Dally Learns (Hopefully!)

I made this video the last week… The boys were still here and two friends, L. and S., helped us out that day as well.  Our work is done, so we kick these steer calves out of the corral and take them into the field between my house and Johnny’s house.

I start off with Dally on a leash.  Note the calf kick quickly towards the beginning of the video.  Dally had bit him, but I missed it on my camera.  Actually, I missed a lot with my camera… I’m just not too good at aiming it while action is going on!  I then let her go and she did great for a minute, then she wouldn’t come back, too bad I had dropped the short leash in the gunk, I would have reminded her to listen better to me.  The calf took care of that for me though!
I also talk too much to my dogs in this video.  I tend to do this while people are around, lest they think I’m not correcting my dog… but I think it just makes me sound like I have no control.  Sometimes I don’t!  But had I been alone, I would be much less concerned with some of the stuff the dogs did!  I’m always worried about what other people think of my dogs… I should just shut up!
I regained control of the leash… but Dally protests her inactivity!  It cracked me up! I need a longer long line, but that’s what I had in my pocket.  I hadn’t planned ahead.  I’ll try this some more tomorrow as we’re pouring and vaccinating our cows.
I give up.
It is taking too long for either youtube or vimeo to get my video up, so I’ll post the actual video tomorrow.  Sorry!  But it is past my bedtime!


As of Tuesday, Elsa and her daughter Dally are both in heat.  Thus begins the “dog shuffle” where the girls are either in the kennel or in my kitchen/mud room or supervised outside.  Lucas is rotated to wherever they aren’t.  I hope to breed Elsa as it has been since November 2007 when she delivered her last litter.  Well, not me… Lucas will do that!
However, I have tried to set up an appointment with my vet for Elsa to get her hips tested since October.  In October I was sick.  In November my vet begged off due to his schedule preg testing.  In December he was still preg testing and I was busy with remodeling the Mills house and holidays.  I figured I had January to do it.  They weren’t supposed to come into heat until February!  Best laid plans…  Elsa’s OFA testing is scheduled for Tuesday, and my vet assures me all will be OK.
This will be Elsa’s 4th pregnancy.  She had two litters while she was owned by De Butcher in Oklahoma.  Unfortunately one litter was born in an ice storm and froze to death.  The other litter will benefit from the knowledge of her OFA score as will the litter she had in ’07.  I hope her score will help the English Shepherd community.  Should this disrupt her heat, I will be so sad!  I am looking forward to puppies in springtime and have had 6 inquiries about this litter that’s not even on the ground yet.  That’s not even counting the people I turned down last time or with no advertising.
Dally, on the other hand, is NOT going to get bred as she is just over a year old.  There are males I have in mind for her down the line… that is if I don’t get tired of not having her available to work 2 months of the year!  She could work around here this week, but it seems like anytime we have anything big going on, people bring their intact male dogs along to help!
But look at this… I mean, dog-gone, aren’t they cuter than cute???  And notice who is missing from this group shot… Yep, Dally.  How did that ever work out???

Sorting OOPE Fave

The idea of OOPEs is that the photographs are taken as my camera sits in the pocket of my Carhartt coat.  Yesterday’s photos especially proved this point… this shot more than the others.  There’s the cuff of my coat on the upper left… and the edge of my pocket on the bottom.  In between is sandwiched Johnny and the baby calf.  I love the look on Little Rooster’s face as he sees the calf… ears pricked and neck arched.  I don’t think I could have posed this better if I’d tried to do something like this on purpose.  Give a chimp a typewriter and sooner or later he’ll spell a word!

Sorting OOPE

I did it!  I actually took photos while sorting cattle!  Yes, I waited until most of it was done and yes, most of the pics are definitely OOPEs but considering I didn’t drop my camera and Tart and I didn’t lose any cows and Tart and I didn’t fall down on the *)(&*&^% ice – I consider this a success.
Today was gorgeous… blue sky and SUNSHINE… I even removed one of my hats because I got too warm!  Last year when we did this, we started off with a warm day, left all our warm clothes in the pickup then got hit with a BLIZZARD.  It was pretty miserable!
We share this BLM allotment with neighbors… so we each send our crews out to ride and sort our cattle out.  Many people have wondered why we brand our cattle…this is the main reason!  There’s a lot of country out here and with 6 different brands we can tell which way the hundreds of cattle need to go…
Our brand is a-bar-a and then we have some leased y8 cows as well.
Nudging the cattle to a sorting grounds took most of the day.  When we reach the sorting grounds – which basically is just a nice flat area with no prairie dog or badger holes – we set up a loose formation.  Usually it falls to kids, lesser experienced riders, relatives, and non-owners to hold the herd.  If a cow tries to escape the bunch, it is their job to turn her back.
Here Vernon looks over the bunch while the outriders hold the herd.
Don’t mind my cuff and the edge of my pocket blocking this view… these really are OOPEs!
Owners usually cut out their own cattle.  Vernon has ridden Winchester slowly into the bunch.  Which looks easier than it is.  It takes knowledge of cattle to do this right.  The position of your choices’ head and feet and the body language of her neighbors will tell you a lot.  How you handle your horse affects the situation as well.  E-ffects… A-ffects… both!  Many people that try to do this are “noisy” riders.  The riders are thumping the sides of their horses or waving their arms or just go in bold instead of quietly.  Most don’t realize their actions move the cattle as well as their horse.  The cows don’t like it and try to hide in the middle of their compatriots.  It can get difficult to dig a cow out of hundreds of others if she doesn’t want to go!
Here a neighbor rides quietly.  The cows are barely looking at him.  That’s good.  Notice the little baby calf by the red cow.  Only a week or so old, he belonged to an unknown cow… no one recognized or really could read the smudge of a brand or the eartag.  Our neighbor will trail him to his place and call out the brand inspector to figure out the mystery.
When you have this much help, you can sort off cows faster… and if you don’t understand the process or are an idiot at “reading” the body language of horseback riders and cows, you would see this as mass chaos.  Some riders cut out cattle, some turn back the ones that shouldn’t leave, some hold the main bunch.  It can get pretty hairy sometimes!  Today was done in slow motion for the most part as ice was under the snow… and it is simply stupid to go too fast!
Our cattle are kicked this direction.  Cows know which way is home, and they’ve all done this before, and they just meander on down the fence line.  If they were REALLY ready to go home, we’d have had to put a rider on the far side to keep them from leaving the country, but these are happy cows and once they are out of the bunch they went to grazing and didn’t wander too far.  Just look at the Big Horn Mountains today… you can see them!  They were hiding under snow clouds in my pics from yesterday.
Lucas was left at home…too big of a ride for his body.  Elsa and Dally are coming into heat, so they were at home too.  It was awfully noisy when I left this morning… Lucas howling and the girls barking their disappointments!  The dog, Spike, that Lucas fought with yesterday was left at home since he was lame.  I don’t know if Lucas did it or George who Spike also fought with.

January Gather OOPE

We began gathering our cows off the BLM today with our neighbors that share the allotment.  I am sore from hunching up against the snow even though it was very light and a fairly nice day.  I took my hot shower and I’m ready for bed, but, of course, have to post these OOPE photos first!
Four pickups and horse trailers and 11 people and horses.  The neighbor’s dog, Spike, and Lucas start the day with a big fight.  It continues 2 or 3 more times throughout the day… each time Lucas holds his own, even though I figure he’s the weaker dog.  Blood spatters are on both dogs.  That’s the problem with having a stud dog!
I like this photo for some reason… the snow on Tart’s ear… the cows waiting for me to get out of the way… another neighbor (who’s always late) drives by… the snow blocking the scenery…
Vernon and Johnny approach my little bunch with one of their own.  This was a good time to let Lucas rest.  He did OK today… it wasn’t hot!  the snow wasn’t deep, the cows traveled well, he had snow to “drink”.
The cows trail across Bruner Draw with little encouragement.  We are “duding” it… traveling single file because the road – though covered with an inch of new snow – are really ice rinks and the footing is better alongside the edge of the road.  Tart kept wanting to walk on the road, but the way the cows were sliding I was definitely NOT going there!
We ride again tomorrow, to hopefully gather the rest… we ended up with 99 today, so we have many more to gather!
I’m headed for bed… I’ll try for more OOPEs next time!