Monday, November 7, 2011

The Old Grey Mare Just Ain't What She Used to Be...

Whew! What a week! For those of you who have asked, my inlaws are doing well and on the mend.  Thank you for your kind concern. I spent a few days with them just helping out and nagging my MIL to eat and drink water. I felt a bit out of my element and didn't want to overstep my boundaries as an inlaw. Didn't want to be fired and become an outlaw! I'm not very good at bossing people around, but she was a good sport and I think I'm still hanging on the family tree.

Fair warning. This is a long post with lots of photos.

I've been helping DH and last week, in a span of three days, we weaned the colts, solved a mystery of finding 3 yearlings dead in the pasture (diagnosis -after scouring the pasture on foot, bringing in some unfamiliar weeds and identifying them through the use of our extensive library on plants, researching some medical journals, and playing a bit of medical examiner-, Polio, which is a sulfate toxicity), started drenching a yearling who was sick in hopes of saving her, moved bulls:

 , and fed cattle for hours on end. I won't go into detail on finding the yearlings, because it's not very pretty and although I'm all about keeping things real around here, I really like all of y'all who read here and I'd like to keep y'all coming back. Ranching has afforded us an amazing life, but it's not for the weak of heart...or stomach. I've shed many a tear with a baby calf in my arms.

No pictures of us drenching the yearling because my hands were full and we were actually thrilled to see that she was feeling well enough to fight us, but let's just say that the brand new pair of Wranglers I had pulled on that morning were broken in very well by the time we finished. :). As far as the wrestling match goes, well it was me against a 600# heifer. Enough said.

As we were cleaning up the equipment, I was ready for a nap (never mind that it was only 8:30 in the morning) and really not paying attention. See the nozzle at the end of this drencher?

I suppose I should explain. Drenching means we run a tube down into the critter's stomach and pump water into them (similar to intubation in humans). And they can hold a lot of water, thus you pump until your arm falls off and then you switch arms and pump some more. Then you fill another 5 gallon bucket and pump some more.All the while DH is holding her head and making sure she doesn't swallow the short tube we put in to keep her mouth open and keep her from running over me. I was fired from that job the first time so I am now the official pumper.

As I was rinsing it out, I had it pointed in my direction and the next thing I knew, I was sputtering and catching my breath when the ice cold water hit my face. DH looked at me and I could tell he was trying hard not to laugh and kind of looking at me in disbelief. Yes honey, I really am that stupid. I just burst out laughing and DH followed suite. It really was funny.

Needless to say, subsequent drenching parties have been much less exciting and my arms are on their way to becoming buff. I can dream, can't I?

Update: The patient started drinking on her own after a week! Yay!

It's hard to take pictures when you're swinging gates and trotting across traps in order to fill a hole so that the cattle, or horses don't retreat, so you don't get any action shots, but here are a few I managed to snap:

This sweet thing :

threw a little fit when we put a fence between he and his Mama.

We load them up right away and head to the house which is about 6 miles away, but it takes 20 minutes to get there:

We went back and loaded up the remaining yearlings in a couple of trailers and moved them to the pens at the house to keep an eye on them and make sure they weren't showing any signs of illness. Then we ran them through the chute and gave them 3 shots apiece as a preventative.

 Then we hauled them to another pasture on the other side of the ranch and I came back to wash syringes. I wash a lot of these:

DH likes to work horseback, but this place is really big and it's just not always feasible. It takes 45 minutes to just drive to some of these pastures from headquarters.

The colts are growing fast. They are about 6 months old now. They're not show horses. Just working ranch horses and not very good looking ones at that if you know horses, but I think they're all gorgeous. This winter, we'll work with them daily. Just getting them halter broke and used to people messing with their feet and heads and generally getting them used to our touch. From the time they are born we go out into the pasture and spend time around them. When they are that little, they are curious and accept our presence and enjoy having their bottoms scratched.

We weaned them and brought them to the house pens too.

I love spending time with them:

Lovin' on Mama:

But first we walked through the pens and picked up all the rope from the hay we fed to the calves earlier in the week. There are miles of this stuff::


One of the Mares, Tippy, looked like she was trying to prolapse and push her backside out so we brought her in with the colts. Turns out she was probably just constipated and full of mesquite beans. All is well.

Loaded up some cull cattle:

to take to the sale barn on Monday morning:

DH is unloading his trailer and I'm waiting to unload behind him:

 I don't usually spend time in the sale barn. It might or might not have anything to do with the fact that the auctioneer misinterpreted my waving hands as a bid one day. I was just retelling a story to RanchWife about the day the roof blew off of our house when we lived in Texas. Sheesh. You would think he could tell the difference. Suffice it to say, I've not graced the halls of the sale barn since then. Until this day, and I broke out into a cold sweat when I did. However, I behaved and sat on my hands the entire time. Still, I'm fairly certain I heard the auctioneer snicker.

Then we've started feeding. This is my winter chariot:


We have these overhead feed bins

that we fill with cake. Not the frosted kind. :)

Then we fill the feeders and go out to feed the masses. The truck is outfitted with a very, very, loud siren that we turn on periodically. Think of it as a dinner bell! The young cattle don't know what to make of it the first time they hear it and they stand there and look at you as if you had taken leave of your senses. But the older cattle, seem to remember from last year that it means good stuff is waiting for them. They actually come running in and you can see the dust rising from over a mile away. It's funny to see them run up drooling and licking their lips.

We set the feeder to dole out a certain weight of cake depending on what we're feeding. Bulls get more, as do cattle who are pregnant or nursing a calf.

It's not strenuous work, but when the wind's blowing this desert country isn't very fun to be out in.(The homeschool mom in me is fussing at ending that sentence with a preposition).

So, this is what I do for fun y'all! The days are never really the same except you sure are sick of feeding cattle come spring. It's a really good life and I still pinch myself that I get to live it, but good golly I am tired! I guess it's time to admit that the old grey mare just ain't what she used to be...ain't what she used to be...

Y'all can sing along so I don't feel so alone...and old. Humor me.


yorkie mom said...

What an interesting life! Very different than mine in Northern Michigan! Thanks for a peek into your day~

Hilachas said...

What? I'm exhausted just from reading your blog explaining all that you do. Whenever do you find time to sew?

Denise :) said...

Holy cow (no pun intended)! You had a yowzer of a week, didn't you? Glad you were able to nurse the one little cow back to good health! And the little horsies are so darling! I love them! :)

Doniene said...

There is not better life, is there? Always a job to do, and many miles to travel!!!

Have a blessed week!

Shelljo said...

Every time I see those big cake bins, I remember loading and dumping all those 50 lb bags into the caker...Must be nice not to have to do that anymore! (Except it was a great workout!)

For YEARS, dad didn't have a working horn or anything to call the cattle with--except his voice. He had some combination yell/scream that used to make the hair on my neck stand. (You know...Cowboys DO NOT scream :)) When I was little, I loved going with him to feed, just to hear him call the cattle in with that yell!

JMF said...

Loved reading about your day! My grandson and I helped move cattle too, but every time Greg to told to watch a certain spot the cows decided to go a different way, and we never had anything to watch except each other!! Needless to say I was glad to get home instead of sitting by the side of the road. Maybe you could homeschool me I was never very good in English class lol

Sallie said...

I love reading your post and your pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

Karin said...

Another great post I loved to read. Great to hear about your inlaws. Sometimes I´m wondering where you get all the energy from? Glad that you were able to safe the yearling! Thanks for the great pics and sharing some of your daily life.

Staci said...

I enjoyed your post very much, and learned so much. Thank you for taking the time to explain things so clearly. What an interesting life you have!

Deanna said...

They look like pretty good horses to me. I would take the one on the right of the picture of the two colts together.

Ranch life is genuinely exciting. Hang in there and save a little time for sewing if you can.

BunkHouseQuilts said...

Love all the photos. We farm--crops, no animals, but I was raised on a ranch. Brings back lots of great memories. I understand what a "good tired" is at the end of the day. Might I suggest using lukewarm water for your next gastric lavage? heh, heh, won't be so cold on you coming back up.
Thanks for sharing!

Donna Becker said...

Great post! I loved all the pictures, especially the one of the colt throwing his little fit. I'd love to meet him when he's all grown up. He looks like he'll be a pretty one.

rosie said...

Karin, I would so love to visit with you one day.. Our farms are so different.. but the tiredness is the same!
We feed our sheep and cattle too, but with oats. Our place is so small that the sheep can see the ute and feeder coming into the paddock and come running. Now the stock are so tame from being fed that they follow the ute out of the paddock when we shift them.. like the pied piper!!

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