Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why we move the heifers every 7 days

We move our replacement heifers every 7 days no matter what is going on. There are a few reasons we do this. #1 - Lupine. Lupine is a very pretty flower and also very toxic at certain times to cattle. Between the first and forth month of pregnancy if a cow eats lupine for an extended period of time she has the potential to have a crippled calf or a calf with a cleft palate. Lupine is a legume. A very high source of protein for cattle. Lupine has 3 stages. The first stage is the flowering stage. When we notice the lupine start to flower we move all our cows to the meadows. The second stage is when the flowers fall and it has seeds. This is when its most toxic. It has a toxic alkaloid. This is when the crippling effect happens. It paralyzes the fetus and that's the way its born. The third stage is when the seeds "pop". This usually happens towards the end of August. At this point its safe for cattle to eat the plant. And we will open the gates and the cows can leave the meadows. The crippling effects can be as mild as a slight bent knees, all the way to having to put them down. It is so sad. It also effects the nervous system if they eat too much and the cattle may feel drunk. We had a bull eat too much when we were moving bulls and he just stumbled to the ground, after about 30 mins, he got up and was fine. Every year we have at least one calf that has bent knees. No matter how much precautions we take. Two years ago we were devastated by crippled calves in our heifers. We have also had a very few calves with cleft palates. They usually have to be put down or die. They can not get hold of the teat to nurse, milk just comes out of their nose. There is a bug that eats the lupine flower, called a blister beetle. Its an iridescent green beetle. I love to see those beetles! They eat the flower so the lupine can not reseed. They have done an amazing job controlling the lupine in thick areas. Also an interesting fact about lupine seeds. If you are allergic to peanuts, you will also be allergic to lupine seeds!
#2 reason. Grass management. If we move the heifers they won't over graze the pastures and the grasses can continue to grow.
#3 reason. The heifers get used to us and our horses. There not like pinballs. They are calm and move easily.

Lupine flower. This one is an unusual white one. Most are purple.

Here are some cows (not ours) in a field full of lupine.

Moving our heifers today. Such good girls.

Up and around the lake they go.

Up the hill to the gate they go.

All pictures taken on the back of Leo. My trusty cow pony.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fightin' Fire

Well, the old fire truck and tanker truck got used today. There was a wheat stubble and grass fire south of us about 20 miles. The wheat had been cut a week ago. Thank goodness. A standing wheat fire is horrendous! It started at the corner of the state highway and a county road. Spread quickly. It looks like it burned about 200 or so acres. The small community of Washtucna called for mutual aid right around lunch time. So, Cameron took the tanker. Jake (Cameron's Dad) and I took the fire truck. All EMT's and fire fighters are volunteers. We do have to be certified. It was on the South side of the road so it did stay pretty much contained. If it jumped the road and headed North, it would have been ugly! There was standing wheat and range ground. Nothing to stop it for miles and miles. It was also windy which is never good in a fire! Here are a few pictures.

They had 2 tractors with disc's. They go around the edge of the fire to create a fire break.

Some of the fire from my vantage point.

A whirl wind, or dust devil. Full of soot. This is how fire also spreads.

Our 5000 gallon tanker truck. I operate it by filling up the fire trucks and handing out water.

Our 1500 gallon fire truck. Cameron is driving and Jake runs the hose. Coming to get more water.

The other side of the road this old barn is grateful.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The ole barn's gotta go

This old barn has been here for at least 75 years. Cameron's Dad Jake, remembers it being here when he was a kid. It's been a horse barn, hay storage, a chicken, duck and goose barn. Its been added on to, has a cool loft, but getting up the stairs you have to be oh so careful. It is being held up by cables on the inside. Last summer Cameron and my son Michael tore all the tin off the roof. We removed all the springs, hinges and anything else that could be used else where. Salvage some of the lumber. Most of it is pretty rotted. We'll take the excavator and knock it down. And burn it this winter. Get the big rolling magnet and pick up all the nails. Put fence up where the barn used to be for the bottle babies or the horses, plant some trees and call it good. Its pretty use less as it is right now. And would take way to much time, money and energy to repair. Its sad too see it go.

The guys taking the roof off.

The inside. Kinda cool looking with the sun coming through.

The outside. Its a long barn.

Some of our beautiful heifers. They will be getting preg tested in 10 days.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cats, Cows, Lightning and the Old Barn

We had quite a thunder storm roll in here last night. Thank goodness it didn't start any fires around here. It seemed to miss us. Went to the East and West of us. We sat up on the highest hill and watched. It was spectacular! I was only able to get one shot of the lightning. By the time my little camera was able to take the a picture and process it, all I got was darkness.
Here are a few pics from yesterday. And the old barn from last year before we painted it.

Stash in the back yard

Heifers waiting at the gate to be moved.

Cows on the Island Meadow at sunset.

The Old Barn - before and after.


Lightning Bolt.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Climbing trees

The Monkey's have climbed their first tree. Stash, one of the bigger cats was in the small Hawthorn tree. The kitties saw him and up they went. Stash has been kinda like their leader. Pretty funny to watch them.

A heifer calf

Sunset at the end of a wonderful day

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dry & Dusty

We moved the heifers today, from the Lake Pasture to the Solar Well pasture. Finally got the pump replaced at the solar well. Yes, a real solar well that pumps water into the water tank. We have 3 solar wells on the ranch right now, and working on the 4th. Before the solar wells, the cows would congregate at the creek or other water holes. Now they spread out and utilize the pasture better.
When we were riding, we saw a hawk that looked like it had an injured wing. It was kinda flapping around the rocks. After further looking at the pictures, it looks like it has a bag stuck under its tail? Does it look like that to you? He just blends right in with the rocks. He was hard to find in the camera!

Cameron bringing a few heifers around Sheep Springs Lake.

Heifers at the lake.

Dry and Dusty!

The hawk. Does it look like he's got something stuck to him? What do you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cows on the meadow

When we take the bulls out of the cows, and the heat of summer starts to kick in full force. We gather all the cows and put them on the meadows. They are on both sides of  the creek and trees. We have 2 different meadows that the cows are in. On one meadow, we have our first calf heifers and 3 year olds. On the other meadow, we have the rest of the cows. The older Hereford bulls are in a pasture that has waist high grass! With this heat, they have lost the desire to get out and look for "that" cow they may have missed! (fingers crossed they stay put). The baby Hereford bulls are in a pasture of their own. So they don't get hurt by the bigger guys. The Angus bulls are on the other side of the creek from the baby Hereford bulls. And we are still moving the replacement heifers every 7 days. Here are a few pictures of cows on the meadows. 

We irrigate the meadows with the creek. There are check dams and pipes that you can close to divert water on to the meadow. Makes for great grass.