Uprooted Magnolia

Pairing Out

Posted in Cattle Roundup, Photography, Ranching by leahyetter on May 10, 2012

This is a busy time of year for ranchers around these parts.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

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.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

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.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

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.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

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.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

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!

©Leah Yetter Photographer

I love these sweet faces.

©Leah Yetter Photographer

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.

32 Responses

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  1. melissakoski said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Beautiful and fascinating! I always love learning more about the ranching life you’re experiencing. The calf-skin cape is going to be stuck in my thoughts for a while.


    • leahyetter said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks Melissa! Yeah, my first cape was tough. It wasn’t gross or bloody though or else I would have thrown up. But it’s amazing how it works. Even though I would love to continue bottle feeding, it’s best for the calf.


  2. cravesadventure said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Loving your calf pics with their mamas – fitting since Mother’s Day is fast approaching! Have a Great Day:)


  3. Kate said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    That’s so sweet (and also so sad) about the “calf cape”. I’ve been seeing lots of new little calves on my morning runs down here in Arkansas, and they never fail to make me catch my breath in delight. So gosh darned cute!


  4. Seasweetie said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    The one little calf looks like she has eyebrows! I recently found your blog, and while I am also an uprooted magnolia (North Carolina to Colorado), cattle are only on the peripheries of my life. I love driving past them in the morning and never fail to give them a “moo”. Yesterday’s morning drive revealed a brand-new wet baby just barely standing. So, can explain to me about the phenomenon that looks like a calf nursery? When there are multitude of babies surrounding one (or maybe two) cows, while the rest are off grazing? I’ve always wondered, but never had anyone to ask – or am I just being fanciful? Looking forward to following you.


    • leahyetter said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      Hi there! Thanks for joining me and commenting. Well, I don’t think there is too much to it. I always say that they are babysitting their friends calf. 🙂 But once the calf is a few days old, they usually get their calf settled in a spot after suckling, remember where that spot is, and go off to graze. The calf will usually stay there and wait for momma to come back. Or if the calf runs off with a buddy, it’ll always go back to where they last sucked and wait for momma to feed them again. But when they are minutes to just a couple days old, momma doesn’t let that calf out of her sight. She stays very near or makes sure it follows her where she grazes. Also if they get separated and can’t find each other, once they are a week old or so, they recognize each others bawl. We had to reunite a calf and momma that lost each other yesterday. We first got the calf over the hill and it settled in a bush. We went and found the momma and herded her near where we left her calf. She started mooing and the calf stood up and bawled. They found each other by their moo and all was well. A tear ran down my cheek. It was so sweet.


      • Seasweetie said, on May 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

        Thanks, Leah! I like that tearful reunion scene. Have a lovely weekend.


  5. amazingved said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    great shots, I specially liked the first shot


  6. Mollie Morrissette said, on May 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Precious!! Sweet babies!! Great photos too.


    • leahyetter said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks Mollie! I just LOVE those babies. 🙂


      • Mollie Morrissette said, on May 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

        This is why I became a vegan, but my cats (all nine!), darnit, are still obligate carnivores. But I only buy meat from farmers with ranches that I can visit like yours, where I know that during their time here they did not suffer for us.


  7. idiosyncratic eye said, on May 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    They’re definitely stars, how amazing! Your landscape is so vast, I can’t believe it. Are the Laramie Plains where the Man is from? 🙂


  8. Gracie O'Tripp said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    This is my first visit to your blog and it will not be my last. Love your photos and the sweet little calf faces with their big brown eys.


  9. Lenore Diane said, on May 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Holy smokes, Leah – the story of the blanket, humming, etc. is fascinating. I had to show and read to my husband. Wow. You blow us away with the beauty you capture, while educating us, too. I enjoy your blog so much. Thank you for sharing.


    • leahyetter said, on May 11, 2012 at 7:53 am

      Thanks Lenore! Patrick was worried I’d scare everybody away by telling about the calf cape. But it’s the circle of life, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine out here. Life is beautiful, but often tough. It’s just how it is.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this and aren’t boycotting us! 🙂


  10. scrapydo said, on May 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I loved this so much I went through it twice, just to see the happy faces again. Thank you for taking the time to share tis with me(us)


    • leahyetter said, on May 11, 2012 at 7:51 am

      Oh thanks! So glad you like those big eyes and sweet faces. They put a smile on my face daily!


  11. OneFrenchWord said, on May 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Love your blog. The picture of the mother and calf with the same white markings above the eyes is great. To someone from Europe, your pictures show a side of America we only used to see in cowboy films when I was a kid. So open, so huge. It’s an area I’d love to visit. Do you taking paying guests? (just joking!)


    • leahyetter said, on May 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

      Thank you! Oh, I wish I could take guests!! Would love it if this was a Dude Ranch but it’s a working ranch and we stay too busy. That’s why I bring this beautiful place right to your computer. And hey, it’s free this way! 🙂


  12. thecakedoctorssurgery said, on May 11, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I love it when “uprooted magnolia” appears in my in-box because I know that I will see the most beautiful pictures and will have an insight into a world I have only ever dreamed of. Growing up in deepest, darkest Worcester, England and riding horses from before I could walk properly all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a cowboy! Instead I’ve been a clinical biochemist, a teacher and now a wedding cake designer. Funny old world isn’t it? Once again thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and stories with us! xxx


    • leahyetter said, on May 11, 2012 at 7:45 am

      Oh thanks! So flattered you are enjoying my blog! Wow, that’s quite an evolution of profession. Cowboy should fit in their nicely! 😉


  13. Maren said, on May 11, 2012 at 3:00 am

    Great pictures! What I don’t undertand: Why do they have to get branded? Isn’t there another way to mar them?


    • Maren said, on May 11, 2012 at 3:01 am

      Please add a ‘s’ and a ‘k’… Sorry.


    • leahyetter said, on May 11, 2012 at 7:44 am

      Thanks Maren! Well, the only way to get them back if they were to get on the neighbor’s or if someone was to steal them, is to have a brand on them. Anybody can remove an ear tag but a brand is on them for good. And when they go to sale, there is always a brand inspection to make sure these are your cows and you don’t have some that aren’t yours mixed in the herd.


  14. grammysherrylooksatlife said, on May 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Wow, Leah! As a “city girl” I can only marvel at the amazing experiences you get to have every day! Lucky You! Have a great weekend!


  15. aspiringimagesbyrachel said, on May 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I absolutely love these pictures. What a great story to tell – I definitely had no idea this all goes on! The thought of hearing them cry breaks my heart. I can’t even imagine what that sounds like.


  16. Janet Mackey said, on May 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Great pictures, Leah, once again. I grew up around cows and had never noticed the humming before. We were just a small farm and always bottle fed the ones who didn’t have mommas. What a cool thing!

    I read an editorial a couple of years ago from a woman who was criticizing anyone who killed a deer, a cow, a chicken, etc., with the intention of eating it. She said it was utterly cruel and totally unnecessary because all you had to do was go get the meat they made in the grocery store. She said she’d seen them package up the meat in the butcher shop after they’d ‘made’ it in the back. Where do these people come from?! Boggles the mind.

    I’m delighted to see the pictures and stories you post; there’s truth in what you write and an uncompromising beauty in the life you share with all of us who read what you’ve written. I look forward to more!


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