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.

Family · Fun · Home · On The Ranch

Weekendin’

best-friendsWe started the weekend off strong with a visit down to the pens on Friday afternoon to check out the new baby calves. If you’ve noticed a theme where we are at the barn a lot, you’re right! I can’t not take Wacey down there as it’s his favorite place to be, and so it’s mine, too.

chocolate-donutsSaturday morning was a win with a chocolate donut for this maniac, who didn’t enjoy it at all, obviously. We bundled ourselves up, and strollered down to the barn to check calves for Bert since he was moving cattle on another part of the ranch.

baby-calfOur cold walk was rewarded by the birth of a new baby calf we’d been waiting on! This mama did a great job getting her new baby licked dry and he up and nursing in no time.

calving-booksDuring Wacey’s nap, I got the final touches put on our master calving book, which is a gigantic labor of love (and necessity), and it feels so good! I spend days putting together calving books for each member of the crew as well as a big, fancy one for my records, and cleaning up our database so it’s all fresh and clean.

I also did some more mucking out and organizing (of course) and ordered the last few things for Stage 2 (of oh, a hundred) of our downstairs fix-up. I can’t wait to share once it’s all put together!

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picture-of-cows-through-the-pensBy some miracle, the frigid, foggy morning that we’d expected to stay around all day turned to fifty degrees and sunny by Saturday afternoon, so there was really nothing for it but to go down to the barn and help Bert feed the cows and enjoy the sunshine. But mostly, mess with the cows! Of course. Bert tends to have a little less to do on the weekends (due to busting his butt during the week), so weekend afternoons are fun since we can spend more time just goofing off and looking at things. And opening and closing all the gates, of course.

Some families do a lovely and much more photogenic brunch-and-park combo on the weekend, we do family barn time. After all, the family that gets poop on their boots together, stays together right? Or at least takes their boots off in the mudroom together.

I think that’s the next big country hit–“Poop on my Boots.” Remember folks, you heard it here first!

Anyways. We fed some cows because, oddly enough, they need to eat every day. Imagine! We fed them round bales today, and the gals were not enthusiastic about how long it took for me to get the net wrap off (#dullknifeprobs). Also, it’s sort of a big deal to stand up from a crouching position when you’re in your third trimester gestating what feels like a block of cement.

cutting-wrap-2“Umm excuse me. Excuse me. Are you going to get the wrap off that bale any time soon? Because I’m pretty pregnant. And pretty hungry. Also pregnant. Seriously. Wait, are you taking pictures? Are you taking my picture? I NEED FOOD.”

cutting-wrap“Hey. HEEEEEYYYYYYYY! HAAAAAAAY! WHY IS SHE TAKING SO LONG?? WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO LONG?”
Girls, I’m stuck. Give me a minute.

funny-hayDon’t worry girls, that’s what I look like when I eat, too. A little less roughage, though, maybe.

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sunshine

wacey-stormy-kromerAfter we got done feeding, Wacey had to run around and inspect everything. Don’t worry, all is ship shape!

wacey-picking-bullsAfter we got home, we sat on the porch and basked in the sunshine while Wacey (aka General McMullet) perused the latest bull catalog and let us know all his top picks. He’s big into the Stabilizers this year.

Yesterday was a pretty typical Sunday: lots of laying around, planning for the week and spending long-overdue time with my devotional, laundry, and watching Netflix. PS–I had no idea the book The Magicians was made into a TV series and I am in Nerd Heaven right now!

I also cleaned out one of the dressers in Wacey’s the boys’ (<—WHAAAAAT) room for Bub’s clothes, and washed and folded all the tiny clothes and baby blankets. Cliche alert, but I can’t believe Wacey was ever that tiny, or that Bub will be too! Having tiny baby clothes and diapers in my hands made me even more excited for Bub’s arrival, and made the chores to get done feel even more urgent. Although, we’re pretty much there on the essentials: he’s got a place to sleep, clothes to wear, a carseat to come home in…buuuuut his mama sure would be happy if her office space was ready to go, a double jogger was sitting on the porch, and the baseboards were clean!

baby-laundryIt was supposed to snow buckets, but we only got a dusting (a blessing in calving season!) so we went out to an early dinner at the Mexican restaurant in town which happens to be ah-mazing. I mean, so good.  Unlike this picture that I managed to snap before my obsessed-with-looking-at-pictures-of-himself-toddler needed to gaze upon his visage to his little heart’s content.

boys-at-dinner-2Lazy Sundays are the best.

Now excuse me while I deny the coming of Monday by burying myself in our freshly laundered flannel sheets

 

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.

bringing-bales
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.

girls-waiting-for-feed
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.

boys-in-tractor
I spy a little boy who is thrilled with his life right now!

picking-up-a-bale
He’ll set one bale down…

bale
…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 😉

pulling-twine-with-tractor
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.

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

mad-heifers
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.

heifer-long-feeder

red-heifer-feeder
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!

heifers-eating-at-bunk
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.

On The Ranch

Bovines, It’s Cold Outside

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Y’all. It’s real cold. I know, it’s winter so it’s to be expected, but the first cold snap of the year is always the hardest, especially when it’s a true, honest-to-goodness-way-below-zero cold snap. Plus, we’re all tender-skinned from it being 70 in November so this one is especially shocking. This is one of those days that I don’t mind that I don’t work outside with Bert as much as I used to–zero degrees is a little bit cold for the outdoor wear that currently fits over my alarmingly large and fast-growing belly!

The girls, of course, don’t get the luxury of sitting by a woodstove wearing Christmas jammies. They do, however, have the luxury of a thick coat that fits no matter how pregnant they are! All of our cows are bred to handle cold weather, so they grow a hefty and surprisingly furry coat in the winter. If it’s very cold, they’ll all bunch up together and take turns with who has to be on the outside, just like penguins, but you’d be surprised at how cold and snowy it has to be before they do that! After all, cows live where it gets much colder than it does here.

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When it gets really cold, cows eat more to keep warm, so we feed them extra–some to eat, and some to lay on so they don’t have to lay right on the snow. We also try to feed them really nice hay when it’s cold, too. Not all the hay will get put up perfectly, some might get rained on or put up a little wet because we can’t control the weather in the summer. It’s still totally fine for them to eat, and they gobble it right up, but we like to spoil them a just a little bit with some really tasty, green stuff. Here the girls are snarfing a really nice bale of alfalfa/grass mix.

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dsc_1364When it’s cold and snowy and windy and awful outside, remember all the farmers and ranchers who are taking care of their animals in that weather–feeding animals, breaking water, checking on everyone, dealing with frozen pipes and equipment that won’t start, and freezing their hineys off in the bargain.

(…and bemoan the complete lack of  warm, ranch-friendly maternity wear.)