Friday, May 27, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Cattle are moved to different pastures throughout the year to maximize the utilization and regrowth potential of grass on the operation. How people graze their pastures varies drastically from place to place depending on the types of grass, weather, terrain, soil and any number of other varying factors present on their land.
The idea with grazing is to provide adequate nutrition to your livestock to meet their growth or maintenance needs, while also maintaining or improving the quality of grass, so you can use it again the following year. If you do a poor job managing your grass, it will directly impact your livestock, because they won't have enough feed to grow or maintain. Ranchers are experts at grass management, due in part because their livelihood depends on it.
This time of year a lot of cattle are being moved to their summer homes, where they will graze pastures that have been untouched since last year in most cases. We started by gathering the steers out of a smaller pasture where they have been for a week, waiting for this day when they will head for their summer home.
Yearlings are very curious, energetic creatures, and this often results in some funny, and sometimes not funny, situations. We often compare them to teenagers, as they have several personality similarities.
Then we leave the yearlings to gain and grow at their summer home. My uncle has put his steers in here before, and as I mentioned at the beginning, he manages his grass so the pasture will be as good, or better, than the year before. You can see the old (grey) grass from last year that he left. This old grass was allowed to go to seed, and it caught moisture in the winter that soaked in and helped germinate this year's grass. It also provided food to a number of wildlife species, even after he was done grazing it, and provided cover for the land, and discouraged weeds from growing.
I also mentioned that different places grow different kinds of grasses, which provide more or less nutrition to cattle. This area will result in good quality yearlings gaining over two pounds a day. To give a comparison, yearlings on grass an hour south of were my family lives will gain over three pounds a day in some cases.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
This fence allows us to be better managers of our grass, and prevents the overgrazing and under grazing of different parts of our ranch. As I've mentioned before, efficiency is a big deal, and we want to utilize our available resources, grass in this case, in the best way possible across our entire ranch.
Upon completion, we will allow our cattle to graze the creek bottom early, when it greens up. Then we will move them off the creek bottom and allow that grass to grow untouched through the summer months, and then return back and graze it again in the fall.
The first part of this job was tearing out the old electric fence. A hired man built this fence several years ago, and didn't do the best job. We opted to start completely over with it, saving the two wires, pulling the wood posts and replacing them with fiberglass posts, and straightening it out.
This is what most of it looked like. The wood posts weren't set deep enough, and popped up. Several insulators were also missing, and without those an electric fence will short out, and become ineffective.
One advantage to using fiberglass posts is they eliminate the need for washers, as the wire won't short out when they touch fiberglass. One disadvantage is fiberglass gives awful slivers, and you don't want to grab a fiberglass post without your gloves on.
Friday, May 13, 2011
On a more personal front, things in my life are going extremely well! The transition from desk/town/career (I use that term very loosely) to outdoors/ranch/self employed has gone smoothly, and I am a very blessed and happy girl.
Professionaly I just completed my first photography job since leaving the paper, and am working on my first writing assignment as well. When not working in those two areas, I've been helping build fence, picking up bulls, branding and keeping the guys fed and clothed in my moms absence. I am also helping some family and neighbors with their ranch work over the next few months, and have scheduled that through the end of May.
Other highlights in the work area include finally being able to learn how to AI (artificially inseminate) cattle this June. Adam's (he did not like being referred to as "the guy," and requested a change) mom AI's, and will be teaching me. Getting to spend some quality time with my grandma while working at my uncle's place is another thing I am really looking forward too.
Adam and I (as in mostly him, and I get to go along) also have some traveling planned for the summer, and I'm thrilled to have a schedule that allows me to participate in such things again. Traveling and being able to attend events, and see places, of interest to me were things I've really missed.
This week Adam also surprised me with dinner at my favorite Casper restaurant, and floor level tickets to Riverdance when they performed in Casper. Next weekend we are planning a night out in Deadwood, and after that is a week of AI'ing together. If you couldn't tell, things are going extremely well in the relationship area too, and I am a very lucky girl in that area as well!
Hope all is well with everyone who reads this, and as soon as possible I'll get caught up on posts that include pictures!
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Spending time at my guy's place, lambing and just helping out and seeing him.