We woke up to a few inches of snow this morning and some very nice Christmas music referring to “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and “the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh o’re white and drifted snow”. Seasonal lyrics can be very romantic. Snow can mean so many things to everyone. To my friend, Josh Habiger, it means he might get a snow day and not have to go to school. To many of my friends it means a beautiful landscape and a change of pace that the season affords. I think it is time I share with the world what snow means to a cowgirl on the ranch. First of all, snow means moisture. Our first concern is always how much moisture the snow has in it. A wet snow means lots of moisture and green grass in the spring. A dry snow with a little Kansas wind behind it means lots of drifts and little moisture being deposited where it is needed to make green grass in the spring. Today’s snow was very wet. We only got a few inches, but I was sure it was wet and heavy when I tried to open the shop door and this was all the further it would open. There was enough weight on the roof, the door would not roll up; which meant my trusty scoop shovel and I ascended the ladder to scoop the snow off the roof before we could load the feed for the horses and the calves. Have I ever mentioned that I am not a fan of heights? Snow means that the hens will not venture outside today to forage for their own breakfast, lunch or dinner. I will need to haul it to them in buckets. This little red hen is headed back in the chicken house as fast as she can go. All of the frosty stuff has be scooped out of the feed bunks before the calves or horses can be fed. It rained and sleeted before it began to snow, so all the netwrap and twine on the bales were frozen to the top of the bales. Snow signifies it will take twice as long to just take the netwrap off of the round bales. Snow may mean getting an axe, shovel, hammer or other handy object to break the layer of ice off the bale. It may mean after feeding bale 7, I will quietly consider using my pocket knife to cut around the frozen netwrap and leave that portion on the bale. Maybe no one will notice until later. A nice wet snow means lots of moisture, lots of muddy pens, green grass in the spring and,
I don’t need a membership at a gym or a treadmill for exercise. This shovel and I get all the workout we need when snow arrives.
It has been one busy month. If anyone wanted to drive cattle, work cattle or drive more cattle again, it was the month to be at the Moore Ranch. Jenny G. and her family were here. Even though they couldn’t go on the regular Fall Cattle Drive,
they did get in on moving a set of cows about seven miles. It had just begun to rain as we started gathering about 85 head of cows. By the time we got them gathered and out the gate, the rain was over.
They also got in on moving some of the longhorns to another pasture.
Their week wasn’t complete without getting in on vaccinating some cattle that had just been shipped in.
All of September we weaned calves, vaccinated calves that arrived at the ranch, moved cows and bunched them up for the winter and then later drove them twelve or more miles northward on to winter pasture.
The first week of October the Longhorn cows left the ranch and were driven to winter pasture about 35 miles northeast.
Our last night we spread our bedrolls out in an old farm building. It ended up being a good plan when the rain came down in sheets all night long. Then next day it was a bit chilly and the Rattlesnake Creek had gone from absolutely dry to a river. The cows had to be pushed across as they swam to the other side.
There were a few slow days in the month. Joe and I took time to check up on the two-year old colts one day as we were out riding pastures. All of them are curious. Hopefully they will be easy to halter-break this winter. That is “when things slow down”. I have never experienced that on our ranch. I have decided that being busy and slowing down must all be a state of mind and attitude. Slow or busy, I wouldn’t have life any other way than with my family on the ranch.
After the September Cattle Drive, Christine and Thomas from Germany were great help. We spent the week moving cattle, weaning calves and shipping the calves.
Thomas was sitting on the fence waiting for the semi trucks to arrive. We had gathered the cows and calves off of 2,000 acres and had all the calves separated and waiting in the alley to be loaded.
Several hours and two pastures later Thomas moved the loading chute to the next location and the ceremony began again: unload saddle horses from trailer, gather pasture, sort calves off in corral, wait for semi, load calves on truck, let cows out in pasture, load saddle horses in trailer….
By evening we had accomplished it all. Four Hundred twenty-five calves had been weaned and shipped. Horses were unsaddled and we were all ready for a nice supper, shower and a bed. Thomas and Christine said they would be back next year for more of the same. It will be a treat for us. They have become good hands and great friends.
August 28th definitely doesn’t qualify as spring time in Kansas, but don’t tell these new ranch babies that.
This little fella has found a new mama.
Two guinea hens hatched out nine chicks. They are fast little balls of feathers.
One of Laramie’s hens hatched out five chicks. They are growing up in a hurry and should be on their own by the time fall gets her in 30 days or so.
It is just another ordinary day at the ranch. Some things are planned, but most things on the itinerary are unexpected. Juan and Bea, from Spain, joined us not long after lunch. We saddled up and went to check cows, doctor calves and move some pairs.
Several cows and calves were out on the neighbors pasture. Joe and Laramie had to ride back to a gate to get around them and drive them back onto our pasture.
After fixing the fence that was laying on the ground as best we could, we began to ride through the cattle to search for a few calves which had been limping because of “foot rot”. It has been a wet year which often causes problems with the hooves of the cattle. This year we have roped and given antibiotics to quite a few calves.
Laramie roped this calf in the pasture. Joe held him down and gave him some antibiotics. We roped and doctored six calves. From there we rode through the herd and sorted off 25 pairs of longhorn cows and drove them to a new pasture.
From there we split up. Joe and Laramie doctored some more calves while Juan and Bea and I found a longhorn cow with a new calf at the back part of the pasture. We drove her across the pasture to be with the other longhorn cows.
Juan and Bea had only been riding with us a few hours, but soon got the hang of driving the cow and calf. In the photo above they had almost driven the cow and calf across the 1,200 acre pasture to the gate. The afternoon had not gone completely as planned, but we did get a lot accomplished. Tomorrow Laramie will be going back to fix the fence correctly before the cows have it torn down again. Tomorrow will be another day of unexpected happenings as well.
Yesterday was one of those long days. We got up early to do the chores. Laramie hopped on a horse bareback to run the saddle horses in while I finished up doctoring two horses on the sick list. We have two of them now which have cuts which have to be washed, bandaged, or otherwise treated each day. Joe and I rode out to gather the practice cattle while Laramie ate breakfast.
Laramie entered a rodeo this weekend and accidently got entered as a “heeler” instead of a “header”. He and Joe took a quick 30 minutes to run some roping cattle though and practice team roping in the arena.
After switching saddles to some younger horses, we left to meet up with Shane and gather several pastures. We gathered a 1,200 acre pasture with 95 heifers in it. After a quick lunch in a nearby town, we drove to another ranch and gathered 42 heifers. When Joe unloaded his horse, it was evident he wouldn’t be riding her. She was definitely lame and wouldn’t be able to ridden the rest of the day. It looked like our day would come to a quick close since it would take all four of us to gather the next two pastures. Joe made a few phone calls was able to borrow a horse from a nearby rancher, so we continued on and gathered 50 head of cows and calves and moved them closer to the corrals where we will be weaning their calves within a week.
The next set to gather was 63 head of cows and calves off the far back pasture. When we rode on top of the hill to scope things out, we could see it wasn’t going to be simple. The cows were scattered all over the pasture and several bunches were way at the far end.
We managed to get everything done quite easily, even though there was some hard riding involved in most of the day. On the 35 mile drive back to the ranch, Shane commented he thought we had ridden close to 20 miles since morning. We all calculated and agreed that 20 miles was a close estimate and our bodies concurred with that estimate as well!