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Posts Tagged ‘cows’

We branded last weekend and it was good.  Of course it took me almost a week to find my camera again so that’s what took me so long to add this post.  It was in the pocket of an old coat along with a dozen nasty old ear tags.  I imagine some women find nice things like pretty gloves, scarves and even cash in their coat pockets – not me.  I have grubby ear tags and used surgical gloves for handling fly tags.  Oh well, that’s a small price to pay to get to see these little guys every spring.

This little guy was born just in time to get branded.  Can you see how excited he is?  Just look at that face, he has got to be a bull calf.

Everyone showed up for the fun and games.  Here’s Hubby with Dani & Dalton’s new puppy – Cleo.  She’s a cutie.  Everyone loves to help with branding.  Dalton & Dani came from up by Belle Fourche, Morgan came with 2 of his friends – Matt and Derek, and our neighbors John and Ellen stopped by too.  It’s a lot of fun!!!

Of course, this side of the family wasn’t near as impressed as the rest of us. 

But it was a day for puppies.  Along with Cleo we also had Turbo who is Matt’s puppy.  Cleo is a full blood Blue Heeler and Turbo (bless his cute little puppy heart) is a Heeler/Corgi cross.  There’s just something about those short-legged dogs.  I love them! 

That’s it – I’m going to have to steal one of these puppies.

That’s Dani (our favorite daughter-in-law) on Hubby’s new horse Smokey and Morgan (my baby) running the gate.  We were sorting off the cows so we could push the new yearlings in first.

Every time we work cattle we seem to draw an audience.  The older dogs – Casey and Steve watched at the gate, ready to jump in and help if someone needed them.  It may not look like it but both those dogs can squirt under that gate in a flash if they have to.  Although Steve doesn’t have to duck quite as far as Casey.

After the yearlings we did break for lunch – Honey glazed ham, baked potatoes, Grandma’s famous baked bean recipe, deviled eggs, Ramen noodle salad, tossed salad (lettuce and spinach from my garden), fresh pineapple (not from my garden), home-made bread, pickles and lots of desserts – carmel rolls, cheesecake, chocolate pie, Ellen’s banana cake and chocolate chip cookies.  Yum – Yum!

Then it was back to work.  That’s Dalton looking like he doesn’t want to get too close to that cow along with our neighbor John who ran the squeeze chute.  We gave the cows a shot to help the calves that are nursing stay healthy, and a dose of stuff on their backs to help control flies and parasites and basically just said “Hi.  How are you?”

Then we worked the calves.

The boys have developed a routine over the years.  Dalton worked at the head giving implants and checking for horns, while Morgan did the cutting (castrating).  Matt had to leave early but Derek helped push in calves and hold them down.  Derek’s a big kid and a football player.  This training serves him well when it comes to working cattle.  Those calves didn’t stand a chance.  John kept the branding irons hot while Dani, Ellen and I took care of ear tags, shots and record keeping.

I love watching our boys brand.  I remember all those years when they were too little to help and were forced to watch it all from the bed of the pickup.  I bet they would tell you this is much more fun.

Once we’re done with the calves we turn them out to go find their Mama’s who usually are right there bawling for their babies.  Can’t you just imagine what he’s telling his mother?  “Mom, where are you?  I don’t ever want to go back there again.  Mom, are all humans weird?  You’ll never believe what they did to me.  Mom, why do I have earrings?”

The last thing we did was to brand the new horse.  This is something that we don’t do very often.  Most horses are branded when they are young (and easier to handle).  First  Derek and Hubby tied him to the corral.  Smokey should have known something was going on then.

And when they covered his head with the black coat he should have ‘run like the wind’.  But he’s a good horse and he took it like a man.  At least until the red-hot brand touched his hide.  Then he let us know he wasn’t pleased.  You can’t blame him – I would have been pretty ticked off too.

To show his displeasure with the whole thing he did his best to tear the corral apart and managed to break a couple of the old logs before it was over.   Thank goodness the iron was hot and Hubby only had to use it once.  I have to admit the new brand on his shoulder really shows up on that grey horse.

But a few soothing words, a couple pats on the back and a nice bucket of oats helped make it all better.  Although the next time you try to throw a black coat over his head I’m betting it won’t work quite so well.

Another successful branding day.

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I love living on a ranch.  Sure, there are tough times when the wind howls and the snow blows for days and you think winter will never end.  But then suddenly, one day it does and the snow melts and the landscape is covered with a thick layer of mud that will suck your vehicle into the ditch faster than you can say “Holy mud-suckers, Batman!” 

But I wouldn’t want to live anywhere els – especially in the spring when you have pastures full of these adorable, sweet, precious babies running around.  Just check out that face – doesn’t he look like a little, mini bull?

 “Howdy.  My name is 53.  I’m named after my momma even though I look more like my good-for-nothin old man.  I like to drink milk and run wild in the pasture with the other claves.  We play hard every night and then sleep all day – curled up like a field full of fuzzy black rocks.  I am suspicious of everything and everybody that shows up and if you get too close I will kick you in the knee caps till you fall to the ground in agony.  Since Dad left us for greener pastures, I’m the man of the family and I won’t let you mess with Mom no matter what you think.  So just get back into your pickup and leave before I bust a cap on you.”

“OK – you think I’m kidding just because I have this ‘cow-lick’ on the top of my nose?  I’m serious – you better just git.”

 

All right, already. I’m going.  Geese!  What a lot of attitude for such a little calf.

Who’s our next baby?

“Yo, Dude…  My name is 45.  Mom and I like to bust down muddy roads, flinging mud and generally causing mayhem.  Sometimes if we just stand here and refuse to move we can force the red pickup to try to drive around us.  Most of the time it gets sucked into the ditch by all this bitchin’ mud and then I learn lots of new sentence-enhancing words from the ranch lady.  You should see the mud fly then!  Hoo-eee!  I love mud!  Mom’s been doing this for years and she never gets tired of it.  It’s totally radical, dude.”

 

And then we have this sweet little lady.

“Greetings.  My name is 23 – even though you can’t read my ear tag because that demented cowboy put it in upside down.  Can you believe it?  Now I look like an idiot just because he got a little flustered when Mother chased him around the 4 wheeled transportation device 3 times and threatened to stomp him into the ground.  Mother means well but she can be a little over zealous at times.  She did get close enough once to blow snot all over his backside so when he finally jumped on the small 4 wheeled vehicle he nearly slid off the other side of the plastic seat – it was very humorous!!!”

“The ranch lady likes to take lots of pictures of me – of course she never steps out of her pickup unless Mother is a looooooong way from us.  The ranch lady is nice but I have to admit she is a little strange.  She calls me her ‘wittle-bitty-milky-chocolate-baby-cow’. ” 

“She appears to have a speech impediment.”

Now, I’m no Doctor Freud but I think she must be suffering from a postpartum psychosis caused by the separation anxiety of the natural growth patterns and subsequent abandonment of her own offspring.  I would really like to get her under hypnosis and delve into her inner psyche  but Mom always says the same thing:   “Don’t waste your time.  Every rancher I ever met was flipping nuts!”   

“I would tend to agree.”

 

And then there’s this little guy.

“Mom!  Have you seen my Mom?  I just woke up and she was gone.  MOM!!!”

 

I love spring!

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Most people think that cattle don’t have a sense of humor and if you’ve ever had one try to run you down and stomp you into the ground you would probably tend to agree with them.  But I know for a fact that cattle like a good laugh as well as we do and believe it or not, I have photographic proof.

Late yesterday afternoon I was sitting at the computer when I happened to look out the window. 

This is what I saw.

I saw cows.

Well, of course I saw cows – but look at these cows.  What has made them stop in their tracks with their heads up, ears forward?  Something has totally caught their attention.  What could it be?  What would make a bunch of cattle stop to gaze in wonder like this – totally enthralled to the point that all eyes were glued to the spectacle before them?

Perhaps it’s the first calf of the season, a new baby born in the beginnings of the next big storm? 

No…  It’s not a baby.

Perhaps there’s a coyote or wolf stalking the herd and the cattle are frozen in fear?

No…  It’s not danger.

Perhaps it’s Hubby with a hay bale and they are waiting to see where he will drop it so they can pounce like a flock of vultures on fresh road kill?

No…  It’s not vultures on road kill.

This is what they were watching.

It’s Hubby in the pickup, but why would they stop and stare?  They’ve seen this pickup hundreds of times.

  They stopped to stare because there are things you can’t see from these photos.

Things like a roaring engine and tires spinning, and mud being flung out behind him because this is spring at the ranch and there is mud under that beautiful white snow that (just for a moment) he forgot was there. 

The cows saw and heard all that – they had a front row seat and although you can’t see it, they are laughing their heads off!  You can’t see that because cows are very good at hiding their laughter but believe me if it wasn’t wet and muddy they would be rolling on the ground unable to control themselves. 

(No, not really but it’s fun to imagine!)

What do you suppose is going through their minds?

“Ha!  Look at that crazy rancher trying to drive across the pasture.”

“What a nut – my feet are sunk 6″ in the mud and he’s out here with the pickup.”

“What was he thinking?”

“Ha, Ha, Ha!  He wasn’t”

“He’s gonna get stuck!!!”

“No way, the snow’s not that deep.”

“Yeh, but it’s the mud underneath that’s gonna get him.”

“Ha, Ha, Ha!”

“No way – he’s got 4-wheel drive.”

“Yeh, just watch, you can really bury a truck deep with 4-wheel drive.” 

“Ha, Ha, Ha!”

“He’ll have to get the loader to pull that one out!”

“Give her Hell, Ranch Boy!!!”

“I bet you a ton of alfalfa cake he’s stuck.”

“Ha, Ha, Ha!”

“As soon as he stops, I’ll race you to the truck!”

“I want to hear what he says!”

“I want to see his face!”

“I want to see what’s in that barrel in the back.”

“He’s got a barrel in the back?!!!”

“Yep, I bet it’s full of cake… or maybe even corn.”

“Corn…”

“No way – we haven’t had corn since we snuck into her garden last year and ate it off the stalks!”

“Dang, that was good.  I’d sure like some more.”

“And maybe some more of those fancy French green beans too.”

“Green Beans…”

“I bet they keep all that stuff in the barrel.”

“Really???”

“Steady girls, he’s still moving.”

“Give it up, Ranch Boy!”

“Come on Mud!!!”

“Darn, he’s back on the road.”

 

“No corn???”

 

“No green beans???”

 

“No way!”

 

“I really, really hate 4-wheel drive.”

 

 

 

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We had a great weekend!!!

I went curling with my sister and this time my Hubby, my Dad and my nephew went with us. 

I know what your thinking – isn’t it sweet that those guys all wanted to come and watch us curl because we’ve obviously gotten so good at curling that the men in our lives are sooooo proud of us and they just know that someday we will be chosen to represent the United States of America on the Olympic Curling team and they wanted and even begged to go with us just so they could show us the love and support we need to help us in our quest for Olympic gold. 

Yeah, right…

That would have been cool but really they just wanted to ride with us so we could drop them off at the Black Hills Stock Show.

Thanks a lot guys for crushing our gold metal curling dreams.

 

Oh well, I really can’t blame them because I wanted to go to the Stock Show too.

If you’ve never been to a Stock Show what are you waiting for?  Make plans now to go to the next one you can. 

Stock shows are full of all kinds of interesting stuff like lots and lots of cute cowboys in tight Wrangler jeans and bunches of beautiful cowgirls all dolled up in fantastic western wear that is ‘all about the bling’ right now.  I’m sorry to say I’m not one of them.  I’m one of the tough old ranchers wives who bought a new pair of jeans (Wrangler cowboy cut) for the occasion and threw on the stretched-out turtle neck shirt (because it’s damn cold outside) and the wool vest (half price last spring at the feed store) and forgot to put on any makeup (Makeup?  Do I actually own any makeup?) or even earrings.  I did tie on a silk scarf to spiff up the outfit a bit but frankly I’m lucky most days if I get my hair combed.  I’ve always been about 15 years behind when it comes to fashion but it’s still fun to check out all the clothes at the venders booths.   And, Boy-Howdy, did they have venders!

Even if you don’t buy a single thing there is so much to see.

For one thing, there’s really big Tonka toys inside the building.

Here’s my sister, our Dad and a brand new loader.  There wasn’t even a tray under it to catch leaking oil – I was so impressed!  And did you know that if you ask really nice and say ‘Please’ the guys in charge of the booth will let you climb up into the cab and pretend you are really serious about buying it?  Ha!  That thing cost more than our house.   But then, as soon as they realize you don’t have any money and they give up and go talk to someone else you can bounce in the seat and make engine noises with your mouth and spit all over the inside of the windshield.  Not that I would do such a thing.  I’m much too dignified and refined to do such a thing.  I’ve really grown up a lot since last year – haven’t I?  The truth is my knees were still killing me from curling last weekend.  I didn’t think I could even climb up in there.

After we checked out the big equipment we went to see the cattle – every Stock Show has them – or else it wouldn’t really be a ‘Stock’ Show, would it?

There were lots of cattle

Just look how pretty and well-behaved they are.  Not a cow pie or speck of manure anywhere.  It takes many hours of work and dedication to train your cattle to do this stuff and look this way.

Our cows don’t look like this. 

Our cows leave cow pies everywhere they go and usually they have lots and lots of manure smeared all over them.  I’m pretty sure that if you tied one of our cows to that pretty little fence and tried to comb and blow dry her she would freak out!  You would probably get stomped into the ground or at the very least she would blow snot all over you before ripping out the fence and dragging it and all the other cows tied to it on a wild-west tour of the entire stock show.  We just don’t have diva cows – ours all blow snot. 

It’s a cow thing. 

Besides, if we brought one of our cows I’m afraid they wouldn’t place very well in the BBP (Bovine Beauty Pagent).

Yikes!!!

She’s a nice mellow momma cow but Damn Girlfriend! – that’s a face only a rancher could love.

Don’t worry honey, we love ya!

But talk about divas – check out these boots.

Boots like this will make you want to sing.  My sister did.

“The stars at night are big and bright… X  X  X  X  X,  deep in the heart of Texas!!!”

Go ahead, you can sing along.  No body will hear you.

Yes, people were looking at us strangely and keeping their children far, far away from us and the guys were pretending they didn’t know who we were but we did have fun.  I can’t wait for next year!

 

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Have you ever wondered what goes on in a cows’ mind?

I have.  I actually think about this a lot. 

I guess I need a life.

Maybe you only think about these things when you live among cattle for a while.  Frankly, when you see some of the things they do it’s kind of scary.  For instance, before we started work on remodeling our house my husband came up with the great idea of putting up a Christmas star on the end of the old house.  It was pretty cool because he made it go from the very peak of the house (about 20 feet off the ground) to the ground and from the front of  the house to the back.  This was a big and impressive star.  He put it on a timer and lit it up for the Christmas season.  It was beautiful!  You could see it from the highway roughly 4 miles away.  Our family was in awe, the neighbors were speechless and our friends were truly impressed… 

as were the cows. 

The cows were fascinated with it.  They hung out around the house gazing in wonder at the tiny white lights that lit up the star-studded night.  And in a warped kind of way seeing them standing there in such reverence reminded me of the wise men who had followed a star so many, many years ago.  It was enough to bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat.

All was right in the universe and the world was at peace until the day we realized some of the lights weren’t working any more.  Suddenly our big and beautiful symbol of the Christmas story didn’t have a leg to stand on, so to speak.  On closer inspection we found that the cattle had been eating the strings of Christmas lights right off the house, sucking them down like electrified strings of spaghetti.

This created a slew of questions in my mind.

Why would a cow do this? 

What kind of twisted mind would even think to try this?

Couldn’t you get electrified munching on Christmas lights? 

What form of nutritional value do you suppose there is in Christmas lights? 

And the most worrisome question of all – at least for me was if you eat glass light bulbs what happens when they come out the other end?

I worried about this one a lot.  I even had bad dreams about this but it didn’t seem to worry the girls at all. 

For the next couple of years Hubby would replace the mangled strings of lights and the star would shine brightly once again – at least for a while.  The cows would be drawn to it like women to chocolate and that would be the end of the display for another year.  Hubby even tried putting up metal panels to temporarily fence off the lights but the girls would eventually get in and the lower lights would be gone.

Hubby has since given up on the star not because the cows have won the battle and he has given up in defeat but because we have built on to that end of the house and I won’t let him drill holes in the new siding.  But he still has a thing about MEGA BIG Christmas decorations.  Here’s a photo of the Christmas tree he built from scrap metal and cable. 

The tree is about 40 feet tall.  Look at the bottom right hand corner of the photo and you can compare it to the backhoe parked off to the side. 

No – it’s not trick photography – that’s really how big it is.

There are over 2000 feet of rope lights on this tree and when he plugs it in the electric company’s meter on the side of the house spins faster than a Bell helicopters’ blades but I’ve got to admit it’s even more impressive than the star was.

The cows think so too.  Did you notice the bottom strings of lights?

Yes  it’s true – rope lights are just as tasty as the little twinkle lights.

Cows… what are you gonna do with ’em? 

You can’t read their minds and they aren’t talking so I guess the whole Christmas light thing will be one of the great mysteries of the world.

But there is something fascinating about a mysterious woman…

no matter what species she is.

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Most of our cows look like this:

Hello number 17.

And all of our bulls look like this:

“I’m a stud and I know it.”

So, needless to say, most of our calves look like this.

But every once in a while we end up with an odd colored calf. 

In 2009 we had Snowball.

As Ricky Ricardo always said,

“You got some ‘splaining to do, Lucy!”

Actually the big feed lot operation on the other side of the mountain from us runs Charolais bulls – big, white bulls.

Not even Earl, the horse knew what to think of this calf – even though he really did like the color.

Sorry, Snowball – just because you’re a little different that doesn’t mean we’re going to treat you different then the other calves.  After all, we wouldn’t want you to develop some debilitating complex where you feel singled out from the crowd and all alone.  And we really wouldn’t want you to think your special and get spoiled or anything like that.  I’m just saying – it could really ruin your life.  So it’s better if we treat you the same as everyone else.

In the chute you go. 

And look – we just happen to have a cowboy or two.

“Howdy, ma’am.  My name’s Morgan and I’ll be your Brander today.”

Snowball is laid out on our calf table.  The calf table is usually closed into a narrow alley way.  You run the calves into the little chute at the back of it and down the alley way to the three bars at the front.  With levers, you lower the bars around the side and neck of the calf, sucking the calf up to the wall.  Then you flip the wall and calf over onto its side – hence, the calf table.  It’s handy for branding, castrating, ear tagging and just general all-around working on calves.  And when your done you flip them back over onto their feet and release the bars on their side and they run out the front – back to mamma.  Sometimes we use the calf table instead of roping and dragging ’em.  It’s usually when we don’t have a lot of extra help running around. 

Snowball doesn’t look stressed at all – she’s thinking she’s going to spend the day at the spa.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

Sorry honey, this ain’t no spa.

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

A brand.  A shot.  All done.

Just be thankful you’re a heifer calf, Snowball.  You don’t even want to think about what we do to the bull calves.

Here’s a good look at our brand – even if it is upside down in this shot.  It really shows up on that white hide.

Just another day at the ranch.

 

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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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