Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hello Blog

Hello! I have not fallen off the edge of the earth. I have just been busy! Here's what's been going on in my world in my absence:
-trip to Denver for Thanksgiving
-Ordering calendars, losing saved calendars on ordering website, getting ready to re-design and order them again
-Weaning a second round of calves my dad bought
-Attending the Range Beef Cow Symposium for a day
-Trip to Adam's house
-Figuring out and dedicating some time to Adam's Christmas, and birthday (December 27) presents
-Writing, a lot
-Sending out a lot more pictures to various places, with some exciting success. More on that soon!
-Helping with a skit for Farm Bureau meeting (see below)
-Designing and ordering various photo products for a local Christmas Bazaar
-As a landlord, there seems to always be a few things to do in the house area
-A presentation through Farm Bureau that is no light task

Man, that doesn't seem like a long enough list : )

I will be back in the swing of things.....soon. This Friday I am heading to Casper for the Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Annual Convetion (they expect you to do show up when you're on the committee), a trip to Adam's after that (where there is no Internet service) then back home to continue writing like crazy, which it's such a blessing to be so busy in that area!
In the mean time, I will make more of an effort to at least put some new pictures up here, and stay caught up in that area.
Speaking of pictures, I would appreciate it if you swung over to the American Angus Association's Facebook page, and voted for my picture by liking it. The photo with the most likes wins. Mine is the one used in my blog header.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We headed south to Denver to have Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family.
That means we've been extra busy giving all our livestock extra feed, ensuring they have lots of water, and basically doing three days of work in the last two, so we can be gone tomorrow. As ranchers, we can't just leave anytime we want. A lot of planning and work goes into everyone in my family being gone at the same time, even if it's just for a day or two.
But, we're sure thankful we get to live the lives we do, in the place we do. We are very blessed, and wouldn't trade what we do for a living for anything!
Hope you all have safe travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Last Year

I was checking out my blog posts from last November, and came across this unpublished post, that just had the above photo. It was taken just south of Buffalo, on a Winter Cattleman's interview tripe
So much has changed in the year since I took this picture, and I have been so very blessed in the last 12 months.
Ironically enough, that picture was taken on 11-17-10, and today I am driving to Buffalo, and will be in that same town on 11-18-11. This time for my boyfriend's uncle's bull sale. I was there for interviews last year, and will be getting in at least one interview while there this year.
Last year I discovered a wonderful  little shop on Buffalo's main street, and bought a pile of Christmas ornaments. That same store is on the agenda for this afternoon! As is a tour of one of the places I toured and interviewed last year.
Last year I was helping with all the weekly newspaper stuff in addition to working on about a dozen additional articles for the Winter Cattlemen's Edition. Based on my blog posts, I was also driving home most weekends to help with the tail end of our fall work.
Right now I have six articles I'm working on right this minute, at the ranch, where I conduct most of my interviews and do most of my writing these days. I have about four more to start as soon as these are completed, a (hopefully) big presentation I just took on through the Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, a Christmas Bazaar I'm preparing for, and a wonderful boyfriend to go see in Buffalo this weekend.
What a pile of similarities and differences Looking back has made me especially thankful for where I am, and what my life is like, today!
Hope you can say the same. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Would you Work Differently?

Ryan Goodman, at Agriculture Proud, asked the question, How would you work differently if a non-farmer/rancher followed you around for a day?

My answer is nothing would change. Our success in the ranching business isn't based on what we do when someone is looking or watching. Our success is based on how we treat and care for our animals and land day in and day out, and we all know that.
This question was exciting to me because in recent months we have had the opportunity to have several people on our place. We had a good friend of mine from college who was here to record us and get pictures for her work with the Wyoming Stockgrowers (she was "the media"!). She happened to pick a day of preg-checking, and our cows were miserable that day (naturally). She saw that no one lost their temper, regardless of the cows being less than willing to work with anyone. She may have even got a couple choice words on her camera. But, it was interesting to see how a day of working frustrating cows highlighted so many positive things about ranching when you're there to see the entire picture.
We also give a talk on ranching to every single hunter that sets foot on our place, prior to releasing them to hunt. One group of dinosaur bone (that's a topic all its own) hunters happened to show up on a day when we were working our yearlings earlier this fall. I stood with the group at the fence and spent over half an hour answering questions, debunking myths, and reinforcing truths they had all heard. These people were from New York to Florida, and it was their first glimpse into real ranch life. The rest of family continued on with their tasks, and these people were fascinated with what they were watching.
As a media person, I have had the opportunity to be in the "following someone around on their operation" shoes many times. Several of these people had no idea I knew what end of a cow ate, and the vast majority of them were exactly as I've described my family. They put me right in the middle of whatever was going on, explained the hows and whys to each task, and were genuinely happy to have me around and explain things to me. They were also not about to put off preg-checking, shipping, weaning, etc.. (the animals always come first) just to visit with me.
These families would almost always invite me in for lunch, offer a place to stay if I needed one, tell me to please come back if I was ever in the area, and thank me for being there that day. The people in agriculture are amazingly hospitable, open and hardworking people, and that is another thing that doesn't change from day to day.
The only thing that is slightly different is the task at hand can take longer because we will take the time to answer any questions people have. We also always invite people in for lunch and conversation after the task. It has been my personal experience that when people outside agriculture actually do spend a day around farmers and ranchers, it's a very positive, eye-opening experience that goes a long way in showing them the truth about our industry!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas Countdown 2011 - Alma Mater gifts

 I'm back with more Christmas ideas for you. I don't know about the college you attend, or attended, but the University of Wyoming has a wonderful bookstore that sells everything from the expected UW labeled clothing and office supplies, to high end stemware, decor and jewelry.Our mascot is also the cowboy, so for those of you who love western inspired items, make sure to stop by campus if you're ever in Laramie, Wyoming.
In addition to great gifts, the UW bookstore offers an AWESOME selection of ornaments and holiday decorations every year, many of which are also western themed. Then, they have a sensational clearance sale on all that goodness each year too. Gotta love a bargain! Either way, I have to budget myself if I stop by anytime near the holidays.
Please be warned, their website doesn't have half the stuff that's available in the actual store!

I bought a set of the above ornament in red, turquoise, and brown last year in the bookstore!

What little boy doesn't want to be a cowboy (Pistol Pete kids shirt)

Kitchen related gifts are always a hit. I have two over sized wine glasses with this design etched in the side, and love them!

Brown and gold accessories always a hit in Wyoming!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grassroots Organizations

This week I am at the Wyoming Annual Farm Bureau Convention, held in Cheyenne. Since my work is no longer a conflict of interest with being personally affiliated with select organizations, I have enjoyed increasing my involvement in Wyoming Farm Bureau through running and being elected to the Wyoming Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.
My personal belief is it's a necessary act of community service to serve on boards, committees, in public office, etc... It's through personal involvement that you see your community become what you want, how you create positive change that you believe in, and is critical to the future of communities. It's also how you make others aware of issues pertinent and relevant to you and your lifestyle. My family has a long standing history of involvement for these reasons, and I'm excited to increase mine in upcoming months and years.
The thoughts I just mentioned are relevant at the local, county, state, regional, national or international level. That's the beauty of being involved. I am also a very strong believer in grassroots organizations, which are those where local members make policy, and pass it locally, then present it at the district, state, and national meetings, should it pass at each previous step. Grassroots organizations are how local people get local issues heard at a national level by government and other entities through a large and unified voice. This is the opposite of the federal government creating an idea, then passing it down to the local communities they know nothing about. Grassroots is how things should happen.
The American Farm Bureau Federation is the largest farmer and rancher based grassroots organization in the U.S. today, and as I type this, policy is being passed at the state level that has already been voted on at the local and district meetings. These are the ideas, concerns, changes and improvements Wyoming people want to see happen on more issues than you can count. Through creating policy, the people involved lobbying for Farm Bureau at the state or national level have a resource they can refer to on any number of issues to see just what the people back home think on a subject. Then they can use that policy to accurately represent member needs. 
For example, policy was passed today that states Wyoming Farm Bureau supports population control of wild horses through various means including sterilization, humane euthanization, etc... (those aren't the exact words, which in policy exact words are very important, but that gives you the general idea).
With that policy in place, the Farm Bureau lobbyists can refer to it any time there is legislation that encompasses the wild horse, and speak from the point of the organization supporting population control. If there wasn't policy, the lobbyists wouldn't know what the majority of members thought on some issues, and may not represent accurately.
The other side is, having a huge organization with members from every state in the union gets a lot more attention at state or national legislatures than one farmer, or rancher, with a concern or idea.
It's all quite fascinating, and so very important to the future of our country. I encourage anyone who has ever said, "they should do that, or do it that way," to go join the organization you were referring to, and become a part of making it the way you want and believe it should be.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Calf Doctoring

I'm back with more calf doctoring information. Kerstin asked a question on the last calf doctoring post, which was: Do you use a new needle for every shot you give/every calve? I couldn't find your email address Kerstin, but very much appreciate your question, and am happy to answer it.
No, we don't switch needles every time we give a cow/calf/yearling a shot on our operation. Some people do. However, the odds of transfering anything but a blood disease is extremely low (I have never witnessed anything transfered animal to animal from a needle in 25 years), and the cost and time associated with changing needles after every animal is uneconomical. Now, if there was an actual concern that we may cause a health related issue through using needles on more than one animal, we would absolutely change them after each shot. The animal's health comes first, and there isn't a concern in that area with most of the shots we administer, so at that point we look at cost and time associated with a practice, and that's why we choose not to switch with every animal.
We do switch needles every few head. This is because the needle will become dull, and can get dirty, bent etc..., and we are very consciencious of anything that can impact our animal's health, like manure, dirt, a needle that may break, or a dull needle that makes it more difficult to administer a shot.
Switching needles every few head is also the way every vet we use prefers to administer shots.
Specifically with doctoring calves, and giving them LA200, I typically switch needles every day. That would encompass 1-5 head given shots with the same needle.
Thank you again for your question!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Christmas Countdown 2011 - Calendars and Soap

I know it's a little early for Christmas shopping, for some. But, I'm planning to host a variety of potential gifts on here from now until Christmas, and some of them need to be ordered early to ensure they're to you in time!
Up first are two 2012 Double H Photography Calendars. I am putting out an "Outdoors in Wyoming," and a "Cattle" calendar for 2012. There is a preview photo from each below. They are $15, plus $5 shipping if you aren't from Lusk/Lance Creek WY area.
If you're interested, please contact me on here, at, or on the Double H Photography Facebook page.

 March 2012 photo in Outdoors Calendar

 Cover of Cattle Calendar

Another great Christmas gift for this year that you need to order early are products from Miller Soap Co. The owner of this great business lives near me, and makes the coolest soaps and bath products. Beyond body soaps that come in scents like leather, blueberry, White Tea & Ginger and Buttercream & Snickerdoodle (and about any other flavor you might be interested in), she also makes facial soaps, toffee lip butters, bath bombs, lotions, etc...
She makes all this wonderful stuff from her Wyoming ranch home, and ships it all over the place. The soap needs at least three weeks to cure, hence the need to order early.
There a few pictures of her products below. To see more of her wonderful creations, or to place an order, head over to the Miller Soap Co. Facebook page.

 Chocolate Espresso Soap

 Shea Butter Moisturizing Cream

Leather Soap

I will be posting more stuff as we get closer to the holidays. I'm planning to focus primarily on items I've bought in the past and people/products I'm familiar with. But, if you have a great product you think would make a wonderful gift, let me know and I'll try to get them included too!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Scenes

Here are a few fall photos from around the state of Wyoming for you to enjoy on your Sunday! God bless.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Update

Perhaps you've noticed a few changes around here. It's been so nice to finally update my blog with my new computer! I'm sure I will continue to tweek and change things in upcoming weeks. If you have any suggestions, advice, or even things you don't like, I would love to hear from you!
I've also noticed a few new followers in recent weeks, and want to say welcome! Thank you for following my blog, and I'm excited you're here.
From time to time I like to provide a little background information about myself and where I live. Here is a link to the post where I give a tour of my hometown.
I actually live 25 miles north of the bustling metropolis of Lance Creek, and our closest neighbors live five miles away if you take a road. It's closer to 2.5 miles cross country. Cattle outnumber people around here by a huge margin.
We are two and a half hours (one way) from a Walmart, Starbucks (that's the most painful one for me), Red Lobster, mall, airport, college, and any number of other "common" modern shopping, eating and transportation amenities.
To purchase a gallon of milk or any other groceries, check out a library book, find a k-12 school or a coffee shop of any kind (yay!), it's a one hour drive, one way. So, every trip to get groceries is a minimum of 112 miles, round trip.
We are isolated. We like it that way.
Our ranch is located in the "banana belt" of Wyoming. It's a semi-arid climate that has exceptionally mild winters. We originally purchased this ranch as a winter place, and our cattle lived here during the winter months on grass a cake every year. We never fed hay. Today it has changed in that we run cattle on this ranch year-round, so we feed a little more during the winter months. But, it's still a very nice to be located here in the winter compared to just about everywhere else in the state. Ironically enough, just one hour south of us, the area around Lusk is famous for it's terrible winter weather.
Being semi-arid also means we get a minimal amount of moisture; under 12 inches annually. We grow hard grasses that cattle do very well on. Hard refers to the grass not containing a lot of moisture, so each bite packs in a lot of nutrients as opposed to water. But, there isn't always a lot of it.
Hope you love where you live too, and enjoy the unique features of the area!

P.S., we're linking up with the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop too this week-

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Turquoise Thursday

Have you heard of Turquoise Thursdays? I follow a couple girl's blogs who do this, and they bring some serious eye candy each week!
The first is Crystal Cattle. I particularly love the jewelry and furniture pieces she finds (this week she has some very cute turqouise winter must-haves).
Anna at Life Be Delicious finds the most amazing clothing and home decor items (she's showing off some awesome jewlery this week).
As you may know, this isn't something I do regularly. But, I was just driving my boyfriend's pickup and trailer along last weekend, going to pick him and his father up from trailing heifers off the mountain to their winter home, when I came upon this:

It immediately caught my eye, and I thought of Turqouise Thursdays. Needless to say, I stopped the truck and trailer in the middle of the county road and snapped a few pictures. If we ever buy/build a portable loading chute, I'm going to be lobbying for painting it this color!

I also purchased this neckalce at American Eagle this week. I tried to find it on their website, but couldn't, so I'm not sure if it's available everywhere (maybe it's from spring or something?) or not. It has a really long chain too, and I like the little balls that break up the normal chain, and the flecks of gold mixed in with the turquoise on the leaves! I do a lot of accessory shopping at AE, and have a few other turquoise pieces I've purchased there. A big thank you to my brother, who gave me a gift card for my birthday that bought this necklace!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pictures of Cattle

Here are some cattle photos from recent weeks for you to enjoy. They were taken on our place, and while helping Adam near Ten Sleep. Hope you had a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Doctoring Calves

Weaning calves is much like sending your kids back to school in the fall. Between completely changing environments, tossing them into a smaller space, switching up their diet and any number of other things, some are bound to get sick regardless of your best efforts to prevent it. When I say sick, I mean anything from Pneumonia, to Pink Eye, to Foot rot, to any number of other ailments, depending on location, weather, soil and other variables. "Sickness" is an all-encompassing term.
People doctor calves in more ways than you count, and for a wide variety of ailments depending on the year, their location, and other things. Some rope and doctor them in a lot or pasture, others bring them in and put them in a chute. Some use horses and others use 4-wheelers or motorcycles. Some sort them off into a separate pen, others don't. Different people, and places, deal with different sicknesses. This is one of those ranch things where there are lots of ways to do the job effectively.
This year ours have been in our corral and a small lot. This increases the odds of them getting sick, because they're in a more confined space and were eating out of feeders, which can increase the spread of sickness. However, having them close also makes it easier to get them on a feed program, simpler to check and doctor them if they do get sick and can allow you get on top of any serious illness really fast. There are trade offs to having them turned out, or in a lot or corral like we did this year.
Before you can doctor any calves, there have to be some that are sick. Obviously everyone would prefer if they didn't get sick, and works really hard to prevent sickness before it starts. There are lots of things ranchers do to prevent sickness, including vaccination programs, adding a mild antibiotic to the water for a select period of time, feeding medicated feed for a period of time, feeding a weaning specific feed or feed additive, and a variety of other feed and management options.
For the most part, these practices are highly effective where I'm from, and we doctor very few calves. But, regardless of our best efforts, there are always a few, and some years a lot, that require additional care. As with most things involving livestock, they get sick at any time of day, and you have to spend a lot of time with them during the days following weaning when they're most likely to get sick. The key is to get on top of any sickness as fast as possible. If you miss the beginning of a wave of illness going through a bunch of calves, it can result in the duration of illness lasting much longer, costs you money in loss of production and medication costs and also increases the risk of calves not fully recovering from an illness, or dieing.

Healthy calves look like the above two photos. They're alert, with their ears up, eyes bright and bellies full. The guy just laying there is chewing his cud, a sure sign of contentment in cattle. There are lots of subtle, and not so subtle, signs of calves that are healthy, or on the verge of getting sick.

You want to look through them carefully, especially if you know you have something going through them. Number 166 looks healthy, alert, full, etc...

But, unfortunately one of the things we had go through our calves this year is Pink Eye.
Even though this guy doesn't feel sick, he needs doctored because of his eye.
Here's another suspect, this time for being sick. This guy is not alert, he's off by himself, and he's not eating when most of the other calves were - all signs of potentially needing doctored.
But, before you just go ahead and doctor every calf that looks like this, it's also important not to over-doctor. You have to spend time with the calves, and watch suspects like this guy. There are some that are obviously sick, and there's no doubt that you better doctor him or he's going to die. Then there are more "suspect" types, which need monitored. Sometimes it's easier to tell the difference, and sometimes you have to go with your gut (which for most ranchers, is based on years of personal experience) and what you feel is best for that particular animal.

Here's what we use to doctor. The artwork is custom. We use this old chute because it's pretty much worn out, and useless for anything but doctoring sick calves. It's also a manual chute, whereas our other one is run on hydraulics. Using this one means we don't have to fire up a pickup every time we want to run a calf in and doctor him, and one person can do the entire process alone if they need to.
When you doctor a calf, you usually give him a shot, in a syringe like this one.

We use a broad-spectrum antibiotic, seen here. The brand name of this bottle is Oxymycin, but the general term for this medicine is LA 200. You give calves so many cc's based on body weight. This is a mild medicine that treats a number of common illnesses and is affordable. It's usually a good starting place when doctoring calves. People in some places have to deal with illnesses that require much more aggressive doctoring, but fortunately that's not the case where I live in most instances.

You can give the shot under the skin, and we give multiple shots to spread the medicine out. For Pink Eye, you can also give the shot in the eyelid. But, considering I was doctoring most of these calves alone, I wasn't about to try to mug each one's head and give what would be a very difficult shot at the same time. So, instead of an actual shot, I would fill this little syringe with LA 200, and apply some of it directly to the eye. Pink Eye is extremely susceptible to doctoring, and the direct contact of the LA 200 to the infected area (eye) increases effectiveness. That's why they recommend a shot right at they eye also.

I didn't get a photo of doctoring any calves this year, but here's an example of my aunt giving a shot. She's going to give it in the neck, and you also want to be careful not to break the syringe (the clear part is glass), and waste the vaccine. She was giving a shot to some cows, and that's why it's white. LA 200 is the color and consistency of maple syrup. It's sticky, thick, and some brands burn when you give the shot to the calf. But, it's also fast and long-acting, effective, and a much better alternative to not being doctored.
Then each calf gets a mark with a paint stick, so you can tell he's been doctored after you turn him back out. Sometimes you have to doctor calves multiple times, and you need to know if he's been doctored previously. If you doctor a calf multiple times, you can switch colors each time. This year we used one color (pink) for sick calves, and another (yellow) for those doctored for Pink Eye.
We also write each calf we doctor down, along with the date we gave it a shot, and this year whether it was a sick calf or one with Pink Eye. We keep records of practically everything.

Lots of people just put a mark across the shoulders. I added another on their hip because when they were eating in the feeders, there were times when you couldn't see the shoulders.

The paint stick marks fade over time. Here's the first calf that was doctored for Pink Eye. At this point we're pretty much past the post-weaning sickness, and I turned the calves out to pasture this morning.