We weaned calves under a gorgeous Wyoming sunrise earlier this week.
In the midst of this busy portraits season, I changed hats and cowgirl’d for the day.
The cows are pretty gentle and they like us a lot so it’s pretty easy to get them to follow us in the truck. Patrick calls for them while I rattle the cake sack. Works every time.
Tom hangs behind to make sure no one breaks off from the herd.
The went right into the corral and then we sorted them. We took the steers to the sale and brought have 5 heifers home, bawling for momma. I’m keeping the bunk full of hay and by day 4 (today), they have settled down quite bit.
Have a great weekend folks!
This Mother’s Day weekend was a rainy and snowy one. But last weekend the weather was perfect for a cattle roundup and branding. Below are images of that day.
After saddling the colt , he saddled his horse for the round up.
The boss got some help from his daughter with buckling up his chaps.
Making final adjustments to the cinch.
Discussing the route for gathering cows and calves.
Before branding the calves, we worked/doctored the cows in the barn.
Getting the horse ready for roping calves.
We start them young out here in the wild west.
Hot irons sit and wait. The flames are powered by a propane tank.
It was a nice day with friends, old and new. After the calves were all branded, they let them out of the corrals to mother up. By early evening, they all found one another and are doing great.
If you’d like to see more from this day, go to my website HERE.
Thanks for looking… 🙂
We weaned the calves off of momma yesterday. We kept a few to replenish our herd and the rest went to market. It was a beautiful morning. All in all, it was a very good day.
Since we have such a small herd, we had two cowboys bring them in on horses while Patrick and I stayed on the ground to get gates.
They came right to Patrick because he has the yummy cake. We’ve been chumming them in the last few days and they like us. A lot!
Weaning is hard on the calves (and me!). The five heifers we brought home are bawling for momma. They’ll be better in a few days and I make regular trips down to see them, talk to them and try to help them feel calm. I wish I knew how to play the trumpet. I would play it for them. But for now, they just have to deal with my singing. 🙂
Branding season is upon us and that means cowboys as far as the eye can see!
Our neighbors have been a huge help while we adjust to our new location. They came to my rescue one morning when I found a newborn calf clinging to life. They heard the stress in my voice over the phone and came right over. But that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, last weekend before I had to travel to Laramie for a shoot, I had the opportunity to photograph the gather and some of the branding. Here are some shots from that morning.
They have a larger herd than us and helped us a few days before to brand our little grasshoppers. Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what it’s all about. Am I right? 🙂
Have a great May Day folks! Hang baskets of fresh flowers on the doorknobs of your neighbors’ houses. Dance into May. It’s finally warming up!
This is what happens when we ring the dinner bell (me hollering “come and get it girls, woohooo!”).
You betta get out of her way!!
We went a few days without rain last week so the muddy roads up to the mountain dried up and we were able to retrieve the cows, bulls and horses this past weekend.
They don’t seem to miss their babies much. They were running and bucking and excited to see us. Well, excited because we had treats to lure them in.
Little did they know they were going to be tested at the vet for pregnancy and it would make for a long day.
The road on the way to the cows overlooks a couple of ranches and the moon was still up that morning just above the hills. We started pretty early.
After positive test results, we delivered the girls to our meadows to graze below the bluffs for the winter. So glad to have them home.
I did not photograph the gather of the horses. If anyone knows about horses who have had all summer off to do what they want when they want in the mountains without anyone else telling them what to do, then you know what a challenge it can be to gather them. I’m not sure my blood pressure has ever been so high. Bless Patrick for his patience and determined nature. Gray, Alice and Si gave us a run for our money but after an hour or so, we finally loaded them into the horse trailer. But not without some difficulty.
This is Gray. He’s a good ranch horse otherwise, but he challenged us this weekend. Oh, and Crazy Alice? Well, she does not get to grace the blog again just yet. She’s the Mare among two Geldings and you know who is boss. The next step is to catch her and remind her who is the real boss. That should be interesting.
It’s been a whole week since I last spoke with you all. My excuse is that I came down with a major head cold that stopped me in my tracks. My ears are still echoing but I’m through the worst of it I hope. It happened when we went from warm sunny days to immediate overcast and rain showers. And this day of weaning our calves on the mountain probably didn’t help much.
I was in the pickup so I didn’t get too wet during the gather. But with assistance from some cowboys and cake (mineral snacks for the cows), we had a successful gather.
It was just a cool mist during the first hour of the gather but as soon as we got to the corrals, it was really raining.
The cowboys separated the cow mommas from the grown calves.
Mommas peered through the fence while I guarded the gate.
Calves called out for momma….
…and momma called out for baby.
This is my least favorite part of ranch life but it’s part of it. The calves are physically ready to leave momma but not emotionally. They never are. Neither am I.
As we left with the trailer load of calves, the rain was really coming down. Then it rained for the entire week. This was two weeks ago and we weren’t able to bring the cow mommas off the mountain until this past weekend. The roads were muddy and washed out and the trailer wouldn’t have made it.
As of this weekend, we are all home and are gearing up for winter. The cows are successfully bred and they’ll have their new babies in the spring. Looking forward to our first winter on our new ranch.
We were delighted to have time in our hectic schedule to make it to a branding this year. We got the invite and jumped in the Ranger for the half hour trek through the hills to the neighbors corrals.
It started out overcast, cold and windy. The cowboys set out across the pasture with me in tow. In an atv of course. I have quickly learned that if I want to shoot, it’s best I don’t mount a horse and try to do both at the same time. I’m not the best multi-tasker.
It’s a good thing I had the atv because I had to pick up a little sickly calf along the way. He just couldn’t make the trail. We treated him and he’ll be fine in no time. Just a touch of an upset tummy.
A few little ones got out of the sorting pen so a couple guys had to rope them back in.
The clouds parted by mid-morning and it warmed up nicely.
While the babies mothered up after getting their hides burned, we all enjoyed a nice meal with old friends and made new friends. Brandings are not just about the calves, but about neighbors, friendship, and laughter after a busy calving season. It also means now they all go out to new pasture for the summer and graze until their hearts (and bellies) are content. Ahh… the circle of life.
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,