When the wind blows, it takes the hay right off my fork then smacks a heifer in the face. They probably think I’m trying to start a food fight with them. Fortunately for me, they just keep on chewing. 🙂
On my Facebook page earlier this week, I wrote that the girls were just plain ungrateful. I risked my life to drive through the deep snow to give them cake because Patrick was driving snow plow ’til all hours of the day and night. It was up to me to feed them. Well, the ATV got high centered in a snow drift. I was so very stuck.
The cows stared at me like I was nuts. They wouldn’t come eat the cake I put out for them and I was so frustrated! It’s like their brains were frozen. I don’t doubt it because every bit of me was frozen too. I cried. And I mean ugly cried. I hiked back the the house and stayed in the rest of the day. Patrick got home that night and dug the ranger out of the snowbank and got it back to the barn. He wasn’t mad at all thank goodness. It isn’t the first time he’s had to dig an ATV out of the snow.
The snow was just too deep in the meadows for me to get anything done on my own. So the next day, I brought reinforcements.
They came running this time….
…because my big strong man came to the rescue.
Check out our new bale feeder! This winter, instead of pushing these huge bales with our big strong arms, we have a feeder that hooks onto the ranger or the truck and unrolls the bale as we drive through the snow. No more faceplants in the snow-drenched hay for me!
This was our first time using it.
The girls were pleased (and so were we).
We don’t have a tractor and don’t really want the expense of one. While convenient, tractors are expensive to purchase and the upkeep can be pricey as well. We are content with out little manual bale feeder.
I hope you all had a happy holiday season! This was a tough one for me but I got through it.
The snow is still thick on the ground but I do see drips coming off the roof. I think we may melt soon. 🙂 We are up in the 20’s today and it feels downright balmy! I may go out in short sleeves in a bit to get some vitamin D.
ttfn (ta ta for now),
This old wagon is near the summer pasture for our cows. I’ve photographed it many times and figured it’s about time to share one. Whenever I look at it I think of how useful this was many, many years ago. Now it sits in front of an old barn as a reminder of the old days of ranch life.
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. 🙂
We took the cows to the hills for summer grazing.
I think they’ll enjoy it. The grass is up to their bellies.
While leaving, we found ourselves in a horse race.
As we slowed down to let the horses “win”, Patrick spotted a baby antelope in the tall grass.
He crouched, trying to hide from me.
But no such luck. I had my eye on him.
We drove on and when I looked back, I saw momma coming to care for her young.
Aside from the mosquitoes, this is a wonderful time of year in Wyoming. 🙂
Saturday was sooo snowy. The sun was behind the clouds and so was my mood. Ranching is tough and sometimes lonely work, especially in blinding snow and freezing temperatures; any rancher/caretaker reading this knows what I’m talking about. It is a full day of constantly checking on the well being of the cows and horses, pitching frozen hay over the fence to the heifers, and breaking ice so they all can get a drink. Where loose hay is frozen to your cheeks and tripping over frozen cow turds is the norm. Having to climb over the corral fence with a twenty pound bucket of cow cake because we forgot to make a temporary gate for us to enter and exit safely. In constant worry that a calf will be born and not make it through the freezing night because we haven’t finished building our calving barn yet. All while Patrick has to be in a snow plow for over 10 hours on the interstate making the roads safe for drivers who feel the need to be driving on the roads during a dangerous blizzard. (Yep, those folks are out there… and you may be one of them. 😉 )
And then, Sunday morning, the sun was there outside my door. Although 6 inches of snow still lay there glistening on the ground, the sky was blue and birds were singing. Patrick was home by 8am and we were able to spend the day feeding, watering and tripping over frozen cow turds together. We even ventured across the river and hiked around our bluffs to enjoy the peaceful scenery that surrounds us.
I didn’t shoot much this weekend because the ranch work had to be done and I had to stay focused. As I’ve said before, I only pretend to be a cowgirl, I’m really just a photographer. But this weekend, I was a cowgirl first.
I’m happy to report that we are still here with all our fingers and toes and happy to see the snow dripping off the roof today.
Ahhhh, is it spring yet?
…is where I’ll be all weekend.
It has been said that there is a major storm in store for us this weekend. Small snow pellets have been falling all morning and it’s at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler since I got up at daylight to check cows. The roads were good yesterday so I went out to get necessities to stock the pantry and wine rack. Looks like I’ll be sipping and baking for the next couple of days.
Have a great weekend sweet friends!
“Why do I live somewhere where the air hurts my face.”
A friend posted a meme on Facebook yesterday with that saying and it couldn’t be more appropriate. Our temperatures have maintained a steady below zero temp for days now. It is sooo cold. I’m not complaining because I know there are places in the world much colder but after we came in from feeding the cows, the hair that was exposed from underneath my hat was frozen. Solid. Like I could have just broken it in half. And my face hurt.
Don’t let this bull and his harem intimidate you. I’ve got something they want and they are waiting patiently for the rest of the group to join us before we spread out the cake.
We rolled out a bail and Patrick pitched out even more. There is only one pitch fork down there so I told him I’d take pictures while he pitched hay. It’s only fair. 😉
Most of the river is frozen. As always it’s tempting to skate across it but…I’m smarter than that.
I’m not sure when this extreme winter spell will break but I’ve got photo shoots and a printer workshop lined up this month. I’m very much hoping for some nicer weather in the coming weeks. Frozen fingers are crossed!
The girls, as usual, kept us warm with their hot breath as we rolled out hay for them.
We may not be buried in snow like my friends back east, but we are certainly chilly. Stay safe and warm folks!
It’s not hard to round up the cattle these days. We give them cake at least every other day and they love it. Their heads go down quicker than you can call “come cows” and when they pop their heads up after snorting and grunting with pleasure, they have a snow mustache. This cake keeps their digestion up to par which keeps their metabolism up which helps them be warm-ish. We had temperatures in the negatives last week and it has been too cold to go out unless absolutely necessary. It is supposed to warm up this week into the 30’s and 40’s, and believe me when I say that I am ready for 30 degrees. It will feel like the tropics after what we’ve been through.
Have a great start to your work week. Stay warm and I’ll be in touch!
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.
Sometimes I lose the calves in the tall grass. Their summer pasture is tall and green. But not for long, I’m sure they will munch it right on down.
We had a surprise in late spring. A cow we thought was open (not with calf) had one!
We just thought she was super fat (which she is) but she never showed signs of pregnancy. And then one day there was a calf suckling her that wasn’t tagged or branded. Thankfully, she’s a good momma.
Peek-a-boo calf. 🙂
Happy Monday my friends!
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.
Yesterday we preg-checked the cows. Poor girls. But we had great success and then wore them out even more by trailing them up into the hills. It was a steep climb at times and they were glad to get to the river.
I played cowgirl yesterday and this weekend is full of photo shoots. I like wearing two different hats. Let’s just hope I don’t get confused and start herding my portrait clients up into the hills or start asking the cows to stand by that tree and smile!
Have a great weekend my friends and keep smiling! xoxo
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.
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.
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. ♥