Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Home on the Range

This is part of the Gap pastures we fixed fences in
I'm quickly learning that when you're living out on a ranch that the idea of a set schedule soon becomes a laughable idea.  So much depends on the weather and during the winter months, how the calves are doing.  Every day you watch and evaluate.  Sometime during the first or second week of November we rounded up the cows so we could ween the calves. 

So weening a calf goes something like this: First we'll gather all the pairs (cow and calf) from their current pasture into a corral. That's the easy part from there we attempt to sort the cows from calves as well as sorting our cows from strays that have some how or another found their way into our herd.  From the corral to the alley and then finally the cows get loaded on to a semi truck. The cows will be sent to their winter pastures while the calfs will be taken back to the ranch. 

Seems simple enough, but cows have a mind of their own; though I don't think any more needs to be said about that.  Days later it was time to vaccinate and tag the calves.  Yes, the calves are vaccinated! The Anderson try to raise their cows as naturally as possible, hopefully in the future  we'll be able to go organic, but I'll talk about that another time.  The vaccine is for a fast moving strain of pneumonia that unfortunately has left a few of the calves dead.

When you are vaccinating calves that are between 400lb and 600lbs you cannot mess around and seeing as you can't really sweet talk a cow into getting its shots this (the picture below) is what we use.
The green contraption in the middle of the picture is the shoot.
 You run or rather shove, push, or doing just about anything you can think of to get them to move through the alley into the shoot.  Once they get in the shoot there are back doors that close behind them and the front "doors" close around their neck, but that's not all to finish it up there is a leaver you pull that squeezes them so they can't move around.  
Now, and only now can you can vaccinate and tag your cow without fighting a losing battle.  

While weening and vaccinating seems like a big job it is dwarfed by the task of fixing fences.  Miles and miles of barbed wire fences that have been cut, rusted out or that are just loose and sagging all crying out for help.  I'm not exaggerating at all. 6,000 acres of land that needs some attention. 

                                                                                       I can't really complain the job is simple
Here's the back of the fencing truck with  Red our trusty cow dog

enough. I like to call it a zen job. You're working, but your mind is left to think on the more weighty things of life. It gives you a chance to admire the handy work of God.  Granted after about three weeks of it you're ready for a change, but you'll not here me complaining about it's a job that has to get done, but it allows you to be a bit more thoughtful.  So you see I have a good reason for my prolonged absence from the blogging scene, and there is still more to tell!
Old cabin in Conchen field

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