Thursday, April 1, 2010
Maybe it's because we have a little cowgirl running around. Or maybe I have a minor case of cabin-hermit fever. Or maybe I just have way too much time on my hands. Whatever it is, I am having a blast hiding Easter Eggs this year. What a place to hide eggs, too. This Colorado Dude Ranch has endless hiding spots. See if you can guess each spot!
Oh, and yes, it is snowing. April 1st and still snowing. Hmmph.
A horse feed box.
In the pasture with the cows.
The DWR sign post.
In with the chicks. I hope their eggs aren't this color when they start laying.
In the hay barn.
In with the Mommy Shiloh and her kittens.
A cabin porch.
The big chicks. "What is this? Is it going to hatch?"
Monday, February 15, 2010
Ode to Rocky: The King of the Drowsy Water Bovines
We have a lot of animals. And I mean a lot. We have horses, cows, bunnies, cats, dogs, chickens (sometimes), ducks, and other domesticated animals that live with us now and then. Of all of the animals we have, I think the one animal that has the best life, the guy that has it made more than any of our other pampered pets, is Rocky, our bull.
Yep, Rocky has the occupation most males dream of. First of all, Rocky is a big dude. He's a a ten year old Black Angus and Tarentaise cross. He weighs in around 2000 lbs. He eats pretty much all day everyday. So, you want to know why he has the best job here? Well, Rocky's job, albeit an important one, is what most 16-30 year old males dream of doing: his purpose in life is to impregnate 25-30 females of his species every summer.
But it's not summer here for long. So what does Rocky do the rest of the year? For most of the year, Rocky just hangs out around the ranch. He might hang out in the pen down the road or he might hang out at the ranch in Walden. Wherever he is, he is usually all alone. When he's alone, his day is all on him. If he feels like eating hay for an hour then staring at a post for an hour, he can. If he wants to test how loud he can say "mooo" then have a bathroom break, he can. If he wants to slobber all over himself without moving a muscle in his body, he can. No woman is there to remind him he needs to shave or that he should maybe consider taking a shower. No one is nagging him to to pick up his socks, turn down the t.v., or fold the laundry. He just gets to be 100% male.
Like I mentioned, things get exciting for Rocky in the summer. Come June or so, Randy Sue pushes all of her cows and calves out onto thousands of acres of open space to graze and roam about. Soon after, Rocky is pushed out to chase down and impregnate all those good-lookin' cows. Let me tell ya, he's rearing to go every year. He chases after those cows, bellowing out as he searches for them and those heifers moo back in return.
Rocky does his job, and he does it well. One of the reasons Randy Sue chose Rocky's cross breed was because Tarentaise generally produce smaller calves. So, while Rocky is huge, bulls can be much huge-er (yes, I know that is not a real word). Rocky's size means easier births for the cows and thus a higher survival rate for the calves. Tarentaise are also known for their ability to subsist on what is available to them in their area. Whether they get to eat tall green grass or short sparse shoots and weeds, they tend to turn out okay. And any heifers we keep as replacements have high fertility rates and calve unassisted in most situations. The Tarentaise bred cows also demonstrate strong maternal traits and optimum milk production.
The black angus part of Rocky and the cows mean the calves have sound feet and legs, they usually have no horns, and they can adapt to live in almost all weather conditions. Angus bred calves also have superior feed conversion and natural marbling of their meat.
Rocky, here's to you. Our all-man, all-bull king of bovines.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Lazy K-Quarter Circle Day at Drowsy Water Ranch
There's a lot about ranching I don't know. For example, I'm not great at riding horses and I don't know how to rope. I can sit behind a computer and crank out emails like I was born with a keyboard and draw roadways faster than you can tie your shoes, but that won't buy you a slice of bologna when you have a horse hurt, a cow loose, or a crew to feed.
But wait a minute. . . don't count me out as a rancher yet. I wasn't a total city slicker when I fell for my cowboy. I did, for instance, ride my bike across town with cowboy boots in my backpack to take horseback riding lessons one summer. In college, I signed up to shovel horse manure in exchange for riding lessons. And, the crowning glory of my ranching knowledge: I knew how to brand a cow long before I met Justin.
Growing up, my mom would take us back every single spring to her father's 4000 acre cattle ranch near Meeker, Colorado for branding. It was a family reunion of sorts. With cousins, uncles, aunts, and neighbors, we'd help Papa Jim round-up, sort, rope, brand and vaccinate around 200 calves. We'd then share a huge feast and a few laughs. It was exhausting work and I'm pretty sure my cousins made fun of me the whole time for being the neophyte of the bunch, but, never-the-less, I cherish those branding memories.
Last week, it was branding time around Drowsy Water Ranch. As usual, it was exhausting work. Here's a summary of the job.
First, you need a few calves. Here they are, lined up in the chute that Justin and Tyler built last fall for roping.
Next, you need some help. The enlisted help included family, wranglers, and few outstanding guests.
We branded the calves with the Drowsy Water Ranch's Lazy K-Quarter Circle. We used both an electric iron with the calf-table method,
and the old fashioned iron with the tackle method.
Both methods work just fine. In general, it goes like this: the calf-table makes life easier, and the tackle method makes life a whole heck of a lot more fun. (he-he, see Reid, a guest, holding his nose!)
With the calf table, you walk the calves through the chute, into the table, squeeze their body while their head hangs out, then turn the table on its side. The bars of the table can then be lifted to brand, castrate, vaccinate, etc.
With the tackle method (this is what we did back at Papa Jim's ranch), you rope a calf by the back leg, then drag 'em over to two wrestler's-in-waiting. The wrestlers then have to grab the kicking, pooping, leaping calf and attempt to tackle him. Typically, one person gets the front end, one gets the back end. Sometimes this works and sometimes one person ends up clinging to ears and fur for dear life while the calf takes them on a ride. This method is best for laughs.
Once the calf is restrained, we brand the little guys, vaccinate 'em, and, if they are bull calves, we castrate 'em. My uncle, Buckshot, did a lot of the castrating at Papa Jim's. He'd say "bet you didn't know I am a bovine psychologist, I'm about to change this bull's state of mind!"
So, here's Ken, the psychologist.
OOOOH, that is a baaaaad joke.
Finally, when they're all done and branded, they spend a night or two at the ranch where we monitor for any problems. Then we push them out onto open range where they get to eat grass and roam around for the summer.