Friday, March 27, 2015

A Little Cattle Character

I like cows...  And I like them for more than eating.  I actually think they are really funny to watch.  They have their own funny quirks and personality.  I may humanize them a bit, ok a LOT bit.  But it keeps things interesting.

The Rancher probably thinks that I am crazy and he probably gets tired of my cow watching, but he just gets to deal with it.  I'm sure that he gets sick of me taking the cow's side when I say things like, "I wouldn't want to run if I was 9 months pregnant!" as he is chasing cows.  Or when he frustrated with a cow that just won't hold still as they preg check her, I tell him I wouldn't want someone's arm up my huh-huh and would DEFINITELY squirm.  I may even occasionally tell him he deserves some of the mean-mommy-attitude because he is messing with their babies and the inner momma bear just isn't ok with it. 

Having so many cows at home this winter has given me lots of subjects to watch.  They turn into a bunch of obsessive old ladies when it come to feeding time.  They have to be the first one to the hay and if another cow starts munching on the wrong flake they sure tell them.  They get to head buttin' and kickin' and eventually push them right out.  "You're outta the herd!"  You can hear them saying that, right?

The babies are their own kind of cute and fun when it comes to watching them.  The first attempts at getting up are so wobbly and even funny!  Is that mean of me?  (I'm sure someone laughed at me when I first started walking, so its all ok...)  It doesn't take long for those babies to get strong and fast and they race across the fields.  We'll be out feeding and you see dozens of calves just take off running.  Usually there is one old cow babysitting all those calves and she starts bellering (is that a word?) for them to come back... Darn kids...

I'm sure I give these critters more personality than they may have, but I love the bit of cattle character we see.  With so many of the blasted things around, why not change it up a little?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Test Day on the Ranch

Spring is in the air and we are doing spring things on the ranch.  Field work, taking care of new babies, semen testing bulls...

Oh, what?  Testing bulls isn't part of you think of spring time?  I know, I've been ruined...  Its funny the ways that ranch life has influenced my thinking.  But yes, when I think about testing bulls and going to bull sales, I feel like spring is in the air.

Testing bulls was as exciting as usual this year.  We teased Rancher Sr. about his fun running the torpedo and I took a look or two in the microscope.  This year we had Dr. Philip come out to do the testing.  The fun about this is that he was actually The Rancher's roommate from college.  That means I get to learn a little dirt on my cowboy.  I won't tell you those things... they aren't blog-o-sphere appropriate... Actually I'm sure that I would be dead if ever I mentioned those secrets from the Dr.

As weird as it may be, I love test day.  I love the medical side of ranching just as much as the daily chores.  There is so much that they are looking for when they test- how many swimmers there are in each squirt of semen and how many of those swimmers are good and viable.  They measure the scrotal circumference and of course test for Trich. 

What a wonderful spring day it was with the good folks from the Bear River Animal Hospital.  We heard some great stories, learned some new things and got some important work done.  Although, I guess it may be somewhat of an awkward day, at least for the man running the torpedo! 

Friday, March 20, 2015

So Many Calves, So Many Tags

Having tripled the number of cows that are calving on the ranch that means we get to spend a significant more time tagging.  And if we don't spend a good chunk of tagging every day the number of calves needing tagging really piles up.  In fact, we did have a few days pass by where we didn't get to the tagging, which meant The Rancher and Rancher Sr. spent nearly the entire morning getting caught up.

The hard part isn't necessarily that there are so many to do.  Yes, it takes more time from their day, but they just expect that in the midst of calving and tagging season.  What really stinks about missing days of tagging is that the calves get bigger and faster in such a short time.  If we get to them within the first day of being born, they don't really take off or aren't too fast on those new legs.  But give them a few days and they get a little stronger and a little wiser and take you for a chase!  I tease The Rancher that its the best way he gets his running in.  If he really wanted to go running so bad, he could just come in the mornings with me rather than letting the calves get too old.   As you can imagine, he just rolls his eyes at me...  

Tagging for us is pretty simple.  With the heifer calves, we match the momma's number to the calves.  That's mostly because they tend to forget which calf is there and need a little help (I'm so funny...).  But its helps us to make sure everything is pairing up ok.  With the older cows we are tagging the pure bred calves with an orange tag vs the sem-angus cross calves with a black tag.  We differentiate which ear heifers and steers get tagged.  Just a few things for us to see about the calf when we look at it.  They all get their first round of shots and then the boys get castrated with a rubber cheerio. 

When I write it all out like that, it seems like a lot more than what we do in reality.  It only takes just a minute.  And that sure is a good thing with so many babies and so many tags!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Late Night Babies

Life would have it that whatever crazy that could happen, will happen at just the wrong time.  I mean, we all live a life with Murphy stopping in for a visit.  Some even have a spare room for Murphy...  Calving always brings good ol' Murphy along for a stop in, but fortunately for us it hasn't been too frequent!

Really our calving is going great! (but now that I have spoken it out to to the blog world we are doomed, I'm so sure...)  These first time mammas are doing terrific.  There is always an occasional issue of one heifer trying to claim another but that's easy enough to handle.  And not too many have needed help birthing.  Only a handful have had calves big enough that the cowboys have stepped in to pull it.  And then all of the babies are doing well to jump up just as soon as they splat on the ground.  We really can't complain.

But there are those couple of times of craziness that keep us from letting our guard down.  There was a freezing, moonlit night that particuarily comes to mind.  It was a cold night, but I'm sure that it seemed so much colder because as late as it was, I was all so cozy and ready for bed.  But every calving season we need one bed time calf pull.

The Rancher had gone out for a meeting just as dinner was ending, promising it would be quick- only like a half hour or hour at the most.  I knew better but it wasn't a big deal because I would just put the babies to bed and have some time to myself.  The kids bathed, we cleaned up toys and settled in the chair for some stories before bed time.  It didn't take long for sister to fall asleep and I was left to snuggle with The Rancher's Sidekick.  We had just finished Curious George when The Rancher came home, two hours later!  He said a quick hello, grabbed his flash light and headed out again, this time on the 4wheeler.  It was his week for the late check, so it wasn't a big deal.  It turned out to be a big deal when he came right back home.  A check that quick means something is up and required icky clothes.

My suspicions were confirmed when I heard him on the phone calling Rancher Sr. asking for help to pull a calf.  The heifer  had started before he had left and it had been long enough that it was time to get the calf out.  Of course she would need to be pulled just after I had pulled on my pjs and was minutes from getting The Rancher's Sidekick to bed.  But the ranch girl in me wouldn't miss a chance to help.  So we bundled up, pjs and all, to help dad pull the calf.

Getting the heifer in the maternity pen proved to be an issue of itself.  They generally go in pretty well when they can see where they are heading, but getting them in during the night has its own issues to be dealt with.  Just imagine a cow in labor running while you chase her having only a spotlight to help you see all while still trying to drive the 4wheeler... fast...  When the chase gets that intense, I opt to sit out because experience has told me that The Rancher can get a little crazy.  I choose life, thanks...  I think that they traipsed across the heifer hill so many times that they hit all for corners, nearly went out the gate, and then finally made it in.  

Looking at the heifer we were pretty worried because things did not look normal.  There wasn't a bubble showing or feet poking out.  It just looked weird.  Lucky for us, everything was going fine but it was just a huge calf.  A LUNKER of a calf.  After some intense pulling and pushing and groaning (from the cow, not just me) we had a baby.  Having babies of my own has made me quite sympathetic and I think that every time I watch those heifers calve I push right along with them.  Its tough work!

The happy arrival of this baby heifer wasn't the end of the night.  Yes this story had a happy ending, the momma licking the baby and baby struggling up.  But while The Rancher and Rancher Sr. were getting this momma in, they noticed another calf.  A hardly licked off teensy baby without a momma.  Abandonment is not really conducive to survival.  Kinda common sense, but not all heifers have it.  We buzzed around what seemed like forever until we found who we figured was the mom.  We tried chasing her over to the baby.  We trying just letting her go over to it herself.  We tried getting her into the maternity pens.  And all she would do was run.  If it were me, I'm pretty sure I would park myself  and not move- going for a run after birth doesn't sound good to me!  But this cow had something else on her mind and just did not want to take care of her calf. 

At that point there wasn't a lot we could do but wait and see.  The calf was in a good place for the night so we opted to let them play things out and we would just keep checking in on them.  We headed into the house to thaw our frozen cheeks.  Come morning the darn cow STILL hadn't claimed her calf.  And with the morning came more attempts to get her in and get the calf on her.  At that point we opted to just take the calf and put her on the milk cow. 

Now why couldn't all of this craziness have happened in the sunshiny day rather than the freezing night?  I dunno... There must be some sort of quota those cows have to fill of keeping us up in the night.  On the plus side, at least we only had to go out once.  And we got to finish Curious Gorge before our wild night began!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bringing in the Babies- The First Look of the 2015 Calf Crop

There are so many babies at our house!  I love it!  In fact, I almost don't know what to do with myself...  Actually... sadly, I haven't run out to frolic with the new babies as much as I would like.  But I still get to drive by them every day and see them enjoying the hot sun.  Occasionally I'll get the privilege to run through the cows to check for any newbie (that really means that everyone else is gone and I'm the all they got to keep an eye on things..  HA!). 

And when I do go out I grab the kids and the camera and we enjoy a few minutes in the nursery.  There are a few fresh babies we have found, some very protective mommas that we have kept our distance and lots of cute squeals from my babies about the new cuties!