The last few days have been utterly amazing, very busy and extremely heartwarming. Three of my most favorite friends came out for a visit and we had a blast. While they were here we worked on a video shoot for a client of theirs, a photo shoot for a client of mine, Uprooted Magnolia was featured on the WordPress list of “8 Gorgeous Nature Blogs for Earth Day”, and I received a call from an ad agency here in Wyoming for several photo shoots for this upcoming summer. Wow, it’s been a whirlwind! I now call this trio my good luck charms. I did put them to work on the ranch however. We moved some cows and brought Poco and Kate and their colts to new pasture. They watched a calf being born from a distance, viewed several turkey struts, and we even stumbled on a snake or two. Yikes!
I’ve got to get back to work on processing the images from my shoot this past weekend but I wanted to check in with you and say THANK YOU. Thank you to my now 510! followers, new and old. You all have been a great support and inspiration. I love hearing from you and am flattered beyond words that WordPress would feature my images for the community to see. I am truly grateful.
I’ll see you soon.
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.
The girls are getting huge with baby. I’d like to say they run to us when we go to Patrick’s land to visit them but it’s more like a waddle.
This was shot in mid October. I love the fall color against the blue sky. I’m sure it doesn’t look like that now. It’s a hot fall here in the south but I’m hanging onto it because soon I will step back into the wild western winter.
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:
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 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.
We’re busy around here. Remember, I often use the term “we” loosely. I do help out, like cradling a newborn that’s too cold and the momma can’t take care of it in the beginning. Mostly though, I stand back with the camera. I’m loving being around these little munchkins but it just means a lot of work for the ranchers.
Once the calves are born and have sucked, they get their ears pierced.
It’s not the prettiest accessory but it serves it’s purpose. It helps to pair them with momma if they get separated.
Some are born fast and feisty. That means you’ve got to chase them through the meadows and grab them up when they hide in the willows. They have to get their ear tag and be inspected by the rancher to check their health.
Sometimes milk bags can’t provide so eventually the Rancher becomes the Mother.
Sunset is a favorite time. That means a couple if not a few hours of sleep before it starts all over again.
But it’s not just the ranchers that are busy around here. While we’re calving, the gobblers are strutting and the hens are watching and waiting for their knight is shining armor. I’ll have those photos for you tomorrow.
Yes! It is finally spring around here. It’s warming up and that means very little sleep and hard but wonderful work. Cows and ranchers are all busy. Calving is beautiful and precious but it can also break your heart. Fortunately, it hasn’t been too emotional yet.
The calves that were our early arrivals have become bosom buddies and are so entertaining.
They jump, kick and climb on anything they can get their hooves on.
And they are already munching on a little hay.
While the older ones play and eat all day, little ones are being born and are learning to use their legs.
This little one was born to the heifer (first time mother) I had to watch over the other morning. The calf convinced her that she was his mother and she is now very loving and hums to him constantly. She loves her baby and that is such a relief.
He’s so cute and feisty. I’m so glad he made it. They will join the herd soon but for now, he and his mom will stay in a corral separate from the others. He needs to get more comfortable with his legs.
I woke up at sunrise to this beautiful sky. What a gorgeous start to the day.
After admiring the beauty and singing “Morning has broken, like the first morning”, I went to the barn to sit by and watch the heifer (first time mother) that gave birth under this morning sky. It was obvious she didn’t understand what was going on and what she was supposed to do. All she knows is she had a belly ache and then this thing that looks like a dog is laying on the ground. I spent an hour with her and watched as she licked and simulated the baby. At this point, the calf is smarter than mom because he knows what he needs and will not give up trying to get into “the pocket”. He finally did. Phew!
Then I came in for chocolate chip pancakes. More on the heifer and calf later.
The Mule Shoe Ranch is on the way home for us and we have to cautiously drive around it every time. The curvy street is a runway for the peacocks and peahens to strut their stuff. They definitely don’t like the snow so lately they’ve been perched on railings if they aren’t in the barn. Yesterday they were taking advantage of the bright sun and were posed to perfection for a portrait.
This guy wanted to make your day brighter here on Uprooted Magnolia.
Hope you are having a great weekend!
Rooty toot toot! Open the shoot!
I visited the colt yesterday and she was having a grand ole time bucking and kicking in the corral. It was a “breezy” and “chilly” afternoon.
She came right up and sniffed me and my camera almost immediately. She’s getting more comfortable with people.
Then she backed up as if to say “hey lady, watch this”!
“Take my picher”!
She was so happy to entertain me and I loved every minute. But when I said I had to go because my hands were frozen, she came up and snorted at me through the fence.
See you tomorrow young one.
On the way to check on our cattle (and precious calves) the other day, we drove past a ranch that raises longhorns. They were right at the fence so as usual Patrick smashed the brakes and kicked up a little dirt so I could take photos.
I got a call while we were watching them and as I was talking with my client, Patrick grabbed the camera.
He captured the shot of the day!
She had an itch that only a giant horn could scratch. And I guess if she holds her tongue just so, she’ll satisfy that itch.
Meanwhile, back at the bluffs. The girls think they’re still hungry.
While Patrick visited with the neighbors, the cattle surrounded the tractor and just stared me down. Look at the drool on #41. The stares from # 80 made me shiver. She followed me around expecting a hand out.
Even the neighbor’s Corgi stared me down waiting for instructions to start herding.
We finally got going and they couldn’t get to it fast enough.
It was like we rolled out the red carpet or something. They walked all over it thinking the next layer will be better than the last.
They finally stopped. And pigged out, as usual.
This is a Charolais cow. Pronounced Shar-lay.
They belong to the neighbors.
As with any creature on earth, sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side. And on this particular New Years day, our hay stack was looking really tasty to these cows.
So tasty that we saw this girl jump into the stack and got herself stuck.
And I mean stuck…trapped. With the 3 feet of snow surrounding and in between the stacks, the pig couldn’t get out.
Patrick called the rancher in charge of these cows and he said he’d be right over with the Backhoe. “Whats he gonna do with the backhoe” I ask. “I guess he’ll scoop her outta there, I dunno” Patrick answers back with the same curiosity in his voice. It’s getting darker by the minute. Pretty soon we see the headlights in the distance and sure enough as we were herding the cattle with the pickup, here comes Brian sliding the corners with the backhoe. He was hauling butt. I didn’t think a machine like that could go so fast.
She did eventually jump, scoot, and roll her way out of the hay stack to join the others.
They both discussed the plan of attack in the 10 degree evening.
Of course, I’m shooting out of the truck window. It’s too cold to be out there in the cold and windy mountain air!
An we’re off…. with Backhoe Brian in the lead. Once reinforcements arrived, they got the ladies where they are supposed to be.
The guys discuss the fences and how they are in good shape…can’t figure out how they keep getting in. But I’ve seen them jump so high, they clear the fence when we’re trying to herd them through the gate. Shoot, she jumped into the haystack. But nobody asked for my opinion. Oh the life of a ranchers “wife”. Sheesh.
Flakes have been coming down nonstop since midnight.
Snow is reaching the doorknob of our one room cabin.
The wagon we use to feed the cows and horses is quickly filling up with snow.
And it might be several days before we can cross this bridge to go to town for some cornmeal and sugar.
Just kidding….we’re warm and nourished and enjoying this winter’s kiss.
When I started my walk this morning, it wasn’t snowing very hard. I went to visit the horses and they instantly greeted me. Sniffing and following me, they seemed bored.
After a few minutes with them, I went to visit the colt and fill her up with some grain and break up her icy water. As I was walking back, I saw the horses frolicking in the snow. The flakes were getting bigger and falling faster than when I started out.
Gus and Cheyenne were going at it. Running around each other, nipping at necks and legs. Gus, the white horse, would roll around in the muddy snow and Cheyenne would go at him again.
Then they got Kid involved. It became a snowy ring around the posy.
And it started all over again. This time Cheyenne was biting and nipping at Kid.
I had to come back inside and dry off my cameras. The snow is coming down hard and fast. More snowfall pictures to come!
Good ole Crop Ear stopped in for an evening visit. I spotted her while out getting firewood last night.
She is always welcome at the ranch. Even if she does give me a startle after the sun has gone down.
We took a drive over to the bluffs to feed Patrick’s cattle. They have plenty of grazing left but we felt like giving them a boost with a couple bales. We pulled down with the flatbed full of hay and the girls came a’running as soon as I called out to them. Sooey!!!
Like before, I had one hand on the wheel and the other on the camera and shutter button. Carefully steering and trying not to knock Patrick off the flatbed, I succeeded in keeping him upright.
Just look at this mess.
I thought we were raising cattle here on the ranch. But with every day that passes, it seems like we have a bunch of pigs on our hands.
My favorite walking buddy around the ranch is our border collie, Shadow. He works here on the ranch herding cattle and lots of times he herds us when we take him and the hound dogs for walks. But when it’s just me and him, we walk side by side. And during these cold winter days, it is so hard to entice him out of his insulated dog house and straw bed.
After begging, milk bone bribing and a little tugging on his collar, he eventually joins me on a ramble.
He patiently sits and waits for me to get my photograph of the landscape I’ve framed up or a portrait of the horse I’m visiting with. His big brown eyes stare a hole straight through to my heart.
Then he does a little dance and hams it up for the camera when it’s time to move on to the next scene. Shadow is definitely a loyal friend and fun subject.