The cattle spend their time out on the range - grazing in the big wide open. Mid March - mid April is our calving season. During calving, it is all about riding on the cows, six to eight hours daily, for several weeks, to see that all is going well. I ride north, alone, in a pasture of several thousand acres to look at the cows. Last year, with the drought, there was no grass. We kept the cows on the river bottom and hayed them more. When riding, you look for any cows in trouble - backwards calf, taking too long to calve once they start, 'mothering' abandoned calves etc ... If there is a problem we trail them in to the barn where we can tend to them better. Sometimes this doesn't work and we have to handle it in the pasture. Spring calving season often gets the added challenge of blizzards and snow storms. If a calf gets 'chilled' we pull a sled behind our horse and bring them in to warm them up and see that they 'suck'. Sometimes our timing is good - sometimes not. You have to get calves mothered up, graft a calf who lost it's mother onto another cow, pull calves that aren't coming out properly etc. While I ride, my ranching partner hays the cows. Sometimes we ride together. If a calf has scourers we rope it and give it a pill and keep it from getting dehydrated. You rescue as many calves and cows you can - sometimes things are out of your control. Green grass with nursing cows brings the possibility of grass tetany. We keep hi mag mineral out for the cows - sometimes riding with a pack horse to replenish. If a cow is wobbling around, you try and drive her to mineral. If she is down, try and inject the minerals needed into her juggler, after roping her down or getting her in a chute. Once the grass gets beyond this initial stage it levels out - unless there is a major hail storm. We also watch for cows getting bogged down in the mud around the dams and pull them out of they are stuck. Though it can be challenging, I enjoy the singular focus of calving season and no longer try to multi - task with my photography business. I don't like to have anything else on the agenda - just think about one thing - riding on the cows and calves and getting them fed.
|Snapshot of Henry & Me trying to relocate an abandoned calf - Spring 2013|
|Snapshot of Spatz and her New Baby - Spring 2013|
|Lyle on Foxy Packing Mineral on Rocky|
|Branding Day on the Quarter Circle XL Ranch - 2007 - MY RANCHING LIFE Series|
Haying season is in June. We put up hay to feed to the cows in the winter and spring. I usually cut the hay while my ranching partner bails the hay. We just work around the weather and get it done. Later in the summer, we move and stack the bails. During June we also turn the bulls out - yee haw - which starts the entire process over again. In between cutting and bailing hay, Lyle or I ride on the yearlings to make sure the bulls are with the cows and yearlings. Fencing happens in the spring, summer and fall also. No one ever catches up on fencing.
Fall cattle work starts later in August. Ranchers get their calves in to give them their Fall shots - to keep them healthy and to fulfill requirements from buyers. This involves some beautiful morning gathers of large herds - with the crew of neighboring ranchers. There is nothing like riding out, just as the sun rises, with a crew of 15-20 cowboys - everyone in full gear. Like going back in time.
We also help neighbors trail their cattle several miles to and from summer and fall pastures. Sorting cattle happens in the Fall too. When we sort we work pairs off and chose the calves we want to keep over to breed. It is so nice when the temperatures drop and it comfortable to be in full cowboy gear again.
|Fall Cattle Work on the Badure Ranch - MY RANCHING LIFE Series|
|Putting Pairs Back out on the Double X Ranch - MY RANCHING LIFE Series|
|Daily Diary Snapshot of the Herd Stringing in For Cake|
|Daily Diary Snapshot of Part of the Herd - Snowy Feeding Day|
|Daily Diary Snapshot - Driving Away From a Caked Bunch of Cattle|
Then it all starts over again ... Amongst all of this are poetic moments of riding under a clear starry sky - riding in 50 mph winds - rescuing calves - antelope running by - eagles flying overhead ... endless beauty out in the big wide open.