Questions and Answers – March 2011 Edition

Oh, you guys always amaze me at your great questions!  I know I say that often… but you still keep coming up with good ones!

Question: were you living on the ranch in 1988 during the great Yellowstone Park fire? and if so, what did you experience from such a close proximity?   Marilyn

Marilyn, yes!  I was married in ’81 and moved to the ranch then.  I remember one photo I took of Victoria that summer.  She was four… Daniel had been born in May.  I took it looking north along the Nowood and visibility was poor!  *Maybe* a couple of miles… and when you can usually see tens if not a hundred miles or more (depending on your elevation!)… it was depressing.  You would wake up with your first thought of “Oh, it’s cloudy today, it’s going to rain.”  But it wasn’t cloudy, it was smokey.  The smell was everpresent.  In all honesty, it was hard to deal with because we laughingly say we run on solar power out here!  When it rains or snows for a long time, depression actually sets in.  You get cranky.  I couldn’t live in the grey northwest or in a smoggy city… and sometimes I wonder how much it really affects people in those places without them really realizing it!  Otherwise, we weren’t bothered with it, though I’m sure Wyoming took a big hit from tourism that year… plus the cost of fighting fires… there were more than just those in Yellowstone.


How often do you have a mama that doesn’t care much for her new little one?  At what point do you step in and start feeding the calf?   Sara

Not very often anymore.  Angus are pretty good mothers.  If one doesn’t care too much, 90% of the time it’s because she had a bad birth experience.  If we have to pull one, we stick around to see how she’s taking it.  You can tell pretty fast.  Sometimes they want to smash their babies into the ground, sometimes they want to not let it suck.  We might have to put them in the chute and let the calf suck through the bars!  We might have to milk her out even to get that colostrum in the baby.  We try pretty hard to get her to take it, as bottle fed babies are pitiful in comparison!  Luckily those little pens are great for forcing closeness!


question…what brand of laundry detergent do you use =o)  Sandy

Sandy, you made me laugh!  Yes, laundry is a challenge around here.  EVERYTHING stains very well… the red dirt, manure, grease…  The best thing I ever bought was a front load washer.  I sure wish I had that when the kids were little when I did mountains and mountains of laundry!  That washer has cleaned the crappiest dirtiest bloodiest jeans ever!  The detergent is whatever HE soap is on sale… just set it to Cotton Sturdy/extra time and throw in an extra rinse cycle and voila!  I love it!  Out here you *must* have town clothes and work clothes.  Same with shoes.  You wear a good pair of tennies out to the corral… it’ll be the last time you wear them in public!  Wear good jeans to help sort the heifers off… you’ll get a manure stain on the front for sure.  So I have work jeans and town jeans and then girlie stuff like skirts.  I need lots of closet space.
Did “Half Pint” make it OK from last year?   Marilyn

Yes, she’s around the other corral in the bitty bunch… they get extra feed!


What do you use to make the underbite? Also you mentioned you make notes on ease of birth-if mom has a hard time, is she watched closer the next time she’s due to calve? Is ease of birth somewhat genetic?  Alice

We used to use Johnny’s razorsharp pocketknife!  Now, since Vernon and Daniel are doing it… and neither’s pocketknives can be called *razorsharp* (!), we’ve purchase a square notching tool.  See below.  It cuts the ear easily and two quick snips (to make it wide enough) and the calf barely knows its been done.  Ease of birth is indeed genetic… bulls are always listed with their birthweight and whether they are “calving ease” bulls, meaning they throw smaller babies.  We’ll keep an eye out for her next year… if she has problems again… she might just have to hit the road!

Can’t help but notice your nice graphic designs on the jeans… How do you ever have time to patch jeans???? I know it has to be done…   Judy

I’m laughing, Judy!  People are always amazed at Daniel’s jeans.  I can’t remember how old he was, but I was frustrated because he always wanted them patched and repatched instead of just wearing “new” jeans, so one day I taught him about Tear Mender… a glue that works great to patch jeans.  Since then, he patches his own jeans… over and over and over and over… even putting pockets on the front thigh area.  They are embarrassing to me, but he LOVES them.  He thinks “new” jeans feel weird.  He definitely gets the mileage out of them… and if he could sell them for $100 bucks as high fashion… he’d be tempted!  I can’t understand ANYONE buying jeans with pre-made rips in them!  But Daniel could patch them if anyone wanted him to!


Hope this question is not to political with global warming/climate change being a hot topic but has this winter particularly cold there in Wyoming? How much added work does very cold/freezing weather entail?  BTW: Do you still operate an official weather station there at the ranch?   Butch

Johnny still measures the weather every day… I did an entry last summer when he got *another* award for 45 years of service from NOAA. This winter hasn’t really been that bad here.  Yes, we’ve had some cold spells, but it doesn’t seem to be changing to me.  Johnny’d have the data.  You can look it up online as well, Johnny is Ten Sleep 16SSE.  It definitely adds to the work load, but we *do* live in Wyoming.  It’s expected.


Aren’t brands registered (I think I remember that)? Are the underbites? Or is that more informal?  Also, how is Lucas’s paw? And I think you’ve probably answered this before, but I can’t remember. How old was Lucas when you got him and how did you come across him (were you looking for an ES and just happened upon him)?  Thanks — I like posts like this about normal ranch routines!   Taylor

Taylor!  Whew!  All GOOD questions!  Brands are registered with a state board.  With that you show the brand (ours is A bar A), it shows what it’s good for (cattle and horses), where it goes (Left Side cattle, Left Hip horses), any earmarks (underbite left ear, wattle left cheek)  WE NO LONGER USE THE WATTLE.  If one of our cows ends up miles away… anyone can check the huge brand book and see all that and identify her and get her home.  Lucas’ paw is bad again.  My fault.  Ugh.  Lucas was just a pup and he came from Oregon!  I was looking for an Aussie actually, having never *heard* of English Shepherds!  For some strange reason, I couldn’t find any Aussies or Aussie crosses in the local newspapers, so I hit the internet.  Lo and behold… I found English Shepherds!  The rest is history!


Is the camera in the calving shed helping much?   Holly

Holly, it is for Daniel.  It’s saved him multiple trips.  Unfortunately, we’re having problems with our router messing up the internet feed in this house.  Other people can see it just fine, and if we stop the wireless feed and just plug directly in, we can make it work.  So, there’s a few bugs to work out.  We definitely want another camera at some point…


Will you have a wall exclusively set aside for pictures of Dally, Boomer, Lucas, and Elsa?   Linda D.

Actually, my studio… remember my studio… that sits unfinished and unloved????  It’s going to be my “dog place”.  I have all sorts of old dog books from the 1950’s… dog training books… and some English Shepherd looking dog ads and dog art and dog *whatever* I come across will go in there.  Be sure there will be portraits of my sweeties in there! 
Thanks, guys!  I couldn’t do this without you!
March 8, 2009   Puppies
March 8, 2008   94 years young

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