Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘calves’

I love my job.

I work for the US Department of Agriculture and I love my job not just because they pay me and I get cool benefits like paid vacation and health insurance (which I really like) but the main thing I like about my job is that I get to visit with ranchers every day.

Ranchers come in all styles and shapes.

There are lady ranchers who are tougher and smarter than any one I’ve ever met,

little old cowboy ranchers who might be 80 years old but they’re still out there when the work needs to be done,

gussy-up’d ranchers with silverbelly hats, polished boots and shiny belt buckles

and ranchers straight off the ranch with mud and manure encrusted coveralls and 4 buckle overshoes.

Ranchers are honest, hardworking people who will give you the shirt off their back – they are good people!

Last week a rancher came in.  He really didn’t have any ‘business’ reason to come see us but just wanted to catch up and see how we were wintering.  We got to talking about a woman we all know and the tough times she’d been going through.  Even though this gal has been struggling lately, she is the type that never gives up and she knows how to get things done.  As we sat and visited at one point the rancher looked at me and said:

“She was twistin’ tail!”

“Say what?”

Now, unless you’ve worked cattle you may not understand this statement or that it is a complement.  It sounds more like something you could get arrested for at Sturgis during the motorcycle rally, but it’s not.

Twistin’ tail is what you do when your moving cattle through alleyways or chutes.  It is a delicate (Not!) maneuver that can get you kicked big time.  The first thing you need to know is you can’t do it half way – jump in with determination and no fear or don’t even attempt it.  You come up behind a calf (always practise this with calves before attempting it with full-grown cows), press your body hard against the backend, grab hold of the tail and twist it up into a furry, manure caked corkscrew and then push for all your worth.

Now when you first do this you will learn several things very quickly:

1.  You will get kicked, so stay close to the calf.  The closer you are – the less it hurts.  When your right up there ‘in their business’, so to speak, they just can’t get the right momentum to give you a good swift kick in the knee cap.  If your backed off from them, even just a little, they can reach right up with their back hooves, kick you in the jaw and drop you to the ground.

2.  Cattle, in general, have no pity.  If they see you go down they will  turn on a dime and run over the top of you to get as far away from the chute as possible.  They will even laugh at you as you wallow around in a foot of mud – they are mean that way.

3.  And finally –  sooner or later what goes into a calf must come out.  Never wear good clothes or new gloves for this and above all do not tuck your pants into your boots – take my word for this.  By the time you perfect this maneuver you will have manure down the front of you, in your face, in  your hair and down your pants. 

One word of warning – if the back-end of the calf is already covered with a slimy, yellowish substance known as scours (or diarrhea) do not attempt to twist that tail.  Use a whip, sorting stick or hot-shot to keep at least 5 feet of distance between you and the backend of that calf – take my word for this too.

“I’m out of here – I like my tail just the way it is – thank you very much!”

I challenge you to use this quote today.  Just see how many times you can work it into a conversation with your hair dresser, lawyer, priest, dentist or just the nice old lady who lives next door.  I guarantee they will either be impressed with your way with words or just walk away with a troubled look on their face.  

Either way you’ll get a good chuckle out of it.

 

“Humans are so weird!”

Read Full Post »

There were 6 seed catalogs in the mail yesterday – can you believe it?  6 of them!!!  And each one chock full of every new weird and wonderful garden seed you can imagine.  There are peppers every color of the rainbow, gourds that look like snakes and my all time favorite – pumpkins the size of Volkswagens!  And Sweet Corn – did I mention I love Sweet Corn?  And tomatoes, and peas, and squash, and lettuce, and cucumbers, and beets, and turnips, and onions, and beans, and eggplant, and okra which I don’t know how to cook but I grow anyway just because of the beautiful flowers.  I love seed catalogs – know why?

Is it because I love to garden?  No.

Is it because I love the smell of black dirt in the morning?  No.

Is it because this year I know my garden will look like the International Peace Gardens and weeds will not dare to sprout beneath my feet? 

 No.  I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

Is it because there were 6 seed catalogs and no bills  in the mailbox so I’m secretly wondering if we got someone elses mail instead of our own? 

No, No, NO!!!  It’s because…  It has to be…  It must be my favorite time of year – its spring!!!

Time to dust off and crank up the Troy Built Workhorse rototiller.  Time to clean all the stuff out of the garden shed and lay down the soaker hoses.  Time to stop at every greenhouse at every department store I see.  Time for green grass and tiny spring flowers and flowering bulbs bursting forth from the rich, black soil of the front flowerbed.  Time for baby skunks to be born under the porch step (hey, it happens) and butterflies to flutter passed the windows.  Time for baby calves to fill the pastures and frolic in the wildflowers.

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz – I wonder where the birdies is???

How come I didn’t see it coming.  Spring really snuck up on me this year.  Ha!  I have been busy what with work and all.  Why, it seems like just last week it was Christmas but the seed catalogs are here and that’s enough proof for me.  You know how fast time flies.  You turn around and the whole year has zipped past.  Yep, I’m sure that’s what happened.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  Oh, I hear your sighs of doubt – clear out here in SD I hear them.  You don’t believe in the power of the seed catalog to predict the coming of spring. 

Oh yee of little faith.

No really, it must be.  Seed companies wouldn’t lie, not to me. I’m one of their best customers.  They’ve been in business for hundreds of years – they know things that your every day ‘hoe-hum’ gardener doesn’t.   They are the holy grail of the soil and compost world.  They wouldn’t lead me on by sending me glossy catalogs filled with full-color, close up shots of flowers that are so beautiful you can almost smell them if it wasn’t time to garden.  Would they? 

Would they???

That would be rude, crude and socially unacceptable.

But just to satisfy you and not because I don’t trust them, I will go to the window and check it out –  just to make you happy…

 

 Oh dear…  It doesn’t look to good to the East.

To the North?  Well, there’s my garden tractor getting buried with snow.

West?  The greenhouse is just a shell of its former self.  How about South?

 

It’s not looking good here either.  And what about the front flowerbed?

 

So much for the tiny spring flowers and bulbs bursting forth from the rich, black soil.

Seed companies – you should be ashamed of yourselves!

 

Read Full Post »

I’ll bet you’re wondering if I’ll ever get around to talking about ranching – aren’t you?

Well here goes.

This is winter – so there isn’t much that goes on around here except feeding cattle, horses and every other manner of animal that lives here (including us).  It can be exciting but how about some photos of working cattle from summertime instead?

These are cowboys.  Some are fast…  Some are slow… 

The fast ones usually last longer.  The slow ones end up bruised and hurting.

This is my honey.  He’s moving the branding irons around so they get nice and hot.  That’s my Dad running the gate and a neighbor checking the ear tags.  We use either a tag in the ear or one in the brisket (under their neck) to help identify our cattle.  There are also ear tags that are treated with pesticides to keep the flies away from the cattle.

Here’s some of our babies waiting for their turn.  I’ve often wondered what’s going through their minds.

“What are they doing?  Can I go first?  Do I really want to go first?  Where’s my Mom?  How do I get out of this chicken outfit?”

This is Butch – my husband’s cousin. 

“OK little guy – your turn.”

  “But I don’t want to go!”

Holy buckets of milk replacer, Batman!!!

Where did all these cowboys come from?

This way of working calves is called ‘Dragging ’em’.  You use a rope and a horse to drag them out of the pen (even though occasionally they will run you over on their way out) and to the waiting cowboys who flank them (you reach over the top of the calf, grab him by the flank right in front of their back leg and lift them off their feet and roll them over onto their sides).  Sounds easy – I usually don’t do this as most of the calves out weigh me. 

Here, Butch is waiting for Kyle (it’s good to have big friends) to untie his rope so he can go get another calf.  Slade ( the muscular kid on the left) is holding the back legs of the calf – can be a messy job take the other end if at all possible.  Richard (in the middle) is getting ready to castrate the little guy – another messy job.  DJ (our oldest son in the chaps) is holding down the head of the calf (this end usually makes lots of noise but little else).  John (another neighbor) is moving in to give a shot and here comes Hubby with a hot branding iron. 

It’s a well-oiled machine.

Here comes Grandpa Bud with the ear tags.  It only takes about 3-5 minutes per calf if everything goes right. 

Sometimes it doesn’t…

Here’s the little one that got away before he got his shot.

But we always get them – sooner or later and pretty soon everybody’s back with mama.  Then it’s time to put things away and head to the house for lunch.

It’s good to have lots of help.

Can you tell – we’ve started a little remodel job on the house?

Thank goodness the house doesn’t look like this anymore.  It’s amazing what a little sheet rock can do .

Branding day is a big event with lots of neigbors, friends and food.  And it’s a great time to check out all the sweet new babies running around the place.

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts