Thursday, March 29, 2012

A busy day at the ranch

We had quite a busy afternoon here today.  We had nearly 20 calves to tag.  I have previously written about that. We need to weigh each of the calves that we will register with the American Hereford Association.  Sometimes we do this in the barn on the scale in there; however, today it was easier to use this portable scale.  We hang it in a tree.  It has a place for the calf and we can read the weight and record it in our calving book

The calf only "hangs" there for a few seconds while we get the reading then someone puts him back down and he can run to mom.

Here are some of the pairs that we worked with today.  You can see we have Herefords (red with white face) and black with white face.  There are also some all black ones and a few tan colored calves.

After all of that work, Lori (white) & Pandora(black) enjoyed going for a little swim.  Pandora loves the water.  Lori just wants to be popular!!  They had a muskrat with them for a while but it quickly swam away.  Then, it was back home to do chores for the evening.

Linking to:  Farm Photo Friday and Farmgirl Friday blog hop

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids

Yesterday there was a wonderful program at our local school.  The program, Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, is held every other year there.  There were six schools represented by their 5th & 6th graders.  I have volunteered for the past 4 or 5 years to take photos at this event and enjoy it every time.  The students & volunteers all get a new t-shirt so we know who is supposed to be with our group. 

The students go to various stations in small groups of about 10.  This year the main stations taught Safety about:  Electricity, Chemicals, Hunting, Tractors & equipment, Fire, ATV, Lawn Mowers, Drugs, various Disabilities, AED/CPR, Communication/Alchol Prevention, and First Aid.  There were also breaks in their rotations where they could learn about: Auger & Pinch Point Safety, Reaction Times, Animal safety, Safety around Grain Bins & trailers, Water Safety, Bicycle Safety, and more.  At the end of the day, members of the local FFA gave a demonstration about the dangers of loaders & PTOs.

The kids got to try some of the gear used by electric linemen.  They were also given a demonstration showing various electrical dangers around your home/farm.

This young lady put on the fire gear.  Kids were also shown some of the tools of the firemen's trade by getting a tour of a fire truck.

Two 2 liter bottles of pop (soda) were placed under the loader.  The loader was slowly lowered and the bottles blew up. 

Here is the aftermath, an excellant visual of the dangers of being around the loader.  During the tour, the FFA volunteers showed the students pinch points on the tractor and baler and educated them about the dangers on and around farm machinery.

I was introduced to Sven.  He was the "Demo Dummy" for the PTO demonstration.  Sven is the one in the middle!!  This was a safety suit filled with shredded paper.

Sven was tied (standing up) to the PTO shaft to represent what could happen if a person gets their clothes caught.  Here is just the first couple of rotations after the PTO was put in gear.

This is Sven during the demo.  He sure goes all out to educate the students, doesn't he?

This is Sven all wrapped around the PTO shaft.  Notice they had taken the guards off of the baler and tractor.  This helped to emphasis the importantance of them. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

A few other animals on the Ranch

We have had such awesome weather here in north central NoDak.  Our average high temp this time of year is around 36*F and we have been in the mid-70's!!  Around midnight we had a thunder storm!  In March, in NoDak?  Yes!!  Then when I checked cows around 3:30 AM, the stars were out bright and the temp was 50.  It is so nice to have all of this great weather.

We had a set of twins born a few days ago.  We brought them up to the barn so we could make sure they were both eating and doing okay - and they are.  One was a bit weak, so part way home the men loaded her up in the little pickup and I gave her a ride to the barn. 

This calf is a Charolais cross.  In this case, the mother is a black white-face cow (Hereford/Angus cross).  She was bred by a Charolais bull.  We will sell this calf in mid-January.  She will make awesome steaks for someone!

Meet Mavis.

Our son and his girlfriend own this mule.  She hangs out with their horses.  Mavis likes to be petted and will follow us around when possible.  She is supposedly saddle broke, but so far no one here has dared to find out!!  I was hoping she would be in the pasture with the cows and new calves.  They say mules will help keep the coyotes away and we have way too many coyotes around here.  Coyotes will kill & eat a young calf so they are a concern.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fridays Fences ~ Photo Meme

A man & his dog(s)

This is my first entry in Fridays Fences.  We had been working cattle on this sunshiny day.  Mark had to take the time to pet Lori.  She stood up on the fence to get closer!  She just LOVES attention.  Hiding in between Mark & Lori is Pandora. 

We have been having abnormally warm temps here in north central NoDak and dealing with muck in the corrals - but we are grateful it is not knee-deep like so many years!!

Linking to:  Fridays Fences ~ # 25

Friday, March 16, 2012

What we do after a calf is born - - Part 2

Besides recording the birth in our calving book, we need to take identify the calf.
(You are welcome to click on any photo to see it larger and with better detail.)

First we have to catch the calf.  One person holds the calf and another person does all of the identification work on the animal.

Each purebred calf gets a tattoo in each year.  First Mark applies green liquid tattoo ink to the inside of each ear. See Mom sticking her nose into our business?  Lucky for us this cow was nice.  Sometimes they are crabby and mean to the humans.

One ear gets 'RH' and the other ear gets a number.  The tattoo number matches the number the animal will have in adulthood.  We also tattoo each female (heifer) calf that we might keep to join our herd. 

After he had given the tattoo, he applies a second coat of the tattoo ink.

Every calf gets an ear tag. On this tag is a letter (for the year 2012 the letter is 'Z') and number (# of cow/mom) and sometimes the name of the bull (dad).  We use different color ear tags to represent different owners.  (Sorry it is sideways, I don't know why it loaded this way.)

We also give two vaccination shots at birth. 

If it is a bull calf but we don't intend to sell him that way, we castrate him.  We do this with a rubber castration band.  The steer (castrated bull) will gain weight better than a bull. 

When we are done Mom gets to make sure her baby is just fine.

What we do after a calf is born -- Part One

We are calving again. We have a calving book to record all of our data. In the book, I enter the ear tag number of each cow (mom), calf and the name of the bull (daddy). Also in the this book is the date of birth and gender & color of the calf.  I enter all of this information into computer software (CHAPS).  All data on our herd is recorded with the head office of CHAPS in Dickinson, ND.  They do a number of calculations for each producer and send us a nice printed book with all of our records on each animal for the year.   The birth and weight information is summited to American Hereford Association if the calf is a purebred.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Night Checks

I just have to write about my night checks.  This year we have been blessed with AWESOME weather here in north central NoDak.  After the past three tough winters, we think we deserve this!!  The average high temperature in March here is about 35* F.  This week that is about the overnight low. 

When we are calving we like to check on the cows about every 4 hours.  Sometimes it is more if we see something calving or looking like she might be.  During the evening, night and early morning hours we have assigned times by assigned people.  My check is around 3:30 AM.  I  just got in from checking.  Nothing was calving but it takes a few minutes to unwind so I thought I'd share about this experience.  

Tonight, when I was walking around the heifer pen (those about to have their first calf), I thought, "I sure am lucky.  Few others have this opportunity - nor would they want it!"  There is no wind, the temp is right around freezing, and there are a zillion stars in the sky.   Ahhh, peace & quiet.  Oh, and there is the sound of a few cows crunching on some hay, geese flying over and a yearling bull wondering why someone is walking around with a bright light in the middle of the night.  (Plus the sound of an overweight gal mucking her way up the hill!!)  My favorite thing on this shift is to lean against a big ol' post, listening to the babbling brook that goes through our cattle yard and look at the stars - or, if I'm really lucky, the northern lights.  This spring the brook only babbled for a couple days.  Now the snow is gone, so the water quit running.   Yes, many people think I am crazy because I don't mind this shift but tonight, and others like this, make it all worthwhile.

Now if I would have posted a report about night checks last winter it would have been a whole different story.  Moving around in 3 foot of snow is not easy for anyone, although the calf sled pulls better on snow than mud.  But even with all that snow, a nice quiet night like this, with no wind and fairly comfortable temperatures, it is wonderful to be a rancher.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cattle Record keeping

Today was quite busy here at the ranch.  The guys brought the yearling heifers and bulls home from the feedlot.  After dinner, the ultrasound man (UM) came.  We had our registered Hereford heifers (about 50 head) and our 9 sale bulls (yearlings) all scanned.  My guys & one hired guy (with UM) got each calf into the squeeze chute.  UM gently squeezed the animal snug so he could clip an area of hair (about a 10 X 10 inch area just off of the spine & front shoulder area).  He clips the hair so he gets a better image/reading.  It was my job to help get data entered into UM's computer.  This was the identification of each animal and the scanned images that UM took.  He has a special curved tube-like instrument that scans a small area of the animal.  This image is then saved to his computer.   Why do we scan?  The images are read by professionals to give us data about back fat and ribeye area.  As ranchers, we use this information to help learn how well muscled each animal is - which is what tells us about the quality of meat produced.  The images look very much like the ultrasound images pregnant women get.

After all of this, UM & his hired guy left.  My crew brought each of the heifers through the working facility in our barn so we could weigh each one.  We do this as part of the Hereford registration program.  The more data we share with the American Hereford Association (AHA) the better.  It all helps when we want to sell registered animals. 

Tomorrow we will run all of the sale bulls through to weigh them and to get scrotal measurements.  This too will be sent to AHA.   We submit birth weights, weaning weights (when weaned from the cow), and yearling weights (at about one year of age) to AHA.  Doing all of this is important in herd management even if you don't raise registerd cattle. 

Sorry I don't have any photos of this.  I had the camera with me but no time (or coordination) to take any pictures.  I guess I need to learn how to multi-task better!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beautiful days, but no time for camera

We have had unusally warm temps here in north central NoDak the last few days and predicted for the rest of the week.  Our average temp this time of year is around 34 degrees F.  The temps are in the 60's!!  Needless to say, we are enjoying it.  I have taken the camera out for the last couple of days but have only taken one photo.  I get outside and end up helping with the cattle!   It is really hard to run with the big DSLR and long lens wrapped around the neck!!

On Saturday another bunch of calves came to join the feedlot.  So, Mark & the owner of the steers worked those calves.  Brett & I visited with a couple of prospective bull buyers and then did chores.  The cows found a new spot to get out of their field and thought they would enjoy some of the goodies we give to the animals in the feedlot.  So, B. & I had to straighten that mess out.  We didn't get fence fixed as it got dark before all of the extra chores were finished.   So, Sunday morning the cows were back at the feedlot.  We ended up missing church because of it.  Guys fixed fence and got the cows locked into the pasture now.  (It was time as they will start calving any day.)  I spent time visiting my mother-in-law.  She lives on the same farm with a grove of sky high evergreens between us.  She been feeling tough thanks to Rheumatoid Arthritis.  (Hopefully the doctor and drugs will get her better soon.)

Anyway, I had hoped to post a photo with each entry so here is the only photo I have gotten in the past few days.   This just happens to be of some of the afore mentioned evergreens.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Black & White theme

My Facebook Fotos by Friends group has the theme of "Black & White" this week.  So I will share the photos here too!  When I selected the theme, I stated that it did not have to be traditional b&w as I realize not all of our FbF might be able to take b&w or edit it.  I said the main subject should be black & white.   Having told you this, here are a couple of my entries:

Meet Sammie...
Sammie is Paige's Austrailian Shepherd.  She's mostly black & white / grey so I thought she fit the FbF theme this week.

Here is a traditional black & white shot:

A wooden grain bin here on the place.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ever had one of those days?

I don't mind preparing meals if I have an idea of what to make and all of the ingredients.  But I hate it when even my "Quick Dinner Idea" box is out of ideas!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Winter scenes of the ranch

NoDak Herefords - headquarters

Looking toward the yard.  You can see the barn, our shop and some grain bins.  Also, one of the hay bale locations (to the left).  There are some of our cattle in the corrals too.  You can see two of my guys doing chores too - one opening gates and one driving the tractor.  Oops, it looks like a couple of cows are out in the hay too.  Dang!  I took this today while it was snowing and blowing.

This would be some of our cattle.  We roll out the large bale of hay (actually a few of them) and the cattle just "dig in"!  Here you see that we have more than just Hereford cattle (which are red & white).  We also have black and black/white face  (Angus cross).   These are the moms-to-be.  The black cattle are bred Charolais (white cattle).  Their calves will be whitish.  The Herefords are either bred Hereford or Angus.  If they are bred Angus it is likely they will have a black/white face calf.  This was also taken today.   The white blob you see is a snow flake!

If you click on either of these photos you will be able to see it in a larger size.

Farmchicks Farm Photo Friday

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Church Apple

I was waiting at the church last evening while two of my guys had choir practice.  There was a ceramic fruit book end on the bookcase nearby.  I looked up from my Sudoku puzzle book and noticed that the cross window was reflecting on the apple.  All I had was my phone.  The photo might not be quality, but I captured what I wanted!  We often see photos of apples with light reflection (like the one closer to the leaf here) but the cross reflection was striking to me. 

Ranch report:  Calving has slowed down for the time being.  We have only had one calf in the last 2 days.   It was born on my shift overnight.   I am sure I would have missed her as she laid in the straw so comfy looking.  Lucky for me Rufus (one of our dogs) scooted past her and she stood up.  Oops, there was a water bubble.  So, I let her be for about 1/2 an hour, then back out to check.  She was cleaning her BIG calf.  Brett helped me get the pair into the barn out of the weather.  We have a big sled that is designed to hold the calf (it is a larger, tougher version of a kid one).  We load the calf into the sled and pull it (just like you would for  your kids) to the barn.  Hopefully the mom will follow without a problem.  That is not always the case, but it was this time! 

It looks like the cattle that were A.I.ed (artificially inseminated) are almost done.  It will be a week or two and the rest of the herd (naturally bred) will start.  We will have about 250 calves when calving is done.