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Lately

Last week I had my 36 week ultrasound, after which my doctor informed me that there’s very little chance I’ll make it to my due date, and even though I never though I would, it sort of set off a freak-out in my brain. Combine that with an unplanned day of working cows, and the blog took, like, tenth priority. Totally not fair, but all is sort of fair in love and impending childbirth, right?

So here’s the haps. We’re still calving! It’s still going well, we haven’t had any more twins, and there are about sixty cows left!new-calf

The weather’s been gorgeous, but we did get snow last week and have some more coming this week–it’s actually good since it’s been so dry. Our morning stroller trips to the calving barn are one of the best parts of the day!
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Aaaaand speaking of strollers…we found ours!! YAY! I’m SO excited. Like, unreasonably excited. We even came in under budget! #momlife
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And speaking of #momlife, our pregnant mare (on the left) is fat fat. I mean, all the horses are currently fat fat, but she’s taking pregnancy to a whole new level. Get it, girl.
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Last week, our favorite vet came down with some students in hopes that we’d have some things for them to look at as a practical lesson. Lo and behold, the day before they arrived, we had a calf break a femur! Not good, of course, but the good doctor and his students set the bone and put on a fancy splint in hopes that the calf (now named Forrest Gump, don’t judge) will make a recovery. It’s hard to fix broken limbs in calves, especially when they’re high up like this one, but we’re hopeful!
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Here’s Forrest with his fancy cast–it’s made of rebar and gauze and bandages and Frozen (yes, Frozen) duct tape, and it’s pretty amazing. Also he’s still a little sedated in this picture, hence the cloudy eyes. Bert brought his mom in so he gets plenty to eat and we’re hoping for 4-6 weeks with the cast on. So far, he seems to be doing okay!
broken-legThe vet and the students treated some sick calves, set another (less severe) broken leg, fixed a cow who wouldn’t clean (she calved but not all the afterbirth would come out), and pulled a calf. So, lots of “fun” vet stuff!

Our surprise cow working day on Friday was PAP testing heifers, which is one of my favorite things because I just love the vet that does it (the same vet that fixed up Forrest), and it’s so interesting! This vet PAP-ed our bulls in Montana so we’ve known him for years, and it’s so fun when he comes around. Plus, we do love our barn days! Bert’s in between AI groups on cows, so he took Wacey for the afternoon. It was so weird and yet exciting (and relaxing?) to be able to just work and not get snacks/milk/toys/etc.
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My outfit was on fleek, too. Belly shirts (crop tops?) are in, right? Also, apparently I have the lovely pregnancy skin pigmentation that I didn’t know about until…just now.
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Our local elk herd (on the hill in the middle of the picture) paid us a visit, too.
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There’s a rule that you can’t sit down while you’re working cows, but I violated it pretty flagrantly. Ah, well.
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THIS would be why. OH MY GOSH this is completely ridiculous. Like, what?!? I have SO MUCH ENERGY but I have to sit down because this is what happens if I don’t. By far my least favorite pregnancy symptom to date.

(I posted this picture on Insta and got some concerned texts from friends and family, thank you for worrying about me! My doctor’s seen the monster ankles, and since my blood pressure is low, and I don’t have any other high blood pressure symptoms, she’s not worried. And I have an appointment tomorrow. The good Lord just wants me to wear my new mocs a lot!)
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Also very much on the agenda: baby survival meal prep. Yesterday was breading chicken parm and chicken cutlets, making lots of sauces and marinades and packets of fajita seasoning, and thawing a billion pounds of beef and sausage. Today or tomorrow, some of that seasoning and all of that meat will be made into meatballs and fajitas, and sliced up for beef and snow peas. If Bub stays put (the theme of our lives right now), I’ll write a more detailed post later this week!

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Last week’s ultrasound was so hilarious! We didn’t get a ton of good pictures because he accidentally hit himself in the face and made himself mad, but it was so neat to watch him move and feel it at the same time. Also, totally got the bison swaddle set and I’m in love. I do like the Aden + Anais swaddles, but man alive these ones are delicious. They’re Little Unicorn brand, and are bigger and softer and thicker than the A+As, and the three-packs are a great deal! Girl mamas: their floral swaddles are so beautiful. I
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So there it is. Bert’s calving, I’m trying to get everything done for the baby’s arrival and finish up projects at work, Wacey’s being adorable and also two, and we’re all waiting on Baby Brother. It’s weird to be in the final “any time now” weeks because I want another two months to do everything, and I also want the baby to be born tomorrow. Give me a few more days to finish meal prepping and clean our bathrooms, though, and I’ll be firmly entrenched in the latter camp. Bert thinks March 9 will be the day, I think it will be the following weekend because it’s a full moon, and I had Wace on a full moon weekend. Wace still thinks a “brother” is a belly button, so I don’t think he gets to put in his vote quite yet!

Happy Monday, happy almost March (can you believe it’s almost March?!?) and thanks for bearing with me. I want so badly to be a regular blogger, and I’m truly working on it, but it’s hard to suppress my slightly obsessive have-to-get-everything-done-before-the-baby-comes tendencies that have been surfacing for the past six weeks!

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

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.

 

Family · On The Ranch · Wacey

Penning Heifers and Helllllooooo Calving!

Calving is here! We had our first baby calf yesterday afternoon, and another one that evening. We didn’t bug the new mama, but I’ll get a better look at the calf so I can name it–I always name the first new calf of the year. It’s terrible, but I don’t remember last year’s, although he’s going to be a herd bull so I guess I’ll know him by his number, haha. The year before last, we had Boomhauer, and the year before that was tiny little Lola.

Every evening after feeding the girls and letting them lay around awhile, Bert and Gaucho pen them for the evening. Now that the girls know how to come to the pens for feed, he feeds them outside in the pasture when the weather is nice to give them more room. If the weather is very cold or snowy, they will eat in the pens.

Calving season becomes a rhythm. Every morning at 6:30 (or before, depending) Bert will head down to the barn to relieve the night calver, or he’ll come home and have a cup of coffee and some breakfast if it was his night to stay at the barn. In the morning, he’ll tag calves that are ready to be tagged, doctor his sickies, and kick pairs out to pasture that are ready to leave the pens. In the afternoon, he’ll feed and catch up on chores. He comes home around five if the weather is nice, and goes back down to the barn to check the cows a few times before the night calver comes on. If he’s night calving, he’ll head down at nine or ten. Throughout all of this, he checks the heifers constantly, especially if some are actively calving. There’s a lot of number-taking, note-keeping, and reminder-making that happens!

This used to be my routine, too, and calving season is the time of year I miss the most. I love tagging baby calves and being busy all day, and coming home and falling in bed from a day of really valuable work.

I don’t miss hauling my butt out of bed in the middle of the night to night-check in the cold, though. Not at all. Fun fact: probably half the people you see on a ranch in calving in the morning or late in the evening have sweatpants or pajamas on under their coveralls.

However, since my role on this ranch is different, and we have thing like naptimes and bedtimes and baths to work around, I set my clock by Bert’s schedule, and take on more of the parenting duties. This can be challenging being super pregnant (or home with a newborn), but we make it work. If it’s a slow enough day for him, Wacey and I like to go down to help tag calves or kick out pairs, and we both appreciate more time at the barn and more time with Bert.

Yesterday was one of those perfect days to head down to the barn–it was so nice, and Wacey hasn’t been able to play outside for a couple of days due to ridiculously high winds, so he was raring to go outside after we got home from the office. Tears were shed when I told him we had to go inside for a minute so I could change and he could get his jacket, but don’t worry y’all, we made it through it. It was hard, but with perseverance (and the uncannily well-timed arrival of Daddy), we survived the addition of textiles to our bodies.

Sarcasm becomes me in my third trimester, doesn’t it? I don’t mean to be overly sarcastic, but we could have contributed oh, twenty posts to the “reasons my son is crying” site yesterday, from “We’re walking towards the four-wheeler he wants to ride” to “He didn’t want to put his cookie down to have a drink of water but he was soooooooo thirsty.”

Anyways, sarcasm and woe aside, it was a lovely afternoon. Wacey loves to ride the four-wheeler and watch Gaucho run around, and who are we, his doting parents, to deny him simple pleasures?

new-baby-calfCan you see the little baby? This pair is pretty well camouflaged! The mama is white (a Charolais), and the baby is light red (a Red Angus/Charolais cross).

new-baby-calf_liBert will tag and weigh this baby and give him his shots sometime today, but we left him alone with his mama to nurse and bond for his first night.

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bert-wace-gaucho-four-wheelerThat is the face of one happy kid. He just loves to help! The tractor is his preferred vehicle, and he did have a little meltdown when he learned that Bert had already fed, but oddly enough, he seemed to recover quickly when he learned that he got to ride on the four-wheeler instead.

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Gaucho loves to pen cattle. He’s not a finesse dog, but is great at gathering the herd together and making sure they all go in the pen without stressing them. He’s pretty good help, if I do say so myself–I’m glad he’ll listen to Bert, too, since I’m not working outside as much anymore and I wouldn’t want to take that away from him!

Also…he tends to get a little on the really fat side when he’s idle, even when he’s on diet food, since he’s the laziest dog on the planet when he’s not working. So, it’s good for him to get a little cardio in.

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Rinse and repeat every day for the next two or three months! If you don’t like babies of any species, better just quit this blog now, because it’s going to be Baby Central round these here parts for a looooooong time. Happy Thursday!

On The Ranch

Feeding the Girls

Bert sorted his heifers last week into groups by calving date. The girls who are calving first came to the pasture right next to the pens because they’ll start having calves soon and Bert will have to keep a close eye on them. The others are out in another close by pasture since before long, it will be their turn to come on down to the maternity ward, aka the pens!

Today, we helped Bert feed the girls in the pens. I love feeding cows. It’s a good opportunity to see everyone, and it just makes them so darn happy. He feeds them in the feeders in the pens so they get used to coming in from the pasture for feed. This way, he can close the gate on them at night once they start having babies to make it easier to check on them in the dark. They’re fed in the evening, since there is some evidence that feeding calving cattle in the evening helps them to calve in the morning, rather than in the middle of the night, the philosophy being that they are more likely to calve about twelve hours after their meal. Whether it’s super true or not, it does seem to help, and since it doesn’t hurt, why not?

We have a good routine down: Bert buckles Wacey into the buddy seat of the tractor so they can ride together, and I open gates and cut twine for them.

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First, he gets hay from the haystack. This hay that he’s feeding is an alfalfa/grass mix, and is some of the best we put up last summer–nice and green.

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The girls wait (sort of) patiently. They’ve learned to come in once they hear the tractor start up. This is why it’s nice to have someone open gates–you can’t just leave them open  to start with because the girls will follow the tractor, and it’s a pain to get in and out to open and close the gate every time.

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I spy a little boy who is thrilled with his life right now!

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He’ll set one bale down…

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…and lift the other up over the feeder. I’ll climb (ever-so-gracefully, I’m the most graceful 150-pound lady you’ve ever seen, naturally) into the feeder, and cut the twine off the bale so it will fall apart into easy-to-munch flakes. It’s important to get the heck outta the way, though, because that hay’s heavy (those bales weight about 900 pounds) and you don’t want to be smooshed! Don’t worry, in addition to being the most graceful, I’m also the most spry 😉

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Sometimes, the bale falls on the cut twine just right and it’s hard to pull it out from underneath the hay. So, tying it to the tractor loader and having Bert pull it out from under the bale is an excellent solution. It’s not good to leave the twine in the feeder since it’s not a great thing for cows to eat or get wrapped up in, plus it leaves a mess.

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Once the twine is cut, Bert goes back for the other bale and we rinse and repeat!

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The next step is to rudely interrupt the girls mid-munch so that you can get a picture of their hay-y faces. This teaches them patience in advance of motherhood, and prepares them for all of the other times in their lives when I will rudely interrupt them with a camera.

heifers-eating-at-bunk-2Sometimes, though, they just choose to ignore me. It’s okay, I guess.

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That’s about as definitive a bovine stink-eye as I’ve ever gotten, but can you blame her? She’s heavily pregnant and I’m disturbing chow time!

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These girls had the right idea–there are two feeders, one in each of the calving pens, and they figured out we had filled both of them and escaped the mob in the other pens to treat themselves to first dibs on this delicious stuff. Smart ladies, these ones.

sweats-and-nikesAnd, because we’re all about #reallife here, lest you believe I actually am graceful and spry and jumping around in some super cute ranchy outfit and a great hat, here’s a picture of my sweats and running shoes aka the most appropriate ranch wear ever. To be fair, these pants are ah-mazing. I got them with a gift card from my MIL and may just buy more in more sizes/colors so I can wear them to the very end of this bladder-kicking extravaganza pregnancy. And then there is Wacey, who is not in this picture except for a tiny little shoe photobomb, but he was wearing grey sweatpants with a brown and yellow striped thermal and a fleece.

Basically, everyone come see how good we look!

Happy Wednesday! Hope you’re as happy as a cow munching some fresh green hay.