We've been busy on the ranch. Cleaning, bookkeeping, wood cutting, gathering the bulls and checking on the cows. We also enjoyed the 2 inches of rain that blew in. Already I can see green plants raising their heads out of the brown earth.
Finding the bulls is sometimes difficult, but once located the bulls were easy to bring in this year. Lou showed up at the bull pen ready for a hand-out, Lee came into the arena with a group of cows looking for a hand out and Mr. Johnson was eventually located across the creek and coaxed to our home with a few hollers and flakes of hay. He even followed me into the trailer freely. Of course, I was shaking the grain bucket. (We only use a little grain, for bribing the bulls)
When we took over this herd we didn't have much experience with cattle. Mark's dad had raised them before, but Mark hadn't been involved. My only involvement with cattle had been in 4-H round robin showmanship. We knew that we could use some advice, so we bought a cattle raising book, visited with a fellow rancher (Mr. Johnson) and went to the local auction yard and talked to ... you got it, Lee and Lou, the father and son duo who run the business. The book was helpful, but the rancher and auctioneers have been irreplaceable. They had been seeing our herd's offspring for years under the former herdsman and knew what they looked like and how they should improve. We followed their advice. It is a win-win solution as they make more money when we make more money. (Auction yards get a percentage.) We don't even sort our calves for the auction. We just haul everybody in and let them sort them out. Any animals that are going to be singled out, because they are too big or too small or something just looks different about them, we bring home and keep for another year and use in our local grass fed program. There is nothing wrong with them, they just don't fit in with the group as a whole. In the beginning, we had quite a few that didn't fit in, but this last June they said our calves were very uniform and that our steer pen was some on the best 600 weights they'd seen. We couldn't get too puffed up about it though as they had as much to do with the outcome as us. We just smiled and said, "you pick the bulls, it must be working."
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
In the night you awake. You hear an old friend outside your window and you wake your husband and drift back to sleep to the gentle melody of a soft rain falling.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows
Sunday, September 8, 2013
It's been a month of gorgeous scenery, exercise, family, friends, smoke and sadness.
My mom died. She had a fall that caused a cerebral bleed. It was really a gift that set her free from Alzheimer disease. We were blessed to be with her at the end of her life. She couldn't talk, but she smiled and she held my hand.
We wouldn't have been there either if it hadn't been for the smoke and ash that fell relentless from the sky from the Rim Fire. It smoked us out. You couldn't breath very well and the ash burned your eyes. We exited about 70 miles short of our destination.
Now we are home with many jobs to do. A few calves have just recently been born and the bulls need to be found and brought in until all the cows have their calves. It helps bunch up the calving. We haven't cut our firewood yet, so that's on the list too. Four cords worth. Tonight we had a nice juicy steak with corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, potatoes and squash from the garden. I think we might have gotten a little carried away with the vegetables, but they were so good. Tomorrow I will pick some apples and make a pie. We were surprised to have any fruit left, with the bear leaving us his calling card and all, but he didn't come in our yard at all, only ate all the fruit off the trees outside our yard. Seems like a fair deal to us. Small miracle indeed.