Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oh October.

You were a month filled with unexpected surprises.
A 16 day long furlough.
Time to breathe and get.stuff.done.
A new to me pickup, and a goodbye to the EQ.
Getting to meet new families.
A lot more time at the ranch.

{All blessings.}

A month that won't soon be forgotten.
PS - The furlough wasn't all that bad...although it probably isn't good to wish for another one next October!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!
Our office tries to get into the Halloween spirit, and most of us dress up.
For the second year in a row, Kayci & I dressed up as the {Civil War}, but this year Blair was a ref, and she fit perfectly into the mix!

I hope everyone has had a spook-tacular day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Last weekend we weaned our Charolais calves.  They'd been pre-conditioned, so it was just a matter of giving an additional booster shot, weighing each calf individually, worming them and separating them from the cows.  We utilized fence line weaning (where the cows & calves can still see/smell each other, but are physically separated by a fence, so the calves can't nurse) and besides one bull calf jumping out - we were pretty successful.  The calves were fed a pelleted preconditioning feed and given unlimited access to grass forage to help them transition. 

After a week, the calves were ready to be moved away from the cows into a new pasture.  We keep them in a pen right behind our house, so it's easy to monitor them.  The fence line weaning did the trick - after we moved them home and away from the cows on Sunday, there wasn't any bawling.  Peaceful sleeping has definitely been a blessing these past two nights. 

Last I checked....{bawling calves} isn't a setting on any white noise machines I know of. 

Now it's just a matter of figuring out what heifers we want to keep as replacements, shipping the steers, and marketing the bull calves.  We're happy with the 2013 calf crop, and looking forward to watching them develop.

Success is reason enough.

Monday, October 28, 2013


When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.  ~Ansel Adams

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Whenever Beaver fans get's always a good time!

E.R. Jackman Friends & Alumni Tailgater
Corvallis, OR

Go Beavs!

Friday, October 25, 2013

5 on Friday.

1. Get your orange on.

Bring on the OSU Homecoming!  I'm headed to Corvallis tomorrow for the E.R. Jackman Alumni Tailgater.  If you're going to be in the area, stop by for free food, family friendly activities and a cash bar.  PLUS - I bet you'll run into some awesome friends from the Oregon Ag industry! 

Go Beavs!

2. Weaning the Char's.

We weaned the Charolais calves last week.  I know, it's late but with everything else going on sometimes our own cattle have to take a back seat....  We were really pleased with how the calves did, and have two bull calves that are looking pretty studly! I'll post pictures next week, but we're glad to have that done!

3. Family Sessions.

A big thank you to all of the families who came out to the ranch last weekend for family photos.  We had such a great time with all of you, and hope you enjoy your images.  Lindsay and I are on the home stretch of editing them, and will have your discs to you soon!

4. Bunco

I can't say it enough - my two nights a month I spend playing Bunco with good friends is worth it's weight in gold.  Thanks ladies for coming over last night to play!  If you aren't in a Bunco group and live locally - let me know - we're always looking for subs!  And if you don't live locally....think about starting a takes a bit of coordination at first getting people organized, but you won't regret it!

5. A new lens?

I've been thinking about getting a new lens for my Canon Rebel.  I love my 55-250 for when I'm out & about at the ranch, but it has a bit too much zoom for pictures of people and up close shots.  I'm torn between shelling out a few more bucks for a lens like a 18-200....or just getting a simple prime lens, and trading the dollars saved for the zooming capacity.  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments if you have a preference, or a certain lens that you love! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When life is a routine.

Life on a ranch is different every day, but it's also a lot of routine.

I know....
{Routine & Ranching} 
It sounds like an oxymoron.

But it's true.  A lot of our life is routine.  It's just that there are usually a few - or maybe a lot - of speed bumps that get thrown in along the way.

Right now Clint is calving fall cows, so he drives thru them every morning, mid-day and night.  Some days he can drive thru them and everything is hunky dory, so he can go on with the other things he'll have planned for the day.  Other times, everything has gone to pot and he might have to scramble to get a calf paired up or pull a calf and get colostrum milked out and fed.   And on other days, he might drive thru them at 9:45 pm and hope nothing bad has happened because he hit a few speed bumps and hasn't had a chance to look at them since the morning check.

I think anyone who farms or ranches knows what I'm talking about.
Some days you're scheduled to go to a doctor's appointment and you make it with time to spare.  On another, cattle may tear down a fence, or a tractor breaks down, or {insert your problem here} and you're forced to call and reschedule. 

We have learned to not even schedule appointments for Clint during calving never works out. 

But the thing is; as crazy as a day may be, there is still a routine.

Calving seasons come each year.
Weaning happens every year.
Breeding season happens every year.
Cows are checked routinely.
Feed is fed, pastures are checked and hay is flaked routinely. 
Where we live, we do chores every morning and every night with the milk cows.
Horses are tended to every day.

The order and length of time each of these chores & tasks may take in a day can vary, but the routine of being at the ranch and accomplishing those things still happens.  Sometimes that means that those things get done at 10:00 pm in the dark, with headlights shining a path....and sometimes they're done by 6:00 pm and you're in the house for dinner on time.

But every day the routine gets done.

And with these routines;

Joy happens all around us.
Blessings overflow daily.
Grace and patience and love are needed and necessary.

One thing is for sure - Life is never dull. 
That is for darn sure.

Work Ethic.

Those that ranch & farm with those three things in mind are usually successful.
And success is reason enough.

Monday, October 21, 2013



My cousin Alicia is famous for dropping this into conversations.  The first time she did, I looked at her like a crazy person.  What the heck was she talking about?

ROI = Return On Investment

You're probably shaking your head at me, thinking "She should have known that", but I didn't.


Clint and I were talking about heifers this weekend, and how management of replacement heifers and first calf heifers can really pay off big....or can come to bite you in the rear.  In addition to ROI, our discussion made me think about this blog post by Troy Marshall.   Feeding heifers isn't's actually quite an investment.  But it's a case where spending less is different then investing less and ROI is quite important.

Of course I'd like to think that the heifers here at the ranch are managed well.  But the fact is, I'm not an expert in the cattle industry, or cattle nutrition and I don't deal with it every day. 

What I do know is that energy in = energy out.
ROI matters here.  In spades.

A heifer that is bred and growing a calf will require more energy than a cow who is carrying a calf, because the cow has already achieved her mature weight and is only maintaining + growing her calf.  A replacement heifer is still growing herself + trying to grow a calf as well, so of course she requires more energy.  This is why many ranches run their heifers separate from their mature cows, so that they can feed them to their nutrititional needs. 

For instance, at Double M they run replacement heifers as one group, first calf heifers as a second group, 2 and 3 year old cows as a third group, and then the mature cows are split into other groups depending on other factors. 

So back to this whole energy in = energy out.

If you cheat a heifer on feed, because it's cheaper in the short term, most likely you'll cheat that heifer out of feed resources and energy she needs to feed her calf in the long term.  While you may have saved some $ in feed, the potential to reap less $ on calf weaning weights is just as great. 

And this whole concept - it's not just for replacement heifers.

If you cheat a relationship in the short term.....
Pass up on spending time together, only to lose contact with that person later on.....

If you cheat on an investment in quality.....

If you cheat yourself by not focusing on things that bring you joy....
Stressing over having the most & the best, when what is in front of you is more than many have....

Finding the balance - and best return on your investment - is a lot like raising replacements.

We have to maximize the return of our investments, make smart decisions and stay within our financial & emotional budgets.

Again - I'm not the expert here, but I think it's worth thinking about areas in our life where we're being too efficient....and just end up cheating ourselves.

Where does your greatest ROI lie?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall at the feedlot.

It's Friday.  
My normal {day off}.
Even though we just went back to work yesterday, we're supposed to be following our normal schedules.  
So I'm home at the ranch instead.

Not that I'm complaining.  :)

After doing chores at the calving barn - 7 sweet little babies suckling out their adoptive Jersey moms & 2 pairs that I am so ready to "kick out" of the barn and put back to pasture with their graft calves - I headed to the feedlot.   I had two dead calves to take to the dead pit from the aforementioned 2 cows (just being honest - the ranching lifestyle is not glamorous 100% of the time) and to get there you have to drive through the feedlot.

Fall is my absolute favorite time to take pictures there.  

The lot is full, there's calves of all colors & sizes and the feed seems to glimmer in the early morning light.  It's always abuzz with activity - cattle at the bunks, feed trucks running, guys on horseback checking pens, tractors moving in feed for the winter.

Silage pits are being filled, corn cob piles are being stacked and pushed and the feed trucks make round after round and then go again.  

Bulls for sale in the spring come to the bunk next to pens of freshly weaned calves.  Cattle that are being backgrounded for finising inhale freshly delivered feed, next to a pen of heifers for replacement.

It's a busy time of the year.
But it's part of the routine, and the crew is ready for it.
Here's a successful fall at the feedlot.