Monthly Archives: January 2014


It started with rain and then turned to snow.  The roads were junk.  The finger drifts were starting to build across the road when Pine and I headed home from town two nights ago.  I was in front in the car with Pine following behind.  We were trying to get the extra car home that had been in town for a couple of weeks.  The first 15 miles passed by at a whopping rate of 40 miles per hour, but we were safe and sound.  Then my car started sliding sideways, spinning the other way, back and forth, and finally… there I was STUCK in the dang ditch.  The best part of my misfortune was that my sweet husband did not say one thing.  He just stopped, got out the chain, and tried to get the car jerked out.  Unfortunately we only had a 6-foot chain with us so we left the retrieval from the ditch for the next morning’s after chores project.

I keep talking about all the ice.  Here are a couple of pictures showing what I’m talking about.  This is what the pastures look like.  IMG_2355


Two days ago was a beautiful morning.  I had my camera along, fortunately, as Huck kicked up a coyote so got to get a picture of him, the does were out grazing, and “Earl the Eagle” was flying about.  Pine’s grandma started the stories about Earl when Pine was a little boy.  They continue today.  Miss Wild Child asks for stories about their adventures often so she and I are in the process of writing a children’s book about their adventures.  It is so much fun.


IMG_2474 IMG_2447GOD sure fills our world with beauty.  Have had some requests for pictures of the snow and have been lucky enough to have to turn them down over the past couple of weeks as we haven’t had any snow.  Now that has changed I will try to take my camera along tomorrow and get some new pictures of the white countryside.

Until next time… JARW











I headed down to the south central part of the state last week to spend a day plus with my sister before calving starts.  We had a break between basketball games so I loaded up the Wild Child and my mom and headed out.  My sister has a granddaughter that is only a month older than the WC so they had a glorious time playing.  The Wild Child also got to meet her cousin’s horses, one of which is Lola.  1537674_10152597635698902_100706548_o 1559433_10152597635713902_1720141456_o

As you can see, Lola didn’t lack for love.  While driving through the Badlands we got to witness the most amazing sunset.  You know me, I can’t resist taking a picture of a sunset.  Much to the WC’s chagrin, I stopped not only once, but twice to take pictures.  She was not impressed.  The first stop produced this picture.  It does not do justice to the beauty.


The second stop produced even more beauty.  The rays coming down through the clouds were incredible. Badlands 2


Some updates on the importation of beef from Brazil.  Per the regulations docket for the proposal allowing Brazilian beef to be imported in to the United States, the agency contact is:

Silvia Kreindel
Senior Staff Veterinarian, Regionalization Evaluation Services Staff, NCIE, VS
301 851-3313

Thanks to many who let me know that the phone numbers weren’t correct, an embarrassing lesson learned as I hadn’t checked the numbers, only the link.  The link for comments is correct.  Please educate your rights as consumers and producers to comment on the proposal by the USDA APHIS to import beef products from parts of Brazil, a country notorious for Foot-and-Mouth Disease.  FMD would be catastrophic to agriculture in the United States, and as South Dakota’s state veterinarian, Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, stated “My basic concern continues to be that the risk of introducing FMD from South American countries to North America is not justified by the short-term benefits.

Just living the dream here.  Until next time… JARW

Camera Clicks

Today is my dad’s birthday.  He would have been 86.  He died 36-years ago leaving my mom and 10 kids.  I seriously don’t know how my mom survived us, especially me.  I may have a small touch of stubbornness and hard-headedness. Perhaps.

My dad was a rancher.  I can’t imagine what he must think, looking down from above, about the changes that have taken place in agriculture over the last 36 years.  I’m sure there are times he shakes his head in both awe and disgust at the changes in our world.

These are a few pictures from morning chores.  In this first picture you can see the sun shining off the snow and ice.  The ice is absolutely horrible and it is everywhere.  The cows are sick of it.  The horses are sick of it.  The dogs are sick of it.  And we are dang sure sick of it.  I opened a gate to let the WC’s horse, Speed, out of the corral yesterday morning.  He looked at me, at the lake of ice he had to cross to get to the gate, and just turned his butt to me and stood at the other gate.  I finally had to walk across and let him out the gate he chose.  Stubborn horse.


The heifers waiting for the twine to be cut off of the bales so they could be rolled out.IMG_1715

 Breakfast.  Yum. IMG_1721

IMG_1723 IMG_1726

You can’t see it in this picture, but the cows like to tuck up behind the rocks on this hill.  It is an obstacle course for the dogs and I every morning going up among the rocks to bring the cows down to feed.  IMG_1727

The Wild Child and her Juneau bred heifer, Frozen, checking each other out on the feed ground. IMG_2181

Trailing cows to the feed ground.  IMG_2186

In places where the ice and snow has melted off there is still green grass from last summer.  Absolutely amazing…. green grass in January. IMG_2189

Until next time… JARW



As a cattle producer, I want to give you some insight on what is happening right now with the US Department of Agriculture.  The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) is proposing that the United States allow cattle and fresh beef to be imported from 14 states in Brazil.  Brazil has more than twice as many cattle as the United States, and the Brazilian herd is growing.  APHIS states that the domestic price of cattle is expected to decline (shocker), which is extremely detrimental to cattle producers in our country.  However, this is NOT the biggest concern.

Brazil has a long history of FOOT-AND-MOUTH disease (FMD), which is the most contagious disease known to cattle.  The United States has had nine outbreaks of this horrendous disease since 1870, the most recent in California in 1929–  so the US has been disease-free from FMD for 85 years.  Brazil does NOT have this track record.  APHIS as admitted that “as long as FMD is endemic in the overall region in South America, there is a risk of reintroduction from adjacent areas into the proposed exporting region.”   This is the link for the APHIS docket.   There are parts of Brazil that are declared FMD free, however, there is not adequate protection of these herds from other herds in areas that are not FMD free.  In addition, it was only one year ago that the US discovered that Brazil had failed for TWO YEARS to comply with notifying us that there had been a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that had died in 2010.  WHY does the USDA feel the need to harm domestic agriculture?

After the Atlas Blizzard, I wrote several posts about the devastating losses suffered by so very many of our counterparts (Mabeline, Camaraderie, Character, and Death), and confronted those accusing and passing judgement on those who suffered losses.  After one such article, I received the following reply from a JARW friend, Teresa.  She understood how the producers who lost so many cattle in the blizzard must have been feeling as she lost her herd to FMD while living in England.  The following is her comment.

“Thank you for your post. It’s a shame that you have to explain these things! I ranch in Canada since emigrating from England in 2002. I would like to share this with the sad folks in South Dakota – I lived through foot and mouth in England in 2001. My cattle and sheep were all slaughtered in the contiguous cull. In other words they didn’t have foot and mouth but the neighbor’s herd did – so they were slaughtered to try and stop the disease as it raged through our area. I know how they are feeling. Broken, useless, helpless, frightened for the future, lonely, and many other emotions. To see your lifetimes work destroyed is absolutely the worst thing – but…. they will re-build – first their strength and then their herds. At the time I thought it was the end but little by little herds were re-built. It changed our landscape for ever as will probably happen in South Dakota but please tell them their smiles will return. We are hard-working, determined people – whichever side of the “pond” we raise livestock. Hang in their guys and gals – it will get better for you. Thinking and praying for you all. Teresa”

I had asked Teresa if I could share her comment with the rest of the readers of JARW.  She responded with this email. 

“Yes you absolutely may use my comment in your blog.  I wrote it because seeing the pictures from South Dakota brought back so many memories. But most of all I wanted to give the ranchers hope – that little by little they will recover. We felt guilty in foot and mouth – just as they do – but we know deep down in our hearts that what happened in England in 2001 is the same as in South Dakota in 2013 – completely out of our control.

I had to send my 2 young children away from home for 3 weeks – we were trying to stop traffic from spreading the disease. I didn’t leave the farm for those 3 weeks. The local store bought groceries and newspapers and left them at the bottom of the farm driveways. I could go on and on – it was  a terrible time but it sure did bring out the best in people – we all made lasting friendships as we fought our way out of that mess.

Stay strong. All the best.


As you can tell by reading a first-hand experience of someone who has lived through an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, this disease is NOT to be taken lightly.  The USDA is subjecting all the livestock producers in the United States to this risk.  This is completely and totally irresponsible and intolerable.  Cows, sheep, goats, pigs, buffalo, antelope, deer… basically all cloven-hoofed animals (domestic or wild) are susceptible.  It also can be spread numerous ways… clothing, feed, contaminated equipment, infected animals through aerosols, predators, and the list goes on and on.

Countries are recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health in three categories with regard to FMD:

1.  Foot-and-mouth disease present with or without vaccination.

2.  Foot-and-mouth disease free with vaccination; or

3.  Foot-and-mouth disease free without vaccination.

The United States is recognized as FMD-FREE without vaccination.  We work hard to maintain that status so why does the USDA APHIS seek to jeopardize the health of our livestock.  Please contact the USDA and let them know your thoughts.  Contact your local organizations to voice your opinions.  Tell anyone and everyone who will listen.  We DO NOT WANT IMPORTS OF CATTLE FROM BRAZIL.

Please click on this APHIS link to comment on the proposal.

Thanks for “listening.”

Until next time… JARW

Tags N More


We worked our bred heifers last week.  These heifers will be two this spring and this will be their first calf.  Heifers are always more labor intensive than the cows as everything is new for them; just compare them to a first time mom and you can picture it a little better.  Everything is just a little more stressful and takes some getting used to.  For this reason, the heifers at our place are usually calved out first before the cows start calving.  We can most of them calved out, paired up good, and ready to be on their own a bit before the cows start.


Last week we ran them all through the chute, re-branded and re-tagged according to ownership, poured them with wormer, and vaccinated them.


The tagging process isn’t as cut and dried as it seems.  The tags have the heifer number and the sire.  We also write on the number with a Sharpie marker, burn the number, and then use the tag marker to finish off the tag.  This way, if the tag marker wears off you can still see the number burned in the tag.  Our tag numbers always start with the year the cow was born so you can tell immediately how old she is at a glance.  IMG_1704

The Wild Child got to help and was more than happy to make the tag for her heifer.  She is now trying to think up an appropriate name.  I told her that I thought KJ2 was a pretty cool name.  She didn’t.  Her dad suggested “Olga” as that was the name of one of the first heifers that his grandfather gave him when he was a child.  She thought that that worse then KJ2 (I agreed!).  So maybe we need to have a heifer naming contest.  I will get her opinion and get back to you.



We had one heifer that had sloughed (aborted) her calf a week before working them.  There are many reasons this could happen, but most likely this was caused by the extremely icy conditions.  A heifer falling on the ice can cause trama to her unborn calf and cause it to spontaneously abort.


We had a great day and got done just as the high winds hit.  The Wild Child had an even better day as one of her favorite cousins was here and they spent the better part of the day playing King of the Hill on the snow pile.  She may have been soaking wet, but the smile tells how much the cold and wet was bothering her.


Until next time… JARW

Not All Work

We just got in from doing chores a couple of hours ago and let me tell ya… it is brutal outside.  The wind is blowing like crazy making the negative temperatures even harsher.  The wind chill when we went outside this morning was already 35 degrees BELOW zero.  Yes– negative 35 degrees.  It definitely made us work to keep our backs to the wind.

Several people have asked how the cows survive in weather like this.  They are tough.  They have thick skin and their thick winter hair.  They go to places out of the wind.  We also make sure they have lots of good hay and lots of fresh water.  We rolled out many extra bales this morning for extra food (energy) and for bedding.  We also feed them where they will have the most protection.  The extra bedding in these protected areas helps to keep the cows there and not wandering back out in to less protected areas.

There were some cows today that were holed up behind some big rocks up on a high hill in our pasture.  While Pine and his dad were rolling out hay, I was trying to make sure all the cows were coming to feed and not hiding out somewhere.  These cows were hiding out and not coming down out of the Nest.  I walked up the hill until I reached them and pushed them out and headed them to feed.  All this proved one very obvious fact…I’m completely and totally out of shape, especially with three extra layers of heavy clothing.   HA!  Who am I kidding.  I could have walked up the same hill in shorts and a t-shirt and it still would have been brutally obvious how out of shape I am.  Holy smokes.  I was huffing and puffing by the time I got back to the pickup.

Although we work hard in our life as ranchers, there are also times of play.  I thought I would show you some of the fun we have had in the last couple of weeks.  I wrote a blog post about Julebukking right after Christmas.  For those that missed it, Julebukking is an old Norwegian tradition where people dress up in disguises and show up at your house in the middle of the night.  Julebukking can only occur between Christmas and New Years.  You have to guess the intruders before they will leave you alone and let you go back to bed.  You are also supposed to wine and dine them while they are waiting for you to guess.  Well not really wine and dine, but definitely supply some beverages.  If you are the last house of the evening / early morning, it is customary that you feed them breakfast.  We had Julebukkers two nights this year.

We had fallen asleep on the couch and people plodding in to our living room woke us up.  This is the sight that greeted us at 1:30 a.m.  They were kind enough to put part of their costumes back on for a picture after we had finally guessed them.  Their faces were completely covered so it was very hard to figure out who they were.IMG_1645IMG_1643

The Wild Child also had a few very fun days hanging out with her cousins and getting in some sledding time


Plus, she got invited to a birthday party for one of her besties.


Throw in all the fabulous time we got to spend visiting with friends and family, and our last few weeks have been better than usual, regardless of weather.  Hope yours have been, as well.

One last thing, for all of you who follow me only on the web and not on Facebook, you additionally have the option to follow me on Twitter at Tami Gilbert@JustARanchWife.

Until next time… JARW

Christmas Eve Work

After getting the barn chores done, the heifers fed, and some things in order for my Christmas Eve company, we moved some cows that were still in a fall grazing pasture a couple of miles south and joined them with the other cows in the winter pasture.  This means that, at this point, we only have two bunches to feed every morning and not three.  We left them up there a little longer than usual as there is still lots of good grass.  You can see them funneling through the first gate.  IMG_1605 They headed up the ditch and we trailed them across the first pasture to a holding lane west of our corrals so we could do a little sorting.  We had a neighbor’s yearling in this bunch that we wanted to get sorted out and in the corral so he could come and pick it up.  There were also a couple of crippled cows that we wanted to sort back and keep with the heifers so we could keep better track of them through the winter. IMG_1606 Here is the Wild Child, her dad, and her faithful side-kick Huckleberry Hound. IMG_1608 More of the riders… Papa, the Wild Child, her big sister, and her dad. IMG_1609When we were nearing the end of the ride and I asked the WC if she was cold yet.  She had just gotten the head band pushed up out of her eye and assured me that she was plenty warm… well, except for her feet. IMG_1610 I couldn’t believe that her feet were cold.  They never get cold and it was a fairly nice day.  I asked her what socks she had on and that was when she mentioned that she had forgotten to put socks on.  Goofy kid.  No wonder her feet were chilly.  Thank heavens for her BOGS.  (As a side note, on Christmas morning she was super excited to find that Santa Claus had put some wool socks in her stocking.  She got some Fox River Kid’s Snow Day socks.   She loves them!  If anyone has any ideas on great socks for kids I would love to hear them.  She is outside with us lots and nothing is worse than cold feet.)

We moved the cows across the second pasture while Papa went back to the house to get the feeding tractor to roll out some hay after we got the two bunches combined.  With the work over, the cows all together in their winter pasture and fed, and the crippled cows put with the heifers in the house pasture, we headed for home.

IMG_1611 One last picture of Pine and two of his girls.  Then home we went to get some veggies cut up for relish trays and some potato soup.  I should clarify, the girls and I went home to cut up veggies.  Pine opted out.  Fun-hater.

Until next time… JARW