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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Let The Calving Begin

Hello Y'All
This is Flower Boy.
I have been asked by Rancher Girl to visit with you about January vs March calves.

Calving season started for us on Monday.
We penned a heifer in the lot in one of our pastures.
We did this because this heifer did not have a calf last year, because we lost our heifer bull during breeding season the year before.

We kept one of his sons, raised him and he is now our heifer bull.
This years heifer calf crop will be his calves.

We wanted to make sure that if she had any problems, she was in the lot where we could get her in the pens to help her if she needed it.

The reason that I like to have late January - early February babies is because it gives the calves an extra month or so to grow and be bigger at weaning time.

We generally hold the calves for 60-90 days after weaning to grow them a little bit more before we sell the calves.

Okay, the down side to having January - February calves...
First is sickness.
There are more chances for the calves to get sick and your vet medicine bill goes up, due to the cold weather.

Second is feeding.
You have to feed the momma cows more cubes so the momma can provide the nutrients that calf needs to grow and to keep the mommas body condition at optimum weight.
There is also no grass for the cows to eat.
Since there is no grass, you feed more hay to supplement the cows.

The up side to having March calves...
There are less chances for the calves to get sick.
The cold is gone.
The grass is starting to grow. 
Your feed consumption starts to go down because the grass gives the cows the nutrients they need to provide for their calf.

That is why Rancher Girl prefers to have March babies.

The down side to March babies...
They are not as big, weight wise, when it's time to wean and sell the calves.

Once the time comes to sell the calves, other ranchers are starting to look for calves to turn out on winter wheat pasture.
This makes it a good time to sell your spring born calves.
Timing is everything.

Having calves born in January - February and giving them the extra time to grow will hopefully yield not only the weight that you want, but the weight that the other ranchers want to put on wheat pasture.
In turn, the calves will sell better than you expect.
Supply and demand.

I hope this explains why some ranchers want January - February calves vs March born calves.

Long Live Cowboys,
Flower Boy

Note from Rancher Girl -
You can see who won the battle of January-February vs March calving.
That's okay!
I don't always have to win.
I get babies year round and flowers every month.
It's all good!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Obtained Goals!

Not long after these two girls were born, I received a call from a dear ole friend from high school.
He was looking for a couple of good calves, but wouldn't be ready for them until the first of the year.

Did we have a deal for him!

We didn't want to take these two girls to the stockyards, if we didn't have to.
We would prefer to sell them outright.
It saves us money and the buyer money.
We don't pay commission and the buyer doesn't pay the fees associated with the sale.
It is a Win - Win!

We continued to communicate with the buyer during the time the girls were on their mommas.
We sent him photos of their growth.
Notifying him when we weaned them, vaccines given and worming.

After weaning the girls, we kept them in the corrals of a pasture a distance away from their mommas.

 They got a hay bale
and a tub full of water.
We kept them in the lot for a few weeks.
Each night when we would pull through the corral to feed the other cattle in this pasture, the girls would receive their ration of cubes.

They received two rounds of vaccines.
10 days apart.

Last Saturday, the girls were delivered to their new owner.
We weighed the truck and trailer empty and again loaded with the girls.
The difference between the two weights were calculated and averaged between the two girls to get a sell weight.
We sold the girls at market price, for that week, per the Oklahoma Market Report.

One of our goals is always to provide quality cattle to the market, so you, the consumer, can purchase quality beef.
Another goal is to sell our heifers off the farm in the same manner in which we purchase our breeding stock from others.
Selling these two summer born heifers, we have obtained these goals.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fire Weather Watch

Do you know what a Fire Weather Watch is?
According to Oklahoma Forestry Service a Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning is defined as:
"Fire Weather Watch" and "Red Flag Warning" are terms used by weather forecasters to call attention to weather conditions that may result in extreme fire behavior. Both are intended to make individuals aware of the conditions and it is the personal responsibility of the individual to take extra precautions.  During these periods extreme caution is urged by all because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire.
  •  Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12 to 72 hours.
  •  Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events that will occur within 24 hours.
A Fire Weather Watch may be issued prior to the Red Flag Warning. The criteria for red flag events requires the combination of high to extreme fire danger and a critical fire weather pattern such as: low relative humidity, very dry and unstable air, and very strong/ shifting winds."
 The past few weeks, our area has been under a Fire Weather Watch.
Flower Boy and I both have a weather app on our phones that notify us of such.
Two weeks ago, Flower Boy received a call.
"Hey Buddy!
Yes, I'm around.
I'm on my way!"
The call was to inform us one of our pastures were on FIRE!
Flower Boy jumped in his truck.
Drewman jumped in his truck.
They headed out.
The pasture, on fire, was one mile from the house.
The rural fire department responded within minutes, providing two brush trucks, a tanker/water truck and a command vehicle.
Many folks complain about the small rural fire departments.
We are blessed to have a great department in our area.
Most of the firemen are our neighbors and friends.
They are all volunteer, but have a passion for the service they provide to us.
The fire started from a person burning their trash.
Years ago, rural folks had no way to dispose of their garbage so they either put it in a pit or barrel and burned it.
Now days, there are rural garbage collection services available.
Our county commissioners have acquired a grant for a dumpster to be placed at the fairgrounds for rural residents of our county to dispose of garbage.
There was no reason, for the folks who started this fire, to have been burning their trash.
We have pastures on both sides of the residence where the fire started.
Flower Boy gathered cattle in one pasture, while Drewman gathered in the other.
They kept the cattle out of harms way.
Thankfully, one pasture was not effected by the fire.
The other pasture....
We lost about one quarter of the grass, on that pasture.
The place between our two pastures...
The entire 40 acres was burned.
The only thing slowing this fire down was a recent pipeline had gone through the south end of these pastures, clearing a fifty foot swath of right of way.
Without the pipeline right of way, the fire may have burned miles of pasture land.
The firemen had to cut the fence between the pastures, in order to put out the fire.
This left us with the repair.
If the folks who started the fire would have had insurance, we would have been reimbursed for our time and materials to repair the fence, our pasture loss and the fire department would have been paid.
They didn't!
Therefore, we are all at a loss.
Including the cattle.
 They don't have much roughage, now.
This is the pasture my sissy and her hubby have their weanlings.
They now have to supplement the cattle with more hay and feed.
As a ranching family, we ask that you heed the Fire Weather Watch and Red Flag Fire Warnings you see on the daily news.
It may not be important to you, but it is very important and costly to a rancher.
Rancher Girl

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Uses for Old Things

I have seen these amazing little metal locker baskets everywhere on the internet, while searching for d├ęcor ideas for the house.
You know the ones that held our items when we would to go to the swimming pool as kids?
These little gems!
I found two of them here at the ranch!
You will not believe where I found them!
They were in one of Drewman's EGGcelent EGG houses!

Drewman purchased this little house, from the wife and daughter of my old 4-H Extension Educator, a few years ago.
He uses it to transition chicks from the brooder to the outside pen.
I didn't even ask Drewman if I could have the locker baskets.
I just had Flower Boy take them out after I helped him measure a portion of fence.
Drewman was cleaning his other hen houses, looked up and said "Using those for a project?"
He knows me none too well.
I brought them in the house and with a little cleanser
 and scrubbing,
 they cleaned up nicely.
One of the baskets has some sort of sticker over the original locker number.
 I didn't attempt scraping it off today.
I may try some type of removal product in the future.
I have placed one on the bench in the mud room.
 It holds gloves, head wraps and wild rags.
Wild Rags are a silk scarf a cowboy wears around his neck.
It keeps you SO WARM in the winter and SO COOL in the summer!
The other locker basket...
 I have placed it on the back of the toilet in our bathroom. 
They add to the ranchey look, don't you think?
These little locker baskets do make me wonder where they have been, prior to being used as nesting boxes in that little hen house.
Were they in a school?
Were they at a swimming pool?
Were they at our local YMCA?
Were they in a basketball gym?
I'm just glad I can bring them back to life in our home.
I love them and their new purpose in our life!
I think I will dig a little deeper in our sheds to see what else I can find!
See Ya!
Rancher Girl

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Highest of High and The Lowest of Low

A few weeks ago, we experienced the highest of high and the lowest of low that a rancher can achieve.
All within a day of each!

We shall start with the highest of high...
It was a cold blustery EARLY December morning.
We penned the weanlings.
Let me tell ya folks,
Penning cattle ain't nothing like pinning on Pinterest!
This day was COLD!!
We were thankful for my Sissy, her Hubby and Brother-in-Law.
I should say...
My Sissy and I were thankful for Flower Boy, Sissy's Hubby and Brother-in-Law.
We got to stay in the vehicles!
Thanks guys!
We love you!

Trailers were backed up to the pens.
 Weanlings were loaded.
 Both trailers full.
I kinda like this photo below.
It might be because of the smudge mark from one of the cows nose on the mirror.
It's original!
 I drove one truck and trailer while Flower Boy drove the other.

This is where the penning team split up.
Flower Boy and I headed out for an hour or so drive to the stockyard, 
While my Sissy, her Hubby and Brother-in-Law penned their weanlings and brought them to our weaning pasture.
It is so nice in the ranching world to have others to help and return favors.
They use our pasture...
We use their tractor...
They call for help to put out a bale of hay...
We call them to help us load weanlings...

Flower Boy and I pulled into the stockyards.
Looks like it's gonna be a good day!
We are setting in line.
A long line means a big sale!
Now, this is where I get a little sick to my stomach...
It's what ranchers do.
We do our best to place quality cattle in the market so that, you, the consumer can purchase quality beef.
The question for the rancher is always "Are our cattle good enough?"
The cattle haulers are just waiting for load outs.

Here is where Flower Boy gets a little nervous...
Our cattle are sorted and come into the sale ring.
The auctioneer calls out "Rockin' B Ranch" and the number of weanlings we have brought to the sale.
He asks if "we" are in the audience.
(Although they know we are because we sell most of our calves there.)
Flower Boy, with note pad and pen in hand, proceeds to tell the audience the age of the calves, date weaned and vaccines given.
The bidding starts!
We know we have good cattle.
(not bragging)
We put our hearts and souls into our operation.
We are proud of our product.

All the weanlings sell and top the market!
You want to jump up and down, do chest bumps and high fives.
You don't!
You set quietly, proud but humbled.
(it is part of the code)
You listen for the auctioneer to acknowledge you with a "Thanks folks for bringing in that fine group of calves."
Flower Boy nods, saying "Thank you" and returns to his note taking.
We continue to watch the remainder of the sale, pick up our check and head back home.

The very next day, we lost a baby calf!

The momma was a heifer.
Her name is Fuzzy.
Her ear tag number is 31.
She is a big square framed healthy girl.
She didn't breed when she should have for spring calving.
We held her over for fall calving.
She was our last girl to calve this season.
You worry when one calves this late because you tempt fate with the snow and ice.

We knew Fuzzy would be calving soon.
As always, Flower Boy keeps close watch on our girls.

We pulled into the pasture, took a head count and noticed Fuzzy wasn't with the herd.
We are having a baby!!!
We drive the pasture and find Fuzzy down by the pond.
We see the calf, but when we pull up, we realize something went wrong.
Our hearts sink to the pit of our stomachs.
It is a totally different feeling than we experienced the day before.

The calf was dead.
There was silence inside the truck.
Flower Boy gets out, consoles Fuzzy, grabs the baby, placing it on the back of the truck and says a prayer.
(this too is part of the code)
I cried.

The calf hadn't been birthed for more than a few hours.
It was still warm, wet and covered in afterbirth.
Heifers, like all new mothers, don't always know what to do after giving birth.
Fuzzy was nosing her baby and attempting to clean it.
Without being there during the time of birth, we will never know if the calf was still born or if it died because the birth sack didn't break.

None the less, we failed!
We failed ourselves!
More so, we failed Fuzzy!

That, our friends, is the highest of high and the lowest of low all in a day of a rancher's life.

Rancher Girl

Monday, January 6, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside!

The outside temperature the past two days hasn't been above freezing.
Saturday night the forecast called for a "light dusting of snow".
 Sunday morning proved the forecasters wrong! 
 All in all we received well over two inches of snow and drifts up to 2 feet!
Temperatures this morning were -3 degrees not including wind chill.
In these type of temperatures, we have to feed the cattle more to keep them warm and chop ice.
Tonight the ice was about an inch and a half thick!
Speaking of ice.... 
We were just recovering from an ice storm that hit right before Christmas.
The babies didn't know how to act and walked like prancing horses in a parade.
It started with a heavy soaking rain that turned everything into ice.
 Some of the plants froze in balls.
 While others froze like straws.
 Even the wispies of the grass were frozen in time.
The sunrise and sunset, while everything was covered with ice, were breathtaking!

While we admire the beauty of the ice storm,

We must also acknowledge it's wrath.
Lots of down limbs and trees.
We started the clean up and added to the wood pile on Saturday, just before this snow.
Good thing because the fireplace hasn't stopped burning!
Baby It's Cold Outside!