Monthly Archives: March 2014

Down She Goes

Not botheringWe have had a couple of beautiful days.  Yesterday, matter of fact, I actually had to slough my jacket and gloves riding home from sorting heavies.  The sun was shining, meadowlarks singing, and I was riding with my husband, my Wild Child, and my father-in-law.  It was fabulous, and one of those times when you just want to soak it in and keep it in your memory bank.

IMG_3048There have been some adventures over the past few days.  The first was tagging calves in the lot.  It was Pine, the WC, and I trying to  power tag some calves right before dark and then get them moved to a different holding pen for a day or two of bonding before trailing them to pasture.  We were in the Mule.  Pine was tagging, the WC was filling the tagger, and I was filling the needle.  We had gotten several tagged uneventfully and headed towards the other end of the lot.  Pine jumped out to grab a calf.  All was going well until the cow decided to take a run at him.  He made it around the Mule, and the cow and calf took that opportunity to head out.  We scooted back up beside the calf again, Pine grabbed it, and we drove ahead a ways to try to get it tagged before the cow realized what happened.  No such luck.

I jumped out, grabbed a shovel for a weapon, and ran around to try to protect Pine while he finished up with the calf.  The cow decided to take a run at me.  The trusty shovel held her off and weakened her pursuit a bit.  Fortunately, that was the end of our excitement tagging.  I walked behind a few of the pairs taking them up to their pen, and Pine and the WC brought the rest from the other direction.  The rest of it went like clock work.

Our other bit of excitement concerned the Wild Child.  She has been so lucky to have Speed, her trusty, faithful horse.  He takes such good care of her.  However, he has realized that she really doesn’t run the show like she thinks she does and so he often likes to stand by the gate to the barn and not cooperate much.  We fixed that.  The Wild Child now has an over-and-under rope on her saddle.  Look out world.  For those unfamiliar, it is a long rope that she can use to coerce him to move with a swat on the tush.  She isn’t very handy with it and often ends up swatting herself on the tush, but Speed is well aware of the fact that it is there and he has decided she gets to be the boss again.

I was packing buckets from the granary to the feed box in the horse barn.  The WC was just doing her thing, riding around, bossing the dogs, bossing me.  She came loping by me and turned for the gate.  The ground is slick around here with the frost leaving and the increasing temps.  Poor Speed’s legs just went sliding out from under him and down they went, both of them.  Speed went down flat on his side and the WC landed out beside him.

She was mad.  She thought Speed was just being ornery.  I picked her up and sat her on a feed bucket to make sure she was okay, and to explain that Speed had slipped and fell.  You could tell he felt so bad.  He came over to her and nuzzled her hair, both apologizing and making sure she was okay I think.  That alleviated her anger a tish, until he then realized she was sitting on a bucket of pellets and tried to use his nose to push her off the bucket to get to the feed.  It made us both laugh.  Both she and Speed came away completely unharmed.  Thank heavens.  She got back on and thought she better go check the drop bunch.  Good girl.

Until next time… JARW

Emergency

I saddle Speed, the Wild Child’s trusty mount, in the mornings while doing barn chores.  She likes to ride around while everyone else is working.  Don’t blame her.  While the barn chores are being done the Wild Child usually goes out and checks the drop bunch (the heifers and cows getting close to calving).  A couple of mornings ago I stood on the top of the hill while she rode down through the bunch to see what was going on.

IMG_3014She rode through the bunch and came loping back up the hill.  “Mom.  Number 9-7-3 is going to have a calf and I mean today.”  I asked how she knew for sure and she told me that her “waterbag had burst and there was a baby hoof sticking out.”  Yep — pretty good signs all right.  So I yelled in at Pine, who was in the corral, that the WC was going to need some help bringing up a cow.  He was already heading to saddle his horse.

The WC and I walked (her on Speed and me on foot) down to find Miss 973 again to get her headed to the corral.  Of course she was in the far corner.  We found her, got her headed towards the barn, and were making our way through the big bunch of cows and heifers on the feed ground.  The picture above was when there were only heifers in the drop bunch.  Now there are about 150 head in the lot that you have to negotiate through.  While navigating through a big bunch the Wild Child says “Look out girls!  We have an emergency!”  She was serious as could be and was a little put out that I couldn’t stop laughing.  IMG_2920

We got the cow to the barn, calf was born, and all was well in our world.

We continue to hope for sunshine and blue skies in our world.  Until next time… JARW

Pull Your Slack

Pull Your SlackThere have been several things that have made me chuckle over the past couple of weeks.  Finally, after a lot of REALLY cold nights and trying to save calves ears with ear savers, we got a break in the weather.  The sun came out.  The sky went from the daily gray and overcast to blue and sunshiny.  It was glorious.  BUT– all those calves that we didn’t tag when it was so cold, had to now be paired up and tagged.  For all those not in agriculture, we didn’t tag them when it was so cold because that would be too much trauma on those cold ears.  Without the ear savers many of the ears would have frozen and caused the calves to potentially lose part of their ears.  The cold itself is hard enough on those young calf ears, much less than sticking a tag through them.

Tagging1.jpgIMG_3033The temps rose, the sun was shining, the water was running, the mud was deep… all the makings for an entertaining morning and afternoon watching Pine and Trent tag calves.  The guys warmed up their swinging arms and we headed out.  I was the tag runner so just had to pull the tag that matched the calf they had, and then slop through the mud to take that tag to them to put in the calf’s ear.

IMG_3036Roping a calf on foot is challenging as you aren’t up above them like you are when you are roping off of a horse.  You are usually trying to rope a calf out of a bunch, like above.  You are at a completely different angle so the easiest way is to get the calf to run by you and rope him then, rather than trying to rope him running straight away from you.  The “best” thing about trying to ground rope calves is that they like to dash and dart, run behind their mommas, switch back, etc.  It is definitely more fun to be the laugh-er than the laugh-ee.  In fact, Trent said “Mom!  I hate that you are standing there with your camera and laughing.  I just know you will put something on your website like, ‘There is Trent missing his 47th calf’ or something like that.”  

Tagging

Now Trent.  Just because I got a good chuckle out of things, I would never sell you out and put how many calves you missed…especially if you paid me a small fee.  (wicked laugh)  And, I only yelled “Jerk your slack” one time.  Little did I know, he had thrown all his rope just to reach out there far enough to catch the little bugger.  There was no slack left to jerk.  He did catch him though, so it was easier to run him down and grab the rope.IMG_3043

All in all, it was a great afternoon.  IMG_3029All the tagging got caught up.  There were lots of laughs, just a little cussing, lots of mud, and we soaked up lots of heaven-sent sunshine.

Tagging1.jpgUntil next time… JARW

Frozen

The Wild Child’s heifer was hand-picked by her dad.  He liked this little Juneau bred heifer and thought she would be a perfect fit for the Wild Child.  She was tagged KJ2 and branded.  I thought KJ2 was a great name, but what do moms know.  We ended up having a naming contest on our facebook page and the heifer had a new name— Frozen. IMG_2181Then the wait began.

“How many days until Frozen has her baby, Dad?”

“I thought Frozen was going to have her baby in two weeks!  Hasn’t it been two weeks yet?”

“I wish Frozen would hurry and have her baby.  She is having a boy.  I’m sure he will love me!”

“Mom!  Did you see if Frozen had her baby when you were checking last night?”

“Trent!  Make sure you check Frozen and get her in the barn tonight if she decides to have her baby.”

IMG_3056And on.  And on.  And on.  Needless to say, we were all happy when Frozen calved and there was a spunky, healthy little bull calf that the Wild Child could OOHHH and AAHHH over.  Oohh and aahh she did, too.  Then it was a steady stream of “Can we go to the barn and check Baby Blossom?”  Yes… Baby Blossom.  Her dad told her she was going to scar him for life, but Granny had thought she should name her heifer Blossom so she did the second best thing and gave that name to her calf.  Poor little boy have to grow up being called Baby Blossom.

Baby Blossom now has two mommas.  The WC’s Uncle Matt had a heifer that calved right after Frozen.  The other heifer lost her calf so we stuck her in with Frozen to let them both mother BB.  She is a great little heifer, too, so we want to make sure she stays in the herd.  Letting both heifers mother this calf keeps them both milking and teaches them both to be mommas.  

Baby Blossom is now out running around enjoying life and the warmer weather.  Will try to snap a picture of him.

Until next time… JARW

Blessed

Value of a Moment (3)Sometimes I think people, as a whole, tend to forget how blessed they really are.  I know I do.  I have days where I think my world might be imploding around me, especially while looking at the mud and barn grime that is tracked into my house, the toys in the living room that didn’t get picked up the night before, the drainer full of dishes needing put away, the meat thawing on the counter waiting for me to cook a meal, the clothes in the basket waiting to be folded because whomever used the dryer most recently just threw everything in the closest basket instead of folding it.  It all can be quite overwhelming if I let it.  However, most of the time (NOT all the time… MOST of the time), I choose to be happy and count my blessings.

As most of you know, we are a mixed family.  We have mine, his, and ours.  The song “Bless The Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts truly fits us.  While our failed first relationships were heartbreaking, we truly are blessed that those failures led us to where we are today.  Now with the “ours”– the Wild Child, I find I am able to take more time to really appreciate the blessings.  When “mine” were little I was overwhelmed with trying to survive, raise my kids, support my family, etc.  I missed so much.  It saddens me every time I think about it.  I vowed not to miss that stuff with the Wild Child.

Slowing down to not miss out on the Wild Child’s growing has allowed me to be more aware of how many blessings I truly have.  My faith, my husband, my children, my health, my family, my way of life… the list goes on and on.  I also try harder to capture those blessings with my camera.  It helps me to be aware, and it helps those I capture “remember”.  I live in a place that shows me glimpses of heaven every single day.  I see the most glorious sunrises and sunsets.  I see new babies being born.  I see heifers becoming new mommas for the first time and see the wonder in their eyes with the miracle that just happened.  I get to see the wonder in the Wild Child’s eyes with these same sights.  I see the miraculous forgiving earth that one day is cracked and brittle with drought, and the next day trying to shoot up new grass spears with even the slightest bit of moisture.  I see wild flowers that grow out of rocks.  I got to witness not only my kids’ first steps and first words, but also first time barefoot in the grass, first time on the back of a horse, first time riding alone, first time swinging a rope, first time dribbling a basketball, first time shooting a takedown, first time losing a match and first time winning, the first time taking care of an animal, first time pulling a calf, first time holding a pitchfork, first time cleaning a stall.  The list goes on and on.  And yes, —  even the work is a blessing.

So on this glorious spring day (it is 51 degrees here and the sun is shining!!), I challenge you to remember your blessings, notice your blessings, and be thankful for your blessings.  GOD is GREAT.

Until next time… JARW

 

Bait

BaitWe all have them– cows that are good mothers, but can be extremely nasty when they first have their calf.  Take hell bitch #545.  She needed to be gone, LONG gone, for a couple of years.  I can laugh about her now, but didn’t laugh quite so much for two years, and then sent several emails and made a couple of calls to Karen at the south ranch to make sure they were looking out for her when she calved.

Hell Bitch #545 first earned her name in the middle of the night four years ago.  I went down to check cows in the middle of the night, and as is my usual pattern, stopped at the top of the hill while opening the gate and did a quick flashlight shine around the corral to see what was waiting for me.  I saw a cow standing way down in the corner that looked suspicious, but had a lot to check between the top of the hill and her.  While working my way through the herd, I was sure my flashlight glassed over some little eyes down below.  There stood #545 (she hadn’t earned her nickname yet) down in the corner of the corral with a new calf lying half way under the gate to the arena.  It was very fresh, covered with membranes and hadn’t been up, so I walked into the barn to get some baling twine.  A piece of baling twine hooked over a calf leg makes simple work of dragging a wet calf into the barn, plus gives you a little breathing room between you and the snot-blowing, bellering cow trailing behind.

I stepped out of the barn and headed for the corner and she was on a mission to meet me at least half-way.  I went back to the barn and grabbed my weapon of choice– an old cane that the bottom has broken off of, but has had the splinters duct taped back together to make it strong again.  This has just enough reach to tap those mommas on the nose if you need a little breathing room.  I headed back out with my cane and here she came again, anxious to meet me in the middle of the corral.  It was then that I made the executive decision to call for backup.  Smart move.

I went to my in-laws house (it is closest to the barn) and called Pine to let him know he needed to come to the corral.  Then, as it was a fairly nice night and I was way too overdressed to be in the house and way to lazy to take off some layers, I settled on the front step to wait for Pine.  My goodness men can be slow sometimes, especially when you are sitting on the front step on a nice, but still nippy, spring night waiting for some backup against a potentially mean cow.  It seemed like forever, but in reality was only about 10 minutes, before he came walking across the yard.  “Is she on the fight?” he asked.

“Well, not really” I explained.  “I just don’t think she is bluffing.”  I could see the subtle eye roll portraying the ‘seriously! You got me out of bed for this’ look.  It was then that I started sending up just the tiniest, minute, half-hearted prayer for #545 to show her stuff and send my eye-rolling husband up the fence JUST ONCE to prove to him that I wasn’t just being a wimp.  I knew GOD was always listening, but who knew how well he was listening in the middle of the night, out in the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of a calving lot!

Mr. Cocky said “I’ll go get the calf if you set up the panels to wing the cow into the barn.”  No problem.  With confidence and a touch of swagger (honestly– you had to see it– he seriously thought I was just being a chicken), he made a beeline for the calf in the corner of the corral.  Don’t know what #545 was watching– me I guess– as she didn’t notice him until he was just getting to her calf.  Then the fun started.  She ran him up the arena gate, and I guess she didn’t take to well to me laughing hysterically as she blew out of the corner, around the panel I had just set up, and ran me up the panel.  Things weren’t quite so funny anymore.  The panel I was on was hooked (with the top hook only) to a panel that we swing out of the barn.  The panel in the barn is not really “hooked” to anything– just tied on the corner.  These panels aren’t meant to be a safe haven, they only provide a wing off of the barn to help get the cows and heifers in.

“Keep her there and I’ll get the calf” he yelled!  Keep her here?  Seriously?  She was trying to kill me!  I was on top of a panel balancing on one corner and trying to protect myself with my cane.  The cane that always seemed just long enough, but all of a sudden wasn’t quite long enough as it was allowing her to knock into me and my panels in between swings.  Pine had the calf and was running for the barn.  I was yelling, screaming, and swinging at the cow.  She finally turned and ran away from me, then she headed back down to the corner bellering in search for her calf.

“Here she comes” I called in warning, and into the barn she blew with me slamming the shed door shut behind her.  Cussing, more cussing, panels ringing, more cussing.  I didn’t dare open the door.  We didn’t dare take the chance of her getting out.  Then Pine yelled at me from close to the door and told me to open the walk-through door; he was going to make a run for it.  Out he came, cow close behind slamming into the door and he jerked it shut.  We made it.  On the walk back to the house he confessed that she ran him up the panels three times before he just climbed from jockey pen to jockey pen until he got close to a door.  My humor was light and I started laughing, then had to confess I had sent up just the smallest of small prayers asking for that just so he didn’t think I was being a wimp.

The next year the weather was beautiful and some of the cows were calving out in the pasture.  Pine and I would go out every morning while Papa was feeding and tag and vaccinate calves.  One morning I reminded him that if I wasn’t along and he came up on Hell Bitch #545 to remember— SHE ISN’T BLUFFING.  He hadn’t remembered.  Silly man.  She was first cow we came upon that morning with a new calf.  We stopped well back from her and loaded syringes and tagging pliers.  “You don’t stop” I said.  “Grab that calf and keep driving.”  (We were in our Mule, which is the best thing ever for fencing, putting out mineral, and even occasionally tagging calves.)  We pulled up beside the calf and Pine jerked it in the seat and took off.  Hell Bitch #545 followed hitting the mule.  We got the calf tagged and vaccinated, and dumped him out the side.  Ugh.

She was always fine after a few days and raised nice calves.  You just had to watch her right after she calved.  Last year she was at the south place.  As above, I warned Fred and Karen to be on the lookout.  She finally bought herself a one-way ticket out of paradise by stomping her calf in the jug while trying to get to Fred in the other part of the barn.  Hell Bitch #545 is no more.  Thank heavens.

Until next time— JARW

No Maternal Instinct

IMG_2915Baby it’s cold outside…  and that is with 17 pounds of extra clothes and boots, not to mention the extra padding I always carry around.  Now imagine being a newborn, wet, shivering, frost in the air, negative 30 degree temperatures, and a mom who doesn’t want to own you.  This was the name of the game last night.  Pictured above is a calf with some ear savers on.  It has been so cold that if we didn’t put these on the calves they risk the chance of freezing their ears.

Pine came in from pulling a little bull calf around 6:30 p.m. last night.  He was going to eat some supper and try to catch a shower so I ran down at 7:15 to make sure the calf was up and the heifer was owning him.  No such luck on either front.  The heifer was in the opposite end of the alley turned away from the calf, and the poor baby hadn’t been licked off, been up, or had any warm food in his belly.  I walked in the pen and headed the heifer down to the calf to watch what happened.  Nothing.  She didn’t even acknowledge him.  So I got to work getting him up and trying to dry him off a bit.  

Then the battle started.  I would get him up; she would knock him down.  I would get him up; she would knock him down.  Nasty momma.  She wasn’t mean to me, just didn’t want anything to do with her calf and didn’t want him in her pen.  So went the battle between this ornery ranch wife and that ornery heifer.  Stand him up, knock him down.  Stand him up, knock him down.  Ugh. 

I ran to the house to get a bottle of colostrum to get this poor baby some nutrients and some warmth.  He was hungry, cold, and wanting to eat and sucked down the bottle.  No tubing required.  He was warmed up and still hungry, trying to get to the heifer to eat some more.  I stood back and watched as he would struggle to his feet, make his way through the deep straw to find his momma, only to be knocked down and roughed around.  I decided to give them some distance in hopes that she would come around.  I went back to the barn about 45 minutes later and there they were just like I had found them the first time… him lying at one end of the alley and her lying at the other end.  This baby needed some warmth and drying time.

I ran and got the calf sled, loaded him up, and hauled him to the other barn to spend some time in the calf warmer.  By this time it was about 10:00 p.m., but the calf had some colostrum in him and was loving the warmth of the calf warmer.  After some time in the calf warmer, Trent took him back to his momma during one of his night checks.  We have gotten a couple more feedings in him, and at this point we are going to get a halter on the heifer, tie her up tight, and see if we can get the calf sucking her.  Wish us luck.  

Until next time… JARW

TLC

This baby needed some extra TLC over a few days.  He spent the better part of 12 hours in the entry getting extra heat, regular feedings, and some lullabies from the Wild Child.  He finally was deemed well enough to go to the barn.  The WC and I checked on him a couple of times in the afternoon, had him up and walking around, etc.  He still was struggling to suck a bottle, but we were getting milk in him via tube feedings.  Late yesterday morning he gave up.  We found him down flat and couldn’t get him going again.  It was a sad morning.

IMG_2961A few nights ago, my night checks started with getting a calf out of the hot box and trying to get some colostrum in him.  The calf hadn’t been up to suck yet and got a little chilly so Trent got him in the hot box to warm him up.  I went down to try to get some food in his belly as Trent headed home to get some sleep before coming back to help with morning chores.

For those not in agriculture, calves do not get any antibodies or immunity through the placenta before birth, thus these antibodies must be ingested as soon as possible after birth– optimally within the first few hours of life.  The colostrum is the first milk from the mother and contains the necessary antibodies.  If the calf doesn’t get up to suck we make sure that he gets a bottle of colostrum to get him on the road to good health.  Often this blast of warm milk in his belly stimulates the calf enough to get up and get going. Bottle FeedingWe always try to get the calf to suck the bottle first, but often we can’t get his suck reflex going right away. When this happens we tube the calf.  We pour the milk from the bottle into the container that is lying down in this picture.  We attach the tube and put it down the calf’s throat.  The milk is then tubed into the calf’s stomach.  So was the start of that calf’s feedings.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Until next time… JARW