CIDRs.  CIDR up, CIDR tail down.  I had thought of those same “good ole times” the other day when I was putting CIDRs in.  Jim is a salty kind of fella and working with him was always entertaining.  So for my friend Jim, I put half my CIDRs in with the tail up and half the CIDRs in with the tail down.  And, as always, on the day to take CIDRs out it is always more “user friendly” to the hand if the CIDR tail is up…less apt to get poo on your gloves…less apt to wipe poo on your nose when your nose wants to drip!

The CIDRing was a success this time around.  All the cows or heifers in this round of processing came back with all their CIDRs still in place.  Once in a while you get the “dang it” CIDR.  It’s the one that got squirted out in the pasture somewhere. 

We got done at 3:08.  Pretty much right on target.  And I had some good help.  Had to tear up a bit when I sat at the end of the catwalk to tell Bandit, “Thanks for your help. Good boy.”  It just naturally flowed from my mouth…it’s always where I sat and told Bert the same thing.  And Hawk, well she got the usual pat on the butt when she got in the pickup and parked herself by the passenger window…just like ole Bert used to. She smiled back at me and blinked her eyes as if to say, “Thank you.  That was fun.”

You can’t but help to love it when the workforce loves their job, shows up on time, and never complains or wants to quit.  To the contrary, they love it when you say, “More cattle.”  Next on our list today…trucks showing up at 7:00 to ship the last feeder calves to Nebraska.  “More cattle!”

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If I could pick where I’d ‘like’ to spend the day…I’d pick under the heat lamp too!

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The last few weeks have been busy with cattle work.  Sifting and sorting through cow and calf data.  Weighing spring calves to sort into shipping and replacement groups.  Checking potential replacement heifers and giving them udder style scores so that the terminal style udders are labeled as feeder heifers. Gathering cows from various locations to check their body condition, teeth status, sorting to keeps/culls and hauling the cull cows home to weigh and sort to ship groups.  The cows left last Friday for the feedyard.  The last of the spring calves – one from first calf heifers and the older cows – will hit the trail this Friday.  It will be a sense of relief to have some of the work load lessened for the winter AND fewer mouths to feed.  It’s been a no grass/hay feeding situation around here for months now and it just makes for ‘a long winter’.

Last week the cowdogs and I got the AI groups sorted up and the CIDR’s are in.  Sure is nice to have fewer sisters trailing around the place looking for a handy dandy bull friend.  And it makes for less ‘love is in the air’ aromas floating around in the air.  Things weren’t too bad when the prevailing winds were from the S.  The wind blew the cows in heat scent to the N and bull interest was zero.  But, with the prevailing winds now out of the NW or W or N…it makes a huge difference with making the bulls restless.  They line up to the closest fence line of the drifting scent of some gals needing attention.  It will take a day of excavating to go around and move dirt back to the fence posts where bulls have claimed their diggin’ spots.  I need to take the time to take a picture of the bulls and holes!

If you ever want to visit a pretty good cattle Blog you might click/google around and find “Select Sires Beef” and look for their Blog tab.  The November 18, 2011 post is pretty good.  There is a ‘farm visit’ review of some of the southern cattle herds/breeders that are involved in some of the Select Sire beef herds.  It is an interest read on some of the maternal lines of sires/daughters.

The “snow” word has arrived on our weather forecast for tonight.  It won’t be much, if any (this is the power of positive thinking!). But do know it is a bit nippy out this morning.  Plus, it is going to be ‘nippier’ tomorrow!

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