Tag Archives: habitat

Wordless Wednesday: The Eagle and the Indian

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Death on the Range

This is the time of the year where we load up our cattle onto cattle trucks and ship them to our summer ranch. We do this for many reasons, you can go here, to get more information about why.

The trucks loading our cattle.

The trucks loading our cattle.

Needless to say, shipping the cattle and moving all of our tools to the other ranch is a stressful time, even though we do it twice a year. Due to the major drought we are facing in California, this year feels especially scary. It feels like we are being forced by mother nature to do everything sooner. It has not helped with the stress levels that we were experiencing.

However Saturday we finished shipping most of the cows. That means the hardest part was over. Everything had gone well. No animals or people got hurt. No one got yelled at too badly. We got cattle trucks when we wanted them. Only two were cows missing, a good shipping season by anyone’s standards.

Sunday was a day to enjoy some calmness and relax. I had a pretty nice little day planned in order to celebrate being done. I had brunch with my girlfriend. Worked in my garden. Did some writing and I was hoping to catch 60 Minutes, and call it a day.

The hardest place to get to on the ranch. There is a creek with one, very treacherous crossing.

The hardest place to get to on the ranch. There is a creek with one, very treacherous crossing.

I almost had my calm day, I made it to the writing part. Then as it so often does in production agriculture, my personal plans had to change. Since we were missing two cows, I took off on my trusty Polaris to look for them. I successfully found one! But I unfortunately came across a cow that had an accident. She couldn’t get her legs under her, she couldn’t walk – somehow she broke her back (maybe she tripped on a rock, maybe she got in a cow fight, we’ll never know). She happened to do it at the worst possible place on the ranch, there was no way we could reach her to help or to slaughter, it was hard enough reaching her on my ATV. I had no other option but to euthanize her and walk away.

I'm sorry cow.

I’m sorry cow.

It was a hard thing to do. Even if we have a worst case scenario like this, we can usually salvage something so the cow’s death is not a waste. As long as an animal is healthy and we observe any withdrawal times for vaccinations, an animal that had an accident can be slaughtered for our personal consumption. Old cows make great hamburger, hot dogs, snack sticks and jerky and I am always glad to have that stuff in my freezer.

If the animal had recently been given a vaccination, we can donate the carcass to our local animal sanctuary to be used as feed so at least there is some use. To just leave a cow in a field for scavengers is a difficult, difficult thing, just a total waste. In a few months, after the bones are clean, and the coyotes, scavenger birds have had their fill, I’ll go back and pick up the bones so there will be no mess.

This is the bad part about my life. Death happens here and not always in a meaningful way. As a cattlewoman the best thing I can do is be compassionate, ease pain and suffering as quickly and as best as I can and take solace in that. But it never, ever get easier.

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Wordless Wednesday: Moving Cows

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Water Help

In California, cattle ranchers are the redheaded stepchildren of the ag industry. What I mean by that is we rarely get help when things go south. We don’t get subsidies, we don’t have many contracts, and we aren’t guaranteed a minimum for our product, etc, etc. This is ok, because in my experience cattle ranchers tend to be the most paranoid self-reliant out of the bunch, and we survive.

Even when programs are offered that want to help us, a good majority of cattle ranchers won’t accept the help. Seems like every family has a horror story of an uncle, grandpa or friend that “lost the family Ranch” when the “government” got involved. Understandably, this has resulted in super, stubborn and skeptical ranchers.

Well enter 2014, we are in the middle of an epic drought. Cattle ranchers are selling cattle, farmers aren’t planting crops, shit is getting real out here folks. Programs are finally being offered to cattle ranchers that are designed to help us. It’s been an immense relief, and I have no doubt, this has saved many, many ranches (remember these ranches are the same ones that provide us with all this beautiful non-developed land, habitat and wildlife, we are surrounded with in Northern California).

This ranch is no different. This drought has affected us deeply. We now have several fields that have no stock water access. When you don’t have water, you have nothing. If my pigs and cattle don’t have water, just like us, they die. It becomes a huge problem when you have the land, the cattle, the pigs, the bills, the taxes, but no way to sustain them.

The new and the old. My new well and our barn that has been here since Ishi's time.

The new and the old. My new well and our barn that has been here since Ishi’s time.

I made the choice to enroll in a program and get financial help. It was not easy, but for me, it’s a perfect storm of being a “beginning” rancher and the drought. The help was to ensure that I have water so I can continue to do, what I do. Fast forward a few months. I have invested my time and money in a well, solar pump and water tank, so my animals have drinking water.

My new water source. SOLAR, you guys! SOLAR!!!

My new water source. SOLAR, you guys! SOLAR!!!

My Parent’s have graciously allowed me to long term lease one of our pastures that had no water access. I had out-grown my pig pen behind our houses, and the pasture I was using for my beefs was not meant for that and no longer had regular water access. This ‘new’ area I am leasing is where I used to raise my cattle, when I was in 4-H and FFA, but the lack of water has essentially made it useless. By getting this help, I am returning this part of the ranch back into production, benefiting both my family and the wildlife that live here.

Long before this was my 4-H/FFA place, this a part of the history of the Ranch. Just look at the barbed wire left over in my pen. The bottom wire is super old!

Long before this was my 4-H/FFA place, this was a part of the history of the Ranch. Just look at the barbed wire left over in my pen. The bottom wires are super old!

This is not a choice I took lightly. My long term followers have watched me and this blog grow. You’ve been with me from working in town, to Adult 4-H, to me quitting my town job to work full-time on our ranch. And now, to me making a huge step of growing my hog and cattle business.

If Silly was a piglet, she said she'd live here.

My new pig pen. If Silly was a pig, she said she’d live here.

Now that I have accessible water for my domestic animals and our wildlife,  this is my year. This is the year I take initiative and grow my future. Because I now have water, I can use the knowledge I have amassed to better my land, grow my animals, improve our environment and habitat.

It’s going to be a great year.

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Wordless Wednesday: Killdeer Nest

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Wordless Wednesday: Lizard on a Post

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Wordless Wednesday: Breakfast

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Deer Hunting 2013

As most of you know I drew a deer tag this year. It’s been a long time since I have had the urge to hunt, around 6 years. After years and years of having the local dear population gorge themselves on my garden, I’ve had enough. I figured, it’s time they fed me for a change!

For the record hunting isn’t a huge passion of mine. It’s generally early, cold, I have to pee outside and there is no where to wash my hands, a little too much like camping. This year was different, I had a really, really good time. It was cold and stuff, but it was worth it!

I wanted to share some pictures from the few days I spent hunting. When I thought about it, many people in the general population never gets to see this. So, I’m sharing.

Opening day it raining, it was freezing because I did not dress for that, but I powered through and took some neat pictures.

Opening day and it’s raining, I’m freezing because I did not dress for that, but I powered through and took some neat pictures.

My Dad (pictured), loves to hunt. It's his happy place. I started to hunt because it was a way for me to bond with him.

My Dad (pictured), loves to hunt. It’s his happy place. I started to hunt because it was a way for me to bond with him.

Watching dawn break over the hills above Chico was stunning. And cold.

Watching dawn break over the hills above Chico was stunning. And cold.

Clouds over a canyon. panoramic

Clouds over a canyon. panoramic

My Uncle had to sit in between my cousin and I because apparently "we were talking too much".

My Uncle had to sit in between my cousin and I because apparently “we were talking too much”. Also: notice the RAIN?

The first day ended with no luck. Mainly just doe's and a few fawns. Can you see them?

The first day ended with no luck. Mainly just doe’s and a few fawns. Can you see them?

The second day I went was just my Dad and I. My Dad and I haven’t had a Daddy/Daughter hunt in years. I think I can only remember once, actually. So it was a lot of fun, to spend a day together on the ranch. Now this particular ranch I don’t know that well. I didn’t grow up on it, I didn’t spend much time on it because of my Dad’s insane interesting family. Things have calmed down so I now feel safe to be there. The day quickly turned into sight seeing and story telling, as we realized the deer population was just not there. My Dad mentioned several times to “put that in the blog”, referring to some picture or story.

My Dad told me a story about how he missed a week of high school to build this fence (it's in pure rock and very steep). His PE teacher was gonna flunk him - my dad's shop teacher saved his butt. My Dad pointed out to the PE teacher that he was being physical by building this fence. The PE teacher is wasn't just about being physical, it was about "getting along with your fellow man". The shop teacher reminded the PE teacher about my Dad's infamous older brothers. Dad passed.

My Dad told me a story about how he missed a week of high school to build this fence (it’s in pure rock and very steep). His PE teacher was gonna flunk him – my Dad’s shop teacher saved his butt. My Dad pointed out to the PE teacher that he was being physical by building this fence. The PE teacher said it wasn’t just about being physical, it was about “getting along with your fellow man”. The shop teacher reminded the PE teacher about my Dad’s infamous older brothers. Dad passed.

It's like a cairn, but natural! Isn't it neat!?

It’s like a cairn, but natural! Isn’t it neat!?

One of my favorite places on the ranch is here. It's Indian grinding bowls built into the creek bed.

One of my favorite places on the ranch is here. It’s Indian grinding bowls built into the creek bed.

My Dad and Uncle (the one that is featured in this blog) took all of my cousins and I here when we were little. It was a glorious day of my childhood I remember well.

My Dad and Uncle (the one that is featured in this blog) took all of my cousins and I here when we were little. It was a glorious day of my childhood I remember well.

Part of the ranch has these beautiful rock walls built on it. They are impressive. I cannot imagine how hard and heavy it would have been to build.

Part of the ranch has these beautiful rock walls built on it. They are impressive. I cannot imagine how hard and heavy it would have been to build.

This was my favorite part of the rock walls, it's a little tunnel for a creek!

This was my favorite part of the rock walls, it’s a little tunnel for a creek!

Seriously, you guys, look at this!

Seriously, you guys, look at this!

A super neat tree. My Dad happens to mention it would be a great place for bridal pictures. Subtle, Dad, subtle.

A super neat tree. My Dad happened to mention it would be a great place for bridal pictures. Subtle, Dad, subtle.

Again, we saw no legal bucks. Just doe's, see?

Again, we saw no legal bucks. Just doe’s, see?

This is a spring where the Native American's carved  a drinking basin (sorry for the crappy picture).

This is a spring where the Native American’s carved a drinking basin (sorry for the crappy picture).

The Sutter Butte from the ranch.

The Sutter Butte from the ranch.

The other side of the fence is Upper Bidwell Park and directly ahead, the City of Chico.

The other side of the fence is Upper Bidwell Park and directly ahead, the City of Chico.

Finally at 7:00 AM on Saturday morning (the THIRD morning), I spotted a little buck, and by 7:01, I had shot him through the chest. My Dad and Uncle said I almost missed. I say I planned it like that so I wouldn’t waste any meat because I never would have heard the end of it. I maintain that a childhood filled with duck hunter on Nintendo prepared me to be a very, very good shot. Plus part of hunting is stick poking. If you screw up, or miss you hear about it FOR YEARS. I make an effort to screw up as little as possible.

YAY! After years of supplying the local deer population with tomatoes and other fresh veggies, they are supply me with meat! Plus it was a lot of fun to spend time with my family, learn about the ranch and take some neat pictures share.

YAY! After years of supplying the local deer population with tomatoes and other fresh veggies, they are supplying me with meat! Plus it was a lot of fun to spend time with my family, learn about the ranch and take some neat pictures to share.

I’m going to up to cut and wrap by buck tomorrow. I plan on showing that and the field dressing of my buck in the next blog. Stayed tuned and leave me questions if there is anything you want to know. Thank you for looking!

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Wordless Wednesday: A Scorpion and Newt Walk into a Bar

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Wordless Wednesday: Birds!

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