Monthly Archives: November 2013

Till The Cows Come Home

IMG_0776The cows are all officially off of summer grass.  The last batch was hauled home yesterday.  Two pot loads, two trailer loads, and the Wild Child and I hauling horses.  They are in the corral as I type this readying themselves for being pregnancy checked this morning.  Everything will then all be checked, the rest of the opens will be hauled to the sale, and we will be one more step closer to being prepared for the winter / spring.  How blessed we have been to have open pastures still at the end of November and not feeding hay every day.  Every day is one day closer to spring!

20131016_161812There are still some cows and yearling bred heifers on fall grass and not right here at home. They are on some land that is about seven miles away by road, little less as the crow flies.  We will trail those home in a week or two as the weather dictates.  We will then have everything where it belongs and where they will stay through the end of calving / branding season.  Seems like all these “seasons” get closer and closer every year.  Is this happening to anyone else?  Seems like only a week or two ago we were sorting pairs to haul everything out to summer pasture.  Now here we are wearing long-johns and “light” winter clothing getting ready to pregnancy check our last bunch.

IMG_9633Yet another thing for me to be thankful for… all the cows being close to home again.  The dogs will be happy, too.  They have been bored all summer and fall waiting for something to do besides bring the old horses in twice a day during chores.  Maybe now they will quit dragging around a 12-foot piece of 3-inch PVC pipe that extends from our drain pipe on our house.  They drag it way out in to the middle of the alfalfa field and then dig around the ends trying to get that crazy rabbit that never seems to appear.  They definitely need something to do.

So out the door we go, the Wild Child and I, to enjoy yet another beautiful fall day.  Hope you day is filled with blessings and getting to do something you love.

Until next time… JARW

Taken to the Cleaners

JRW_Logo_HorzOur beautiful fall day two days ago was spent outside just enjoying our day.  I saddled up Speed for the Wild Child and she rode to her heart’s content while I filled some grain boxes, cleaned up some planters, and just putted around outside.  The weather was amazing.

We have had an interesting last few days, but not how one would expect!  My cowboy sent some pants to the cleaners for a blast of heavy starch.  Now to really understand the story, you must know that the cleaners is 110 miles from home.  We can’t just run them downtown.  We have no downtown.  We are in the middle of nowhere / everywhere– depending on your outlook.  Back on task, we dropped the pants off at the cleaners a week ago while we were in the Hills on business.  In doing so, we realized that they would probably be there for quite some time until we were back that way.

Living in a small community has LOTS of benefits, ONE of them being friends who ask “do you need anything in the hills today?”  Silly thing to ever ask.  Someone ALWAYS needs something.  Well our something was to have the pants picked up at the cleaners.  Not a problem.  The pants would be back in town on Friday afternoon.  This was awesome as this week we have to head to watch our daughter in the state volleyball tournament.  Everyone needs good ole heavy starched jeans to watch volleyball… Don’t they?

The pants made it safely to the town where our daughter goes to high school, which is still 35 miles from home.  The deliverer called and told me he would just bring them out to us in the morning as he was coming this way anyway.  Perfect.  Then he called back and said that he would just throw them in our car at the school.  Perfect.  The third call was to tell us that since school was just about out that he would just meet our daughter and give them to her.  Not so perfect, I replied, as she has practice right after school meaning that he would have to wait for three more hours.  He didn’t think that was perfect either so he was back to bringing them out.  Once again, perfect.  The last call was that he decided to go ahead and drop them off in our car.  Did she have the maroon car.  Yep.  So the plan was made.

Our daughter got home from school/practice and during supper her dad asked “So, did you bring in my pants?”  She was confused as she had NO idea what he was talking about.  We explained that there was supposed to be several pair of pants left in her car.  Nope.  Was she sure?  Yep.  Better run out and check.  She did and nope; no pants.  We called the deliverer of said pants.  He had put them in the front seat of an older maroon Buick since the back seat was full of what looked like suitcases.  We drive a maroon Mercury.  No one had any idea who might drive an older maroon Buick.  Our daughter was pretty sure that no one drove a maroon car at all, except for her, and that the only Buick was dark blue.  The search was on.

We called and made inquiries with anyone we could think of.  Finally the Big Guy consented to letting me put out a “Lost Pants” facebook post.  You can only imagine the comments this got.  My brother posted to tell me he thought I was past the stage in my life that I needed to look for my lost pants in the back seat.  Funny guy.  I replied they weren’t my pants anyway, they were the Big Guy’s.  My friends wanted to know why the Big Guy had to send his pants to the cleaner and why his wife wasn’t taking care of things at home.  The ribbing continued.  Still no pants.  My friends were sharing the post with more people.  Still no pants.  We had given them up for lost.

Monday rolled around and our daughter’s economics teacher asked if we had found the pants.  One of her classmates perked up.  By gosh he had some pants in the front seat of his car, but he figured they were his dad’s pants and he had left that car at home.  Yes– he drives a dark blue Buick.  To make this incredibly long story a little shorter, I will just tell you now.  He had the pants.  He brought that car to school yesterday.  The pants are now home.  All is well.

Moral of the story?  No idea.  But extremely grateful for people who pick up our laundry and deliver it, even if they are color blind.  Also extremely grateful for small communities who are all looking out for each other, even if it is just trying to find our lost pants.  Lastly, incredibly grateful that we are indeed WAY past the stage in our life where we potentially could have lost our pants in the back seat of a car, which by the way, NEVER happened!  EVER.  SERIOUSLY. Stop laughing.  NEVER.

Until next time…  JARW

Weaning

The WC and I walked to the house last night after doing chores and the coyotes were serenading us like crazy.  It sounded like they were just over the hill south of our house.  My crazy WC kept howling back.  She said “I bet they think I’m a wolf!”  Probably!  She has spent many hours watching hunting shows with her dad.  She can blow a coyote call with the best of them!  Turns out she thinks she can howl like a wolf, too.  Who knew?!

We weaned replacement heifers a couple of days ago.  Once again, we were incredibly blessed with amazing fall weather.  Here we are gathering the first bunch.  Weaning  allows the cow to use the energy and nutrition that was used in milk production to instead improve her own condition and prepare for her next calf.   The body condition of a cow is important for many reasons, but especially for reproductive issues and raising good healthy calves.  Thus we want to make sure we always try to keep our cows in the best shape possible. IMG_1043We sorted off all the heifers and hauled them to my brother-in-law’s house where they will winter.  It was a muddy mess there;  he definitely had more snow then we did.  Weaning is stressful on a calf.   Not only removed from their mothers, but also our replacement heifers are taken to a place they have never been.  When a calf is stressed, just like people, they become more susceptible to sickness. Every heifer calf gets run through the chute to get a subcutaneous injection and a nasal solution.  The nasal solution works immediately to boost the calves immunity, while the injection will take a bit.

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We spent the day after weaning pregnancy checking all the mommas of the replacement heifers.  I also took a few minutes to take some pictures of the weaned bull calves.  They are looking good.  So fun to watch the animals you raise and keep (the bull calves and the replacement heifers) grow up.

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The view from the back.  🙂

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Below is a bull calf we kept out of a new AI sire we used last year.  I put his momma in the shed about 4:00 a.m. one morning on my last check of the night.  I went to the house and went to bed as the Big Guy was then officially “on duty!”  At about 8:00 a.m. I got a call to come to the barn because, as he encouraged, I just “really need to see this calf.”   Well what ranch wife could pass that up.  So I jumped up (well maybe “jumped” is a stretch– instead maybe slid out of bed like a slug), got dressed, and headed to the barn to see what the fuss was about.

On arrival. the Big Guy lead me down to a jug (pen inside the barn) to look at the new calf.  He was an awesome little bull calf.

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The BG said “I bet that we end up keeping this calf for a bull.  Just look at him!”

What a great little calf he was.  Spot on was the prediction.  We did end up keeping him for a bull.  We watched him all spring and he just continued to impress us.  He still continues to impress us.  Not very often, well basically never, is a bull calf picked on the day he is born.  They change so much over the next few months.  But this boy– he was impressive.  I can’t wait to see what he looks like next spring as a yearling!

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Until next time— JARW

Bleacher Butt

IMG_1014My ranch wife-ing has taken a backseat as of late to being a mom and a sports fan.  Our high school football team played in the second round of the play-offs last Monday.  On our drive to town the Wild Child started complaining about being hot, but we had our long johns, etc. on for the football team so that didn’t worry me too much.  Then she said her belly didn’t feel too good, but we were a couple of hours late for dinner so that didn’t worry me much either.  We turned on the air conditioning, got some food in her belly, and went to my mom’s house in town to rest up before the football game.  She said she was much better and played until game time.  About the second quarter, though, she didn’t feel so hot.  We spent all the second half rocking in the bleachers and for the Wild Child– that is unheard of. We ended up leaving in the fourth quarter as she was now running a fever and feeling horrible.  She slept the whole way home and cried when I woke her up to put her pajamas on because her head hurt.  She never did throw up, fortunately, but we spent the next several days in the house battling a fever on and off, and with her spending lots of time sleeping.

IMG_0583Our daughter’s volleyball team got a bye in the first round of districts thus allowing the WC a couple more days to heal up. Thursday found us loading up and heading to the semi-final game of the district tournament.  Our girls won thus sending us to the championship game on Friday night.  Even though they tried to push the parents in the stand over the edge with craziness, our team won the district tournament in five games.  The Big Guy took the WC and our daughter’s car and headed home.  I loaded up the two older girls and a straggler (just kidding Jimi!)  and headed half way across the state to spend the night before driving the rest of the way on Saturday morning to watch my nephew and the rest of our high school football team in their semi-final game.  They came up short.  Rats!  Our senior boys, though– man what a high school career they have had.   In their four years of high school they have made it to the semi-finals two years and to the championships two years– winning the state championship last year.  It has been so fun to watch them.

Those 979.3 miles and seven hours of bleacher time, plus the hours of car time weren’t enough so we loaded back up on Tuesday and went to watch our daughter play in the regional championship volleyball game in their bid to win a trip to the state tournament.  The 334.4 total miles round trip, the five hours in the pickup, and the two hours of gym time were definitely well worth it.  The girls are heading to the state tournament next weekend.  What a grand time we have had chasing kids!

On the days between games we keep plugging along here on the ranch.  I had to laugh when I heard someone ask my husband if he has all his fall work done.  He replied– “Last years.”  It sure feels that way some days.   Our kids, though, will be gone before we know it…  well all except the Wild Child.  She will be keeping us on our toes and running for quite a few more years.  Until then, we plan to miss as few of their events as we can.  Life is grand.

Until next time  —- JARW

Cowboy Poet

Some sweetness from one of the JARW readers, Jacque Trumbull.  Thanks Jacque for sharing your talent with us!  Published with author’s permission. 

  • COWBOY POET?

    Just what is a cowboy poet?
    I’m beginning to ponder that thought
    ‘Cause some folks don’t think I fit the mold.
    Guess I don’t look as they think I ought?

    Well, I’m not really a cowgirl,
    Only a rancher affiliated with cattle.
    But the poems that I spin as I ponder
    Are based on ranch life including a saddle.

    I’ve ridden long miles cross the prairie,
    Spent many years in the hills of sand
    And I’m most happy to say,
    “I wear the Master’s Brand”

    My poems tend to have a ranch flavor,
    Often telling about things of the life.
    One thing I will tell you for certain,
    Cow country sees plenty of strife!

    I wouldn’t trade this life for another.
    I’ve lived elsewhere and it just don’t take.
    Watching wildlife and grazing cattle 
    It’s a life I don’t care to forsake.

    Maybe I don’t fit the mold set by some,
    I’ve been a maverick according to some
    So I just write Cow Country poetry
    And pray that to Jesus others will come.

    J.R. Trumbull
    6 July 2013

Open?

We have spent several days over the last couple of weeks pregnancy checking cows.  Let me rephrase that— The Big Guy has spent several days over the last couple of weeks pregnancy testing cows and helping his brother feel more confident in his testing skills.  I spent many days over the last couple of weeks doing whatever was needed from pushing cows up a chute, running a vaccine gun, or (as evidenced below) leaning against a sorting stick looking all grump-ass while everyone else worked.  That, my friends, is why I carry the camera and take the pictures— so I’m not busted with proof that I was lazing around.  IMG_0791

 The Wild Child kept busy doing what she loves to do best… riding her trusty steed, Speed.

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When she got done with that she helped push cows up the chute, even ducking down when necessary so they would keep moving.

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Pregnancy checking is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.  Who better than the men!?!   For those who have never seen the process, the picture proof is below, along with a video.  Yep, he has his arm right where you think he does.

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http://youtu.be/fNKkw92BdF8

These cows were done and watching the action from as far away from the chute as they could stand.  Probably not how they expected to spend their day!

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Dressed and ready for action… after enjoying a glass of iced tea.

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Double checking to see what his brother was feeling while helping him hone his pregnancy checking skills.

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 Only two more bunches to check and then we will be done for the fall.  As a side note, the cows tested as “open” or not bred are normally hauled to the sale barn as it is not cost-effective to keep an open cow for over a year.

That ends your ranching lesson for the day.  Until next time— JARW

 

Mabeline

While we have been busy shipping calves and pregnancy checking cows over the last couple of weeks, those affected by the Atlas Blizzard during the first week of October are still struggling to come to terms with their losses, and in many cases, still trying to assess their losses.   It is difficult to sometimes get an exact count of losses as many animals drifted on to neighbor’s land, animals drowned, some animals drifted down rivers, and some carcasses just have not been found because of the wide expanse of land that has to be  covered.

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I want to tell you about Mabeline.   Mabeline (Mabel to those close to her) was the miracle calf.  Her mother was found down one early spring day while feeding.  Our friends hauled feed and water to her for a couple of days, but she didn’t seem to be regaining her strength adequately so they loaded her up and hauled her in to the corral for some extra TLC.  She stayed weak and unable to really get up and around so they continued to haul food and water directly to her so she wouldn’t have to get herself to the water tank or to the feeder.  One evening they came to the corral to find that she had moved, and upon further observation saw that she had calved.  However, there was no calf to be found anywhere.  They were stumped.

The evening wore on and still no calf.  During a night check of the heifers in the next corral, they spotted what they thought were some eyes through the wooden fence.  They went to investigate and found the missing calf lying down behind some grain bins.  “She was the cutest little thing with the longest eyelashes,” my friend told me.  Hence the name Mabeline.  They hauled Mabel to the house to get her warmed up, cleaned up, and try to get some food in her tummy.  They were out of colostrum so they fed her some straight milk replacer until they could get some more colostrum the next day.  So began the life of their little miracle, Mabel.

Mabel survived all the odds.  Colostrum is essential for healthy calves.  It is high in energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals.  It also is very high in immunoglobulins which transfers immunity from the cow to the calf to help fight off infections.  Optimally, the calf should get its first colostrum within 2-4 hour of birth, with a second feeding of colostrum within 12 hours.  The chance of mortality increases as the length of time between birth and ingestion of colostrum grows.  Mabel– well she definitely didn’t get any colostrum within 2-4 hours, and didn’t get any within 12 hours.  She got milk, but didn’t actually receive colostrum until about 16 hours after birth.  Hence her status as the miracle calf.

From then on, Mabel was pretty sure she was a dog.  She slept with the dogs, ate with the dogs, even rode around in the back of the pickup.

Mabel

Chris, my friend, told me that when they were haying Mabel would run out to the field, find the tractor she was in, and run up and bawl at the tractor for her to stop.  Just like the dogs.  She was part of the family.  As summer wore on they wanted Mabel to start running with the cows.  Mabel, however, thought she would rather be with them so she was splitting her time between being a calf and being a dog.

Chris was stoic while telling me of her family’s losses during the storm… talking about gathering, pairing, sorting, counting, and burying the dead.  She was worried about her husband.  She was even more worried about her brothers who ranch farther southeast from where she and her husband ranch.  They had suffered even more devastating losses and she was going to try to leave the next morning to try to get to them and help them in any way that she could.  She fought tears telling me of the losses she had witnessed.  However, when she told me about Mabel she didn’t fight the tears any more.  Mabel didn’t make it through the storm.   She had lost her miracle and it broke her heart.  She cried and I cried with her.  As a ranch wife I know the time, heart, and soul she had invested in not only that calf, but in all the livestock on her ranch.  I could feel her hurt, and I felt my heart breaking for her while we cried for Mabel, for their losses, and for the losses suffered by so many.

JARW friend Sharon shared some of her heartbreak, too. (Reposted with permission from Miss Sharon.  So sorry for your losses.)   “The other day when we preg tested cows, my 26 yr old son was watching them come up the chute, and one caught his attention and he goes ‘Mom this cow tried soo hard to save her calf during the storm. She was wrapped around him as tight as she could get with her head over him..She’s a good cow” Man talk about knock the wind out of me..I wished a lot of those negative people that bashed the ranchers and farmers during the storm could have been there to hear him and know how much he cares about his cows… “

The sheer magnitude of the losses is yet to be measured.  However, the immensity of the goodness and kindness of others is being measured every day.  Heifers for South Dakota has already made their first delivery to a young couple who lost over 50% of their cow herd.  KBHB Radio shared the story.   The Ranchers Relief Fund is sharing stories daily of the incredible generosity of individuals and companies.  The Atlas Blizzard Relief Auction starts at noon on Saturday, November 10th.  My heart smiles and my eyes leak every time I read another story sharing the newest news of the outpouring of love and support.

So to those suffering, I plead …  stay strong my comrades.  Things will be forever different , but you are a strong bunch.  However, until you feel strong enough to stand on your own feet without wanting to crumple with the weight of your losses, please lean on the rest of us.  We know that you would offer the same set of shoulders if the positions were reversed.  Until then, our prayers will continue to be offered up in your behalf.

Until next time — JARW

Fall Work– Ranch Wife Style

ceb594267150c2c9c506212aa91d0c96Fall work for ranchers means many things… preconditioning calves, choosing replacement heifers, hauling hay, shipping calves, weaning calves, pregnancy checking and vaccinating cows, putting away equipment for the winter, etc.  Fall work for ranch wives means all these things, too, PLUS cooking and hauling meals, cleaning up, pushing cows and calves up the chute, keeping track of the bookkeeping end of working livestock, keeping track of the bookkeeping for the home, cooking and hauling meals, LAUNDRY (shitty laundry), washing vaccine guns, chasing kids, trying to get the garden cleaned up and all the produce dealt with, cooking and hauling meals, attending fall sporting events to support your kids and the community kids, trying to keep your house from falling apart, and did I mention cooking and hauling meals?  (laughing…)

We have cattle summered at several different locations so working calves and cows at all those locations means hauling meals to most of them.  In the past 10 days I have made over 300 donut holes, several batches of twists, dozens of cookies, buns, roasts, etc.  My mother-in-law has made stews, bars, wimpies, salads.  We have packed grapes, chips, apples, and for goodness sakes don’t forget the coffee and water!  Many days we get home from working cattle, take care of the horses, do the chores, haul everything in the house, clean up the vaccine guns, put everything away, cook supper, and then start cooking again to haul meals for the next day.  There are times it seems never-ending.  Matter of fact, there is a batch of “Hattie Penn twists” with maple frosting on the counter right now  that will be eaten tomorrow when we pregnancy check another bunch of cows here at home.  Those are glorious words… here at home.  That means nothing has to be hauled anywhere! Yay!

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what we do.  I’m totally and completely blessed to live the life we live.  I love being a stay-at-home mom/ranch wife/bookkeeper/hired hand, etc.  It’s truly a great life.  But there is so much more to it then meets the eye.  I laugh when people make statements like “Can you take care of this?  You are at home all day anyway.”  Yes.  People really do say stuff like that, even in our community that is completely agriculture based.  And yes, usually I respond “Sure!”   It’s what we do.  Wives are used to juggling many balls all at once, and usually successfully.  It is just another day of being “Just” (hahahahaha) a ranch wife.

I think we should start offering “living the life” ranch visits.   Any takers?

Until next time– JARW