Occasionally, I get to stand in for my dad and play cowgirl on the family ranch. I love being outside, tending to the critters. When you are doing something, you usually can show something for it. Here are a few highlights from the last seven days. It demonstrates how extreme the weather cycle can be here in North Texas. 79 degrees down to 18 then back to 68, a dusting of snow, a light rain and one blustery day with winds gusting upwards to 40mph.
A week ago it was a very cold night on top of a light dusting of snow. The bitter cold nipped back even the hardiest of the winter vegetables.
A few days later it was sunny and 60 degrees. This is a funny picture of the cows at chow time.
A new baby in the pasture. It’s always so sweet to see a new calf, especially a pretty and healthy one like this. My boy named her Marney (like Barney but with an “M,” he says.)
Yesterday we got a little over an inch of desperately-needed rain. As soon as the rain stopped, the chickies went looking for waterlogged worms.
A week ago (Feb. 21, 2013) Jdubs and I were out feeding the cattle. As we were looking for our last herd, we came upon a momma cow that had just given birth to her calf. She hadn’t even delivered the placenta yet.
We approached the pair, very carefully, because you never really know how a new momma will react, even if you “know” the animal. Momma cow was looking a little nervous but settled quickly. We sat close to the calf and watched him for a few moments. Then on occasion the Almighty lets us see a little miracle… This newborn calf stood up and took his first steps and we got to witness it.
A few minutes later he stumbled over to his momma and took his first suckle of colostrum. It was a precious moment and one that was worth a thousand hours in a classroom. These are the things that can’t be taught. They have to be experienced, witnessed.
We couldn’t stay long because the rest of the herd began to show up, which made momma cow really anxious. And she was hungry too. Momma cow and the rest of the herd haven’t had much grass to eat– we’re at the tail end of winter, just as the spring grasses begin to grow, not to mention the long-standing drought. Our cattle really look forward to and rely on the high-protein cubes we feed daily.
We led and fed the herd a short distance from the pair. When we circled back around to count heads, momma cow and calf had rejoined the herd.
We departed the pasture double-time, no need to freak out the newborn calf, that can’t see with the loud feed truck and noisy, bawling herd.
At the gate, I asked Jdubs if he had thought of a name for the calf. He very nonchalantly said, “his name should be Sombrero Potato.” I asked where that came from. He said, “the name comes from Mexico, mom. And he has a Mexican name.” And thus, we have Sombrero Potato. (I declined to point out that the Spanish word for potato is “papas.”)
My parents were out of town for a few days at a conference, so we had to take care of “the critters.” Today we woke up to snow and hit the high temperature for the day before noon. It was a wet snow that mostly melted by the afternoon, perfect for snowball fights and snowman building. The ground was too warm for it to stick, but it should be interesting tomorrow.
My husband went this morning to check on things and feed. I took the afternoon shift.
On my way out to the ranch I saw this pretty oak tree. (this was a southern-facing tree, so no snow).
When I drove up, two of the four horses greeted me. The sun was going down, the wind was blowing and it was starting to get really cold.
They had to get a closer look …
Before anything can happen, I had to change my boots. Pretty, fashion boots to working-hard-rubber boots.
My husband said he ran out of feed after the morning rounds. Before I went to the ranch I stopped and got a couple bags of feed (this was when Kelly, at the feed story, passed on friendly advice to change boots. check.). Once I opened the saddle house (aka the tack room) to get the cat food, I found, hmmm curiously, three more bags of feed.
The barn cats are almost feral. Most can be persuaded into a little petting, but a few are very skittish around people except for my dad. He can woo almost any animal into trusting him.
Although this fluffy Tom cat crawled on top of the saddle house and stared down at me.
The weaning calves were looking for a bite to eat too. They saw me and starting coming briskly to the barn. I gave them an extra dab since the cold was coming on. With an expected low in the lower 20s, a few extra cubes couldn’t hurt.
This corriente calf looks out of place among the black baldy/Angus calves. We’re currently eating a corriente hybrid out of our freezer—good eats!
Then I went in the house to feed the indoor cats, only to find that they opted out of the litter box 😦