Posts Tagged ‘cattle’

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!”

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This is Maggie. 

Maggie is a good horse.  She is the kind of horse we call a ‘babysitter’.

And Maggie is worth her weight in gold.

We bought Maggie about 11 years ago for our youngest son, Morgan, when he was 8 years old.

Maggie has put up with a lot (to say the least).

Maggie more than paid for herself the first time we took her for a ride.  It was a beautiful evening as we trailed through the hills, following the valleys behind our house.  My baby had been on horseback before but had never had a horse of his own so we kept it slow and easy.   As we rode, we surprised a couple of bull elk who watched us for a moment before disappearing into the timber.  It had been a good summer and the grass was high and thick so when Maggie suddenly stopped in her tracks I wasn’t sure what the problem was.  Even though the small boy on her back kicked and cussed she stood perfectly still, refusing to move.  So I stepped off my horse and walked over to see what was wrong.  I was amazed to find that all 4 of her feet were tangled in a twisted piece of woven wire. 

Most horses would have shieded, some would have blown up but Maggie calmly stood there as I untangled her, letting me pick up her feet one at a time she waited patiently for me to pull the wire from the tall grass. 

As I lead her away I hugged her neck, scratched her ears and thanked her for taking care of my baby.  When we got back to the house Maggie got an extra ration of oats. 

It’s a rare gift to find a horse you can trust like that.

Maggie has always taken care of my babies.  She loves kids, women and oatmeal cookies but doesn’t really like to carry heavy men unless she has to.  She allows kids to crawl under her belly or slide off the back of her rump and will load herself into a horse trailer if you leave the door open, but don’t ever ride a horse too close behind her as she will sometimes kick. 

Here’s Maggie and her favorite kid all grown up.

Maggie likes to work calves.

She doesn’t mind when the rope hits her.

And she’s good at her job. 

She even looks pretty spiffy for her age.

She even goes to the mountains hunting.

Got elk?

You just got to love a good horse!

And we love this one – she’s our little Mag-pie.




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It’s cold…  There’s snow…  The wind blows and it’s even colder…  but the girls still need to be fed.

There goes my hubby.  Believe it or not, that’s my anniversary gift he’s driving.  It’s not every girl who gets a backhoe for her anniversary. 

Sorry girls – he’s taken.

Hubby loads up two large round bales – at just over 1000# each that’s a ton of hay.  No wonder our girls are so fat and sassy. 

(Don’t tell them I said that).

Come and get it!!! 

Here they come.  You can’t see it very well but those girls are moving fast.  They know, and love the sound of the backhoe.  They live for the sound of the backhoe. 

I said it before – I’ll say it again – I’m a lucky girl.  Just look at that cute little garden tractor my hubby got me.  Someday I’ll show you a picture of the big one – another anniversary gift.  Dare I say it again? 

I’m a lucky, lucky girl! 

You can haul compost on one end and till a new flower bed with the other (don’t laugh – we’ve done that).  And look – it’s my favorite color. 

I’m sure he did that on purpose.

Awwwwww… gardening with a backhoe.

But back to cattle – Dan hauls the hay out to the feed yard, which just happens to be on one of the fields today.  Once he drops the bales he uses the hoe to unroll them a bit so the girls don’t have to work so hard pulling them apart.

They’re so excited. 

“We just loove hay!!!” 

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