Tag Archives: Brown Ranch

Wordless Wednesday: 1945 v 2014

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Wordless Wednesday: They Match!

 

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Ag Hag

http://shannonrosan.com/

http://shannonrosan.com/

 

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Giveaway: Beef and Chop’n’Stir

As most of you know, the West is in the middle of a major drought. Until recently there was no rain. The grass was dead, the ranch was brown and withered.
Thankfully, it rained. It rained enough to get the creeks flowing and the green grass growing. In fact, it’s getting ready to rain right now!

The giveaway items! Brown Ranch hamburger and a chop and stir thing.

The giveaway items! Brown Ranch hamburger and a chop and stir thing.

We were so thrilled with the rain and the green grass, my Mom wanted to put some good karma out there and do a giveaway! We recently discovered this wonderful tool, called the chop and stir. It makes hamburger into nice, little, even crumbles. I love my hamburger like that, especially in tacos.

A pound of burger is quickly chopped into little, even crumbles. Yum.

A pound of burger is quickly chopped into little, even crumbles. Yum.

I feel like the meat cooks faster too.

I feel like the meat cooks faster too.

Unfortunately, I can only give the meat to a local person, because I am too afraid to ship. But if you aren’t local, you still get the chop and stir. All you have to do is leave me a comment below and I will use random.org to select a winner next Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.

Good luck!

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Mess-Ups

I thought this would be a nice time to share a “mess-up” we had on the ranch. This particular cow and her calf have been a “mess-up” for the better part of 8 months. It’s important to share that, just like everyone else, we screw up.
Since I quit my full-time, town job last spring my Parents have been generous with giving me cattle to sell. They do this so I have an income, and I appreciate it greatly. Right now I am finishing some steers to sell as beef, and in the past I’ve sold shares in “hamburger cows“. A ‘hamburger cow’ is a healthy cow that for some reason did not get bred and/or have a calf, so she is “open“. Since she is open, she isn’t doing her “job” for us, therefore she us costing us money. Most people don’t realize, but it takes years for a cow to become profitable for a ranch. If enough cattle don’t do their ‘job’ and raise a calf, it could potentially cost a ranch a lot of money. As a cattleperson, it is one of your many jobs to make sure you don’t have many ‘open’ cows.
Most cattlepeople will just “cull” a cow that is open. Depending on the year, it doesn’t make economical sense to keep a cow a whole year when she isn’t producing and she isn’t guaranteed to have a calf the next year. When we have open cows, I like to turn them into a hamburger cows if I can. It breaks my heart to see a big, healthy cow that we’ve had for a couple years go to the sale yard, even if she isn’t doing her job.
Since I have many, many friends that are on the paleo diet right now, they want lean, grass-finished hamburger. Hamburger cows are exactly that – healthy, lean beef that has had nothing but grass and meadow hay to eat her whole life. By turning our cull cows into hamburger cows, everyone wins. My cow gets a quality death at home, my local paleo eaters get wonderful beef, and I get a paycheck.
This brings me to my story…..
Last summer, my Parents gave me a hamburger cow in celebration of me quitting my job. I was excited about it because in my head I was thinking that I would use the money to buy myself a shinny new horse! This particular cow was fat, and she was open, we were sure of it! When we moved the other cows up to the mountains,we cut her back and she lived in a field next to the house for a few weeks, until I called and made THE APPOINTMENT. In the meantime, I’d found a group of people that wanted to buy her for a hamburger share. They were excited about having great burgers to grill all summer and I was already imagining that new horse smell.
Right before I made the appointment, we noticed something one morning. A calf. My open, sold, cull cow had a bull calf! It was a problem on levels! I had to go back and explain to my hamburger cow buyers that I did not, in fact, have a cow for them. Then we had to worry about having a pair on the winter ranch, during the summer – the heat, stickers and predators are deadly. We figured we would need a replacement calf at some point during the summer, and we could use him (a replacement calf is when a cow needs a baby because for whatever reason her calf didn’t survive). Oddly enough this year ended up being the ‘year of twins’, he stayed with his Mom all summer.

It took us all morning to find this little bull calf and get him in.

It took us all morning to find this little bull calf and get him in.

Fast forward to now. This bull calf spent the past 6 months with little to no human interaction, he’s had no vaccinations, no brand, he still is ‘intact’ and he is wild! We felt especially tough last week and decided it was time to get this little bull calf in and in the words of my father “change his mind from @ss to grass” or castrate him. Since it was the year of the twins, we also had a house herd of bottle calves that needed to be vaccinated and branded. Last week was the perfect opportunity to tie up all of out loose ends, and “work” (work means to castrate, brand and vaccinate) these calves.

The bottle calves on their way to the corrals. My Mom refused to help because she got too attached to them.

The bottle calves on their way to the corrals. My Mom refused to help because she got too attached to them.

We were able to work the bottle calves with no problem. They received their vaccinations and were de-wormed. They also got an earmark and a brand so if they got lost or stolen, we could identify them and bring them home. Next up, the Hamburger Cow’s bull calf. Since this calf has had no human interaction, he was scary to be around. If I would have given him the chance, he would have gladly jumped on top of me and done a little dance on my head. Don’t worry, I didn’t give him that chance!
We dislike castrating calves when they are this old. We feel that the earlier it is done, the less stress is causes the calf. Unfortunately, because of the mess-ups we had with this cow and calf, we were left no choice. Luckily, he is a nice, healthy calf and he handled it well and is fine.
There are several ways to work  cattle. Some producers will use horses and rope their calves to work them, and some will use chutes. We feel like using a chute is less stressful for both our animals and us, so that is why we choose to use a chute and a corral systems instead of horses and ropes.
Our calf table catches and squeezes the calves to keep them calm. For the bull calves, we flip the chute/table on it’s side to preform the castration. The chute is built for this exact purpose, and it works well. HOWEVER, since our particular bull calf was a complete and udder mess-up, this didn’t work like it was supposed to. After our calf had been castrated and we tried to flip him back on his feet, but he just kept going. The calf table tipped the wrong way, WITH THE CALF STILL IN IT. I’d never seen that happen before, in all my years on the ranch.

The mess up. The calf table flipped over. The poor calf had to climb out.

The mess-up. The calf table flipped over. The poor calf had to climb out.

After it flipped, it took us a few minutes to get the calf out. But the calf was able to do it on his own, and was fine!

After it flipped, it took us a few minutes to get the calf out. But the calf was able to do it on his own, and was fine!

Thankfully, the calf got out fine. He was let back out into the field with is Mom and has since recovered from his ordeal. I sincerely hope we are done with mess-ups with this pair!

I check on my cow and calf today, and they are happy. Of course the calf wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, lol, poor guy, I can't blame him!

I check on my cow and calf today, and they are happy. Of course the calf wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, lol, poor guy, I can’t blame him!

This has been our epic mess-up. Despite our best plans, sometimes nothing works out the way we planned. In animal agriculture I re-learn that lesson everyday. Animals always make life interesting!

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Wordless Wednesday: Oink

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The Great Drought of 2013

EDIT: January 15, 2014

We’ve had no rain since my original post. We are basically out of hay and grass. We’ve purchased more supplement’s. Today was the first day my Dad mentioned selling some cattle. I want to cry. California Cattlepeople need help. Hay is sky high, if you can find it, the grass is gone and the weather forecast is not good. This is really scary and sad. 

 

2013 was a rough year for many cattlepeople, and we here the Brown Ranch are no different. While our ranch did not have it as bad as the ranchers in South Dakota, we struggled with a pasteurella outbreak in the spring, pink eye over the summer and finally our year is ending with extreme drought, which means, no grass to feed our cattle.

In my lifetime on this ranch, I have never seen it this dry. I have never seen the lack of feed. My Dad says the same. This year will be a make or break year for many cattlepeople, it is incredibly distressing.

In my lifetime on this ranch, I have never seen it this dry. I have never seen the lack of feed. My Dad says the same. This year will be a make or break year for many cattlepeople, it is incredibly distressing.

My family has taught me that in order to be good at what what we do, we need to have a contingency plan for everything that could go wrong. Life in agriculture is never boring, it’s never easy and Lord knows, it is anything but simple. Since my family has had generations and generations to learn this lesson, our ranch will survive.

My Dad, loading the truck. Since we left most of our crop of hay on the Mound Ranch,  we must drive two hours with this truck and trailer, load hay, drive home again, and load that hay into the truck to feed to cattle. Driving to The Mound Ranch is done about every four to five days and feeding the cattle is done every other day, sometimes everyday.

My Dad, loading the truck. Since we left most of our crop of hay on the Mound Ranch, we must drive two hours with this truck and trailer, load hay, drive home again, and load that hay into the truck to fed to the cattle. Driving to The Mound Ranch is done about every four to five days and feeding the cattle is done every other day, sometimes everyday.

Even though we had no idea that this year would be so severe in terms of rain and feed, we planned for it, because we  must. As I explained before, our cattle spend half the year on Table Mountain Ranch and the other half on The Mound Ranch. If you want to know more details about why we do that please read this. When we shipped our cattle to The Mound Ranch this past spring, we made sure to leave lots of grass or “feed” for the cattle to come back to. Again, this “feed” is not guaranteed to even be here when we ship our cattle back in the fall because often, we have fires here in the summer.

The view of our hay field.

The view of our hay field on The Mound Ranch.

In addition to leaving feed on the winter ranch to come back to, another thing we do, as a contingency (what if we have a fire??), is make hay. In a good feed year, we can sell any extra hay for income. In a bad feed year, like this year, we use the hay to supplement our cattle. Since the grass has not grown, our girls must eat the dry grass from last year. But that dry grass can only last so long, and it doesn’t have the same nutrients as fresh, green grass.

The girls know the feed truck and will race us to the feed area. Stampede!

The girls know the feed truck and will race us to the feed area. Stampede!

When we feed someone has to stand in the back of the moving truck, while using a knife to cut twine, and throw flakes off, all while collecting that twine, not falling off and getting licked by cows. It's not easy, and often scary.

When we feed, someone has to stand in the back of the moving truck, on bales of hay, while using a knife to cut twine, and throw flakes off, all while collecting that twine, not falling off and getting licked by cows. It’s not easy, and often scary.

Dad and his cattle. He can tell you about every single cow and calf here, who their Mom is, how he feels about them, their temperament, anything - it's neat.

Dad and his cattle. He can tell you about every single cow and calf here, who their Mom is, how he feels about them, their temperament, anything – it’s neat.

Feeding is truly a family affair. Mom drove so I could take pictures with my new Christmas camera.

Feeding is truly a family affair. Mom drove so I could take pictures with my new Christmas camera.

By supplementing our cattle’s diet with hay, they will continue to be happy and healthy. Our number one goal on this ranch is the health and comfort of our animals. We do not want them to feel any type of stress, by making sure they don’t realize we are having a poor feed year, we prevent a whole list of health problems; from aborted calves to illnesses and death.

Supplements.

Supplements (also look how sad the grass is, kinda makes a girl wanna cry).

Yet another tool we use to ensure the health and happiness of our cattle are supplements. Our cattle always have access to mineral salt, it is necessary for their survival. However, during lean years when there is not new grass growth, they also get a protein supplement. When cattle eat dried out grass, with no new green grass, they must have a protein supplement to maintain their health (in our opinion). I know this is a horrible thing for me to admit to, but, I love these supplements because I up-cycle the blue tubs, they are the perfect size to plant dwarf trees in!!!

Happy, hay-fed, supplement given, grass left for, Brown Ranch cows.

Happy, hay-fed, supplement given, grass left for, Brown Ranch cows.

There are many, many, many, different supplements on the market for cattle. In the past we’ve used Crystalyx, and other local companies. Right now we are using a generic 24% protein supplement, since we are feeding hay as well.

We are really in some serious trouble.

We are really in some serious trouble.

I know those of us in agriculture are famous for never being happy with the weather. It’s always too wet, too dry, too cloudy, too sunny. But this is serious, cattlepeople in the west are facing some very tough times right now. Hay is expensive, if you can find it, extra rangeland is impossible to find, and the weather refuses to compromise. I am afraid for many of my neighbors and friends. Hope for rain my friends.

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Wordless Wednesday: Cows in the Mist

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Wordless Wednesday: Twins! (Aka, I have two bottle babies now!!!)

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Wordless Wednesday: Joline

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