Joanne : My question. Is it possibly to give an overview of the life of your calves. From birth do you keep them all or are some sold as calves rather than adult cows. How long do you keep the adults.
We are a cow/calf and yearling operation. That means we calve in late February/March/April. Yes, that’s early and in the snow and cold, but that’s what works for when we can put bulls in, and so that’s what we do. Calves remain with their mommas until fall when they are weaned and turned out to graze on our fields. Right now, when winter snows have really hit, we bring them into some corrals, feed them hay and some home-grown oats to supplement the hay. In the early spring, they will be trailed out to pasture again and stay there until the steers are sold. That timing may vary according to prices! The heifers are looked through, and we pick which ones we want to keep to replace our old cows we have had to sell. The ones we don’t want are hauled to the sale barn. Adult cows can be here from 9-12 years… depending on how their teeth hold up. There’s lots of grit and sand and hard chewing in Wyoming!
Liza: How is Lucas’s foot doing? Think I saw a pick of him without the wrap, has it healed up?
Lucas’ foot will never be entirely healed. The winter can be nice to it, if the snow is soft, but brittle snow can make it very tender. It’s a balancing act. I can wrap his paw to protect it if it isn’t that cold. Obviously, walking in snow gets the wrap wet, and then it can freeze if it is very cold. That’s not good, so… sometimes he’s wrapped, sometimes he isn’t.
Rosemary : Is there open water nearby where the eagles can fish? What function does the grate over the water trough serve?
There is open water for the bald eagles, but I don’t see them fishing. I see them eating road kill! The “grate” keeps the cows from playing with or bumping the float device that opens the valve to let the water in the tank. Cows are curious and would test out everything with their tongues.
Suzanne : Are you going to breed Eden this year? With Lucas? Did you see those eagles soaring and follow them (with your eye) to where they landed?
Well… as a member of the English Shepherd Club, we have a Code of Conduct that encourages us to be responsible breeders. Eden needs to be two years old (July 9, 2016), have her hips OFA evaluated (an Xray to test for the probability or existence of hip dysplasia), and have general traits that would make her a great addition to the breed (for me, it means, is she a good enough cowdog?) If she did pass those bars, then there’s my personal preference, which is to NOT have a winter litter. That means spring of 2017. And it makes me EXTREMELY nervous when I see Lucas struggling to stand when he’s been laying down a long time. He’s 9 now. I want a Little Lucas. I hope, someday, I get one.
I always look for eagles on the rimrock. Two were flying, one landed and joined the other two on the rimrock, and the fourth disappeared.
Marilyn : Can you explain how the water is delivered to the water tanks? Does it come from a well or a bigger reserve tank? How do you keep the delivery system from freezing?
When these allotments were first designated from the Open Range status, ranchers were allowed to build reservoirs. It was good policy, spreading the grazing out over miles instead of cows concentrating around one or two natural springs. With droughts and Wyoming’s typical “hit or miss” rainfall, reservoirs became very inconsistent, some full, most were dry. Johnny and neighbors proposed a pipeline from a good spring to an intricate system of tanks. The BLM provided pipe and consultants, but the ranchers did the work. There are miles and miles and miles of plastic pipe out in our various allotments. We are pumping from a well in the one we are in now. It gets checked everyday by a rancher. It supplies a buried storage tank that further feeds the smaller tanks that get iced over and again, visited by one of us in the allotment EVERY DAY. The pipe is buried deep enough it shouldn’t freeze, but it does, or a seam bursts, or a spot wears thin, or the ground moves, or SOMETHING, but it seems like it always needs some repair! The guys will testify our little excavator beats shoveling mud by hand in the wintertime!!! Furthermore… it’s not just cows that use this water. Antelope, elk, deer, sage chickens, coyotes, fox… they all love our water systems. There is a great deal of work that has gone into them to benefit many creatures.
Joan : Why were the hens not sitting on the eggs? Were they too busy eating? Do they know those aren’t fertile eggs? )They weren’t, were they.) Can you tell these are the questions of a city girl?
Joan, hopefully I will have a hen go broody (set on the eggs) in the spring. Typically, hens won’t set year round. They lay those eggs and go off doing other things! These chickens are big… well, chickens! as they don’t like to go out in the snow very much. The last bunch I had, didn’t mind if they stayed in the ruts or tracks even when snowed over, but these are sissies. The eggs ARE fertile because, I have roosters… the Big Black and cute little Spot turned out to be a rooster as well. And, hey, I don’t mind questions… that’s why I do a Q&A almost every month!!!
Thanks, folks. By the way, Lucas’ puzzle from the other day is now available. I had a nice email apologizing for blocking it, but it was filtered automatically… It is now ready for you to finish once again!