Monday, March 29, 2010

One windy day

The wind is howling today. Weather guy is saying 60 mph gusts, I actually think he got it pretty close!

My weekend was great. To fill you in on my life I have actually downloaded some photos from my fun little Canon Powershot
It looked like snow Friday night, so instead of our usual walk I threw balls for the dogs in the back yard. Speaking of my yard, there is stuff growing in it besides the expected grass!! I'm guessing this is rhubarb?And tulips?! I'm waiting to rake the leaves because I think they are insulating the plants every night. I did start raking the rest of the lawn Friday, it really needed it!
This is why my dogs are allowed on the furniture after they "ask." I cannot resist this face and we were all cuddled on the couch Friday night. Saturday morning I put on a 45 minute photography workshop for 4-H kids in Douglas. Then headed to Fort Collins for a bulls sale and to catch up with my friend. We had a blast!
I didn't get a buyers number to ensure I wouldn't bid on anything. Good thing cause I was definitely tempted by a few! My friend, another girl, and myself all had on great boots. The lighter pair are Anderson Beans and mine are to the left and are Justins, not sure about the other girls. I also had to throw out these beautiful flowers this weekend. Our boss got everyone in the office some and they were sooo pretty and smelled sooo good I took them home and kept them as long as I could.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My weekend forecast

My weekend has been planned for a while and includes putting on a 45 minute (?!?!?) photography presentation to an unknown number of 8-17 year old 4-h kids in Douglas Saturday morning, then continuing on home to pour calves and hang out with the family. I was cool with this because:
A) There is rarely anything happening in Casper and after a few recent amazing weekends I'm sure the cool quota has been filled for a while.
B) The guy (or whatever you want to call him, this is just how I distinguish him on here) is gone this weekend. He's also sick.
C) There are new calves to photograph at home.
D)I offered to pick up some cabinetry for the parents and deliver it.
E)I will already be an hour closer to home after driving to Douglas for the photography workshop.

Then this happens:
A) Megan from Life of and Accidental Rhinestone Cowgirl is flying to Wyoming for the weekend and invites to Cheyenne to see her and some other fabulous girls.
B)Another good friend invites me to the Leachman/CSU bull sale in Fort Collins during the day Saturday in Fort Collins.
C)It would be wonderful fun to spent the day in Fort Collins and the evening/night in Cheyenne.
D)Christy and friends are also going out tonight in Casper.

But I cannot imagine speaking to children for 45 minutes hung over, and my mother has called repeatedly to make sure I'm actually coming (I think she really wants her cabinets and the opportunity to grill me about the guy). She has even implemented her dirtiest trick, which is having my sister ask me.

All I have to say is there had better be some really cute calves and those darn kids better love my presentation

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh, Organic?

I'm cruising through the blog world the other day when I stumble upon a girls post about food.

Oh dear.

She was explaining why organic meat was more expensive and that non-organic animals were usually infected with disease due to the industries poor housing of livestock, and so on...

10 deep breathes later I wrote her a nice comment explaining my background and what sentences in her post I felt were a little misrepresenting of the livestock industry.

So, how about organic? What's up with it? I decided this would be easy and googled the term "organic meat" to grab the stats that I heard so often in college...except they didn't come up...but I found out where that girl might have found her information, sadly.

The USDA defines organic meat (it's the first link) as that meat which comes from an animal that has never received antibiotics or growth hormones. Before a product can be labeled, "organic" the place it was produced must be inspected to ensure they are meeting organic requirements.

OK, but why the price difference?

It's a matter of supply and demand. Some consumers want the choice of organic and are willing to pay more for it. Organic meat has to be worth more for a rancher to produce it, because through choosing to raise organic cattle he will have slower gaining cattle with a higher death rate.

Choosing to produce organic beef means a rancher or feeder doesn't give them any antibiotics or growth hormones, everyone's got that part. But, in not giving animals these products animals aren't as efficient, and more of them get sick and die. So, in reality, the healthier animals are the non-organic variety.

If they get sick, feeders are encouraged to wait a couple days to see if health improves on its own in some cases. If health doesn't improve the animal is doctored and no longer an organic candidate.

It drives my family's cattle feeder absolutely nuts to not doctor a sick calf. He feels having to wait a couple days results in a much longer recovery period for the animal and can lead to more sickness in the animal's peers.

We don't raise organic beef. We sat down and penciled out the additional income we would receive from marketing our cattle that way and compared it to the additional loss we would expect and economically it came out almost identical, so we stuck with our traditional program.

On the other side of the organic beef choice is the fact that non-organic cattle can and usually are treated with growth hormones.

Consider this about hormones-The average daily hormone dose in oral contraceptives is 2,500 TIMES higher than what is found in a serving of beef from an animal that received growth hormones. A man naturally produces 15,000 TIMES more estrogen than he would consume if he ate 500 grams of meat.

Consider this also, ranchers eat their product. I don't know of a single rancher who doesn't eat what he produces. If the beef he raised wasn't healthy he wouldn't feed it to himself, his family and his friends, let alone to the entire world.

There's almost always reason and logic behind why food is produced the way it is, and this is a great example of that. Most people believe they are encouraging the production of happier, healthier plants and animals through choosing organic, when the opposite is closer to the truth.

Organic is a choice, and I am in no way saying it's a bad one, but it's also important to remember that non-organic is a good choice too. Having the option between the two is another example of the effort American Agriculturalists put forth to provide the consumer what they want.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Here's to best friends!

Tonight I am expecting a phone call from my best friend :) :) I have several amazing friends, but this girl and I just get each other. We don't talk much, don't ask me why, we just don't. We're both busy and that results in catching up every few months.

But when we do finally get ahold of each other and both of us have time to talk it typically results in 2-3 hours of conversation full of tears, laughter, stories, advice, questions,'s wonderful.

We cover boys, shoes, work, travel, families and misc, usually in that order. She loves shoes. We can each tell the other all the hilarious, weird, maddening and discouraging guy-related stories and receive honest advice from the other. I can trust her and throw everything out there to be studied and solved and she does the same.

We met at a recruitment day for Laramie County Community College, in Cheyenne. I was there with my dad and she was there with her parents. We ended up at a table together and immediately hit it off.

Both of us thought about requesting the other for a roommate, but she couldn't remember my first name and I couldn't remember her last name. So our first year I ended up living with a pair of wild childs who were frankly annoying and immature. Her fate was worse, she ended up with a girl from California who went through the entire basketball team (you know what I mean) and showered bi-weekly. She left hair all over the bathroom and it was questionable what kind of hair it was. We both still have a bit of a hair issue after seeing that.

Our second year of college we got that taken care of and roomed together. It was roommate bliss for both of us after our eye-opening first year experiences. We were the only two girls to survive Mr. Pulse at LCCC. By complete accident we dressed alike at least a couple days a week, despite making efforts not to after a while. She's a fitness buff and just through making an effort to keep up with her (which I didn't, the girl runs marathons, I run errands) I ended up in the best shape of my life.

After community college she headed south to finish school and I ended up at Laramie. I was so discouraged by UW that she almost convinced me to transfer after the first year. But in order to be done in as little time as possible I stayed put.

Since our two years of college together we have communicated primarily by phone, with a handful of visits thrown in. These visits almost always involve shopping, a meal, and ice cream or coffee! We would love to own a combination photo, coffee, gourmet chocolate shop someday, and we would be awesome at that! She comes from a great family and so do I and our morals and beliefs are very similar.

So here's to best friends, may each of you be blessed to such amazing friends as I have!

And here's to our conversation tonight, I am definitely in need of guy and life advice!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's only Tuesday

I love my job some days, and some days I grumble at the mere mention of the Roundup.

This week I love my job. I'm not sure why; it's been crazy, stressful and demanding with multiple deadlines, people that won't call back and a couple sleepless nights (I don't sleep well and am sure there will be a blog dedicated to this annoying problem someday).

But, I have written three articles on topics I am personally very interested in, and I've visited with several knowledgeable people about each topic. I got the latest low-down on the Growsafe system, which measures individual animal feed efficiency and is pretty cool. Definitely cutting edge technology, and to think they use it in a feedlot, very neat.Then there is the article on replacement heifer development. Definitely some good, practical stuff to consider. Probably not anything people didn't already know as far as options go, but some of the research findings put things in a new light. This is my sister's heifer in the photo and she loves her cows, all of which sport a yellow tag with her name on it.
The third article covers synchronizing heifers or cows then turning a bull in instead of AIing. Love this idea, planning to use it on our place this spring and now I know the guy to call with any questions. Took me forever to write and I finally finished last night at 7:00pm because I kept reading all the information instead of getting the article finished.
It's only Tuesday, who knows what I'll learn by the end of the week. If you have any article ideas or questions regarding anything ag-related, let me know. I really enjoy finding information and possible answers, and I get to write about this stuff which is usually fun too.

Friday, March 19, 2010

WBCIA Edition

Well here it is, our first of two back-to-back bull test editions. It's 28 pages long, which is BIG for us! I'm putting it on here because all the photos except the black cow and calf are mine and I really liked what the layout lady did with them.

Christy seems stressed about next weeks paper, which causes me to do the whole, "Christy's stressed, maybe I should be stressed, ok now I'm stressed too!?" thing.

I'm sure it will be fine. Christy doesn't know it yet, but I had a lot of practice winging it as an Animal Science major and am more than willing to use everything I learned during that time to make sure we have something to publish next week.

And I pray a lot.

I'm also pretty excited about my articles for next week, maybe that's why I am being so positive about it. I get to cover the growsafe feeding systems the Midland bull test is using to measure individual feed efficiency in bulls. I'm also doing an article on the history of cattle feeding in Wyoming and another on the results of growing heifers in different ways. The most exciting to me is about using a synchronization program on heifers, then turning bulls in with them instead of AIing. I know you can't wait to read more, lol.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the first day of Spring!

The consumers perspective

I had to buy hamburger at the grocery store!? This was a new one for me.

Meat at my house comes straight from the butcher, wrapped in crisp, white paper and is stamped with either "TRH RANCH" or "HAMILTON" and "NOT FOR SALE" in bright red or blue ink.

I looked and looked and Albertsons had nothing wrapped like that.

There I was, standing in front of the beef display, eying my choices and noting differences. The first thing I noticed was a lot of price difference in hamburger depending on brand and fat content. Color variation was also notable, as was texture.

People are walking by, grabbing packages of meat as I continue to just stare at this new phenomenon in my life. I finally choose a cheaper variety (it is hamburger after all) of lean, I think 90% fat free, hamburger. I couldn't believe that if you wanted 93% or 95% lean hamburger the price more than doubled. I like the flavor fat adds anyway, and it's easy to drain any excess fat off during the cooking process.

I took my newly purchased meat home and made a casserole. While cooking I noticed that it smelled different than the hamburger I'm use to and cooked different too.

But it was good, and I was happy with my choice.

Throughout the entire process I had one nagging thought in my head, "where did this come from?"I can tell you the entire life story of the beef I typically eat. It was a little disconcerting to put my trust in someone I didn't know to provide me with my food.

I learned that as a consumer I am interested in knowing where my food is produced. I read everything I could on several different hamburger options before making a decision. I wanted to know about that product, as most consumers do.

My advice? Get to know the guy behind the meat counter. If I had been purchasing anything but hamburger (steak, roast...) I would have asked the meat person what their recommendations were. These people know what they're doing and can give you solid advice.

My first meat buying experience was positive, if a little overwhelming. It certainly gave me a new perspective.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A morning drive

Today I drove five hours to conduct a 16 minute interview in person. Why not over the phone you ask? I'm not sure. No one is.

I didn't mind the drive and really enjoyed getting to see people feeding and little calves racing across pastures. But it's been a really busy week and it would have greatly reduced several people's stress level if I had just called the guy. Oh well, it's over, the article is done and I got in a little road trip before the blizzard hit.

Yes, another snowstorm is sweeping across Wyoming this afternoon and is expected to last a few days. Yay for the moisture! Boo for the poor weather conditions right in the middle of calving and some people's lambing season. The dramatic temperature changes are hard on the little guys.
I also implemented the "bring Roundup Cadillac to a screeching halt on the side of the road" technique to capture these and a few other photos today. I'm not much of a Charolais person, but they looked good in the cornstalks. The paper has been in need of "cattle in cornstalk" photos this year and we don't have any on file so these should come in handy sometime!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A GREEN St. Patrick's Day

I feel the need to post something pretty and spring-like to go with the 60's temperatures and blue skies we have here today. This is one of my favorite places. My grandmother's house is just to the left of the photo. Right now it looks absolutely nothing like this (the photo was taken last July) but it's still pretty and green.
This is more like what everything looks like where I'm from. Maybe not pretty, but definitely cute. In another month or 6 weeks everything will green up and spring will have sprung.

Green seems to be the topic of the day. I forgot to wear the color and am dreading a run-in with any middle school kids. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's also National Agriculture Week. Find out more here. People are encouraged to share what they love about agriculture to recognize the positive impacts agriculture has on everyone's life.

I can't pick just one thing. But, in keeping with my theme, I do love how GREEN agriculture is. Production agriculturalists have been on this trend since way before it became the popular and "right" thing to do.

Ranchers raise grass. Then they put this grass in an animal and they convert it into something we as humans can utilize for energy, meat. Since grass is useless to humans nutritionally, using it to grow livestock is a natural way to capture the energetic potential it holds and convert to something we can feed people with.

Any waste the animal produces is used as fertilizer to grow more grass. Animals eating grass stimulates new growth, much like mowing your lawn or trimming your hair. Ranchers graze grass in specific ways to promote the growth of higher quality grasses and limit growth of weeds and other undesirable plants.

Ranchers also recycle everything imaginable. Examples include using worn out tires as water tanks for livestock, building corrals out of used oilfield pipe that is no longer useful to the oil industry and reusing poor quality parts of wool off fleeces for mulch or to protect young plants against the elements.

Ranchers use horses instead of motorized vehicles in a lot of situations. Farmers work on machinery to maximize performance on less fuel. Feedlot owners feed livestock alcohol bi-products, known as distillers grains in rations.

Agriculturalists care about their land, livestock, family and work extensively to preserve and protect all of those things for future generations while also striving to feed consumers the highest quality, safest product possible.

When you enjoy a nice meal or purchase new clothes keep in mind these and countless other products are available because of agriculture. I love being a part of an industry that works so hard to do what's right for their customers and themselves in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An update

First a note on the photo. I am not a heeler fan, but since this one didn't snarl at or bite me I rewarded it by snapping a couple shots. He was hanging out at the bull test this weekend, more on that down the page a ways.

I have been busy, and sick. Not a good combination. We are at 28 pages for this weeks paper and my articles include two very technical pieces that I wrote based on Journal of Animal Science articles. College stress flashbacks were frequent throughout researching and writing them. I'm still not that impressed with how they turned out, but hopefully people get something out of them.

This weekend I went to dinner with the guy Friday night at Firerock and again with another couple Saturday night at an amazing Mexican restaurant whose name I can neither pronounce or remember. :)

Sunday I was between Shoshoni and Riverton taking pictures of bulls for the WBCIA bull test. I looked at the bulls on test a few years ago and was so unimpressed I swore never to return. BUT, this years group is much better and I was pretty impressed with a few based on looks alone.

I should also clarify that I wasn't taking pictures, I was carrying a sorting stick with a mooing stuffed cow tied to the end...oh yeah, you read that right. My job was to stop the bulls and capture their attention with the stuffed cow so the Roundup field rep could take pictures. It was fun, for the most part. I enjoyed wandering through a feedlot full of bulls. I also interviewed the producer of the year since I was in the area.
My reward for working all day Sunday? Lunch at Taco Bell and bottle of Crown, gotta love the people I work with!

Sunday night I didn't feel well, this carried over to Monday and I left work at lunch. This morning I was too stressed to be sick since I had so much to complete by 5. But, here is it 3:30 and I am caught up...I think. I also feel better so hopefully I am done with this annoying cold.

Hope everyone's week is going well!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Favorite Charities

This weeks, "Show us Your Life" topic is favorite charities.
My favorite is March of Dimes. My sister has Down Syndrome and was born 3 months early. We did a lot with the organization when she was younger. I have multiple bears from donating at my bank and really believe in what they do.
My other favorites are anything that will help a local cause where I know the money will be used to benefit what it's supposed to. I would much rather give my money to a local car wash, dog shelter, salvation army santa or bake sale than send it somewhere, to people I don't know.
HSUS is a perfect example of the misrepresentation that can occur with people's money when they donate to "charity."
Give me a bunch of kids wanting to sell me cookies or wash my truck any day and I'll donate to their cause almost every time!


I love coffee!! Not the strong, black variety, oh no, I am much more particular than that. I am a fan of the latte and have been for years.

Since it's Friday, I figured a caffeine inspired post would be appropriate!

A lady that owns a coffee shop told me she estimates her cost per cup at .20-.50 cents and she charges over $3.00 per latte. That statement was followed by my shocked and horrified face as the amount of money I have squandered on this addiction flashed through my brain, cup by wonderful cup.

So I make my own. I have an espresso machine, coffee bean grinder (whole bean is in a completely different, much better league than ground) flavoring syrups and other random stuff to support my now guilt-free habit.

Ahh, if you're ever in Casper I will be happy to make you one.

If you can't make it to my house, my absolute favorite brand name is illy. If you see that anywhere, it will be good, and expensive (go figure that I like the most expensive kind)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

10 Things

I stumbled across a couple blogs that listed "10 things that make me terribly happy." They made me smile so here are 10 of mine.

Seeing my family

Taking a great picture


The smell of white chocolate/caramel lattes

Having someone look at me like that

Watching a summer storm come in

Saying, "Hi Jackie!"

Hitting a deserted road in my truck

Stepping through the door completely worn out from a day spent working outside

Quiet moments with God


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mary Kay

Mary Kay has quickly responded to claims stating the company was supporting an HSUS fundraiser. The following is their response to the concerns being expressed.
Some fans of Mary Kay® products and independent beauty consultants have expressed concerns over a recent sponsorship of a Dallas-area event. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. We have heard you and want to clarify any confusion.

First and foremost,
Mary Kay is not a sponsor of this event. Mary Kay’s owner’s wife was approached to make a personal contribution towards a local event here in Dallas sponsored by the Dallas chapter of the Humane Society. This event specifically supports efforts to stop puppy mills and the organization’s stop puppy mills campaign. Out of caring and compassion for addressing puppy mills, our owner’s wife agreed to make a personal contribution. Mary Kay has contacted the Humane Society to clarify that we are not sponsors of this event and the company logo is being removed from the website.

As a company, we sincerely apologize for any confusion or causing any offense to members of the Mary Kay community.
Some are claiming that people should back off a little before making claims against companies such as Mary Kay and encourage people to do more research. Seeing the HSUS logo on the side of Mary Kay bag didn't require a lot of connecting the dots for me, and in my opinion it is the responsibility of a company to watch their image. What is portrayed to the public is what the public will believe, as we in agriculture know all too well. Is it always correct, no, but this is a good lesson regarding perception as reality.
I personally think the public handled it well. I read several well-written letters expressing concern over the alleged partnership and these obviously brought the problem to Mary Kays attention, which they fixed.
I am thrilled the find out Mary Kay is working with a local humane shelter. Hopefully more companies become aware of the deceptive nature of HSUS as a result of this.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Wednesday bible studies

I was looking at my complete profile (ok, seeing how many times my blog has been viewed) and noticed I haven't really mentioned God, even though he is listed first (as he should be) under my interests.
I believe in the Lord and that Jesus died on the cross and rose three days later and that whoever believes in him will have everlasting life. If you don't believe in God that's your business. But regardless of your personal beliefs I encourage you to check out the bible. My reason is that as with anything, it's hard to make an educated decision without doing some research, and the bible is how you research God.
My year in New Mexico was a lot of things, but most importantly it was great for my spiritual life. I don't know how anyone would make it there without a spiritual life (that was partially joking, partially dead serious).
One of the neatest things I experienced was a weekly bible study held at Clovis Livestock Auction. Each week before the sale started Arleta would get on the speaker and announce "bible study in Steve's office." This would be followed by the slow pouring of buyers, sellers, office ladies (that's my group), truckers and the owner into Steve's office.
Everyone would sit or lean against the wall as the chosen speaker covered their topic of choice. The speaker rotated weekly, as did the topics. After speaking for about 5-10 minutes prayer requests were taken and everyone bowed their heads. Then we all went back to work and a few minutes later the owner, Charlie, would tell Arleta to announce it was sale time.
It sounds so simple, and it was. But it was also amazing. Nobody beat around the bush and the topics were honest, straightforward, and meant to make people think. I definitely thought (and prayed) a lot as a result of the Wednesday bible studies.
This happened every single week. It didn't matter if the sale started 30 or 45 minutes late. If we had to wait for someone it was no big deal. I got more out of those quick bible lessons than I do most 45 minute sermons.
God is definitely present in the sale barn. It was the most comfortable place. Peace permeated the entire building and the people were almost all happy, kind and willing to help with anything in any way.
I learned a lot about the important things in life there. If you're ever in Clovis, NM on a Wednesday morning, be sure to stop by the sale barn at quarter to ten. I promise it will be worth it.
The photo was taken from the block looking over the ring. I worked in the office and on the black weighing cattle and penning back. I miss these guys.


This past weekend was another fun one, with the exception that almost everyone I work with was getting sick and the dreaded stuff has officially captured me today after teasing me with mild headaches and a sore throat for days.
Friday night was the Matched Bronc Riding. Don't ever go. It was dumb. Enough said.
The only highlight was that my date brought some Crown in a flask (happy sigh) which enabled me to endure the entire "show."
Saturday night was Baxter Black. He more than made up for the disappointing Friday. I was reduced to laughing so hard I cried a couple times. Do go. It was great!
This was followed by an appearance at the Beacon because it was two people's birthday. Met up with my Friday night date again and stayed out too late dancing and visiting (Perhaps this is why I am sick).
He seems nice, we'll see.
Now it is Tuesday. I have already forgot my mortgage payment, left my coffee maker on "steam" for 24 hours and delt with an overly annoying bank employee from NM who repeatedly told me I needed to just "stop in." Not going to happen. My "check engine" light keeps coming on in my truck and while I am almost certain I have a sensor going out, I would love to know for sure. The guy I asked about it offered to check it out in his shop and change my oil too, but it hasn't happened yet. He is the one and same Friday night date, so I don't want to be pushy but it really is bothering me.
I'm planning a rebound for the second half of the week filled with wonderful things. These will include but aren't limited to; lunch with my parents, a trip to Thermopolis for meetings Thursday and my first bull picture session Sunday. We also have another big paper with a "B" section this week that will keep us on our toes.
I will also clean my house, change my own oil if it hasn't happened by the weekend, and finish my taxes (the most dreaded event of my year).
On the more useful side of things, Belle of the Blog does a great job of explaining the problem people in agriculture have with Mary Kay's partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on her blog. Check it out!
HSUS simply hides behind a face of caring. In all actuality less than half of 1% of their budget goes toward helping animals. Please don't confuse them with your local humane society, they are completely different. HSUS spends the majority of their budget on salaries and their primary goal is to end animal agriculture. Learn more about the real face of HSUS here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring and the first week of calving

It's that time of year. To say I have spring fever would be putting it mildly. This is my all out, hands down favorite time of year. Perhaps it's the teasing weather that shifts between cold and warm, snow and rain, heavy coat and jacket days. Or it could be the green grass just starting its appearance. But, I do believe the biggest influence is the new life that constantly surrounds someone in Wyoming in the spring.
Baby calves are my first thought of springtime new life and are just the cutest things. My family isn't calving heifers this year, but if we were we would just be finishing up the first week. My brother is at my uncles helping him and I am practically green with envy as I sit at my desk.
If you aren't aware of what calving heifers is like, here goes...
Heifers are young females pregnant with their first calf. Since they are new at having a baby and being a mother they are usually kept near the house and checked regularly. By regularly I mean they are checked on a schedule 24 hours a day and if there are any problems they receive immediate, full care. If you do not check the heifers and provide any needed care on your shift, may God be with you because you will need mercy from somewhere.
Most do fine and have a nice, little calf all by themselves. I have spent a lot of time researching genetics and buying what are called low birth weight bulls to reduce calving problems. Most ranchers buy these bulls, also called heifer bulls, who carry genetic traits that result in smaller calves at birth. This makes it easier for the first time mom.
But, just as in humans, there are complications sometimes. A calf might be backwards, the mother may not try very hard, or the calf might be a little big. This is where the full, immediate care comes into play.
Where I'm from we usually give a heifer a few hours to calve on her own. Everyone does things a little differently and we keep an eye on any giving birth and if we notice anything out of the ordinary in she comes.
This doesn't occur often on our place, it's more stressful when you have to get a heifer in and the fewer problems the better, so we and most other producers do everything we can to prevent a problem. But, as I said, sometimes there are complications.
Ranchers have facilities used to care for a heifer that has problems. It generally includes a chute or head-catch to hold the heifer in. This also keeps her from running over the rancher (remember all those "I'm going to kill you" jokes you hear about women yelling at their husbands in the delivery room, that's the stage she's at). There are also pens, usually bedded in straw, to keep the newborn warm.
After assisting with the birth the cow and calf are put into such a pen until both are deemed healthy enough to be turned out.
The mother cow and baby calf are known collectively as a pair. Most calves are given an ear tag, which is the human equivalent of getting an ear pierced. This tag has a number that is written in a little book along side its mother's tag number. You do not, under any circumstances, want to lose this book.
Again, as with humans, some cows are better mothers than others. If one decides she doesn't like her calf or is a little dumb, you can look up in your handy book who her baby is and get them back together. It doesn't go well for you if you lose the calving book and many people keep multiple copies. It will also include such information as the sex and color of the calf. Registered breeders often keep much more information in their little books.
There are few things that can compare with helping bring new life into the world or witnessing a mother and baby getting to know one another. The wobbly little legs and mooing mother as you ease a new pair out of the calving lot and the playful nature of older calves. All of which result in me taking literally thousands of photos each year. Ahh, springtime.
Photo note: Green tags belong to my dad. The pink tags are mine :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

A day in the paper world

So I'm blonde and read the dates wrong and put what my day was like last week. BUT..I did a day on a ranch, so this Friday I'll stick with my life now. BTW this is off the Show us your life blog.

At 6:03 my alarm goes off. I crawl into the bathroom and emerge alive after a shower and brushing my teeth 30 minutes later. Get dressed, do my hair and makeup, eat breakfast and play with the dogs.

Somewhere between 7:25 and 7:35 I kick the dogs outside, start my truck, make a latte (yay!) and head to work.

Arrive at work around 8:00. Fire up the computer and check email, facebook, blog, and a variety of ag-related websites. Then, if it's early in the week I make phone calls, look for story ideas, conduct research and write stories. Really whatever needs to be done for the paper that day. We have a pretty good system and I much prefer weekly papers to daily ones in that regard! Some days I get to travel for interviews or meetings and that breaks up the monotony a little.

On Friday mornings I call in the corrections to the layout lady, update the classifieds on the website, put the flipping book (it should really be called the other "f" word book) on the website and go over the article sheet with Christy for the next week.

At some point I eat lunch and run some errands. Side note here- I have no idea how these town people (I am one now I suppose) do it. One hour to run all your errands. It drives me nuts that I have to list my errands by importance and it takes me all week to get them done.

Sorry, back on track. At around 5:00 pm I load up my work computer and fight traffic back to my house. Greet the dogs, change shoes grab my ipod and off we go on our walk, which takes between 30 minutes and an hour. This is my "me" time with no phone, which I could probably take since I only get a couple calls a week, and they're from my mom :)

6:30 or so we arrive back from the walk, flip on the tv, change into sweats and every other night do an ab workout and some lunges or squats. Clean and organize my house, do chores and eat dinner, which consists of whatever I scrounge up. I don't cook much since I'm never at my house and it's just me.

8:00- Either watch tv or curl up with my latest book. Sometimes drink a cup of caffeine free Lipton tea. Or, if it's Friday this is when I awake from my nap and head to the bar/concert/event going on assuming there is one.

9:30-10:00 crawl into bed, pray, and pray again that I will sleep.

Repeat 5 days a week, stir in a little (or a lot) of weekend fun and viola, my exciting life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Public lands

While scouring the Internet for appropriate articles to fill our massive paper this week I looked into information related to grazing public lands. My findings included a vast number of Sierra Club, Waste of the West and similar interest group articles that tell an untruthful story. It makes me mad that people who may not know about livestock and grazing could be unintentionally misinformed by these articles.
So here's the way it really is.
The proper grazing of any landscape improves forage vitality and variety. It improves wildlife habitat and water resources in addition to reducing noxious weeds. It also helps preserve open spaces and healthy, natural environments.
The Society for Range Management is currently working on a dvd entitled Hope on the Range that will further explain the improved condition of grazed land over that without grazing.
Cows and sheep eat grass. It's just like mowing your lawn. If you don't mow it for several summers it doesn't grow as well and weeds move in. If livestock don't eat grass the same thing happens, just on a bigger scale.
Please keep in mind I am not suggesting peeling every shred of foliage off a pasture. Grazing should be done at a rate that is best for the landscape and the livestock.
Another point to consider is that livestock producers are the only people who pay to use public lands. Anyone can drive, walk, hunt or otherwise utilize these lands to their hearts desire. Ranchers can do these things for free also, but if they want to graze it they must pay a lease.
As with most things someone who pays for something takes much better care of it than someone who doesn't. If you compare a piece of public land surrounded by privately owned land and used for grazing purposes you will find little to no trash, fences that are generally in good repair and high quality forage, soil and water. Now stroll over to the piece that's just off a highway where people drive their 4-wheelers, hunt, hike and take their pets. Gates will be left open, trash is usually present everywhere and the pets and motorized vehicles have torn up the forage, soil and water.
Not that its a bad scenario, I guess it is PUBLIC land. But I much prefer a well-kept, natural setting that is conducive to wildlife. I like to take care of the land I use and most ranchers I know feel the same way.
We aren't out to destroy it, quite the opposite in fact. We work hard to keep it in the best possible shape with as much water, grass and wildlife as it will realistically support. Ranchers LOVE grass, it's what we raise.
So if you see a cow or sheep grazing on public or private land think about the benefits she is providing to the landscape. She isn't destroying anything, but is actually improving the landscape with every mouthful she eats.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pretty Plant Pictures

The beautiful weather outside has me thinking the even though it has been like the above photo..

Soon it will pretty and green outside, like these photos
Since I call this a photo blog I thought a couple spring-like pictures would be appropriate :)

What pretty things God gives us on this world. Thank goodness I carry a camera to capture some of the moments he shows me!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Madness

Hooray for March! When I think of March I think of beautiful baby calves, spring storms and the first glimpse of green grass and pleasant temperatures. This is without a doubt my favorite time of year. There is so much going on where I'm from.
Well, there's lots going on where I'm at too. This will be the second week in a row we have a 24 page paper (I have to keep wearing my hair up so I don't look frazzled!) On top of that Casper has gone from zero to 90 when it comes to things to do.
The past weekend officially broke almost every fun weekend record I had (almost). Friday night was awesome. Well, actually it all started Friday afternoon when Christy convinced her bf to bring us margaritas around four in the afternoon, I had to go home and recover after that. That night at the Beacon was great fun too with an awesome band and lots of people I know! Then Saturday night was the Daryl Worley concert and I am now an official fan thanks to his great commentary and the fact that he sounds just as good live as on his albums. There was also dancing and perhaps a little flirting Saturday and night. Somewhere over the weekend I organized and put away the last (I hope I don't find any more) of my clothes, hung some curtains in my house, walked the dogs and cooked a roast with potatoes and carrots (mmm).
Also wore my new black Stetson boots dancing both nights and they didn't hurt my feet :)
I am now recovering from all that fun and preparing for the matched bronc riding, Baxtor Black concert and almost certain Beacon appearance this weekend. I enjoy life so much more when I'm busy!
I am also feeling a little left out because I know exactly what I'm missing at home. The cows are all clomping around in mud, looking like they're about to burst. The people are also happily clomping around in mud, which is something only people in Wyoming would be happy about. Then, in another couple weeks the first little calves will be born. Puppies and kittens don't have anything on a really cute calf!
The air is going from bitter cold and smelling like dirt to teasingly warm at times with hints of springtime smells. Everything is coming back to life and all the senses seem to perk up after the dull winter months.
I guess what I'm getting at is that regardless of where I'm at in Wyoming, it's a great place to be in the springtime.

The House, part 1

Here is the first round of pictures from my new house. Bedroom photos will be coming after I get the rest of the drapes hung and the wrinkles fall out of them :)
This is my dining room. I LOVE my table! It has two drop leaves and can comfortably seat 4 when they're up. You will notice there isn't much on they walls yet except here. I want to add two long, narrow mirrors on either side of my Charles M. Russell print!
The kitchen, easily my least favorite room in the house. But it works and I've found that I'm never home long enough to cook an amazing meal anyway, so the lack of counter space isn't as big of a deal as I thought it would be. In the back is the door to the attached garage (possibly my favorite part!) and the laundry room.
The floors sold me, they are really pretty in person. The paint color was great too, I'm happy with it. I need a prettier trash can though, lol.
The living room. I am thinking about switching the two chairs so I can curl up in my paisley chair and watch tv. Also thinking a big mirror would look cool above the couch. I'm open to ideas!
The two tables are some of my favorite finds. There isn't a light in the living room, which drives me nuts, so for now I have a beautiful brass lamp my mother donated to the cause.

Temporary tv stand and the rug was included in the house. I haven't found one I like yet (tv stand or rug) The tv was the best deal to date and it's great! I have some ceramic crosses in different colors I'm thinking about hanging above the tv. Again the walls are still really bare.
Hallway. To give you an idea of how the house goes I'm standing by the paisley chair in the living room. The closest doorknob on the right is a little pantry, then my bedroom and a guest bedroom. On the left is the bathroom and the small guest bedroom/office.

The white shelf was included in the house and is the only way I could make the bathroom work. It stores a lot of crap! Love the mirror and sink and all the bright white trim everywhere.

More will be coming