Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feeding 101

This weekend was wonderfully relaxing. It didn't start out that way though. First thing Saturday morning, DH came in and I could sense he was agitated. One of our colts, Jackson, seemed to be under the weather and DH could tell he was uncomfortable. He was off of his feed and Colic is always a scary possibility. Alas, it was Saturday and veterinarians don't work on Saturday. Did you know that? I've never heard of such a thing, but apparently they don't ~ at least not around here. DD informed me that she would work on Saturday when she began practicing. Good girl. Only one problem ~ she's 14. It'll be a few more years until she graduates from vet school and Jackson needs help now.

DH finally received a call from our regular vet and he told us he would meet us at the clinic. So DH and DD loaded Jackson and headed out. DH NEVER makes a trip to the vet without DD ~ she LOVES going to the vet almost as much as she loves riding.
They returned without Jackson who was staying at the clinic under observation. When the vet palpated him, he commented, "Hmmm...feels like a big loaf of bread." LOL! Poor Jackson was constipated. So he received a tube down his throat and was pumped full of mineral oil in hopes that he would...well...get rid of that loaf of bread which is not really a loaf of bread.

DH and DD will swing by and pick him up on Monday after they drop off cattle at the Sale Barn.

The wind was once again whipping itself into a frenzy and I don't know what possessed me to venture outside, but I jumped in with DH as he made an afternoon feed run. Yes, I braved gale force winds in order to bring you this post. As I sit here and write, I am still grinding dirt in my teeth. However, there is an upside: My face was sandblasted by the grit as I ventured out into the weather in order to bring these photos to you and I now have incredibly smooth skin. Who needs abrasive facial cleanser when one has New Mexico winds? The things I go through for y'all!
The bulls get the first ration and we sit patiently as they come lumbering through the mesquite. We wait. They are in no hurry and meander our way as if they expect us to sit there all day. Their deep grunts can be heard before they even come into view. Here come a few. We wait some more. Once they have all made their pilgrimage, we take a head count. Today I count 28 in this pasture and DH informs me that's all of them so we head to the next pasture.

We still have a few of these Hereford bulls around although they don't fit our program. They were here when we moved here so we're just keeping them until they retire. We've been rebuilding the ranch program and in a few years we'll be using all Brangus Bulls on the beef cows.

The horses come running to greet us as we venture across their territory.

Not really.

They're only thrilled to see us because they know we're bringing them their next meal. They're a lot like teenagers.

In complete contrast to the bulls, the steers & heifers & cows are thrilled to see the dust as we head their way. No need to sound the siren as they come crashing across the pasture. You can almost hear them hollering, "Cake...cake...cake..CAKE!" Bet you didn't know that 'cake' was a verb. Around here it is. Example, "Would you mind caking the heifers while you're over in that pasture?" No, we don't actually feed them cake (except on their birthday) ;) , but that's what we call the cow cubes. We buy them in bulk and store them in these overhead tanks. Then DH just drives up under them and fills the feeder.

In order to dispense the cake from the feeder, we flip a switch in the truck and count the clicks that tell us how much feed is leaving the feeder. We have it set so that 5# hit the ground with every click. Then we count cattle. Yes, we do know how many head we have, but we count to make sure everyone is present and accounted for. It's simply a cattle roll call of sorts. If someone doesn't make it to the dinner table, we can go in search of them and make sure all is well. Sometimes the missing critter may be giving birth or may have just given birth and is unwilling to leave her precious baby. Perhaps she or he is just being obstinate and refuses to join the crowd or is sick and needs some doctoring. Could be that they somehow decided that the grass is greener on the other side and they found a hole in the fence and ducked under to chat with the neighboring bovines. In any case, we keep an eye on all of our critters. I don't suppose y'all think about cows much, but since it's what we do, I thought I would let you know that they are facinating. They are just like people. Some of them are smart, some of them..well, not so much. Some are pretty and some are just funny looking. Some are sweet and some are ornery. All the babies are precious. Some have issues too. DH knows the history of every animal on the place. It has always and still does amaze me how he remembers that the mottled faced cow with the spot on her tail head had twins 6 years ago. Or that this little black calf (we have lots of black calves) has the same momma as the 4 yr old cow that we had to doctor (yes, around the ranch, 'doctor' is a verb too) last week.

DH is generally very quiet, but I love listening to him when we make the feed runs. I am privy to all sorts of information and I have learned to be quiet (not an easy feat for me) and let him talk just so I can drink in his thoughts on everything from pasture conditions to politics to horsemanship to the latest joke he heard. DH is wicked-smart and I love watching the wheels turn in his mind when he is thinking something through. After almost 21 years of marriage, this man still amazes me. These 4-legged rascals are in good hands.

1 comment:

agent713 said...

That is so cool. I love reading about the day-to-day of ranch life :)

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