We drove off the ranch yesterday to head to the bluffs to check on Patrick’s cows. We branded them this weekend and took them to new pasture and then bam, a blizzard hits when we least expect it. And that’s just tough on the sweet baby calves.
Snow was still falling by evening and blowing across the road.
When we got there, they seemed very spry and excited to see us.
We got out and looked everybody over. They were a little frosty but everyone looked good and healthy.
But looking over the pasture, there wasn’t much grass peeking through and nowhere for them to lay down to be protected from the cold ground. That’s where we come in. Patrick attached 2 chains to the pickup and the hooks on the other end locked into the hay bale so I could pull it off the stack.
We dragged it over to the cows and Patrick got out to cut the strings.
The girls were a little impatient! I backed the truck up unrolling the bale while Patrick helped to pitch off the hay to them. When the bale got smaller, I stopped the pickup and jumped out to help. We pushed the bale and rolled it into the trees so they had something warm to lay on and be protected from the wind.
By the time we were leaving, the calves made their bed on the fresh hay while their mothers were chowing down.
Warm and toasty. Well, not really. But at least they are covered in leather!
We checked on them at about 5 this morning and they still had a lot of hay left and the entire herd was bedded down on the hay. They looked good, just a little cold. We’ll roll out another bale this evening for them to help them get through this crazy weather. At least the sun has finally come out. That should warm them up a bit.
Just another day in paradise y’all!
This little trio has been running wild around the pasture. They are the oldest of all the calves so while the younger ones stick close to momma, these three are gaining some independence. Pretty fun watching them grow up.
This is the first of our cows to calve. The calf I showed you last month was born to a heifer (a first time mother cow).
Yesterday I got back from doing chores and could tell that this experienced cow-momma had a belly ache. She had separated herself from the herd and nested by the fence. She was up and down, ringing her tail, arching her back and pushing hard. This lasted for two solid hours. Poor lady. The whole time I kept my eye on her I was cheering her on quietly but thanking the heavens this wasn’t me. It was a struggle but she finally dropped him on his head, stimulated him with licks and when I left her, she was helping him get to his feet to suckle.
I love this time of year.
This little boo entered our world early this morning; the first calf of the season from a small batch of new heifers. Not sure of the sex because mama is very protective. I had to leave them alone so they could bond. We’ll have a much smaller herd to calve out this year because of the drought. I will cherish each and every one and I look forward to the smile they will put on my face. I’m so crazy about the little ones!
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.
I spotted this cutie yesterday evening when I got home after a busy day in town.
Deer fawns aren’t the only young ones bucking happily through the meadows. Baby antelope are running around here in two’s (the cow usually has twins). This calf was getting ready to stand up because it saw it’s mom and sibling across the road but froze when I pulled up.
The doe has a gash in her front right leg. She seems to be taking good care of her babies but she’s got to be hurting. She could have gotten caught on a fence, gotten kicked, who knows how this happened. But it looks like she’ll heal up and be back to normal soon. They let me get a few shots before taking off.
Have a relaxing Sunday my friends and stay cool. It’s hot out there!
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!
Even if it doesn’t turn out quite like you expected.
This loving mother cow gave birth to a calf that doesn’t look much like her. We’re thinking the neighbor lady must’ve had one of her bulls come onto our cow during breeding season last year. Doesn’t matter, true love knows no color.
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.
A few things…
We woke up to a beautiful blanket of snow on the ground this morning. We’ve been desperate for moisture.
It’s busy ’round here. I’ve been more of a cowgirl than a photographer lately and I miss my camera.
I fixed that this morning ’cause I miss y’all.
I have some stories to share and hope to find time to write them. There is one in particular that had our family howling over Easter lunch. I’m not much of a writer and there aren’t too many pictures to go along with it but I’ll make it work somehow.
Our little Pinrow has a new cow mommy. Yay for him. Sad for me.
We had a new shipment of heifers and calves this weekend. You see, heifers (first time mothers) don’t really know how to be a mom so they’ll let any calf suck. There were times down in the corrals while we were sorting them, that a heifer had a calf on each side and one in the back suckling. “Nobody’s gonna go hungry in this herd!”, Patrick said. I stood there in shock. Bunch of hippies I say.
Mother cows that have done this a few times will kick and headbutt a calf if one other than hers tries to suck.
The gobblers are gobbling daily.
And strutting daily.
We wake up every morning to the song of the meadowlark.
I was finally able to capture the elusive Merganser Ducks in the pond this morning.
This couple is always around but so difficult to capture. I sneaked up on them this morning.
Geese honk constantly. It’s become annoying. At least they are photogenic.
I’m working on a project for a client where I’m adding color to black and white landscapes. I think it’s going to look good and I hope to share some of that with you when the job is completed.
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had to pull about 4 calves out of mother cows because the calf was either backwards, too big or the cow was weak after pushing for too long. Eeeesh. Sometimes when I use the word “we” I tell you that I use it loosely. Usually “we” means Patrick but here lately, I’m in it up to my elbows.
I have good friends flying in tomorrow for a visit. I can’t wait. ♥
It’s hot and dry and we are in full calving mode.
The pregnant ladies enjoy cooling off in the pond.
The ladies that have calved are in the brush or in the willows, most likely to try to hide from us.
But we find them every time.
Once their calf has gotten up and sucked, we step in to vaccinate them and give them a shiny new earring with a number that matches mom’s. Once they’ve gotten up from that, mom hums and leads her calf away from us.
While we were tagging another calf, the cow in the distance in this image came running up thinking we had her calf. It wasn’t hers and she ran off from us in a panic. We found hers seconds later and Patrick bahhhed like a calf until she came over the hill.
It took her a minute but she soon realized we found her calf. She came over, claimed it and we tagged him and sent them on their merry way. I bet she’ll keep up with him after that episode.
Now this lady was scary. I mean flat out mad. So I stayed in the rhino.
She was so mad she would bellow and holler with her tongue hanging out and slobber flying everywhere.
Patrick had to swat at her with the plastic paddle. She was so mean and oh so mad. We barely got out of this one alive. Cows are mostly mellow creatures but once they have a calf, they can be dangerous.
Here are some peaceful and rather cute babies and mommies portraits.
I’m quite partial to the red and white spotted cuties.
This calf is one of my favorites.
I love this time of year.
Patrick calls him Pinrow. Don’t know where he got that from but I’m going with it… I guess.
Anyway, our little bum is doing well and is a handful. After we got him from the meadow to the barn, it was a battle to get him to take the colostrum and his first feeding. He definitely wouldn’t have made it with his mother. He was so limp that first day and would not have gotten up to suck.
On the second day, once the colostrum had settled in his belly, we were finally able to get him on his feet. He stumbled around for a while like he’d had one too many.
He would jump and buck and really enjoyed his new found legs. I think he startled himself with his smooth moves.
Then he fearlessly came right up to me. I had to get Patrick to help me get him started on the bottle. He just didn’t know what he was doing since he was out of sync with his instincts to suckle his mother’s teat. But it didn’t take more than a day for him to get a handle on the bottle.
And now, he’s happy and healthy and full of life. Therefore getting in the pin with him can be brutal for me. He will chase and butt me so hard with his head, it’s better to just feed him through the fence.
As much as I enjoy feeding him, it would be so much better if he had a cow momma. All I can do is keep him alive and well. I can’t provide for him what a real momma would. He’s a sweetheart and I love looking in his deep blue eyes while he sucks. So, I’ll simply cherish this time with him while I’ve got it. ♥
We got a set of twins this morning. The momma is only accepting one.
So I’ll be momma for a while.
We’ll draft this little booboo onto a cow that loses her calf in the future. But for now, I need to head out to give her a hit of colostrum and some milk.
We’re almost done calving out the black cows, now it’s time for the reds. ♥
Apparently the heifer is. She busted into the corral where her calf was and he sucked her dry. We talked to the vet and he said to just leave them together and just see what happens. He’s still rather skinny but seems happier than before and gets up on his own. Maybe he’ll be okay after all. Most times human interference in cases like this is for the best but this is one of those times where we’ll just have to leave them together and wait and see. We are not completely out of the dark but we’ll leave it up to nature.
After a tumultuous week, here’s hoping for a good weekend.
The babies are landing, the babies are landing!
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. We had to pull 2 calves in a 12 hour period this weekend.
And it’s only the beginning.
On Saturday night, a cow was bawling around the meadow for a couple of hours but couldn’t have her calf. Patrick got her in the calving barn and could feel that the little one had not entered the birth canal. She needed assistance because it was definitely time. We put on shoulder high gloves and helped the calf enter the world. Now, I have only attended this procedure one time before but this time I had to help. It was breathtaking and nerve-wracking. The cow took to her calf and they are fine and in the meadow with the others.
Then Sunday morning we had a heifer trying to calve but was having a hard time. We got her in the calving barn and this one was much more difficult. Being a first time mom, she didn’t know what was happening. All she knew was that her belly hurt and these people are strapping hardware to her rear-end. The calf finally entered the world and it took a little while to get it breathing. The heifer didn’t know what to do with this thing lying on the barn floor so we left her alone. I peeked through the window a few minutes later and saw that she had finally gone over to it and was licking it clean. GOOD sign. But when we went back a couple hours later, the calf had not sucked. NOT GOOD. Patrick milked the heifer and we bottle fed the calf to get it through the night. Momma was a kicker and we think she was kicking it off of her milk bag. Finally this morning, there are signs it sucked and the heifer is being VERY protective. We’ll go down a little later to tag it, check the sex, and put them out with the rest of the cows.
Until then, Imma take a nap.
[Pictured here are calves and cows that have birthed naturally in the meadow. The special cases haven't had their portraits made just yet. Been too busy bringing them into the world and I don't think you want to see those details.]
I’ve been pawing at Patrick to take me to the Wilson Ranch for a while now. Every time we head up Hwy 34 to the plains to fix fence, I can always see their cattle way off in the distance.
So he finally called them up and they invited us to come up Saturday afternoon. I was thrilled!
Not only because I was going to be up close and personal with award winning Longhorn Cattle, but they are calving right now!
These little angels are born smaller than the average calf so during calving season, the mommas and babies are enclosed in a high fence pen. Coyotes just love the smell of a fresh born calf and can snatch one away before momma even knows what happened.
These cows are fairly gentle but knew quite well that we were strangers.
A few of them kicked the dirt but fortunately no one charged us.
The baby beauties are born with only nubs on their head. (Lucky for the momma, am I right?)
Some are born solid white and will develop their coloring over time.
They were all pretty curious and happy to pose for a portrait.
It’s amazing how aware and careful they are with their horns.
This little one is loving her scrub down. Notice the tongue!
I love her calf bucking in the background. There was a lot of that cuteness going on.
At a couple weeks old, they start munching on little bits of hay.
Look at the little nubs coming out. And I just love those ears!
Inside the calving barn, the family brands grace the wall.
Stay tuned for more. The next stop is with cows that are yet to calve. They were sunbathing by the crick (creek).
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.
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.
Yesterday, it rained.
This newborn arrived during the downpour. She’s healthy and her momma kept her warm all day and night. I hear she’s doing good today so she got her earring to match her mom’s.
The roads were muddy and a heavy fog hung over the snow capped mountains.
The corrals were slushy so we decided not to move any cattle as previously planned.
The perk of the day came when Crop Ear made a visit. We haven’t seen her in a while and I was worried she fell prey to a coyote or lion. I was glad to see her munching on some green grass in the meadows by the house.
Today the wind is howling and we’ll be dried out in time for snow to fall tonight.
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.