Moving Day

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Perfect day for moving heifers on my favorite sorrel gelding. It’s a slow process. Takes time for these first-time mamas to gather up their calf and join the others trailing by them. Inevitably, a calf will fall behind and it takes the heifer a couple of minutes to notice her calf isn’t right beside her. She turns around looking for her calf and the calf is sniffing every heifer he comes across, checking to see if she is his mama.
Soon they find each other and once again join the trailing cattle–only to repeat this process every fifty yards!

Coyotes & Calving

It’s calving time! Baby calves everywhere. It’s one of the most rewarding times on the ranch, but it is also an increase in our work load. We check heifers several times throughout the day and for the most part all is well with the heifers and the baby calves. Yesterday was an exception to that.

My husband was riding through the heifers and came across a heifer with a brand-new calf, but the calf wasn’t standing up yet. A calf that’s standing up and moving around will warm himself up and quickly start looking for milk. So, when my husband saw that this brand-new calf wasn’t standing, he got off his horse with the intention of lifting up the calf and standing it on it’s feet. What he found however, was that a coyote had found the calf first. Typically when a coyote finds a newborn calf, they kill the calf. Surprisingly this calf only had wounds on it’s leg. Big, gaping, nasty wounds, but they didn’t look fatal.

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My husband came back to the house at a high trot. He came into the house and went straight to the phone to call the vet. Walking to the phone, he asked if the kids’ homework was done and could I please help him? After checking with the vet to see if he would wait after hours to help this calf, my husband jumped in the gator, I climbed on the horse and we set out to save this calf.

We were concerned that time was working against us. The calf was bleeding and we weren’t sure if the calf had gotten up to nurse from her mother before the coyote struck. We needed to get the calf to the vet and then back to her mama as quickly as possible. My husband put the calf in the gator and wasted no time turning around and driving the three miles back to the ranch. After transferring the calf to his pickup, he set out for the vet. I trailed the heifer back to the ranch and got her set up in a corral pen with hay and water.

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The vet determined that the coyote hadn’t damaged anything vital on the calf, so he stitched her up and placed a drain tube in the wound. After giving her a shot of antibiotics, he sent the calf and my husband home.

The calf needs a couple more days of antibiotics and we will remove the drain tube in a week, but so far she is doing great! She is walking around, nursing and showing no sign of infection. Success!

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Coyotes. I understand how the food chain works and coyotes need to eat, too. I can even understand how some people consider them a beautiful animal and I realize they are a necessary part of our ecosystem. But, when it is a choice between a coyote and one of our animals, we will do all within our power to protect our animals. Every time.

Rain

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So thankful for the rain over the weekend. The kids spent hours playing outside. Only coming in when mom insisted they needed to dry out.

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My husband and I checked heifers, enjoying the mud we had to slog through to look at all of them. A couple of new baby calves were up and eating. A great sign, especially in the damp weather!

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The forecast warns me to expect rain or snow all week. We shall see; but for today I am content to hang wet coats out to dry and tromp through mud to check baby calves.

Drought

Water. It’s easy to take it for granted. Easy to forget how much we rely on it every single day. Easy to forget the ripple effect water has on our daily lives. Drinking water, bathing water, stock water, crop water, recreational water…

The drought in the western US is taking a heavy toll. My husband and I are faced difficult business decisions. Can we afford to buy more feed for the cows? Can we find grass elsewhere for them? Is our only choice to sell them?

Selling cows is our absolute last choice…if we can avoid it. We have invested years of hard work and resources into the genetics of our cowherd, focusing on moderate sized cattle that produce consistent carcass quality. To sell those cows and walk away from our genetics program would be heartbreaking.

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We are trying to keep things in perspective. Remind ourselves that our fathers and grandfathers faced their fair share of catastrophes. We, too, will find a way to make the best management decisions possible.

This is the life we choose to live–the good years and the tough years. In the good years, we thank the good Lord for all that we are given. In the tough years, we thank the good Lord for all that we are given. And we ask Him for rain.

Christmas Wrap-Up

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was a whirlwind of hastily discarded gift wrap, steaming coffee, sweet and sticky cinnamon rolls, outside chores, family board games, hauling protein supplement to the old cows, prime rib dinner and at the end of the day a delightfully early bedtime.

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It was back to work yesterday. We saddled horses and moved the heifers to a new field. Kids were excited to use some of the new cowboy gear they received for Christmas.

I was excited to get a photo with all four of these hooligans and not one pouty face to be found. This may seem like a small thing to you, but let me assure you this is a Christmas Miracle for our family this year!

‘Tis The Season

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It’s that most wonderful (and crazy) time of year. In addition to the shopping, wrapping, baking, singing, decorating, traveling, eating and general chaos associated with the Christmas season, we have been busy on the ranch as well. Shipping calves, bringing cattle to our winter country, fall calving heifers, feeding, hauling protein supplement to the cattle and checking water. (Let’s not even mention the basketball games, orthodontist appointments and Christmas programs that we schedule everything else around!)

With all of this busyness I find myself enjoying our ranch work more than ever. It forces me to slow down and focus on the moment.

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The kids and I have spent many hours moving cattle and hauling out protein supplement this winter. The cows come running when they see us drive through the gate with the supplement.

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I swear it is just a big ol’ box of bovine candy. They’re exactly like my kids: I can hear all of them them nagging, begging, asking for more candy!

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These Bovi Boxes help balance the cattle’s nutrient requirements throughout the winter. They do not get all of the nutrients they need from the dry grass and hay that is their winter feed. So, throughout the winter months, we take this protein supplement out to each group of cattle typically once a week–more often for the heifers that will start calving in a month.

It may not be chock full of sugar like those candy canes my kids eat throughout the Christmas season, but neither cows nor kids seem to get enough of their favorite treats!

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