Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Camping out on the Range to Catching Horses

We brand nearly every weekend of April, and sometimes that even runs into May.  With so many cattle spread so far across the range it takes several different days to gather up the cattle to get the work done.  The weekend we did so many calves at the ranch and then again at our private ground in Locomotive we still had the association branding to do the following day (Saturday).  Instead of driving back and forth so much we decided to just camp out.

We were full of adventurous expectations of shooting guns, riding bikes, and other exciting stuff (ok... so I can't remember all of the ideas we had but I know they were awesome!) but after two full days of branding we were pooped out.  That really meant all we had energy for was to sit and do nothing.  Everyone was pretty ok with that... Except there was one thing we all HAD to do.  Because although we were camping and roughing it, we did have one admit request of The Cattlewoman- we had to shower!  I don't blame her for not wanting a bunch of stinky cowboys and cowgirls in her trailer so we obliged.  And with so many to shower that pretty well filled our day.  We showered.  We ate.  We slept.  We talked.  It was great fun! 

There was a teensy bit of excitement when some of the guys thought they should go hunting for the big rat in old shack.  Doesn't shooting at a rat in a dark shack in the dark of the night sound exciting to you.  Mind you that the shack would have fallen down at any time if they hit it in just the right spot... Boys...

The following morning we woke to a wonderful surprise- no wind!  That might not sound like such a big deal, but we had been hammered with the wind for days.  For just a moment we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise without any wind. 

The Rancher Princess and I followed The Rancher out to catch horses for the days work.  The horses weren't really cooperating... they ran and ran and RAN!  Not the way The Rancher wanted to start his day but it made for a fun little photo shoot for me.








Friday, May 15, 2015

Eliason Branding 2015 Day 2

I love rainy days!  For so many reasons... Of course because we need the rain- we need the rain SO badly.  But I love the rain because then we slow down a bit and I have time to go through the HUNDREDS of pictures that are calling to me.  So... without any further time... here are some long overdue pictures.  Pictures from our second day of branding.

There's a funny story that goes along with this day...

Since we were branding out on the range and camping out that night we had a lot to take out and a lot of rigs hauling it all.  We all eventually make it and get to starting.  The early comers had already started gathering the cattle in so the late arrivers started pulling out the equipments.  We think, "everything looks good..."  We have half the cows we usually have to do, all day to do them, and lots of good help.  This should be a great day!

The herd comes in, the cows go back out and we get the fire started.  The Rancher and Rancher Sr. start pulling out all the stuff that they carry around and need for each calf.  They sharpen their knives, I fill their syringes, they grab their taggers and tags... No tags!  We had no tags!  (actually we had like 22, maybe- but still not enough!)  Kinda an important part of the day! 

We just kinda twiddled our thumbs about it and got started anyway.  But uh... no tags, fellas!  Eventually we decided that we would tag all that we could and kick them back out to the mommas.  Then we branded, vaccinated, castrated, marked- did EVERYTHING except the tags, to the rest of the calves.  We held them all until had more tags, which only happened because The Ranch Boss had graciously volunteered to drive home to grab tags to save the day!

The cowboys didn't mind too much that we had a kink in our day.  It meant that we weren't pushing too hard, which gave them a chance to do a little extra fun roping.  They pulled out their fancy big loops once in a while and headed and heeled a satisfying amount.  We got the work done, ate some good grub and marked another day down in the books!





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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Eliason Branding 2015 Day 1

This last week I had the scariest thing happen... I thought I lost my external hard drive!  It stores all of my photos and if it was gone I was gonna be in big trouble.  And heartbroken.  Mostly heartbroken. 

But I found it!!  This means I can finally share the many MANY more pictures I have.

Today's tale and pictures to post- our branding!

With having so many cows at home to calve, we had so many calves to brand here on the ranch.  We made a weekend of it, inviting cowboys and cowgirls out to help.  Day one consisted of all the calves on the ranch- two heifer groups and 3 cow groups.  The nice about when we did these was that they had already been tagged, castrated and given one shot.  We sailed through these calves!  For most of the day I was giving shots on my own and I could barely keep up!  It also meant that there wasn't a lot of down time to take pictures.  So not a lot of day one... Mostly a shot here and there between groups, set up, clean up...  But stay tuned for day two!








 
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Friday, May 1, 2015

Becoming a Real Cowgirl

Ever since I married my cowboy I have wanted to rope.  I grew up riding and working cattle, but we never got into roping.  We were more on the cutting end of the cowboying.  In fact, I still get cranky when I see a cowboy miss a good cut or turn because he was looking for a better shot to throw his rope.  However, I do want to be a real cowgirl and learn to rope. 

Over the last couple of years I've taken a swing or two with a rope at a dummy- some really intesnse cowgirl stuff.  But more recently my husband and his brothers have taken it upon themselves to finally get this roping thing down.  They have taken me out on some of their less intense branding days, where there wasn't too much to get down that I could either slow down or get in the way.  Actually that's not true... I know not to try roping on the busy crazy days because I want to get home before dark or we run out of fire!

It was all good and fun but I wasn't really figuring it out...  Until just a few weeks ago!

I was honestly ready to give up and say that I just didn't have it in me to be a roper.  But The Rancher brought me along to one more branding.  He gave me the experienced horse that would take his time (maybe he is slightly lazy...), put on my brand new saddle and I strapped on my new spurs.  I had everything I needed to rock this branding.  Oh wait- I didn't have a rope!

We show up to our good friends where we were roping.  There were 160 calves to brand and we were ready to get going.  The Rancher just grabbed some old rope out of the trailer and we headed out.  And I was terrible.  I couldn't hardly even keep my coils straight, couldn't swing the rope to save my life, and missed every calf I tried for.  For as many times I threw that rope I should have caught one by accident, even snagged one as it walked over my loop... but I didn't.

I was ready to turn in and promote myself to the ground crew when one of the cowboys rode up to me, took my rope and traded it for his.  He said there was no way in ... that I could catch with that thing!  He rode off and I figured I oughtta give it one more go, just to humor him.  And guess what happened- I caught! 

The very first loop I threw caught a calf!  I just about forgot to dally because I was so surprised and so elated.  I got my horse turned to the fire and drug my first calf in, get congrats and hoorays from everyone along the way- you would have thought I had just won the lottery for as excited as we were!  They slid off my rope and I was out for another calf.  I had to try again to make sure it wasn't just luck, although I was sure that my friend must have rubbed a bit of luck on it.  But as I kept going at it I kept catching.  It was like I was really figuring it out!  There was one time I had my arm up just right, rolling my wrist just right, and threw my rope just right.  The rope landed right in front of those back feet just like it was supposed to.  I was so excited that I totally forgot to pull my slack and actually catch the calf before he stepped back out...

I went home that day floating on clouds.  I wasn't a perfect roper or the best roper, but that day I finally became a roper.  Now that I have my own saddle (because one day The Rancher said, "We need to get you your own saddle" and no good cowgirl says no to that!) some sweet new spurs and my own new rope (full of calf catching luck) I am on my way to being a real cowgirl.

*** I don't have any picture roping that day, but I do have a few from a few weeks later taken by my sister in law, The Montana Girl.***


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fishing for Bales

I realized my blogging/photography life has someone of a conundrum.  When there isn't a lot going on, I have post after post of feeding cows, the cute babies, and nothing terribly eye catching or exciting.  But then we are busy as ever, I have HUNDREDS of photos to edit, tons of stories to tell and no time to sit down and tell them...  So I am sitting down at the computer ready to tell you a story, pump out some photos and carving out some time for my blogging life.

This winter/spring has been different for us.  Very different.  First of all, we didn't have winter... We had a flurry every so often but we never had the cold-for-days, snowed-in, stranded-for-days winter that we usually (ok, maybe not all that dramatic, but still... no winter).  But it was also different for all of the cows calving at home.  So many more to feed, keep an eye on, and tag.  So many more cuties around!

We are experiencing a new "difference" lately.  We are hauling down hay and feeding in Locomotive.  With the lack of feed and the lack of rain, there just isn't enough feed for what we need. The nutrition of our cows is super important so we trek down south with hay and get 'em what we need.

For a while we were taking down just a couple of bales at a time.  But that was getting long and slow...  So we figured we would load the semi and flat bed up and take a few loads out.  It wasn't all too irregular of an occurence- people haul hay all the time.  Nothing to tell the blogging world about, right?  That's true, until it was time to unload.

You see, we don't have a tractor down in Locomotive.  Unloading hay minus a tractor means that we get to be creative.  It didn't occur to me that we were missing a KEY part of this job.  Its not like they can dump themselves and we can't really push them all off.  So... What's a rancher to do?  How about fish them off?

The Rancher apparently knew EXACTLY what he was doing not bringing a tractor down.  I never doubt that he knows what he is doing, but to me there were no clear solutions  He always says I lack faith in him... I just tell him that I just wait to be dazzled by his brilliance!  So he brought a big ol' hook and rope to pull all the bales off.  In reality it was pretty simple.  The Ranch Boss was in the truck, pulling the bales off.  The Rancher would do the fishing, hooking and catching the bale, and I was the go between running the hook from the bales on the ground to The Rancher.  When we had so many pulled down that we couldn't any more, we just pulled the semi up and went at it again.  So easy!  So much so that we did it again and I brought my camera to show you.

We get to be a little creative in this life.  The Rancher lives for twine, duct tape, and his save-your-life drawer of nuts and bolts.  Life tries to throw a kink in your plan, but we my guys around, we always have some new brilliant way to make it.  Like fishing for bales!