On The Ranch

A Little Branding

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Last Friday we branded a little bunch of calves that were born late and thus missed the spring branding. It seems like one in there only missed the spring branding by a hair because he was a monster and it was pretty good entertainment watching the guys try to get him caught and flanked. You know when you’re laughing so hard because something is ridiculous but then it only makes you clumsy so it becomes even more ridiculous and a vicious cycle ensues? That was the deal with six grown men and a Hereford bull calf who was not having it. There aren’t any pictures of that particular episode because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t hold up the camera!

Wacey was so excited  to go hang out with the cowboys, and I think the cowboys were all excited for a day to goof off. Branding is always fun, but when you’re branding less than twenty calves, it becomes a lot more play than work and basically a big excuse to work a little and then stand around and have a little party by the pens and trade stories and joke and be silly.

It was a good ending to a good week! We’re working out our schedule as the ranch gets closer to closing and figuring out when we’re going to move house. We should be all moved in by the first of December! Last Friday made me glad that we’re not going far, our neighbors here are so nice and fun, and it would be sad to pack up and leave yet another good group of people; we still miss the crew from Colorado.

Also, you can sort of see–Wacey got a hair cut last week and I’m dying. He looks so grown-up! He hates haircuts, so in the past we’ve usually gotten a stylist who got so flustered that they gave him something akin to the Lloyd Christmas special that I ended up trying to “fix” at home (read: make less bad, but usually failing to do so). Who would have thought that the stylist with nerves of steel and a deft hand with some clippers would be in a cute little hair salon in Ruidoso, New Mexico? Not I! That’ll teach me to underestimate small town America.

This week, of course, is Halloween! We are taking Wacey (and Buster!) trick-or-treating for the first time tomorrow and we’re so excited. Wace has been practicing his “trick or treeeeat!” all morning! Follow my Insta for pictures, I’m making a concerted effort to take a bunch since I took only one, basically, last year and the year before. Good job, mom.

Happy Halloween!

 

On The Ranch

Fall Colors

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I have a big ole post written about antibiotics that I wanted to publish yesterday, but I wanted to be super thorough so I’m waiting until I speak to a vet about several things. In the meantime, here are pictures of fall to make you glad.

These were all taken in Rand years ago, since cactus doesn’t exactly have fall colors. I miss Fall in Rand, buuuuuuut I don’t miss feeding cows for nine months or dealing with sixty below and several feet of snow on the regular.

On The Ranch

Shoulder-Length Gloves and Gallon Jug Lube Day

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Yesterday we preg checked our first group of cows for the year. These are the heifers who will have their first calves this coming January. I won’t lie to you, it was sort of a hard day for me. It was our last day on this ranch, and we won’t get to see these calves born next year. I’m going to miss this place and this crew with my whole heart. It was great, though, to see how good the cows looked, and to end on a high note.

Preg check (or palpation) is something that happens on the majority of ranches, whether commercial or registered. On many non-registered ranches, it will be the only time all year the cows will be in the chute! The purpose is to see which cows are pregnant (bred) and which ones are not (open). In order for a ranch to stay afloat financially, cows should have and wean a calf every year, otherwise you will be spending money to take care of cows who aren’t making you any of that money back since the sale of calves are the bred and butter for most ranches. Most ranches will ship their open cows and their culls (cattle that are being got rid of for one reason or another) soon after–if not immediately after–preg.

“Being got rid of” is a travesty of a phrase, but I kind of like it. Sort of like most people think it’s weird that I like plain BBQ, aka plain meat, but I kind of like it.

There are different ways to go about pregging cattle–some ranches hire a vet to come out and just call bred or open, some ranches (like this one) have a vet come out and ultrasound to give us an idea of due dates (and sometimes a heads-up about sexes of calves or twins, or physical problems with a cow like an infection or goofy ovary or narrow pelvis that might present difficulties later), and some ranches have a cowboy or employee on staff who knows how to palpate cows. All involve shoulder-length gloves, lots of lube, and the requisite plastic clothing or strong stomach.

(Our vet has the coolest deal where she wears goggles that show the ultrasound rather than having to lug along a big screen and it’s seriously the coolest. She’s an entirely mobile, self-contained unit!)

We had 260 heifers to check yesterday, and the boys did great! Buster spent his time being held by/sleeping on various people and surfaces, and Wacey alternated between helping me and his daddy in the barn, and playing in a pile of dirt with his tractors, and terrorizing the guys with flags and (defunct) hot shots. There was a touch-and-go moment where he quite literally got stuck in a mud puddle and almost got his boots squelched off but we all came out unscathed and only a little more worse for wear!

This fall feels so strange because it’s the first time in seven years that we will not be pregging and weaning calves for months. The new ranch we’re going to will preg all the cows at once, ship the calves at the same time, and be done with it. I’ll explain more as we go on, but I imagine it feels a lot like a newly-retired accountant who only has to prepare their personal taxes. Strange, but not bad, but maybe a little empty? Or maybe the word is less hectic? Either way, #newbeginnings, and #slowfall. You know, like the Slow Food Movement? Ours will be the Slow Fall Movement.

That’s not to say, of course, that we’ll be idle. There will still be cattle to gather, calves to ship, cows to preg, opens and culls to ship, projects to do, and water to chase, but it will be a lot less of an exhausting marathon and more like Forrest Gump’s jog. He looked like he was having a lot more fun than most marathon participants I’ve seen, anyway.

Anywho. Happy Tuesday, and I’m here to tell you that the original, Bieber-less version of Despacito is really the better one.