Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bull Meet and Greet

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)

We are never quite sure what they are talking about.  Maybe about the females they've met and the places they've been, but they always carry on like this when brought back together for their 3 months of internment.  They butt heads a little too.  Well Lee and Lou butt heads, Mr. Johnson just watches.
We name our bulls after who picks them out for us.  Yes.  You heard me right.   We rarely pick our own bulls.  We don't trust ourselves.

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

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Spring rains get tiresome.  Won't they ever go away?  Then they do go away and the prairies turn brown.
The springs, ponds and creeks almost go dry.
Your heart and the earth and it's plants and creatures yearn for the refreshing rain.  Clouds form.
Could the rains be coming?  No.  They drift away on the wind and with it your heart falls.

 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


 Calves are popping out around the ranch and I've spent my mornings driving around checking on them and their mamas.  They are so cute and trusting at this stage,  and they seem to view all as potential friends.  They usually come very close to me with nose in the air sniffing.  Occasionally, they will come right up to my hand for a good smell.  Apparently, I don't smell right as they usually scoot away at this point.
 This little one looks like he didn't like what mom was serving, but I think I actually just caught him in an in between moment for he headed back in for seconds. 
Shadow has been out helping me.  She is quite the cow dog.  Wink, wink.  One good thing is that none of the cows are bothered by her.  They all let her come right up to them for a good sniff.  I really appreciate that generally most of our cows are gentle and trusting in nature; except for number 19 and 42, but that's another story.

Another shot from our recent backpacking trip in the Sierras.  It didn't end like we wanted, but we had a good time.  I've been slowly working through the photos and have a couple of blog posts up at my other blog.  If you are interested you can click here:
Mammoth Trail
Agnew Meadows  to Tuolumne Meadows

Sunday, September 8, 2013

We're Home...

The donkeys ran up to the road to greet us as the wild turkeys streamed into the woods and one lone grouse hen pecked along with apparently no worries of the car that drove by.  It's good to be home.

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. 

One of the photos from our hike.  More to come.....