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."