Friday, January 31, 2014

January.

  


Cattle.

Our January has been all about cattle.
Calving cows, checking heifers, picturing bulls, videoing bulls, tagging calves.
Doctoring calves, feeding groups, and AI'ing fall cows for the ranch and others.

Even all of my photo files for this month are of cattle.

We don't normally schedule anything socially in January.
This is "go-time" at the ranch, and we try to make sure we're home and available.
For me, when I know the extra work is coming; it's easier to make sure I'm ready to handle it as gracefully as I can.

And while this month is always a lot of extra effort; it's always enough.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Feeding.

Life on a cattle ranch is usually different every day, but in the winter months one thing that is pretty consistent is feeding.

 

Our area got pretty lucky with a nice fall green-up this year, and many ranches didn't have to start full feeding all of the cows & heifers until just recently. 

A full feeding is when every group of cows gets their daily requirement of forage from hay that is fed to them.  A partial feeding is when the guys feed a percentage of the forage requirement, and the cows graze the remainder. 

At Double M, they had some groups that into December had enough grass in the pastures that their entire daily forage requirement was provided, and no hay was needed.


But now that we're in January, all groups are being fed a full feeding each day.
Holding off on not having to full feed everything later into the year saved resources; obviously the cost of hay - since you're not feeding it and cows are out grazing grass that's already there, but also labor & time.  Now that they guys are full feeding every group, there are three feed trucks running each day, with two people per feed truck - one to drive, and one to flake hay.  Feeding usually takes each team a few hours, to get around to all of the groups.

 
Sometimes when the ranch is short people, the guys will feed by themselves.  (Unfortunately, a lot of ranchers have to do this every day.....Double M has enough crew that it's a rare occurence.)   They'll choke the throttle so the truck doesn't need someone to push on the gas pedal, put it in low and strap a bungi-cord to the steering wheel so that the truck drives straight.  Once the truck is started, the guy jumps onto the deck and starts to flake hay - all the while hoping that the truck drives straight, doesn't hit anything (or any calves) and doesn't go over any big bumps.  You can see why they try to avoid doing this; but honestly, some days it has to happen. 






The guys also check cattle for sickness while they're out feeding.  Usually the driver does this, since they have a good view and aren't distracted by flaking hay.  This is one of the most efficient times of day to check health since all of the cattle come to the feed truck.....if one doesn't come, or comes slowly, or with an ear down, you know that something is up. 

So the trucks will keep rolling and the hay will continue to be flaked, with the end goal of a cow in proper condition when she gets turned out this spring.

And by then, the guys have usually had their fill of feeding every day, and are usually ready to park the trucks and open the gates!
:)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Genex & Double M Internship

Head's up friends!  We need YOUR help!

-------------------

Do you know a student that is interested in the beef industry? 

Are they up for some paid travel this spring & summer?

Would they be willing to help with large ranch AI projects? 

Do they want to travel to and visit a diverse group of cattle operations?

Are they interested in going "Behind the Scenes" of a large AI stud?

Are they willing to help with various ranch work?
Branding, AI'ing, management, etc.

And get paid to do it all?


Then the 2014 Genex & Double M Ranch Cow Sense & Science internship might be for them!  Or you!

Double M Ranch is teaming up with Genex this spring to partner in a paid internship that will provide one individual the opportunity to experience a breadth of large scale ranches and AI projects through Genex's Chuteside Service and work on the Double M Ranch.  Travel is paid for, and the individual will be expected to be available from May-August (time frame can be adjusted based on school schedule).


Applications are due February 15, 2014 and interested students should send a resume & cover letter to:

Sarah Thorson
Beef Education Manager
3800 Duck Creek Rd
Billings, MT 59101
Ph: 406-656-9034 ext 14

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If you know someone who is interested, please share this information with them.

Last year's intern was from Nebraska, and he did a great job! 
Hi James!
Our hope is that someone just as qualified and willing to learn will apply.

-------

A few more details:
  • Applicants should be pursuing a bachelor's degree in Animal Science or related field and have completed classes commensurate with their sophomore year.
  • Candidate must have a strong desire to work with cattle & people.
  • Candidate must have excellent communication & organizational skills, and the ability to work independently as well as part of a team.
  • Knowledge of beef genetics and farm/ranch experience is required.
Again, the deadline to apply is February 15, 2014!


Monday, January 27, 2014

More of the same.

Sometimes I feel like I'm a broken record when I post about cows, but it's what our life looks like and the truth is that we're still calving here! :)

Start knocking on wood, because what I'm about to say below will probably become
untrue as soon as I type these words....

We had very few problems this weekend.

Besides a set of twins, and a pair that we brought to the barn last night because it was a bit chilly, the weekend was for the most part pretty drama free.

You can't see me - but I'm dancing a happy dance!








Cows calved on their own, heifers claimed and took care of their own calf, nothing had to be pulled and night checks stayed relatively uneventful.  You gotta love drama free days (and nights) when you're calving!  We even got to rest for a bit Saturday evening....it was kind of weird, we didn't know what to do with ourselves.

Hopefully the drama free atmosphere will stick around....but Clint still has quite a few cows and heifers left to calve, so I won't be holding my breath. 

How's calving in your world? 

Or are you ready to send some of your drama - or fog - elsewhere? 

Either way, know that I'm cheering you on!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When enough is enough.



Sometimes....it can all just be a little overwhelming.

The sun comes up, and the sun goes down, and the minutes in between just don't seem like enough.

We run here, go there, and chase time hour by hour.


Cows have to be fed, calves need to be tagged, pens need to be cleaned and fence needs to be mended. 

{Surprises} aren't fun, unexpected tasks creep in, and before you know it - the day is done.  But the to-do list still isn't checked off.

Mountains of laundry beckon from the basket, dishes cascade in the sink, and there never seems to be enough hot water or suds to wash it all away at night.

You fall into bed.  Exhausted.

Alarms go off, snooze buttons get pressed until there just.isn't.one.minute.more.left.to.procastinate!


It makes you think that it isn't worth it.  That there isn't enough.

That you aren't enough.

But you are.  Enough is enough.

It really, truly is.

There are enough minutes.  There is enough patience. 

The dishes can wait.   Who cares if you wore that sweatshirt yesterday?!?

We only live once.

Let's make it count.

Give the hug. 
Flash the smile. 
Hold your breath and your temper just one more minute. 
Flirt with your husband. 
Make the phone call. 
Wave to your neighbor. 
Hold the ones close to you even closer.

It will all be worth it. 

It is already.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Night Checks.

I hope everyone had a great LONG weekend! 

It was so nice to have three days in a row to be home, and just focus on helping Clint with calving.  The heifers are about a third of the way done, and the young cows are starting to crank up. 

Let's talk about night checks.  Everyone's doing them, right?!?  ;) 

At Double M, the guys try to split up the night checks, so there's at least a chance of someone getting a couple hours of sleep in a row.  Clint has the first two night checks, and then Jack has the early morning checks.  The heifers and young cows usually get fed between 4:00-6:00 pm and this is also when we do chores at the barn so everything gets a good looking over before we lose light.  Then if all is well, Clint usually checks again around 10:00 pm and then 1:00 am.   Jack takes over for the 4:00 am check, and the 6:00 am check.   Deana & I try to tag along with the guys, to open gates or help out if we can. 

I wish I wasn't, but I am much less grumpy about night checks if I don't have to work the next day.  I need to figure out a way to turn off the voice in my head that says "You have to work tomorrow", because everyone involved has to work the next day.

The best night checks are the ones where you drive out through the heavy pen and find everyone laying down and just hanging out.  Nothing is in labor, everything that has already calved is paired up, and no trouble is to be found.  And when you can find that twice - during both the 10:00 pm and 1:00 am checks - well that is pretty darn fantastic!  Sunday night was like that for us, and I sure enjoyed getting almost five hours of uninterrupted sleep. 

Of course, if something goes wrong - a cow needs to be brought to the barn, a calf needs to be pulled, or a newly born set of twins don't get enough colostrum - the night check gets lengthened out.   And let's be honest - this is usually when the {cranky} comes out. 

Last night was one of those nights - we went out about 1:30 am and all was well with the heifers, so we headed to the check the young cows.  Just as we were about done (and when your hope is really high that nothing will be wrong and you can go back to bed) we found a cow who'd broke her water but was up walking around.  This usually doesn't bode well, but we wanted to give her a chance so we left her alone for a half hour, set an alarm and took a quick snooze in the pickup.  When we woke up, she had two feet out but still wasn't laying down so we gave her another 15 minutes, took another snooze and hoped for the best.  3:00 am rolled around and still no calf on the ground - so we headed to the barn.  But the best part was during all of this, Lindsay and I were messaging each other on Facebook because we were both up supporting our husbands during night checks.  

Moral support, a good visit or a quick text saying "you got this" makes such a difference, and I am so thankful for our friendship and the support L1 provides.  All ranch wives should be as lucky as I am.

We got lucky, and the calf was alive as Clint pulled it. We tucked the pair into a pen before heading to the house for an hour of sleep before we headed to 7Up to AI cows. Maybe we bring too much to the barn, and maybe we're too cautious, but I think if you ask Clint he'd rather bring one in and make sure he's done everything he can to have a live calf hit the ground, rather than the opposite.  Bringing a cow to the barn creates more work - pens to clean, hand feeding & watering, etc. - but if we can pair out a healthy calf in a day or two, we think it's worth it. 

So we'll keep night checking, and I imagine that there'll be a few more trips to the barn in our future.  (Although we can hope for the best!)  If you're calving and taking on the night checks - know that I'm cheering you on!

- PS -
No pictures with this post.  I'm sure you can all imagine how tough it would be to take pictures in the middle of night, and especially when you're driving in a pickup through a bumpy field.  And let's not even think what a picture would look like when you're trying to convince a cow to go thru a gate when she has every intention of heading to the opposite end of the field!

- PPS -
There was a great post of a list of 25 things to have to be prepared for calving season on the Beef Daily blog today.  It's worth checking out here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

5 on Friday.

1. I drove to work this morning in the daylight; only because I slept two hours past my alarm.  (Yikes!)  And while I was an hour late to work....I have to say, the extra two hours of sleep were probably worth it.  It was a great drive - I pulled out of the fog on the meadows and a huge sun rising over the eastern horizon met me and I had clear skies all the way to Pendleton.



2. With being an hour late, and leaving early today for a dental appointment, I wasn't at work very long.  I had to get a crown today, and this picture Kerry posted on Facebook last week still makes me laugh, especially after my appointment.



3. This quote really hit a home run with me this week - so much that it's taped on the top of my computer monitor at work;

"One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency."

4. It's a three day weekend for us at our office with the MLK Jr. holiday, and I'm looking forward to helping Clint with calving and taking some more pictures of the calves.

And maybe getting a nap, if I'm being honest. :)

There's already about 50 calves on the ground, and the heifers aren't due until the 20th.  I guess that's probably a good thing - since they're usually smaller when they are born earlier.  Hopefully the rest will come without any major problems!


5. Thank you to everyone for your encouragement this week - phone calls, comments on the blog, notes on Facebook, or packets of goodness left by the back door. (Thank you Tess!)  I so appreciate all of you - and the positive encouragement you give to us.  We are blessed.

......

I hope everyone has a great weekend and that you find things in your life that make you {rejoice}!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Exhausted, but rejoicing.

I'm sitting in my office, typing this.  My work day is done, and I'll be headed home soon.  To a husband I love, four dogs that are probably curled up in the back of Clint's work pickup keeping him company, beef stroganoff in the crockpot and a house that probably isn't as clean as it could be. 

Let's face it - my house will never be as clean as it could be.


It's calving season too, and if tonight is anything like earlier this week, the evening might also include;

Three sets of twins born during the day. 
The extra twins that were pulled off and grafted to new cows who needed a bit of extra coaxing to let them suck.
A first calf heifer who won't claim her calf.
New babies that need tagged, and weighed and shots given.


A heifer that had started to calve at 8:50 pm, so we gave her some space and time while we went to tag two calves, only to come back a few minutes later to see that she'd calved but hadn't stood up.  A cow that's just calved needs to stand up so the sac will break....a calf can't live long when the sac is over it's head and it can't breath.  But a heifer won't usually lay down and calve with us standing watch over her.
A cuss word muttered under the breath.
We keep our frustration under wraps as the cow dutifully licks her now lifeless calf, her mothering instincts kicking in too late.
We finish tagging the rest of the calves in the field, and then head to the barn to tag.


A barn that was empty this weekend and is now filled except for one stall.
We wonder why?
The guys try to make sure the heifers are in good condition, get fed right and are bred to bulls that promote calving ease.
And yet even with a 60 pound calf, heifers don't want to get up and mother.
You shake your head trying to figure a solution out. 
{Suggestions welcome here....}


Dinner gets served at 10:00 when we walk in the house.  A bagged pre-made salad and quesadillas.  Quesadillas are my go-to dinner for late nights....two ingredients, one pan, lots of warm cheesy goodness before we sack out in our easy chairs for a two hour nap before the night check.
12:37 comes and we groggily rise to find shoes, a jacket and head to the pickup.
An hour later, one new calf has entered the world and is up nursing warm goodness from it's mother.  A drive through the fall cows fails to find any in heat, which means there won't be any to breed the next morning.
An hour later we tuck under warm sheets and set the alarm for 4:40 am to start again.


This lifestyle is tough in January.  And it is flat out exhausting.
I keep repeating to myself -
"The first and the last weeks of calving are the hardest.  We can make it through."

But what is {hard}?
When I think back to a year ago - what I'm going through now isn't hard.

What we're doing is a choice and one we made for ourselves.  We decided to live this lifestyle, knew what we were getting ourselves into and have relished it.  Yes, there are months that are not much fun as others.  Yes, we are tired and calving has only begun.

But -

We're alive. 
We're well.
  We're acting on our own free accord.
We are surrounded by love.
We're living the dream.

"This is the day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
~ Adapted from Psalm 118 & my mantra for 2014 ~

Let's rejoice friends.  Let's give it our all, make it to work dog-tired and still put in a 100% for the day and dream of May when the pairs are all turned out to grass.

I'll be right here cheering you on.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My mom.

It's my mom's birthday today.  I already called and talked with her this morning (actually I think I may have woken her up - I didn't realize she had taken the day off - whoops!) but also wanted to give her some love on the blog today.

Happy Birthday Mom!

I've been waiting for her birthday to post these pictures we took in November as a family.  The first one below is how I always picture my mom.



The three of us have been lucky enough to have a mom who loves us.
Really, that's all anyone needs; someone who cares for you.
The rest sorts itself out.
Love always wins.

Happy birthday Mom!  Here's to another fabulous trip around the sun.

---

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.  ~Tenneva Jordan

Monday, January 13, 2014

Great balls of fire.


So the title of this post maaayyyy be a little misleading.

But fire is involved.

John England and his crew have been at the ranch/feedlot for the past week or so clipping sale bulls for Meadow Acres Angus, Thomas Angus and Rollin Rock Angus.  This weekend they were clipping in a pen behind our house so I went down and took some pictures of the Rollin Rock bulls getting groomed.

Our Daniels portable alley is multi-purpose, and was used to stage bulls for clipping.



Obviously I've been around show cattle being fit, but I haven't seen a mass production like what John and his crew do for sale bulls.  First, they bring in a partial pen (or whatever they think they'll be able to clip for the day) and give the bulls a shot of Acepromazine ("Ace").  This calms the bulls and makes them a lot easier to handle.  Once the Ace has had a chance to take effect, they run the bulls into their specially designed fitting chute and go to work.  They clip the bull's head, and down it's neck to it's brisket, clean up the tail and sheath and then use a torch to burn off the long hair across the bull's body. 








That's where the great balls of fire come in.  Lol.

They work quickly, and use their torches and a scotch comb to make sure the hair doesn't light on fire, but just singes off the dead ends.  This leaves a bull with a pretty even coat of newer hair, so they look fresh.  The bulls didn't bawl or really make too much commotion (I'm sure the Ace helps here too) and walked calmly out of the chute when they were done.

Rollin Rock 3137

Rollin Rock 3053
Rollin Rock had asked me to take a few pictures of two bulls for an ad, and so after the bulls in Pen 1 had been clipped I took them while they were still hanging out in the fitting pen.  Afterwards I told Clint I'd much rather take pictures of bulls after they'd been Aced - that is the way to go, ha!  You can get close, the bulls don't get fired up and I didn't really have to worry about having bulls behind me (trying to take me) since they were so calm. 

I may have had to edit out a few drool strings though.  But it was totally worth it. :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The 2014 Genex Co-op Meeting

Each year, Genex holds meetings across the country to thank it's cooperators.  One of those meetings was in Pendleton last week, and many more are scheduled for the remainder of the year across the country.  

Ask your local Genex rep when yours is scheduled for or click here.



During the meetings, producers who are members of Genex have a chance to hear updates from Genex, learn about new bulls in the lineup and hear about other new programs that have been developed. 




Jon Janssen is the Beef Sire Procurement Manager for Genex and he had flown out for the series of meetings being held here in Oregon, Washington, Idaho & California.  He met up with Morgan Johnsrud, and the two of them went through the new 2014 Sire Management Catalog (available here online, and soon in print) and information about Genex's Chuteside Service, and Progeny Tests.   The producers at the meeting in Pendleton were all beef ranchers, so the information focused on the beef side of Genex.  I imagine they go through dairy sires and related information in areas that have a heavy dairy influence.  I wasn't able to be at last year's meeting, but I really enjoyed hearing Jon's take on the current bulls in the lineup and what traits he puts emphasis on when he selects bulls that go into stud at Genex.




I always enjoy getting together with ranchers from our part of the world, and this meeting was no exception.  Throw in a nice catered dinner, and good conversation and that's a winner of a meeting in my book.

A funny side story - 


At the meeting, I asked Morgan why he was wearing an Iowa State hat. (He's usually in Boise State gear.)  He said he and Jon had made some wager regarding the Boise State vs Iowa State game in the Diamond Head basketball tournament championship.  *Updated - I had previously thought it was a bet regarding the BSU vs. OSU BCS bowl game.*  Anyhooo.....whoever lost the bet, had to wear the other guy's colors during the Genex Co-Op meetings here in the PNW. So all of last week Morgan was sporting this hat.

Since all of my family is from Iowa and both of my parents and other relatives went to ISU, I asked Jon where he was from.  He said, "Oh, you won't know where it is.  I grew up in really small town in Pocahontas County."  I told him - "That's interesting, my mom is from Pomeroy and my dad grew up in Pocahontas."   He grew up in Palmer, which is right next door to Pomeroy, and knows my Uncle Curt and Aunt Mary.  It's funny how small the ag world can be at times! 

Clancy Clan - I figured you'd get a kick out of that story.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A list.

It's been a full week.  Not super crazy, but just consistently busy. 


Heifers are calving.
"Peanut" the premi calf born 45 days early is still alive.
We're cramming to get acreage reports done at work.
Clint's had meetings.
There are floors to endlessly sweep (hello winter weather), stacks of laundry and dishes to put away.


I've started meal planning again, and am trying to cook more at home.
We're still heat checking fall replacement heifers, and Clint's been AI'ing those that come back in.
The guys are feeding cows and the clipping crew is at the feedlot clipping the Thomas, Meadow Acres and Rollin Rock bulls.
The sale barn building was supposed to be delivered today.


The key I had made for my dad's pickup that we have parked where they're going to unload the building didn't work. Darn it.
We got to visit with good friends last night at the annual Genex Co-Op meeting.
I've been drinking Tazo Passion iced tea a lot during the day, and less Diet Pepsi.
We're still living the dream.

So what's going on in your world?