Friday, November 30, 2012

Ag themed Christmas presents

 Tomorrow I am off to the annual Christmas Bazaar in my little hometown. Preparing for this event is one of the things that had been keeping me busy the last few weeks. But, today you get a sneak peek at some of what will be for sale tomorrow : ) 
If you see anything that would make a perfect Christmas gift for someone in your life, I will be placing another order this weekend or next Monday, and will take orders online. Just email me at with questions or orders.

Up first are these fun ag-inspired notepads. From left to right they read, Ewesful Tidbits, Udderly Ridiculous Lists, Hoo Called?, and Hogs and Kisses.

Inside, they are blank, with a photo on the bottom that coordinates with the cover. These are $15 each, and if you order them in sets of 2, they can be shipped directly to you.

 Up next are cards. I love sending cards to people, and always have a stockpile of blank greetings cards with a photo on the cover. These are a few examples of the images that made the new order of cards for this year. Above is a sheepwagon camp photo I snapped in central Wyoming.

"The Hands that Feed You." A Wyoming farmer's hands, showing his year's crop during an interview.

 "Branding Day." Taken on my family's ranch a couple years ago.

"Range Rams." Taken along the county road of our next door neighbors registered Rambouillet rams, which happen to be among the best in the country.
Cards are $2 each, and include envelopes. They are printed on either a linen feeling paper, or on a slick, high gloss paper, and are blank inside.
Shipping will depend on where you're located. If you live near me I am happy to deliver also.
If you live in Eastern Wyoming, Western South Dakota or Western Nebraska, I encourage you to stop by our local Christmas Bazaar and check out all the fantastic goodies the local folks make around here. Everything from soap to food to decor, and of course photography based gifts pack our local fairgrounds.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cows of Note: Little Red

 Hello from the long lost writer on this blog. Life has been busy around here, and as a result some things had to give, the blog being one of them. But, I am back, and kicking things off with a "Cow of Note" post. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, these posts highlight specific cows that are noteworthy for some positive or negative reason. This all started when I picked up a PETA magazine, and read that ranchers do not know one of their animal's from the next, and don't care either. This is far from the truth, and these noteworthy cows are one way I highlight individuals from our herd.
While most of our cows are black, or black baldies, today's noteworthy cow is "Little Red." Thus dubbed because of her size and color (we're very original namers). We purchased Little Red as a calf, and you may be thinking that she is a cow of note because she is our only red cow. Nope, that is not the case.

Little Red is a cow of note because she is a fence crawling machine. We could not keep this cow anywhere. She isn't wild, flighty, scared or even concerned. In fact, the above picture is about as excited as she gets. But, in her calm, steady way, she will crawl up cutbanks that are over five feet tall, worm under nicely stretched wires, and navigate around cracks and crevices to find the premier pasture spot within her traveling radius.
This made her noteworthy in a bad way as soon as we discovered this habit, which showed up just after calving this spring. The issue with cows like this is they develop friends, and lead their friends astray. It's like when your child starts to hang out with someone that's a bad influence. This cow is the equivilant of that bad influence. No matter what approach we took to putting her back, she was out again in a matter of hours.

This fall we weaned Little Red's calf, number 28. After the day spent weaning, I glanced out the window and saw calves in our calving lot, which caused a skyrocketing shot of concern as they were supposed to be locked in the correl. Guess who was in the lead. Yes, number 28 and two of her buddies had carefully crawled under a cow panel that was chained to a fence, and were calmly working their way around our calving lot in search of the best escape route.
That was the final straw, and Little Red was culled based on her wandering ways when we preg checked. She was a moderate cow who raised a good calf, was very calm, bred back early (these sorts always do), and otherwise had no vices. But, choosing to exhibit such behavior on a dry year when everyone is overstocked just because of the lack of moisture was a bad decision on her part. I am still dealing with the influence she had on the other cows her age, who now require a pretty good fence to keep them in after taking a class or two from her. Hopefully whoever purchased her enjoys fencing, or gathering.
If you would like to read about other noteworthy individuals in our herd, here is a post on Number 2 and another on a cow who became a mother at a young age.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Finishing Fall Cattle Work

We are finally finished with our fall cattle work as of Nov. 8. This run of weaning, shipping, preg-checking and hauling off drys usually takes 3-4 weeks. It took three months this year. Above is a photo from August 27 - the day we weaned our first calf heifers. Also the earliest my father ever remembers weaning April born calves.
Why is it all so spread out this year? The response typically starts with, "this is an odd year," and I'm sure people who don't understand ag, and even some who do, are sick and tired of hearing farmers and ranchers say that around here.
Perhaps a better way to say it is the unusual weather resulted in altered management practices in an effort to do what was best for our livestock and land longterm.
For example, we did not wean in August, when it was over 100 degrees, just for kicks and giggles. We did that because we had very little grass for the cows to consume, and with the increased energy they use to produce milk for their calf, we thought it may be most effective to wean the calves and feed them a high quality diet, rather than expect the cow to feed him on a limited, poor quality diet. This was also thinking ahead because if the cow doesn't have enough nutrition, she will absorb her new pregnancy before she stops producing milk for her current calf, and we didn't want to reach that point and have a bunch of our young cows come up open (not pregnant) which means they're sold on our outfit.
We also started supplementing the cows in August, which is also incredbibly early, to help them get as much as they could out of the available grass. By "we" I mean my mother and I. The other half of the "we's" around here were already booked solid hauling hay over twice as far per load as last year, trying to get as much accomplished as possible before winter set it. That is also unusual, and a direct result of the weather. All ranchers are concerned about winter, and want to make sure they are in a position to care for their livestock regardless of what happens in the next several months.
Then, as September rolled along, we were feeding the weaned calves every day. As soon as possible after pulling the bulls out their mothers were preg-checked, and any that were open were immediately sold to conserve as much grass as possible for those that were bred. Our yearling heifers were also pregged as early as possible, via ultrasound, and turned out with the other young cows. The guys literally took those days off, then climbed back in their trucks - either to haul hay or have repairs made.
From there we dove into the older cows, who spent the summer on far better grass 200 miles north of our home place at a grazing association. This always involves a day of gathering, weaning and shipping calves home, followed a few days later with gathering and shipping the cows home. This is all done for two separate bunches of cows - my father's and my uncles, so you can take that list and double it.
The calves were all shipped to the feedlot, in two separate bunches because some were at home and some went straight from the grazing association. Hay was also hauled to the feedlot. The last two yeras we haven't gone to a feedlot, and that switch took extra days to vaccinate the calves based on the feeder's health program and to load them out. Prior to that our management resulted in the calves all being together, which meant one day of shipping, not two.
Then, I called the vet, and scheduled our last pregging based on his next available date, which was three weeks out at the time. So, from the time the cows were hauled home from the grazing association until last week they were fed every bite they ate. This was because it was a toss up which was more efficient - feeding them near the house where there was no feed, or trailing them to the far end of the place, then gathering and trailing them back a week later. We chose to feed them, and on a nice morning with lots of help, we finished up the last cow, shipped off the last drys, counted out the last bunch, and trailed them to their winter home.
One thing I've noticed this fall is that for taking so long, I don't know how it could have gone any better. I don't remember ever having better weather for every single day. With a couple exceptions it was sweatshirt weather. Just last year I was hobbling around on my first, and very well done sprained ankle, on days with freezing rain and dust all at the same time. Plus, I have doctored a significantly smaller percentage of calves than in recent years, which always makes me happy.
Did all our plans to do what was best for our land and livestock work perfectly - no. The early weaned calves looked tough when they headed to the feedlot and we came to the conclusion that we would rather feed the cow with the calf on her than wean early and feed the calf. However, for the most part we consider the extra time and effort well spent. Things look rough around here, and there aren't any fat cows on this place this year. But, there aren't very many overly thin cows either, and those that are thin are picking up fast. Plus, we have managed to stretch what we have to the point that we're going to make it work for this winter, much like our friends and neighbors.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Details, Painted Nails and Deer Skulls

 Here are the details, painted nails and deer skulls I snapped while covering the country during the fall work run. Have a great weekend!

P.S. I am happily linking this post up with Fresh From the Farm's Farm Photo Friday : )