It was a pretty sunrise while the guys were getting ready for preg check. I got my papers in order and headed down to the cows. We had a successful check and had a great lunch before heading them up into the hills.
We got them through the first gate and up the main road. You may recognize this road from the fall scene I called Country Road. Not so colorful this time of year.
Got through the second gate.
There is always one that thinks she needs to go on her own. She’s a non-conformist.
Again she separates from the herd.
But Patrick can always show them the way.
Patrick was the gate getter.
If you keep them spread out a little and stay at a steady pace, they tend to travel better rather than keeping them bunched up and moving fast.
Sometimes the sound of a swinging rope will straighten the girls up and keep them moving.
We were heading straight west into the hills and into the sun.
I had to shade my eyes just to see the road.
It’s quite the climb up into these hills and we’re prefer they stay on the road. But as always, a few tend to go their own way.
Patrick and I took a group into what we call the rock pasture (this whole place is rocky, not sure why this one is so special) and down into the canyon to water. The other cowboys took a group to the river.
We went back and checked on them the next day and their bellies were full and they were very content. The ladies will enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday in the hills.
I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. Thanks for hanging out with me here at our home on the range. I am so grateful for each of you.
We had a crew out to help us move the cattle across the Plains this week.
The guys saddled up as the sun rose and I prepared the truck with water, lunch and simple amenities that the guys may need during the trail.
I drove to the first gate and waited for a couple hours. Then, on the horizon a couple of miles in the distance, appeared a cowboy and a few cows.
They trailed down the hill with one cowboy leading the way and the others bringing up the middle and rear.
The cattle filed in along the fence line and Patrick counted them as they went through the gate.
They stayed together and kept a steady pace as we crossed the vast landscape. Some calves tried to run back but the cowboys encouraged them to stay with the herd and with momma.
The air was cool and calm for almost the entire trail. But toward the end, the wind picked up and it got warm, fast.
Once we got into the final pasture, the guys led them to the windmill for water. They have to be shown where water is because if you just leave them alone, they will drop their heads and start eating. You have to let them know where the water is and leave them there so they get their bearings and know where the essentials are.
By now, the wind was howling, the heat was rising and the dust was blowing. I could barley hold my camera steady.
I put out the lunches on the tailgate and got the guys fed and watered. The horses had some time to graze while we ate but we weren’t quite done yet. There was one cow that just couldn’t make the long trail. She’s an old lady and had trouble keeping up so we left her at that first gate. We made our way back to get the trailer to load her and her calf and chauffeur them to the pasture with the others..
It took a little convincing with a short chase and a rope. They finally got them both loaded and off to the pasture with the others we went. They will enjoy this pasture until it is time to wean the calves in October.
It was a good day without any casualties or injuries. And it was long day that started at 4am and went until at least 4pm. Then back to the ranch to unsaddle the horses and finish up chores until dark.
Phew! So glad it’s Friday.
See more images from this shoot HERE.
Our crew from back east took charge a couple of weeks ago and branded the last batch of calves.
They led the mothers and calves out of the calving pasture,
over the hill,
along the fence line,
and into the branding pen.
They sorted the mothers from the calves and led them out of the corral.
Reagan and Marley were great spectators.
These guys were also in the audience. They snorted and stared and were as grumpy as ever.
And then the roping began.
Tommy and Hillbilly worked hard and did a great job of bringing the calves in so they could be vaccinated and branded quickly.
Once they were down, the ground crew swooped in and had them up and at’em in no time.
A couple of days later, the cowboys and cowgirls led the herd up the hill so they could wait for the trucks to take them to the Laramie Plains
One little one tried to get away but Patrick and Jack guided him to the rest of the herd.
They went right in to the corral, with the encouragement from those on horseback, and waited.
On the last day of their visit, Marley’s mom and sister went shopping so we decided to have a photo shoot.
Marley was a fantastic model and we had a blast taking her “cowgirl portraits”.
We dodged a few raindrops and had moslty cloudy skies. But the sun popped out every now and then and we were dolloped with some lovely light.
All in all it was a great visit and even though we put them to work, I hope they enjoyed it!
Not really any choking going on, but plenty of roping.
Patrick had to put a little scare into this calf trying to get away from the herd. Even though momma is at the top of the hill and he’s taking him to her, his one track mind wants him to go back to the last place he sucked.
The last of the cows were trucked to the Laramie Plains this morning. It’s so dry here but there is plenty of grass and water up there so they will have a happy summer of grazing and lounging.
These past few months have been a lot of work for me and Patrick and I’ve been cowgirlin’ more than photographerin’ (I know that’s not a word but it feels like one today). We have a crew out from back east so I’ve been able to sit back a little more and document the action rather than be right in there with it. We’ve been herding cattle and chasing calves and we had a successful branding.
AND finally…drumroll please…..
…the last heifer to calve gave birth a week ago. Yes, our last calf of the bunch has finally arrived. Patrick says “she’s holding on to that calf like it’s money”. She was as big as a bus that last week and we are so grateful the calf came out okay. We’re done with calving for the year so maybe we’ll catch up on some sleep this summer. Ha! A girl can dream of zzz’s can’t she?
This is a busy time of year for ranchers around these parts.
As I mentioned a few posts back, we had a new batch of heifers delivered to us on a beautiful Saturday morning. Some had calves already, some had yet to give birth. We got everyone re-tagged and branded and they have now all joined the rest of the herd.
When we are out checking for new calves, we look for peculiar behavior. Like being separated from the herd, staring you down, pawing at the dirt, or standing over a curled up ball of fuzz. As you see in the middle image above, something looks fishy. So we go over, tag it, vaccinate it, and make sure momma has let it suck.
When a mother has a baby that doesn’t survive birth, Patrick skins her deceased calf and creates a cape for a bum/bottle fed calf to wear so that she will accept this calf as her own. Once we put them both together we stand back and wait for her to hum to the calf. If she hums, that’s good. If she kicks it, that’s bad. In this case, momma wanted a baby so she loves this little one as her own. Fortunately we don’t have to do this too often.
The little ones and their mommas always try to get away from us when we drive through them to make sure everyone is doing good and is healthy. They’ll run in the brush or hide behind fallen trees and limbs.
And some just don’t care what you’re up to. This pair sat a chewed their cud when I drove past. The calf looks like she has stars above her eyes!
I love these sweet faces.
This week we’ve been pairing out to go to new pasture to get the calves ready for branding. This job requires cowboys and cowgirls on horseback to sort and match cows and calves together before walking them through the gate. It is tedious but very important because you don’t want them separated. Momma’s and babies will bawl all night if they are separated from each other. Not to mention it’s not good if baby doesn’t get to suckle.
We have a crew coming out in less than a month to help with gathering and branding. Then the cattle will be trucked out to the Laramie Plains to graze for the summer.
Phew! This was a very eventful and COLD weekend. Like 10 degrees and below cold.
We got our first calf. Ironically from heifer #1, a first time mother on Saturday.
Poco’s filly started eating hay. She would eat a few bites, and then go suckle. So cute!
Yep. Those are icicles on her little ears. It’s THAT cold!
Kate and family had “no comment” and went on to find a spot to lay down.
As if we weren’t cold enough and covered in 5 inches of snow already, we woke up to a our first deep frost of the year on Sunday morning.
So we moved the cows from the pasture across the river…
…to our backyard.
Then Patrick went to feed the bulls a couple pastures over and the tractor broke down.
So we had to tow it back home. Him driving backwards in the working tractor and me steering the broken down tractor. Not easy. And not my favorite adventure thus far.
We walked into the house just before dark. I put a couple more logs on the fire, wrapped up in fleece head to toe, opened a bottle of Chianti, and enjoyed my couch and the Grammy’s.
We’re slowly leading cattle out of the hills into lower pasture closer to home. They’ll be having their calves soon and we don’t need daily trips into the snowy hills looking for cows and their babies.
It was cold and windy but at least the sun came out occasionally which created nice lighting.
Usually my view while herding is full of backsides.
So I moved around front to get their beautiful faces.
They went through the gate and that gave me a minute to get a shot of the gorgeous view from up high.
The beautiful Cooney Hills were lit through the overcast sky.
Once we got into the next pasture, Patrick set out mineral tubs and salt for them. They LOVE this stuff.
I stayed back. I know not to get in the way of a pregnant woman and her sweet tooth!
Fall is really taking shape in this little corner of the world. I hope it is treating you well too. Here are a few shots from the past couple of days.
The guys rounded up the cattle and brought them to the corrals. It’s that time of year to test how well the bulls did.
We brought them through the meadows where the trees are golden and the grass is rich. The ladies tried like heck to stop and eat but this is winter feed, they can’t have this grass yet.
I didn’t shoot during the pregnancy tests. You should thank me for that. Instead I’m just showing you trailing through the fall color.
We started testing around 8 am and were done around 4pm. Then we trailed into the sunset to the hills behind the ranch. The cattle have had a busy few days on their hooves. The guys brought them home from the Plains, rested for two days, then an arm went up their ‘you know what’ to see if they are with calf. I know they are ready for us to leave them alone. And we will until the snow covers the ground to where they can’t get enough grub. Then they’ll come closer to the house, feast on hay bales and we’ll wait for the babies to arrive.
Just another year in paradise is all.
We woke up at 3:30 am and left the ranch at 4:30 in the a.m. We arrived at the Laramie Plains by 6 and made our way into the pasture where the cows were waiting.
The cowboys saddled up and waited for it to get a little lighter.
There were plenty of riders so I decided to stay with the trucks at the corral to watch the sun rise and wait for them to bring in the cattle.
And what a beautiful sunrise it was.
Not long after, the cattle started my way. I heard the moos way before I saw them.
All paired up, still with milk on their lips, the babies followed momma toward the paneled corral.
The cowboys and cowgirl got them in the panels and then discussed the game plan.
They checked the panels to make sure nobody was bustin’ out.
And the cattle waited impatiently for their instructions.
Step one is to sort out the momma cows. Step two is to separate the steers from the heifers and count each group. And step three is to load them on separate trucks.
This little booger got away and gave the cowboys a run for their money. They had to rope her and lead her back to the corrals.
The calves looked good, were big enough to wean and were trucked to their new homes.
We brought a few of the smaller calves home and for the last few nights, I’ve gone to sleep listening to them bawl for momma. It takes about a week for everyone to get over the separation anxiety. The momma cows are still up on the Plains and they spent several days by the panels waiting for their babies to come back. Yesterday was the first day I noticed the calves are calm and are finally comfortable in their new surroundings and their strict diet of hay and water.
You can see more pictures of this day by clicking any picture above or going straight to the gallery on my website here: http://www.leahyetter.com/111005shipping/ .
The cows will be trailed home later this week and then we check them for babies in the belly. Stay tuned for that beautiful experience. Just kidding. I’ll probably put the camera down and just take inventory.
We had a successful shipping of the calves yesterday. Well, to the cowgirls and cowboys it was successful. But the cows and calves don’t feel the same. This little guy finished his last breakfast with momma before he was whisked away to be weaned and taken to a new owner. Growing up is tough but it just happens.
We’re going back to check the momma cows and make sure they haven’t jumped the fence looking for their babies. At least they have new ones in their bellies. I’ll share more on the gather tomorrow.
I am loving this beautiful fall weather! It’s a little bittersweet however, as this is the time of year for a lot of change…happens every year. The leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter, and we are preparing to wean our calves off of their mothers. Tomorrow, cowboys and cowgirls will saddle up and gather the herd. We’ll sort the calves from the cows and the young ones will be shipped to a new home. The cows will come back home with us in a week or so. But never fear, they have new babies in their bellies and we’ll be calving them out before they know it.
I of course will document and report back to you in a couple of days. See you soon.
Trailing at sunrise…again. It was a breezy beautiful Thursday morning.
During the fire on Squaw Mountain, Patrick and I, with a little help from a wonderful neighbor and friend, got our cattle out of the meadows on Squaw to the safety of the meadows closer to home.
Now it’s time to truck them to the Laramie Plains to join the rest of the cattle and graze for a couple of months until the calves are shipped to their new owners. These girls have done a lot of re-locating in the past 2 weeks.
The rising sun gave to beautiful silhouettes of Mark and Phil as they crossed the bridge guiding the cattle up the hill.
Once we got closer to the corral, Mark stood guard to make sure the ladies didn’t turn and go the wrong way. They needed to aim for the open gate at the sunburst.
Phil made sure they didn’t run down the fence line. And I… took pictures.
Once we arrived at the plains and loaded the cattle in the corral, we gave them time to mother up and then Mark and Phil led them over the hill to water.
It’s a long drive to the Plains from the ranch and we passed some smoking mountains. Yep, you guessed it. Earlier this week the volunteers were fighting a fire on a section of the plains. Lightning once again created a lot of smoke and flames. I didn’t go to this one so I don’t have much info. Patrick spent a full night and day at the fire until the feds arrived. This thing burned up Pole Mountain and got 50 yards from a ranchers home. Patrick is so ready for snow. I am too, but I’m just not ready for the hurricane winds that comes with it.
We stopped by the South Ranch for the guys to do, well, guy things. Count hay bales, take inventory of machinery, move horses, etc. I did my thing, which as you know, my thang is to find photographs.
This field is covered in Sowthistle. They look like dandelions but they aren’t. They are really sticky and when horses eat them, their mouths are covered in their sticky yellow juice.
Patrick says it’s Rosinweed but it doesn’t look that to me when I look in my Weeds of the West book.
Anyway, the bees like them.
Finally, we got home as the sun was going down. I drove the atv to the house and against the purple sky, I saw a group of bucks roaming the hilltops.
It was a good day and we got a lot done. Now, for a restful weekend…I hope.
Yours till the cow moooooos,
We are going to pick up where I left off from Today,at Daybreak.
We started a little before the sun appeared.
The colt we are calling Crazy Alice (name that movie) ran the fence as the cowboys rode down the drive to the pasture. She wanted to go but being true to her name, we’re not putting a saddle on her just yet.
Patrick and Wayne laughed and told stories almost the whole trail. They had some catching up to do.
Good morning Squaw Mountain, we are headed your way!
It took some convincing but Patrick was finally able to get these calves down the hill to mama.
They mothered up quickly and easily so trailing them was uneventful.
Occasionally they would disappear in the dust and dirt of the sheet grass.
Once we got through the canyon of sheet grass, I turned back to see Wayne checking to make sure we didn’t leave any behind. I was so happy to see these clouds and his silhouette. During the trailing, the sky was cloudy and then blue. The sun would appear and then disappear behind clouds. The lighting was diverse all morning. That’s why the exposures here look like they were shot on different days. But they were actually taken over a 5 or 6 hour period.
The cows were happy to get to this pasture. The sun is high, grass is tall and the water is running. This will be their home for the next couple of months.
The last couple of times gathering the bulls has been, dare I say, easy.
I think it is because they know that they will be meeting up with the ladies soon. A bull is a bull. He’s got one job to do and he knows what that job is. This group and the group last week trailed single file all the way to the corral, ready to be loaded and taken to the ladies. No complaining, no fighting, they took the trail all in stride.
My camera and I were bored since there weren’t any fights to capture. Even the horses were bored with them.
So I went into the meadow of sweet clover and put my camera to work. This wild yellow goodness is everywhere.
And these precious little red and orange flowers serve as ground cover around the drive and near the corrals.
When we hike in the hills we have to be careful of cactus. But the blossoms are so pretty, it’s nice to see beauty pop out of something that is so prickly and painful when stepped on.
Flowering milk thistle is everywhere. I love the purple and pink hues of this one.
Of course we have dandelions, like everyone else, but the ones out here are the biggest I’ve ever seen.
*Note: No animals were hurt in the making of these images. Their haunches probably stung for a bit but they all bounced back to their feisty selves the very next day. This is a healthy bunch of calves.*
As always, if you are interested in ordering prints, please email me: email@example.com and I’ll get you all of the details.
Hope you all have a great weekend!
The branding was set for Saturday, then cancelled, and then back on leaving it solely up to the rain clouds above. So we woke up at 5am, loaded the horses, and away we went wondering what mother nature had in store for us.
After a couple of sprinkles of rain on the way to the South Ranch, we arrived a little damp but the guys and gals mounted their horses and rode out to the pasture anyway to gather the little ones.
The calves ran into the branding pen with no idea what was about to happen. And we still weren’t sure if the sky was going to fall.
The cowboys roped.
The horses and ropers worked like champions, bringing in the calves for booster shots and their brand. Rain clouds hovered over us all day long, a constant breezed carried sprinkles all around us, but we made it through the entire day without a downpour. And to think just 2 days before, it snowed for 6 hours straight.
The branding was a success and we finished it off with a fantastic meal with good company. Patrick and I checked on the calves yesterday and aside from being dazed and confused and a little sore, they all look very well. I’m sure they will be very excited when they are trucked to the Laramie Plains and left alone for the summer.
The sky was blue and the sun was shining so we decided to ruin a perfect day by gathering the bulls.
Let the profanity commence!
Not really, they were fairly docile and agreeable and only fought a couple of times. If you remember we did this last June and the fighting went on and on and on.
My friend Tex joined me on this trip.
We gathered our 4 bulls and waited by this stream for the guys to gather the 16 others.
Once Patrick topped the hill with the last three, we started to direct them toward the corrals.
They are always misbehaving when they are in a big group like this. They fight, ride each other, go the wrong way and bellow til your eardrums explode, all in a minutes time.
After a slow drive, we got them on the road to the corrals without any mishaps.
Once they are in the corrals, I like to stay on the outside of the fence because getting crushed and stomped on is not on my bucket list.
Today, Patrick will load them on the trailer and take them to the clinic where the vet will test their swimmers. I will not go into detail on how this is done but I will say it is one of the million reasons I’m glad I’m not a bull.
We got ‘em. Patrick separated the cows from the calves while I got the vaccines ready. They started out with just a coo for their momma. Then the mooing got louder and louder.
“This hurts me as much as it hurts you little ones”, I tell them. I always tear up a little during brandings. But it’s a law, it has to be done.
They bounce back up after it’s all over. “Alright now #48, no disrespect. C’mon now”.
They look good though. I refused to do the actual branding so the guys had to get them to the ground and tattoo while I vaccinated. I was efficient while handing over the irons and giving shots at the same time if I do say so myself.
We were done in less than 40 minutes. They mothered up and started sucking almost immediately.
It was a little chaotic but they stayed paired up for a little while. Then we opened the gate to let them out.
And they hauled butt!
A few little ones went the wrong way so Patrick and one mother went to get them and lead them in the right direction. Even young calves think they know everything.
And off they ran to new pasture.
Phew! That group of 20 is done. Only 300 or more to go.
The calves are growing up. They are still munchkins compared to their momma but they get feistier and run faster everyday.
They cautiously approach me full of curiosity when the rancher is unloading a bale of hay.
But today is branding day for these guys and gals and it won’t be as easy to get this close to them.
We’ve got to catch these little grasshoppers first.
Wish us luck because this will probably be our view for the next couple of hours before we get them pinned.
We woke up at the crack of dawn to a thick fog covering the ranch and the hills that surround us.
Cowboys showed up with horses in tow and I invited my friend Vickie to join me in the ATV.
Yesterday was the day to move cattle from the home place to the South Ranch.
The girls knew something was up when they saw the cowboys on their horses.
They immediately started running to join up as one huge herd.
Vickie remarked on how amazing it is that they line up in single file.
I’m guessing it’s because they know a gate is up ahead.
The fog lifted and we watched as they spread out when in the wide open meadows.
Single file through the gate…
…and through the draw.
This was our view for most of the day. Backsides.
Through wind fallen trees…
…and across the Sybille Crick*.
And finally, under the busy Highway.
After a 5 hour trail ride, we got the ladies to what I call the ‘maternity ward’ of the South Ranch. There is a lot of feed, clean pasture and calf pullers at this ranch. We’re getting ready for a busy calving season.
I can’t wait for the newborn portrait sessions!
–*Crick is cowboy for Creek.