Lots of questions going clear back through October… now I may not reply to each comment, but be sure I read them all! Depending on the day, I may answer you right away, or stock up your question for these Q&A sessions. Don’t forget, there’s a tab at the top of my website with older Q&A links. If you have a question, it might be answered there already.
Susan: Were they (the cows) ready to come down off the mountain? And how large is the herd? Looks wonderful! Getting ready for winter weather right?
You’d think that some snow and cold and winter type weather would make cows just want to fall off the mountain… but that’s not necessarily true. So long as they have good feed, cows can be quite content despite the weather. As I recall, they needed some encouragement to come down! This was not our entire herd… so I’m not sure on the numbers. Yes, we bring the cows down off the top of the mountain for the winter.
Kris: For your next Q and A — Do the cows know where they are going? Do you always use the same routes from one place to another?
This bunch looks like they are comfortable headed where they are headed.
Yes, the cows know where they’re going… or they think they do! We try to travel the same routes each year, but sometimes for whatever reason, we might have to change it up and then it can be a struggle! For instance, this year we had some of Brandon’s cows in our herd, and they were used to being in a certain pasture… boy, they led the way up the mountain anxious to get to what they thought of as their home turf. I really had to slow them down so the rest of the herd could catch up. However, we didn’t go to that pasture, we kept going past it. After being happy and leading the bunch, they weren’t very happy to keep going, sure we had made a mistake! Yearlings are eager to go places, but don’t necessarily have good directional memories!
Marilyn: Thanks for “taking” us to this wild horse round up! I wonder how they determine the age of each horse, knowing that they are more wary than ranch horses?
Marilyn, it was an enjoyable trip! Glad you liked it! I asked how they aged them, and was told they checked their teeth just like a normal horse. I can’t imagine doing it, but, hey, that’s what I was told. For those of you who don’t know, here’s a link to how you can age horses by their teeth.
Denny144: 1. Do you get cell phone service in the badlands? If not, how do you communicate if something goes wrong?
2. I didn’t see any fences. Do other people have cattle in the badlands that could mingle with yours? If you have to be out by mid January, what’s the value in spending only 2 months out there? It doesn’t look like plush grazing.
3. Does Bravo learn from watching Eden or is it instinctive?
Wow, ok! Way to ask good questions! 1. Yes, there is cell reception in the badlands… not everywhere, but good enough. So I’m going to change up your question a bit… how did we communicate before cell phones if something went wrong? Well, depending on what you want to call “wrong”. Cows going the wrong way? Riders are always watching each other and the cattle, so if something happens… someone will be there eventually to help out. The only time someone was badly injured, yes, people had to ride clear back to the house and they called a life flight helicopter in from Casper. 2. Oh, of course there are fences! Otherwise, we might never see some cows ever again! There are other ranches in with us in our allotment or pasture. Two months of grass is nothing to sneeze at! The grass isn’t like a lawn, that’s considered to be “soft” grass, reach down, pull up a handful, easy to touch, eat, grow. The grass in the badlands may be tough to pull up or chew, but this “hard” grass was made for grazing animals… and it’s perfect for cattle. 3. Bravo will learn from Eden and use instinct both.
Marilyn: Question: Do you have any prairie dogs on your land? or woodchucks? Thanks
We have a few prairie dogs in one pasture, though not very many… which is good. They do a lot of damage! We do have what we call rockchucks, aka marmots. They live in the rocky hillsides and really don’t do much but tease the dogs with their whistles!
Rosemary: Along these line and since it’s autumn, I’m wondering if you have large enough groves of cottonwoods and/or aspens on your ranch or local area to provide good fall color, or is it necessary to go higher into the Bighorn Mountains for scenic fall color?
My second seasonal question concerns your Badlands grazing lease. Are hunters allowed on your lease allotment when cattle are present?
For a great deal of fall color, the mountains are your best bet. Our individual cottonwoods may look pretty, but there’s not many of them in one spot… at least not around here. Our grazing lease is public land, so, anyone can go out there at any time. Only on private land could you control access.
Marilyn: Question – are you still using the “chicken tractor” – I think that is quite a terrific item?
Question – how is Bravo working out as an ES pup and spectacular farm-dog to be?
I am not using my chicken tractor because it’s good only for about four hens, and I have 18! I wasn’t sure if free ranging would work for me, but it does, so the chicken tractor just sits! I’m very impressed with Bravo’s personality. He’s calm, observant, and happy to please. He can come, sit, lay down, wait, eat, shake, back up and go around. He will jump on anything, ride in the side by side and truck, and he’s great at picking up anything! He’s gonna be a big dog, too… he’s the same size as Eden at five months!
Joanne: A library question. How long are you allowed to keep books out and how many books at one time.
Books are usually checked out for two weeks, with the option to renew a couple of times unless it’s a new book with people waiting for it. School kids are limited to three books at a time… but with parents there… we don’t limit checkouts if you’re good at returning books on time and undamaged!
Yeoman: If I were forty years younger and hadn’t already set my path out in life to where it’s pretty fixed, and noting that I’m a native of your state, my question would be what hope is there, of any, for a young man who wants to work at this doing it and obtaining a place of his own.
Well, honestly, it’s tough. It’s tough for established ranches to grow because land prices are so high, you can’t pencil it out. Rich people move in, paying extraordinary prices, then others want to sell for those kinds of prices… There are young rancher loans, there are stories about making it with leased land and cattle, but it’s very difficult. It’s very sad, the average age of farmers and ranchers is high often with no family wanting to take over. It’s not an easy situation.
How far are the badlands pasture from your ranch? And how big is your herd? I am sure that may fluctuate after you sell but do you try keep it at a certain number? And also is there a number allowed on the badlands?
There are actually three pastures we refer to as the badlands. Two are just on the other side of our private fences. We may trail the cattle to the far side of the pasture though. Our trail the other day was 5-6 miles. We do have a range that we’d like to keep our herd at… you sell older or non pregnant cows, and so you keep young heifers to replace them. The Bureau of Land Management regulates the grazing through what is called AUMs, (animal units month), which generally is what a cow and calf can eat. There’s all sorts of inputs that go into determining AUMs including vegetation, soil moisture, time of year, age of animals, type of animals, and others.
That’s it for now. Thanks, everyone!Find me here!