Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Crop

We are full swing into our first crop of haying this summer.  And the way that summers go it means that everything else is coinciding with it.

Rancher Sr was able to take a few days for a camping trip with his family (which meant that Cowboys Pete and E were gone).  And The Rancher had church responsibilities to tend to a few nights.  But the ever faithful Rancher's Wife was here!  Actually I did get a chance to help out.  The Little Cowgirl and I got to rake(!) while The Rancher moved water and The Boss was in the swather. 

(The Rancher has heard it SO many times, but don't you think that it is AWESOME that he married a wife that not only knows how to drive a tractor and rake but also LOVES to do it!)

I have yet to get out to get pictures of the swather...  Sorry... I know you are really disappointed.  And I don't have any picture of raking because I was the one doing the raking!  And... The Rancher bales REALLY early in the morning (like 5 am!) or in the dark when I can't get a picture so none with the baler...

But I do have some pictures of hauling them out!
The Rancher is loading up trusty 913- the semi.

 The Sidekick is giving me two thumbs up for getting to help The Rancher in the semi

Random: I was thinking that Case should really pay me big bucks for all the advertising I do!

Loading the last bales

The loyal trio- The Sidekick, The Rancher's Dog, and The Rancher

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Rancher Playing Cowboy

I shouldn't say that he is "playing" cowboy because he really is a real cowboy!  During the summer the guys have penning heifers that they take around to some of the Team Penning and Brandings.  The best part about it is that since he is already there hauling or working the heifers he is available to do some riding and roping too!  Of course as the dutiful rancher's wife I load up the diaper bag, camera, and lunch box and follow him along the rodeo trail!  Oh, we bring the kids too... I couldn't never leave behind The Sidekick- he is The Rancher's biggest fan!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ranching Dads

Have you ever heard a rancher say that he picked his job because he knew he was gonna strike it rich?  Ya, its not gonna happen.  We choose this job for the lifestyle.

We raise calves to sell, raise grain and alfalfa for feed and raise horses to ride.  But I think that the greatest crop that is ever raised on the ranch are kids.

When I look at my children, The Rancher's children, I am amazed at how much our lifestyle is raising them to be people of integrity, even at such a young age.  This was how The Rancher was raised.  In fact, I don't know how many parents get the kind of yield out of their kids like Rancher Sr does out of his five boys.  Everyone of them is honest, hard working, kind, and generous.  That isn't just luck but good parenting- good fathering.

And by no surprise, this is how I was raised.  We learned to work and to take responsibility by things we learned from the ranch.  We learned to be accountable for our actions and to take in stride whatever hitches were thrown at us.

Today I am very grateful for the fathers in my life and for all fathers.  But I am especially grateful for the ranching fathers, that use every day to teach their children by the way they live and work every day.  I don't know if there is any way to teach a lesson than by example, like these men have done.

Rancher Sr. helping The Rancher's Boy

Rancher Sr. and The Rancher working together

My dad taking The Rancher's Boy out fishing

The Rancher taking the kids for a ride in the tractor

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When the Cowboys are Gone...

What would you guess would happen when all of the cowboys are gone?

Did you say the horses would get out?  And some bulls?  Oh you are so right!

The Rancher is busy hauling cows  (its one of the other things we do).  Rancher Sr. is out shuffling cows around the spring/summer pasture.  Of course he took along all other available help- The Ranch Boss (The Rancher's grandpa)  and Cowboy E (The Rancher's brother).  Cowboy Pete (the other brother that is still home) is at State Rodeo (sending positive mental thoughts right now) with his momma.

Its me. And my sleeping.  Oh wait, I did have The Rancher's dog...

But have no fear, the trusty-as-ever Rancher's Wife got them. Alone.

More Rancher-Wife-Stripes for me! 

Twitterpated Part III: Turn out the Bulls

So we have talked about the major prep for AI and we have talked about the day we AI.  Shall we continue?

We have been focusing on the heifers mostly (because that's how our breeding season starts) but now we will focus on ALL the momma cows.

The last step is fairly simple- we turn out the bulls.  Load 'em up, haul 'em out, turn 'em loose...  but I guess there is a little more than that.

Before we can turn out the bulls they have to go through a series of inspections.  We want to know that their semen is good (I mean what is the point of a bull that shoots blanks, right?).  They also need to be trich (said like "trick"... its an abbreviation of some long bacteria name...) tested.  This is SUPER important because they can spread this to cows, who can in turn spread it to other bulls which equals BIG PROBLEMS.  So we test them...

The final inspection is done by the ranchers of the cattle association we run with.  Everyone must turn out bulls and every one's bulls need to meat the expectations of the other ranchers.  Its only fair, right?  If our bulls breed their cows it had better be with a bull they like.  And vice versa.

So when the bulls are all approved then it is time to load 'em up, haul 'em out, turn 'em loose!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Twitterpated Part II: AI

Transitioning into part II requires a little work before the vet can AI.  If you recall that during Part I we put in the CIDR, which purpose was to release hormones as well as physically block any semen from entering the uterus.  Now that we are ready for them to be bred we need to pull out the CIDR.

Now we are ready to AI

Is a fairly simple process but it will be easier to explain with some pictures I think...

The semen is stored in individual straws that put in a tank that is filled with liquid nitrogen to keep it viable.

The vet will first put one arm into the cows rectum- this is so that he can feel the cervix and will serve as guide to place the semen  He then takes a straw (filled with semen) and puts it into an AI gun (the arrow is pointing to the gun) which is inserted into vulva.
He threads the rod of the AI gun through the cervix and into the uterus.  Once it is into the cervix he slowly pushes the plunger which injects the semen into the uterus and then removes the gun.
 And that's it!  The cow is bred and out she goes.  I said it is a simple process... simple if you are explaining.  The entire time the vet is doing this he can only go by feel and by his grasp of anatomy.  You should be impressed at these cowboys... I am!

Add caption

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Twitterpated Part I: CIDRs

On our ranch we really run on Mother Nature's clock.  What I mean is that we grow in the summer (crops and calves), migrate at the end of fall (take our cows to Locomotive), and have babies in the spring.  (I would love to hibernate for the winter (what a long nap!) but I don't think that would work so well...)  According to Mother Nature (and Bambi) springtime also means that all the animals, including our cows are twitterpated.

Every May you can count on two things AI-ing and turning the bulls out.  This is definitely not a one day thing, in fact what we do is done over a series of weeks and the bulls are left out with the cows most of the summer.  So we will break it up into the different parts too!

With our first time heifers we AI (artificially inseminate) them.  We want to make sure that they have the best chance of getting bred up well.  We also want a little more control of what bull breeds them.  When we chose our semen we are able to find bulls that are known to have smaller calves which will be easier for these first time mommas.

In preparation to AI them we first synchronize the heifers so that they will all come into heat at the same time.  This makes it easier for The Rancher because then they can all be bred on the same day.  We use CIDRs, controlled internal drug releasing devices, which will release hormones to begin them cycling as well as prevent any heifers that may already be in heat from getting bred.

This is sounding way too much like a research paper...  In The Rancher's Wife's terms the poor girls get all sorts of hormones and birth control to make sure we know when it is... TIME.

The heifers coming in
The Rancher at work
Putting the CIDR in
The Rancher Sr. putting a CIDR in
Grandma helping Rancher Sr.

I always volunteer to help... Even though The Rancher tends to get in the way...

And The Rancher's Boy, never missing out on the action or a chance to "Hey cows! Hey!"

Monday, June 3, 2013

Date Night

When you live in the middle of no where you get to be creative when it comes to date night.  We have had date nights where we go riding (horses) or for a drive (in the truck or playing Mariokart) or just some playing card games at the kitchen table.  We have even had our own "comedy" night by youtube-ing our favorites and reading laffy taffy jokes.  Like I said, we get creative.

But during the school year the sports can provide some fun entertainment.  This time of year that is High School Rodeo.  It may not be your top-stock-top-cowboy sort of rodeo but it still is a fun time to be together and to support the local cowboys/girls (like The Rancher's brothers!)

For the record, this cowboy is not one of The Rancher's brothers, its just one of the better pictures of the night. : )

But this sure is!  (a picture of a brother, but not a good picture...)

Moving to Spring Pasture

Ok friends...  I was looking through pictures and realized that there were some fun things that you have totally missed out on (my bad!).  Since I totally owe you after my long hiatus I am going to back track a bit.  I think we will all be ok with that, right?

The heifer cows were moved up to their spring pasture a few miles east of the ranch.  It really was a perfect little afternoon.  The spot that we took them to was quite beautiful (you can disagree... I used to...).  It was so green- even the sage brush is green this year!  The cows moved well and as always The Rancher was one good looking cowboy. 

The only thing that would have made this absolutely perfect was if I would have taken the camera.  Ya, Ooops!  I figured I didn't need to this time but I was so wrong.  In attempts to still capture the day I headed up at sundown to try and snap a few pictures.  I'll admit they don't do it justice but at least they serve as a reminder to NOT leave the camera at home.