And Up the Mountain We Go

We summer our cattle on our Mountain Ranch. The roads are closed at the end of November through April. So every year we go up and check things out see how the grass is growing. Mostly we look at fences and all the damage the Elk have caused over the winter.

We even did a little artifact hunting. 

Workers Behind the Scenes

Many times we work along doing the big jobs. The big jobs are important and we see their benefit instantly. This is with any job and with any aspect of life. 

However we many times forget all the little jobs that make life easier. As I was walking to the barn the other day I was reminded of this.

 You see several years ago we were overrun with mice. Now that doesn’t sound so devastating, but let me tell you it is. Mice get in everything! They get into the equipment. They chew wires and hoses in vehicles. The hunting house is only used for about a month out of the year and they enjoy the warmth it gives and their ability to be wild and free with no humans around. We also had just bought a camper and in a matter of hours the obvious sign that a mouse had gotten in was there. 

I had tried to get cats over the years. Probably 20 or more. None stayed around and I decided it was probably the fact I was getting cats not kittens. 

I took action I went to Facebook looking for kittens. I ended up with 14 kittens! Yes that’s correct 14. With these fourteen was our house cat Dumbledore and soon to be seen was Big Tom. Big Tom apparently had been living in our hay stack for years. I had never seen him, but when kittens began to scurry around the barn, he showed up. 

I spoil my kitties. This is their own stall in the barn. I purchased small square bales so they have shelter from the cold and made a loft to climb on.
Now we live on a ranch and well ranch life happens to us all. A few met sad ends with Joe (the cat killing border collie)taking out a few, a few getting locked inside buildings, the boys grew up and just left, and some just died. Of the original 14 and two others. We have about 4 of the original and big Tom left. Luckily some have had babies and we see those from time to time. Some are a little wilder than others. 

This is Link. He stays near our house. He has two white spots on his head where he was bit by a rattlesnake.

We now have some amazing cats that do wonderful pest control. These are my behind the scene workers. They work to make my life easier. We truly have no mice. I have not placed my eyes on a living mouse in a long time and for that I am thankful. 

Today they got extra food to ensure a day of relaxation. 

My Job. . . Fire Watch

When welding needs to be done. Someone needs to be on fire duty. So I watch for smoldering grass and flare ups. In our dry climate in Wyoming this is an important job. The grass feeds our livestock. If a fire starts up it could not only burn our pastures but our neighbors as well. 

This is just another one of those daily tasks that are just as important as our livestock working days. Keeping fences and water sources in top shape enables us to focus on other things. 

Today we were fixing corners and supports around a new solar well. This will help the cattle to utilize this side of the pasture. 

This helmet was my sons Christmas gift. He was at school today and my hubby needed one. It works great, thanks John. 

And I’m Back!

It has been close to four years since I hurt my knee working cattle. I climbed over at fence when the cattle were coming back toward me and when I landed I twisted my knee with all my weight on it. At the time it just seemed like it was just partially injured. Little did I know, and soon I would find out that this would be a game changer. 

As the weeks went on I realized my knee was not healing. I have always been an avid horseman, and I enjoy riding horses. I don’t enjoy riding a four wheeler together cattle. I don’t enjoy riding a four wheeler down mountain valleys gathering cattle. They know you can’t get to them in certain spots, and they know you will have to get off that four wheeler. That makes me walk down the hills and walk down little drops, putting more strain on my injured knee. So over the years it grew worse and worse. 

To top it all off I bought a new dog and I decided I was going to go to some clinics to learn to train her. At a training this jeep came into me I locked my knees and they took out the other knee. So this left me with two injured Knees!  I know what you’re saying it’s just over, you’re just gonna have to rest. When I stopped teaching and became my husband’s right-hand man there was no stopping. There was going lighter, and there was going easier. But the work had to get done. 

Over the years the right knee was progressively worse off than the left. And I knew I was going to have to do something. After several different dr visits and injections, I finally had knee surgery in March of this year on my right knee. It feels the best it has felt in years. As a bonus the other knee no longer hurts at all. And in September I can say, I finally got back on a horse. You don’t know how exciting that was. To want to ride but being able to ride is a very hard thing to deal with. So I continue hoping it heals even better and I am able to do all the things that I want including running and jumping. 

Here are a few pictures of my horse ride and my pup Boo. She is the daughter of the dog I bought train. 

How’s the Water!

What a rancher does for his livestock. No he’s not drinking. He is blowing down the overflow to unplug it. I couldn’t resist a great photo opportunity. I’m sure he will thank me later, or sooner. Lol

When it’s hot out, checking water is crucial to the health and well being of all livestock. Keeping everything open and flowing correctly takes staying on top of how the tanks are working. 

Great Day in the Mountains

Yesterday we headed up the mountain to fix fence near Friend Park at the base of Laramie Peak. We moved our heifers up the other day, so it was time to run around another section in case they jump in. 

It was a beautiful day with storm clouds rolling in and out. A little rain, but not too much. The best part I didn’t see one person trespassing! I have come to loathe going up the mountain because it is a constant running people down or having to tell people they are on private property. Sometimes I even see their posts on Facebook, clearly showing where they were. I’m always just mind boggled by this. I would love to take my 4wheeler through their front yard and around the back leave open gates and let their animals out. Maybe then they would comprehend the concept of trespassing. 

That is why I would just rather go somewhere else. However fences have to be fixed, so we have to go up. Yesterday was awesome in that regard. I didn’t see anyone and it was a peaceful break. 

Here We Go!

Calving season is now winding down. We only have 40 or so left and calving will be done. As everything in life, when one thing ends another begins and we enter into branding and AI time. 

There is one other thing that happens during branding and summer and that is fence fixing. Out here fences run longer than the town gossips mouth. As cows are moved to different pastures, the fences need to be run around and fixed. Antelope, deer, elk and pipeliners all leave the fence in a mess. Therefore as you drive and walk around the fence staples need put back into posts, wires need spliced back together, and new posts need driven. 

This takes time and perseverance. A half a day here and a whole day there get it done hopefully before the cows are moved in. 

Yesterday was a great day to do just that. We have been fixing fence for a few days to prepare a pasture for after we brand. Then it was off to spay heifers at Lance Creek. This time of year is the beginning of busy cow work until things slow down the end of July and then hunting begins in August. 
Have a great day. 

Preparing for a Winter Storm

Most people prepare for a snowstorm by going to the grocery store and stacking firewood. We all know it’s important to have food, water, and heat. However for a rancher or farmer it becomes a lot more complicated.
My husband watches the weather daily. When the storm is predicted weeks out he begins watching to see how it’s changing, how much snow is predicted, and the temperatures. All of these things factor in how we will prepare the cows and ourselves for the storm. 

If you are farmer or rancher, you know all of the things that are contained in this article. If you’re not then these things maybe things you were not aware of that farmers and ranchers have to do to ensure that all the cattle are safe and protected as best they can be in a severe storm. 

One thing that changes is the condition of your cattle. If you are calving you’re going to treat a storm differently then if you’re not calving. This last storm we were beginning to calve. We already had multiple calves on the ground and many more close to being born. This places more importance on getting everything ready before the storm hits. 

This last storm was predicted to hit on Tuesday evening. Therefore our work began on Easter Sunday. Yes, when many of you are getting in your Easter finery to go to church and enjoy the day with family, my husband and my daughter were on horseback working cattle. I had knee surgery and therefore I am little help currently. So we had to utilize when the kids were home to get cow work done. 

When cows are close to calving we sort them into pastures closer to the house so that if there is a situation where they need help we can readily get them into the clinic or into a barn. This is called working off the heavies. A heavy is essentially a cow that is showing signs that birth is getting close. We look for things like their bag is filling with milk and their bottom(putting it tactfully) is loose and relaxed. Most important  JJ knows almost all the cows but the ones that have come up from the other ranch, so he remembers how they looked before they calve. He remembers this one doesn’t show much milk but she will calve early, or this one has a bag but her bag will be  huge like a milk cow before she calves. There are a few other signs that enable us to work them off from the others that have awhile to go. 

After they worked them on Sunday, we moved the ones that were close to calving into the shed pasture and the other larger bunch was in the meadow. Both of these places have shelters that we can put the ones that we really think are going to calve in the next few days inside so that their calf has a higher chance of surviving the expected storm. 

Monday was a day of preparing the shelters getting everything where it needed to be. Feeding all the cows that were turned out, extra good so everything was fed and moved closer to a draw, so they can get down on Tuesday and have some protection. 

Tuesday morning was a rush of getting things done. The storm was expected to hit by midnight so everything had to be in its place ready to go. The barns needed to have hay so that the cattle had food during this 12 to 24 hour period. If he it did turn into a blizzard then we would more than likely would not be turning anything out.  Therefore everything had to be in place because we would not be able to get tractors over in a blizzard. 

We set up panels in front of the openface shed.   We could put the 38 head that we worked on Sunday inside. Two head had already calved Tuesday afternoon so they were moved into a stall hopefully they would stay inside and not escape out into the blizzard. 

On the other side of the creek we had the large bunch of cattle and we worked those again to sort off the heavies that we thought would calve that night or the next day. 
We spreadout hay and got everything ready. At dusk we ran everything into the barn everything was in place to hopefully survive the storm.
Throughout the night JJ went over and check the cows in the barn to see if any  needed to be put in the stalls or if anything has calved outside. 

The storm came it wasn’t as bad as expected the kids were out of school, but it wasn’t the blizzard that was called for. However everything was well protected we didn’t lose any calves and the cows were well cared for during the storm.   

The weather is now in the 50s-upper 60s and the cows and calves are doing great.