We were finally able to move cows on a nice day! Which was good because we had a lot of small moves to make. We are starting to get everybody shuffled around and grouped the way we need them, to all be moved off the home place this week. We spent the day bringing them in from over here and gathering from over there and sorting them and putting them back out over yonder. We split the calves (and a few cows) into five different groups and attempted to sort all of them simultaneously. It was no easy task, and Mom and I were so confused by the end of the day, we didn’t know which way was up! So hopefully, we got everyone into the right group! But we had fun, and that is all that matters (at least that’s what we tell ourselves!).
Now we can breathe a small sigh of relief (or we can when most of the calves are finally moved out of our “ranch headquarters”). Life gets less rushed and busy once all our cows are out on pastures and don’t have to be fed every day. Of course, this brings its own challenges and headaches. Now we start building more electric fences, checking on all the different herds regularly, keeping everyone watered sufficiently, etc. But those are troubles for tomorrow!
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It has been so windy here lately, ya’ll! If the wind isn’t going to blow in the rainstorm we desperately need, then, in my opinion, it can just stop! I’m not the only one who is tired of the wind. Apparently, big, tough boys become babies in the wind. I have had the bulls at my house for the winter. And two of them found the lowest spot they could to try to get out of the howling wind. They found a place where they could hide in the tall bunch grass and sagebrush to keep out of the wind, and they weren’t going to budge for anything, either. They just watched me walk right by them several times while doing chores and didn’t move a muscle. Thankfully, I live in a draw, so the wind isn’t as bad right at my house as up on top. But when the wind is whipping, it doesn’t just stay on top of the hill, where I would like it too. I am hoping it will die down a little sometime soon, otherwise I might just blow away one of these days!
After having a few weeks of warm spring weather, the cold has hit again! Thankfully it didn’t rain or snow on us while we were moving cows (or maybe not since we are going back into a drought). At least we didn’t have to deal with being wet and miserably cold. I was hoping to get pictures of our ride, but the wind was too chilly to take my hands out of my gloves for long. So I only took one picture of our second ride!
Every spring, we move our mama cows to the river to have their calves. Both of the moves we make to the river are tough rides, and we can’t take any little babies. So we try to get them to the river before they start calving in mid-March to the 1st of April. This is the first year we haven’t had at least one calf on the ground before moving them, so everyone got to go with us.
The first move we made is the more difficult one. It is very steep and rocky, so much so that for the last mile, we tie our horses and go in on foot. Which is fine going downhill, but coming back up is a struggle! Especially since it is my first real bit of exercise after a slightly sedentary winter, so I was pretty out of shape. Mom walks everywhere, so she is in excellent shape and has no problem breezing back up the hill! But I was most definitely huffing and puffing. We all made it out alive (it was a little touch and go for a while!), and it went pretty smooth.
The second move we made was much easier because we don’t take them clear down to the river. We only take the cows about a quarter of a mile down the hill. We still have to walk that quarter of a mile, though. The quarter of a mile down the hill turned out to be more like ¾ of a mile because we took the wrong trail. We went too far down the hill before we turned to go along the hillside and had to drive the cows up a steep draw into where they get water. But, again, we made it, and everyone was happy when it was all over!
For the next couple of months, they’ll stay on the river, and our moves will be easier. We basically just keep opening gates to the next pastures and let the cows move on when they are ready. Once most of them are out of the old pastures, we take a ride through and clean out the ones that hadn’t already moved on. But the old cows know the routine and teach the younger ones, so it is much less labor-intensive! Hopefully, I will be able to get more pictures next time around, though!
So far, in the Meet the Herd series, you met my quarter horse gelding, Beau. Now you get to meet the cows! I currently only have 11 cows, as I mentioned early in my post, About the Sojourner’s Journey. My operation is a cow/calf operation. This means I have mama cows that raise calves that I then use as replacements for my herd (heifers) or locker beef (steers). All of my cows are red or black Angus. I like the Angus breed because they hold up well in a high desert environment. The high desert can be a challenging environment to raise livestock because of the lack of water and grass (although I would take it over the desert any day!) But it is the challenge that makes it all worth it!
Since I have so few cows, I run them with my parents’ herd. It makes it pretty easy for me since I work a full-time job, Mom takes care of them during the weekdays, and I help out when I can on the weekends. I can also be involved in some of the decision-making as my family work to transition me into the business. I talk about our transition experience so far in the post, January 1, 2021, if you would like to read more about how we are approaching the transition. Some of the decisions we have decided to make have been difficult ones. We are trying to change our program so that our cattle can be more self-sufficient and need fewer inputs (and thus, we put less money into them). I will talk more about the changes we made to our program and what it means for the cattle, land, and our family in later posts. So make sure you keep checking back with The Sojourner’s Journey to read more about my journey!
Meet Beauregard! Since that is such a mouthful, I call him Beau for short. Beau is a four-year-old gelding that I had the pleasure of training. He is an awesome, little horse, although he isn’t so little anymore! I use him around the ranch and would love to start competing in cutting and reined cowhorse with him (but I have a full-time job that takes up all my time!).
He is laidback and very willing, which has made him a breeze to train. And he is super curious. If he can stand on it, he owns it, whether it is the lowboy hooked up to the truck, a hay bale, the deck, really anything he can get on. He loves his job of chasing cows and has good instincts when it comes to cows. It makes him fun to ride out gathering cows and will hopefully translate into the cutting pen. Beau is going to make a great kid’s horse once he has some more training under his belt. Subscribe to my email list to get updates on Beau’s training journey emailed right to your inbox!