Tag Archives: KACF

Introducing Boo the Cowdog

Working dogs are essential to our way of life. Unfortunately, we lost one of our girls this winter and another needs to be retired soon. It’s not easy for us or the dog when it’s time for them to slow down or retire. The dog’s live to work, their greatest joy is just going. We usually end up spending more time with our dogs than we do any other person or animal. Our dogs are more than pets, they are our coworkers, our protectors, our companions and a part of our family.

The day I brought her home. Deceptively innocent looking, isn't she?

The day I brought her home. Deceptively innocent looking, isn’t she?

We often joke that a good cowdog is worth two good cowboys or one cowgirl!

By the third day she was home, she was already throwing parties in my house.

By the third day she was home, she was already throwing parties in my house.

We’ve known it was time for another pup for a while. I’ve been looking for the perfect pup to replace my Dad’s soon to be retired dog, Ranchie, for about a year. I paraded adorable puppy picture after puppy picture in front of my Dad, hoping he would be interested in one. My Aunt even brought one of her red queensland pups over around Christmastime, but to no avail. My Dad had a specific pup in mind, and after a year I finally found her.

She quickly won us over with her inquisitive nature.

She quickly won us over with her inquisitive nature and puppy breath.

 

Seriously though, those kelpie ears!

Seriously though, those kelpie ears!

My friend, Mindi, has a dog named Lady, that looks an awful lot like my Dad’s dog, Ranchie. I asked Mindi if she knew of anyone that had some good working pups, that looked like Lady, looking for homes. As fate would have it she did, and I immediately sent an e-mail inquiring about female pups. Mindi’s neighbor, June, e-mailed me right back. Turned out she had one female kelpie pup left. Fate. She sent me a picture of the pup. I walked over to my Dad’s house and flashed him the picture of the cutest little kelpie pup, I’d ever seen. Dad agreed. I found his new dog.

Her first day seeing cows. She did so good!

Her first day seeing cows. She did so good!

After her first day of following me working on the ranch. Tired pup!

After her first day of following me working on the ranch. Tired pup!

A few weeks after that I was able to pick the pup up for my Dad. It had been decided that I would care for and socialize the pup until she was old enough to start working. We generally start working dogs at a year. That means I am looking at a good six months of puppy sitting full time and another six of part time puppy sitting, only to turn her over to my Dad.

She already figured out that bottle calves equal treats!

She already figured out that bottle calves equal treats!

Aunt Jinx taught her to swim in the ditches.

Aunt Jinx taught her to swim in the ditches.

Grandma Ranchie and Bud are teaching her to swim in supplement containers.

Grandma Ranchie and uncle Bud are teaching her to swim in supplement containers.

The great thing is, I work with my Dad so I’ll still see her and work with her everyday! But usually after a few months of working full time with my Dad a dog’s allegiance changes. You see these cowdogs are bred and born work, and they love and respect whoever the work with the most, in this case it will be my Dad.

She's wasn't so sure about Dad, she really wanted to be back in MY lap.

She’s wasn’t so sure about Dad, she really wanted to be back in MY lap.

I’ve had this dog for a little over a month now, I spend a lot of time with her. I have to say, I am impressed with this dog and am seriously considering not giving her up. The force is strong with this one.

Not even six months old, and she has this ranch dog thing pretty much figured out.

Not even six months old, and she has this ranch dog thing pretty much figured out.

Of course, I’ll give Boo to my Dad when she is ready. I still have a few good years left with my dog, Hoot, and I can tell how excited and proud he already is of Boo. I know how hard it is to watch a dog you love and depend on grow old and retire and am deeply pleased to be able to mitigate that for my Dad a whisper. I know Boo is the beginning of a long line of excellent Brown Ranch cattledogs.

It's been slow, but they are slowly bonding.

It’s been slow, but they are slowly bonding.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, dogs, family, Humor, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday: Summer

20140603-152833.jpg

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Field Trip to Washington D.C. and #NPC14

I leave tomorrow morning for Washington D.C. to be a panelist for this conference. Ecstatic does not begin to describe how I feel. This is such an amazing opportunity for me. I am especially excited that I was invited as a rancher – I feel like our voices are slowly starting to be heard and valued.

 

NPC14

This is be live streaming, so if you’d like to watch me, please go here for more information. If you have a twitter account, please use hash-tag #NPC14 to following along!

Fair warning Dear Readers, I know this conference will inspire and teach me. Be prepared for lots of posts and pictures about it!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, Field Trip, Know a California Farmer, Media, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Payday

How often do you get a paycheck from your job? Once a month? Every two weeks? Once a year?

Dogs, helping with the cattle.

Dogs, helping with the cattle.

For many of us in agriculture it is normal to receive one or two paydays a year. That is it. We must budget those few paydays to last, and with all the unknown variables that are apt to happen in agriculture, that can  be a huge challenge. For us, payday is when we sell this year’s crop of animals or harvest. For farmers and ranchers that specialize in one product, like beef cattle, we work all year for this one day.

Where our cattle live in the winter.

Where our cattle live in the winter.

We sold this year’s calf crop today. As I was sitting at the auction, I realized that not many people outside of beef production, get the chance to experience what I experienced today. I want to show you what a cattle sale looks like.

What an average animal sale looks like.

What an average animal sale looks like.

But first I want to talk about what it took for us to get to this point. This calf crop is the result of almost two years of work. From planning the pregnancies of our Mama cows, to the birth and growth of the calves themselves.

Look at this little cowgirl.

Look at this little cowgirl.

The calves we sold today were almost a year old. My family has spent every day since before their conception with this herd. We selected the bulls we felt would best improve our herd,  we watched as the Mama cow’s bellies grew, we helped them give birth, we spent countless hours watching and protecting them. If you want to know more about the process, please look through the Beef archives to the right of this post.

This is when we de-wormed and vaccinated our babies.

This is when we de-wormed and vaccinated our babies.

When we watch the sale of these calves a whole range of emotions course through us. Part of you wants to grieve for the loss of these animals that you have spent so much time with, becoming attached happens regardless. Part of you feels pleasure, watching these beautiful animals walk around ring. Then you feel thankfulness because you have successfully brought them to market. Often feeling incredibly proud is yet another emotion, the knowledge that I am helping to feed my country is amazing.

This is how we ship our cattle, in huge cattle trucks. The bottom is what they look like inside.

This is how we ship our cattle, in huge cattle trucks. The bottom is what they look like inside.

Needless to the blend of emotions causes a lot of stress, anxiety, but eventually relief and in a good year, joy.

My little cousin was giving me a back rub to help with the stress of selling our cattle today. It was a nice treat.

My little cousin was giving me a back rub to help with the stress of selling our cattle today. It was a nice treat.

Ok, now on to the auction part. If the past we’ve sold our cattle multiple different ways. From video sales in years past to a more traditional way of literally taking them to market.

This is how we sold our cattle today, it is the traditional way of trucking your cattle to market:

This is how we’ve sold our cattle in the past, a video sale:

Each method has it’s pro’s and con’s, but we’ve been very happy with both. Hopefully, this summer I can attend a larger video sale and go more in depth about it for this blog.

Our family is grateful for today to be over. Our emotions have been all over the map and we will talk about nothing else amongst ourselves for the next few days. However, we are thankful that we can continue to do what we love and look forward to many more generations of ranching.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, family, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Video

Wordless Wednesday: Hoot’s View

DSC_0520_01

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: The Master

DSC_0396

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, food, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Welcome to the World Baby Colt

DSC_0228

DSC_0239

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Felfie

20140128-185157.jpg

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, Humor, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Oink

DSC_0563

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Humor, Know a California Farmer, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Beef Steers 2014

My last year of FFA.

My last year of FFA (it says ‘got beef?’ on my steer).

Back when I was a youth and heavily involved with 4-H and FFA, I raised market steers. It was a huge source of pride for me, that I would select, raise and show one of my own family’s steers. Our cattle are bred to be beef, not to win grand champion at cattle shows. Because of that I only won champion once in my whole 4-H and FFA career, HOWEVER I won or placed in the carcass contest (that is when the steer’s carcass is graded and judged) almost every year, and for a cattleperson, that values my final product, that meant tons more than a purple ribbon.

My cattle weren’t always “fluffly” at the fair (that means they didn’t have a lot of hair for me to style), but I was confident whoever purchased my calf was going to get a prime piece of beef that they would remember for years to come. I still have this same level of confidence when it comes to our cattle.

These are the steers leftover from our commercial herd this past August.

These are my steers leftover from our commercial herd this past August – they are a whisper over a year old here.

You remember that I quit my full-time job in town last spring. I am now living the dream on the ranch. Since I don’t have a steady income, my parents have graciously given me some steers to supplement my hog and sheep income. It has been a huge transition for me, to go from a salaried check every two weeks, to a couple of unknown checks a year. Budgeting is hard! These steers will be the majority of my income for the year – they will determine my quality of life, they will pay my bills. Because of this, because I know my current way of life depends on these animals, I want to do the best I can.

This is called a "tote" of grain. It is taller than my Dad.

This is called a “tote” of grain. It is taller than my Dad. I buy in bulk because I am feeding so many animals right now

I want my clients to have an opportunity to purchase “prime” beef. Prime is the grade of beef that you get in fancy, expensive steakhouses. It is delicious. To get prime beef you need to have several things:

  • good genetics
  • good feed
  • age (older calves tend to grade better than younger)
  • happy, healthy cattle (no stress and a great vaccination plan)

Since I have excellent herd genetics, I have access to grain, grass, protein minerals, hay and almond parts, my calves will be coming 24 months, and they are not stressed and are healthy, I know I can grow some great beef. I know it.

Good feed - this is rolled barley/corn, almonds and hulls, meadow hay (that we made), and a mineral block.

Good feed – this is rolled barley/corn, almonds and hulls, meadow hay (that we made), and a mineral block.

This week my Dad and I created a place for me to “finish” these steers. Since they already weigh around 1,150 pounds and are fairly fat, they will not take long to finish out. Basically by giving these steers grain, they will gain faster and the meat will taste less like grass and more like creamy, beefy deliciousness. If I had to guess, I will probably have them slaughtered around 1,400 pounds.

I took a felfie (a farmer 'selfie') while moving the steers into their new pasture.

I took a felfie (a farmer ‘selfie’) while moving the steers into their new pasture.

This is what the steers look like right now - it is going to be a blast watching them gain and finish.

This is what the steers look like right now – it is going to be a blast watching them gain and finish.

The only reason I am able to do grain finished steers this year is because the price of corn is low, so I can actually afford it, and the drought. I have no grass to finish cattle on right now – so I either hauled these guys to the auction yard or I feed them grain, and I have too many people that wanted to buy local beef this year to auction yard them. I’ve been after my Dad for a few years to let me finish some beef with grain, so this is actually exciting for me. The one thing I forgot to plan for was – I don’t get to keep one of these to eat. I am raising some of the best beef of my life and it’s already spoken for. It’s my secret hope that this beef is so beautiful (and it will be), that my Dad decides that I need to do this again next year! Come back soon and I’ll let you know how they finished!

For other local meat options check out:

Douglass Ranch 

Book Family Farm

8 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, food, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized