Here they are… your questions *hopefully* answered by me!
SARA: How old are some of your cows?
ANSWER: Cows usually start breaking or losing their teeth around 7 or 8 years of age. They are then called “broken mouth cows”. As it worsens, they have a harder time eating and do poorer. Since we don’t have lush grass in this country, it makes a big difference. Usually by the age of 10 they have been sold… along with cows that are “open” or not pregnant. That’s why we keep 60 or so replacement heifers every year, to balance out the older cows that we have sold. As an aside, after cows lose ALL of their teeth, they again gain weight and do better, living to age 16 or 17. We prefer to not go through those less productive years… some ranchers do.
MARILYN: Is Half-Pint considered a dogie in western jargon?
ANSWER: Well, yes, but I don’t know anyone that uses that term anymore. A dogie (doe-gee) is technically an unbranded calf… but long ago… in open range times, when they gathered large rangelands, if they couldn’t find its mom because she had died or they just lost each other and the calf was alone… then they called it a dogie. Dogies were supposed to be sold and the money sent to the stockgrower’s association or branding inspectors, but many were secretly branded and became the beginnings of someone’s herd!
JUDY: Is there any way you can number your blog pages?
ANSWER: Not that I know of, have you tried the search on the left sidebar… sometimes that helps… especially the Advanced Search. I’ll look into it though!
SARA: In reading your summer blogs, it seems you move cattle from pasture to pasture a lot. How many different groups do you have them or are they all in one? How long would you keep them in some of the pastures?
ANSWER: We do have different pastures, especially when the bulls are with certain groups… It is also reliant on the amount of grass or water we have, or like last year, we had lots of poisonous larkspur on our mountain pasture. So it is hard to say because it varies. We might leave them in some pastures a month or six weeks and then move to another. Complicated and hard to answer… but a good question!
LAURA: How do you pick calves to raise as bulls vs ones to castrate? Do you use AI because bulls are so dangerous?
ANSWER: We do not raise our own bulls… it would be like raising a son to impregnate his mom and all his aunts. We buy all of our bulls at bull sales which I’ve written about. There are many magazines out there to help a hobby farmer… Mother Earth News has been around forever… there is even a Hobby Farmer magazine, Country Living magazine, and others. I’d even search yahoo groups, I love my English Shepherd Yahoo groups! We only AI our heifers, not our cows. We use clean-up bulls on the heifers (the ones that the AI didn’t work on are then covered by the “clean-up” bulls) and bulls on ALL of the cows. Most of our bulls are NOT mean, but you respect them and realize what they are!
SALLY: What do you call a boy calf?
ANSWER: They are bull calves. They become steers after they are castrated. We don’t castrate at brandings anymore, we put bands around their scrotums soon after they are born which cuts off the blood flow and they eventually just fall off. Much cleaner and less painful that way.
ELIZABETH: What is the highest number of orphan/unwanted calves you have had to take care of?
ANSWER: For a few years, we actually bought some bum calves from people and bottle fed them to raise a little extra cash… I think we had six. Prices have risen dramatically since then, and milk replacer costs have increased as well, so it isn’t worth it anymore!
ELLEN: Are you familiar with CJ Box, who writes the Joe Pickett series about a Wyoming game warden?
ANSWER: I read the first two CJ Box books and found them adequate, but I like Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire books SO MUCH BETTER…
ROBIN AND OTHERS ASKED: How long do you leave the “jacket” on calves like Half-Pint and wouldn’t just rubbing them with the jacket have done the same thing?
ANSWER: A cow *really* snuffles and sniffs and smells and licks their calf, so just a whiff from a rubbed on hide might not convince a cow that was being difficult. Some cows are desperate to find their calf and are easily convinced, some just look at them and go “That’s not my kid!” and proceed to kick at them and you might need to put them in the chute and let the calf nurse from the outside. I’ve heard of old-timers making the cow sniff pepper or gas to confuse the smell, or rubbing stinky scents on their noses and calf’s backs to confuse them that way. We’ve just always used this process. Half-Pint’s new mom took her a few hours later. We removed the jacket the next day, but left them in a small pen together. Another day and we turned them out in the pasture together. Some cows are not so easily convinced and might take a few more days.
KARYN: What WAS Lucas looking at? (in the pipe photo from the other day)
ANSWER: Irrigation pipes are lures for rabbits and skunks and coons and mice and snakes. Great habitat! I don’t know what was in there, but it smelled GOOOOD to Lucas!
BRENDA: Ever entertained Boomer with a laser light?
ANSWER: Usually if I’m alone with Boomer, I try to ease his OCD actions, he gets so wound and stressed seemingly by having to deal with all these “problems”. I can get him to stop barking at sagebrush and cattleguards and trees… and chasing objects… but no one else really tries to stop his behavior. So, no, the poor guy doesn’t need anything else to chase… he can come up with new things on his own!
KRIS: How do you manage your time between farm duties, house chores, dog training, and get time for yourself?
ANSWER: It just *seems* like I’m busy… Vernon does most of the work! I can’t write about doing dishes or cooking everyday… like watching paint dry… BOOOORING! It seems so easy now that the kids are gone, no sports games/school activities to go to… no part-time job at the library… no Girl Scouts… It is like being a housewife whose husband might come home from work and say, hey, can you come help me for the afternoon? Or it is like having a part time job. Besides… you haven’t seen my house! It *definitely* gets the short end of the stick!
SALLY: (paraphrasing) Your Wordless Wednesdays are good photos… but I miss our “conversations”…
ANSWER: Sally, so glad you miss me, but WW is the only meme I follow and I look at it as my “day off”… kinda, but not really! But it takes at least an hour to write and upload this blog everyday… if I made money at it, it would be different… but I like WW because in 10 minutes I can post and be off to some other chore! Get me a zillion new readers and I’ll write more! 😉
THANK YOU SO MUCH for your questions! I hope I answered them well enough! If I missed any, I apologize, but I’ll have another Q & A the first week of May!