Questions and Answers – December Edition

Let’s jump right in… the water’s… uh.  Frozen.  Oh, well.

Laura wrote:
Do you ever get attached to the cows and are sorry to see them go?

Generally, we don’t get attached to them enough as adults to be sad when they leave.  We have put our heart into keeping them fed, watered, and well, though, so it’s more an appreciation of them… thanks for giving us ten nice calves or for healing up when you were a sick calf or some such thing.  Honestly, you remember the troublemakers more.  I keep asking to sell 203 cause she’s such a pain to trail… she’s a wonderful mother, but she’s always wanting to fight the dogs and she NEVER gets in a hurry!  If we’ve taken care of them as calves (like Half Pint from last spring) we make a note, and kinda keep track… but we don’t pat them on their heads or scratch their backs to say goodbye…  There are too many and most are all black… seems you only name the ones you can recognize at a distance… and naming breeds familiarity and fondness. Twister I recognize because of her tornado shaped blaze, and when it’s time for her to go down the road, I’ll say goodbye, and <sniff> but this is the business we’re in.  If she’s chosen to leave, my affection for her won’t change that decision.

Grace wrote:
This question is about your dogs: why did you choose English Shepherds? Why not ACDs (australian cattle dogs) or some other cattle dog? It’s not that I don’t like ESs, I just want to know why you chose them.

Grace, we’ve had different dogs before.  Our best was an Aussie we got from a neighbor, but we always said back then it would be better if we had more work for him.  We just don’t work our cows enough for most dogs… especially Border Collie types.  ACDs aren’t overly popular around here just because one bit my daughter in the face when she was four.  It’s hard to overcome a breed prejudice after something like that!  A friend had a WONDERFUL red heeler, she was a sweetie and worked all day long, but unless I could have gotten one of her pups, I’d never get an ACD.  That one dog ruined it for me… my daughter was very lucky she wasn’t disfigured for life.  ESs have much more of an off-switch than any other breed I’ve come across.  They want to be with me… if I ain’t going, neither are they.  Since we don’t have cattle to move all the time, ESs just seemed a better fit for me.

Marilyn wrote:
How is Elsa’s coat after being covered in burrs?

I never got the scissors out again!  She looks like her little brother cut her hair for her…  come spring, though, I promise I’ll straighten her up… but I’ll let her keep it all for now.  I know there’s a few -35 in our future!

Krystal wrote:
We just bought our first side of grass-finished beef, so I’m collecting recipes! Do you have any favorites you’d be willing to share? )

Me?  You want a recipe from me?  Oh, that’s priceless… I hate cooking!  I should send you to my sister… she’s a great cook!  But I’ll try… My favorite-est way to cook beef?  This is really tough now… take your large arm or rump roast out of the freezer.  Immediately place in a LARGE crockpot.  Pour water (about 4 cups or so) over it.  Open a packet of Lipton’s Onion soup mix.  Pour over the roast and into the water.  Put your lid on well… set it to high… go ride and move cows for eight hours or so… If you have another hour, hour and a half before you can eat, throw in quartered potatoes and carrots and slice onions, and let them cook with the meat.  Otherwise, you open a jar of green beans, and make some mashed potatoes, and eat that fall apart onion seasoned roast.  Your family should love you.  If the meat doesn’t just fall apart, it hasn’t cooked long enough!  I know… difficult recipe, huh?

Sara wrote:
I have a dog question as well. Do all of your dogs differ in style for working cattle. Do you prefer to have one help you with certain jobs and do they all show interst in working cattle?

Sara, yes, they all have their strengths.  Lucas is forceful but quiet, he can’t go far at all, so he gets corral work and short trips.  Elsa is attentive and I can send her the farthest, so she’s best for rough country.  Dally is enthusiastic and young and healthy… she gets the big long days!

Donna Gunn wrote:
I bought canvas for the saddle blanket today and am ordering roving tonight. However, I need an opinion. The horse I am making the blanket for has very high withers (he’s a 16+h running quarterhorse) do you think I should make the front insert wider/taller?

Good grief?  How do you get ON??? I would have to pack a bucket along to stand on to get my foot in the stirrup!!  I never could do that jump and stick your foot in the stirrup action… or swing on.  I’m more grunt and groan to get on, and my horse is a lot shorter than yours!  Anyway, what I’d do is do the first part… slice the canvas back and sew one side in place.  Then take it out to your horse and put it on him.  Mold it to his back and use a magic marker to outline where the other edge falls, then go sew it in place.  If his withers are that steep, see if that works.  If it won’t lay right, you might need to leave a hole over his withers if your saddle will lay up off of them.  Just slice the canvas and resew a section in creating a sort of “O” shape.  My first choice would be expanding that gusset though.

Redwood wrote:
Fascinating blog, beautiful pictures of your gorgeous red dirt land! I wonder if you have read the works of Temple Grandin and what you think of her philosophy. Do you apply her knowledge to your work with your animals? Thank you!

Redwood, thanks for the compliment!  Yes, I’ve read two of Temple Grandin’s books and I found them very interesting.  I have walked our corrals, looking for what might be inhibiting our cows… mainly it is shadows here.  We have known for years that shadows spook cattle… they can work fine in the morning and be big pains in the afternoon… so some of that we’ve fixed.  Actually I’ve learned more from Bud Williams and his Low Stress Cattle Handling… Temple has borrowed some of his stuff.  I think Ms. Grandin has helped the industry out a great deal.  Many people don’t know HOW to work livestock anymore.

Alice wrote: my question for this week: do you have a little convenience-type store in Ten Sleep for when you’re in the middle of cooking and realize you’re out of sugar? If not, how do you manage to plan for everything that you might possibly need? Oh, and are you still planning on doing dog training tips?

Ten Sleep used to have a good little REAL grocery store… but it is awfully hard to make a living that way (it’s now the cafe)… so when it collapsed, yes, we have The Pony Express quick stop.  No fresh fruits or vegetables.  Mainly snack food and milk and eggs.  High prices.  You don’t really want to go there for more than just a candy bar and pop, because you PAY!  Plus it’s 18 miles away.  Call a neighbor, it’s closer!  When I go to the store I buy my sugar 25# at a time.  And my flour.  And canned milk when I run out of fresh.  I buy cases of canned goods.  If I’m making stuff for Thanksgiving or Christmas or branding… I make VERY GOOD SHOPPING LISTS!  Once we run out of cottage cheese, or chips, or fruit, or cheese… too bad.  We eat something else until I can get back to the store!  Yes, dog training tips are coming up!

Sue Hammer wrote:
Now that Elsa is spayed, will you bring in a male to mate with Dally for your next litter? Will you keep Lucas intact? Will Matt someday breed Sadie? Must be hard to make these kinds of decisions when you have such great ES!

Yeah, I really need to work on Dally’s boyfriend… I have about 3 months left to figure that out!  Lucas will remain intact… I’d love someone to use him for a stud!  Sadie has been spayed… she’s so tiny… and it’s hard in town to fend off all the potential boyfriends!  I agonize over Dally… it’s going to be bad timing as we’ll be in the middle of calving season when she comes in heat…

Rhonda wrote:
My question is…What will become of your current house once you move into the Mill’s place?

Daniel is a Big Boy now… college graduate and 22 years old… he’s getting this house.

Linda W wrote:
. . . my Red Dirt calendar arrived! I love it. The photos are great; the paper it’s printed on is wonderful; and I love that the holidays are also marked with photos. I think my favorite is Valentine’s Day with the dogs. Thank you!

Linda, I wanted to thank you for your kind words… I’m happy YOU’RE happy!

Thanks, everyone, another great Q&A Session!


December 9, 2009   Wordless Wednesday – “Red Rock – Red Dog”

December 9, 2008   Cousin Robb

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