Buster · Family · On The Ranch · Wacey

First Branding of the Season

Saturday morning I loaded up the boys for the maiden voyage of the double stroller and we moseyed on down to the barn to brand our first set of calves! It was Wacey’s first year to get to “help” (in past years he’s been strapped to me in a carrier or in his stroller) and he had an absolute ball.  In between M&M breaks, he helped me take down numbers on his own notepad, and helped his daddy wrestle calves.

Buster spent the morning snoozing in my Solly wrap, which has occurred so often with Wace and now Buster that it’s a ranch joke that my kids could sleep through Armageddon. I don’t know if it’s the wrap, or genetics, or a combination of both, but the ability of both my boys to nap through the din of branding with cows and calves bawling, everyone talking and carrying on, horses snorting is absolutely uncanny. I love it, though. They get to snooze, I get to work, and we’re all happy!

Branding season is one of my favorite times. The first (and last, haha) ones are always kind of festive, and Saturday was no exception. We had the whole crew there, plus some neighbors, and a delicious brisket lunch in the barn. It was warm, but not hot, and not windy, so it was a lovely morning and a great start to the spring season.

I can already tell that ranch life with two boys is going to be so fun. Messy, sticky, hilarious fun. It’s also going to keep me on my toes–Wacey has no fear when it comes to calves and horses, so the minute he’s allowed to be horseback by himself we are in for some wild west adventures, let me tell you.

PS–doesn’t that little cowboy hat just kill you?! He’s starting to insist upon wearing it almost all the time, including with pajamas.

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Happy Monday! I’ve got a mountain of work (and laundry) to get done this week, which I’ll be doing in between wrangling babes, sweeping the floor that is now apparently applying for the position of Wacey’s Second Sandbox, and pumping. #momlife.

Speaking of #momlife, get thee to the nearest place wherest thou gets thine audiobooks (that was weird, remind me no more Olde English), and get Jim Gaffigan’s Dad Is Fat. SO GOOD.

On The Ranch · Wacey

Baby Calves

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Yesterday after we got back from the office, Wace and I took the stroller down to the barn to soak up all 65 degrees of the gorgeous afternoon and, of course, to go see daddy. We came home and stopped at the pivot behind the house to check out our baby calves! These mamas are a little protective, so I brought my bigger lens (and Gaucho) because they don’t always especially appreciate company, especially company in the form of an oddly-shaped lady and a tiny human.

There are about a hundred pairs (mamas + babies) out here right now, and other than a couple sick ones that Bert has been tending to, they’re all doing really well! I’m glad it’s been warm because although calves do just fine in the cold and snow, it’s nice to see them play in the sun.

One thing that cracks me up about baby calves is how silly they are. They run and play and jump and chase each other, and it’s hilarious, especially when they’re just learning how. During the day, everyone tends to spread out and play and lay in the sun, but as the evening comes on, the calves start to retreat to the tall grass. I also love the “it takes a village” mindset of the cows–often, you’ll see one or a few cows hanging out with a bunch of babies while their mamas graze or go to water. I hope they switch it up, or that the nursery cows like to mind all those crazy little bovines. Every now and then, you’ll see a calf that’s just had enough and needs to find mama now, and he’ll go trotting out into the pivot, bawling like he’s on fire, until his mama takes pity on him and comes to the rescue. The calves still get all their nutrition from milk, but some are starting to pretend graze, and it’s so funny to see them acting like big cows. They’re just like human toddlers– they can’t wait to be big. They’re also very dramatic, very hungry, and very much in love with their mamas, and like to throw fits.

We also spotted the geldings from way out–Bert hasn’t been riding as much, and the horses have been getting a break since their only job right now is to eat, which means we hardly see them. They’re going to be fat fat fat when it’s time to start spring work in the next month or two!

While I was taking pictures (I was using my 120mm lens which I kind of really suck with, so I was concentrating pretty hard), I heard all this giggling, and I look over and see this:

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I mean seriously. And Gaucho didn’t even care! What a silly situation; I about died laughing. If this is how the rest of my life is going to be with being a boy mama, oh my gosh bring it on because it’s so much fun! Although I so hope the boys refrain from sitting on Gaucho as they get older.

Wace has been telling me for the last ten minutes that a) the trash is gross and b) “Boxboxboxboxboxboxboxbox hathathathathathat” which means that there are coffee grounds in the trash can and it’s time for us to go get a hat on (he has to wear a hat outside) and go play in his sandbox.

May your Thursday be lovely, may your coffee be strong, may your Valentine’s treats still be in existence, and may you get a chance to be one of the free-grazing mamas at some point today!

Family · On The Ranch · Wacey

Weekend Update

I never thought of February as a busy month, but apparently it is. Here’s what we (okay, mostly me and Wace) were up to last week (because Bert was at the barn, doing Barn Things. Imagine).

The only way to describe last week’s weather was epic, which is partly to blame for my lack of posting. We’re talking sixties, y’all. In February. In Colorado. So we spend the grand majority of our time outside, going on walks, and I did a lot of sitting/working out on the porch while Wacey played. There is no better seat in the house to work on my computer than out on the porch in the morning sunshine with a happy toddler–so happy, in fact, that he can’t always wait to change his clothes to play, so we just slap a jacket on over his jammies. Priorities, right?

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Tuesday, of course, was Wacey’s birthday, so he spent the day at the barn with daddy, guzzling donuts, hollering excitedly about the balloons, and playing in his sandbox.

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Wednesday, Wace and I both had doctor’s appointments, but they were a few hours apart so we spent time in between getting lunch at Panera, going shopping for a couple of outfits for Little Brother including a coming-home outfit, playing at the park, waving for selfies, and treating ourselves after a long day with some chocolate for Wace (the ratio to ingested vs. smeared on face was pretty low, I think) and a Starbucks for me (God bless the Starbucks drive-through).

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The boys fed cows while I failed to take a single picture of any of the calves born last week (no more twins, though) and we visited the Turkey Farm (just kidding, that’s Headquarters).

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We also got some awesome mail, not to mention the beautiful gifts from friends and family for Wace, which were not photographed because Wacey knows what presents are now and who am I to ask the birthday boy to wait while I take a picture? I love getting mail, even if it’s just boring stuff I ordered!

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I didn’t end up getting to go on the tour of the packing plant that was supposed to happen Friday, but we’ll reschedule–things came up, not the least of which was some major water trouble down at the calving barn. Bert was uncertain about keeping Wacey while I was gone because the aforementioned water trouble required shutting all the water off, and hurrying to try and fix the problem with a backhoe and some pretty serious equipment, none of which is baby-friendly, and it was too late to make other arrangements. But, c’est la vie, and in calving the girls take precedence over everything, so we expect things to get a little glitchy sometimes.

And it’s totally okay, because we got to play outside in seventy degrees. 

And yesterday, I made it to 35 weeks! Things are getting so real, and I’m stuck between prepare all the things and hey, you got this, it’s just a baby. I do need to at least make a list of what to bring to the hospital, though!

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Happy Monday (or pre-Valentines, if that’s more your style). Hopefully I can get my act together a little better this week, even though we’re in for another week of gorgeous weather! I hope to go out and snag some pictures of the pairs so you can see how big our babes are getting–when they’re bitty, Bert can doctor by going out and grabbing them by a hind leg with a hand, but yesterday he had to come home and saddle because they’re officially too big and fast! Most of my plans revolve around administrative Ranch Things and tying up loose ends–I’m just going to be operating for the next several weeks as if I might go into labor, because I’m a control freak and I want to make sure everything is neat and tidy (both literally and figuratively) so I can relax and enjoy Bub when we get home, and so the guys aren’t like, getting tickets for expired license plates.

It’s a glamorous life, and someone’s got to live it.

Family

Lately, According to My Phone

Do you ever have a time when you’re like, “WHAT have we been doing lately?!” because the days run together and you don’t remember what you did yesterday vs. a week ago?

I hope so, otherwise it’s just me. I always go back through my pictures on my phone to try and delineate time when we get busy. Here’s what’s been happenin’, according to my trusty electronic appendage.

new-haircut-car-selfieWhen we go to Town, we always do allthethings since we’re there, so yesterday before my doctor’s appointment, we got rid of Wacey’s mullet and he did so well. I am super proud of him because usually a haircut is an ordeal. I mean, worse than shots, worse than having to stay inside, worse than…well, anything. I’m not kidding. He screams like you’re poking him with a branding iron the second that cape goes on. It’s quite alarming. But this time, we talked about getting a haircut, and he cried at the beginning but then decided playing with a tractor was a better idea and even let the stylist use clippers on his neck (!!!) and oh man I’m so proud. So, we got frosted lemonades from Chik-Fil-A and took a selfie to commemorate the occasion.

2156cThis is a cow. Just in case you were wondering.

2242cHere’s a calf and her mama–see how their eartags match? The cow’s number is 2242C, that E number on the calf’s tag is the calf’s number, and the “QST” on the top is dad’s sire code.

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Spotted: one bearded cowboy and one moose hat-wearing toddler out of his mind with happiness feeding cattle together.

excuse-meI was opening the gates of the pens to let the girls out to morning feed, and this cow just kept inching closer and closer, like “Hey. I’m hungry. There’s hay out there. Can I eat that hay? Can you move? I need that hay. Hey, you’re in the way of the hay. YOU’RE IN THE WAY OF THE HAY. You’re in the hay way!” Don’t worry, I did in fact move, and she was in fact the very first one to get some of that hay.

gauchoThis fluffy nutcase turned FIVE YEARS OLD last week and I can’t believe it. We got him in Montana when he was just a puppy and he is the best dog in the world. We’re best frands.

hay-baleSome of that aforementioned hay, hey.

hayOne measurement of calving season is watching this haystack dwindle. The smaller it gets, the closer we are to having all the heifers calved. Spoiler: we’re not close.

making-tagsEar tags! I pre-make all of Bert’s ear tags to save him time since he doesn’t have help in the day (and because his handwriting is tiny. I mean, miniscule). I explained a little bit about what all those numbers mean above, but to continue: the tag on the left is the back of a tag, and that calf has already been born, so reading the back of the tag will tell you that it’s a bull calf, born January 21, has a heart girth measurement of 30″ (this is how we “weigh” the calves), and his mother is 2490C, which means she’s a red cow. We move the year letter around to indicate the breed. For instance, on that second tag, having the letter in the second place indicates that it’s an Angus pair, and if the number were to start with a letter, it would indicate that it’s a Charolais. Every ranch tags differently, and this is the system that works for us.

mama-and-babyA mama with her brand-new baby all snuggled in the hay!

new-mamaAnother very brand new mama! Bert had just pulled this calf (it had a leg back) and this is the first time this mama is meeting her baby! It’s always nice when they recognize the calf as theirs and go to tending to it right away, as pulling a calf can sometimes be hard on the mama and it can take her awhile to get her bearings. This calf is doing great, by the way!

So, apparently, our life right now is cows, and hay, and also cows, unless we go to town, in which case it’s selfies and slushies.

I don’t hate it. Not even kind of.

I wouldn’t say no to a slushy+cows combo, but most slushy slushes seem to de-slush by the time we make it back to the cows. Ah, well.

On The Ranch

Twins!

Over the weekend, Bert had his first set of twins in four years! The other cowboys have all had several sets of twins each year, but not Bert. He was surprised because he pulled the first one due to it having a leg in the wrong position, and it was pretty normal size–usually twins are smaller–and lo and behold there was one more in there, who was just as big! I feel for that mama, and she was a champ carrying two such big calves full-term.

It’s pretty warm here today, so after breakfast Wacey and I got ready and took a walk down to the barn to see the new babies and hopefully help Bert feed since apparently tractors are Wacey’s current major love language. I even had the incredible foresight to bring my Nikon! I did not, however, have the incredible foresight to check the battery, so I only got a few pictures before it died. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Both of the twins are girls, which is nice because–fun fact alert!–when there is a pair of boy/girl twins, the girl twin is sterile because the hormones of the boy calf affect her reproductive development in utero. They’re called freemartins, and they are otherwise completely normal, but as they are sterile we have to ship them to the feedyard for beef, even if they turn out to be a nice enough heifer to keep in the herd.

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Gah I just love baby calves! These two are so fluffy and cute and I can’t even handle it, and I love that they are basically strawberry blondes (Charolais mama, Red Angus papa). The younger heifer will get an eartag today, as we weren’t expecting to need two!

twin-mamaThis is their mama, and she’s outside having breakfast. The twins will stay in the barn until they’re both big and strong, especially since it’s supposed to get cold this week. They should be ready to go outside soon, but we’ll keep them close for awhile. Plus, as is often the case, this mama doesn’t have enough milk to feed both babies, so Bert is bottle-feeding one until a foster mother becomes available. When that happens, I’ll be sure to write a post about the grafting process and how we help foster mamas “adopt” a new calf!

(To be fair, though, we had a cow raise both of her calves last year (W555 is a milk machine, apparently) and we got to see both of her girls at Bangs vaccinating last week and gosh they look good!)

I love twins. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because they’re fairly unusual or maybe it’s because it’s two-for-the-price-of-one cuteness, but they are so much fun. Grafting to a new mama can be a lot of work, though, especially with heifers, so hopefully Bert gets lucky this time.

In case you were wondering how happy Wacey gets when I say “Shall we go down to the barn and see Daddy and the cows?” this is it. He loves it. Also had to get that pre-haircut bedhead on camera because gosh it’s the greatest, even if there is a mullet back there.

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Happy Monday! May your coffee/tea/caffeine choice of the day be strong and delicious, may your kids’ naptimes be long and full of whatever you need them to be, and may your kid not poop in the bathtub like mine did twice last week.

 

On The Ranch

The Pitfalls of Looking Ahead

Happy Monday! We’re recovering from a fantastic weekend over here–we kicked off our festive weekend early and went to Denver Zoo’s Zoolights on Friday and it was so. great. So far, it’s been an annual tradition, and we’ll definitely keep it up. This year was especially magical because we tried our best to avoid the enormous crowds we encountered last year, and by either accident or design, it worked. I bought tickets in advance, we arrived an hour early so that we could get a parking space close to the entrance and so we could go in right when they opened, and enjoyed almost two hours of walking around an entirely non-busy zoo. We had hot drinks, a baby who couldn’t even talk he was so busy looking at everything, lovely not-too-cold-but-frosty-enough weather, and gosh it was perfect!

The rest of the weekend included wrapping gifts to White Christmas during a gloriously long naptime, a solo store run involving Starbucks, and a family frozen yogurt outing (there’s a frozen yogurt place less than fifteen miles away and I’m SO glad we discovered it!!! It’s one of those a la carte deals where you do our own toppings and all the pregnant ladies put your hands up) and watching the final rounds of the NFR. We haven’t turned off the tree in three days and we even got a little snow yesterday morning before it warmed up to a balmy 40 degrees. *contented sigh*

Bert also helped me work on my office space downstairs (I’ll show y’all what I have going when there’s more going, haha), and I was updating my 2017 calendar with appointments and commitments we already  know about, like the millions of doctor’s appointments in the third trimester. In doing so, I realized the heifers are due to calve in about six weeks. Which means we’ll have calves in a month, maybe less.

….what.

Calving takes me by surprise every year, I’ll admit it. I think because I willfully ignore its approach because, eight calving seasons in, I know what we’re in for. Baby calves are the best, but they are a lot of work. Additionally, because we have so many cows and also AI most of our cattle, we’re very busy until June.

Oh and we’re having a baby human in March. There’s also that. Gosh we’re out of our minds. In a good way.

But one thing that you can’t deny is that baby calves are suuuuper cute. Photographic evidence below (in various states of filtered–excuse past me, some of these pictures are quite old)! I won’t post too many, as I don’t want to burn you out before this year’s crop, but come on. Baby calves. Just “awwwwwwww” with me, k?

Okay.

dsc_0068This is Bill. He was one of our special cases and lived at the barn for quite awhile. See the notch in the tag? It indicates that he’s been treated for sickness.

dsc_0085At birth, each calf will get a tag. On this one, S053 is the sire (dad) number, the 2327A is the dam (mama) number, and 2035C is the calf’s permanent ID number.

stellaThis is Stella. She had a broken leg. Hence the cast.

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dscf0170This is Heart! She had her first calf this year, and now lives on one of the other divisions.

dscf1312rosieThis is Rosie, a dwarf calf that we had in Montana. She was itty-bitty (less than 20 pounds when she was born, the normal is between 60 and 90) and came to live with us in our dog kennel since she was bottle-fed. She’d follow me down to the barn every morning and gosh was it cute.

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herfiesThis cow didn’t like me taking pictures of her. Like at all.

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These two babes were best friends–even when they were out of the pens, they were always together. Or, maybe it was one of those situations where your mom is friends with someone so you have to be friends with their kid. Either way, it’s pretty cute.

I hope your Monday is filled with plenty of holiday cheer, or at least doesn’t suck. Less than two weeks until Christmas, we’re pretty excited round these here parts!