Tag Archives: vaccination

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

They Say It’s Your Birthday

It’s my birthday. But on the Ranch, birthdays are just another day. The cows don’t stop eating, the water doesn’t change itself and the bulls need to be turned out.

It’s ok, because the older I get, I find myself caring less and less about the dreaded annual event (except the cake part, I like that part).  Anyway, when my Dad asked if I could work cattle on my birthday, I was actually kind of excited about it. I figured, ‘hey, maybe I’ll get another promotion or something! It’s my birthday!’

The day started out early. I was supposed to spend the night on the summer ranch last night, but I managed to be so busy during that day, by the time I was done with all my chores it was going to be dark when I finally arrived in the mountains. And since I am the only child, my Parents tend to mitigate any extra risk they can, driving up the curvy, mountain highway in the dark is considered risky and frowned upon, hence I got to wake up in my own bed on my birthday!!!!

The cattle moved beautifully.

The cattle moved beautifully.

This ended up being a great thing because Daniel was able to come with me this morning. After I trotted over to the big house to wake my Mom and and get my cowdogs (I also got awesome presents! I love presents!!), Daniel brought me a Starbucks. All the way from town. It was glorious. I had Mom presents (plus my Mom is super crafty, so part of it was homemade with love and thought), and Starbucks, I cried. I swear, I cried tears of joy.

My birthday present to myself was this blue, under armour hoodie (I LOVE IT. IT IS THE BEST HOODIE EVER).

My birthday present to myself was this blue, under armour hoodie (I LOVE IT. IT IS THE BEST HOODIE EVER).

Daniel and I woke up before dawn (he had to wake up earlier to get coffee and drive out to the Ranch), drove a hour and half (with Starbucks!), and went to work. Did I mention it was freezing up there? It’s amazing how different the climate in California can be.

Early morning board meeting with my Dad. I just love our conference room.

Early morning board meeting with my Dad. I just love our conference room.

This was the first time poor Daniel had ever worked cattle with my Dad and I. I think it was the first time he ever worked cattle. Oh, did I mention he is a recent law school graduate? And just took the bar? I think this proves my theory that the stress of law school will prepare you for anything. He was a natural.

Even MY dog Hoot followed Daniel.

Even MY dog Hoot followed Daniel.

We have a  wonderful corral that Dr. Temple Grandin influenced heavily. It’s so much easier to work with the cattle now, and we need 3 people (sometimes 2!) instead of a big crew, thus lessening cattle stress even more. However, I made a mistake. Since the paradigm shifted and Daniel was now the one important not to get hurt (he is house counsel, can’t break him!), I got demoted from my normal job. Demoted on my birthday. Sigh.

I was the "pusher inner" today. The one that gets behind the calves to push them into the chute. These "babies" have me out-weighed by a hundred plus pounds. They handed my ass to my today.

I was the “pusher inner” today. The one that gets behind the calves to push them into the chute. These “babies” have me out-weighed by a hundred plus pounds. They handed my ass to me today. (This was my view today)

The job thief being thiefy.

The job thief being thiefy. (Also notice the skinny jeans? Wrangler will be releasing that line soon, I just know it).

We finished up with no cow, dog or person getting hurt.  Then in the best birthday move ever – my Parents gave me a couple cows to sell.

Yellow slips, we fill these out anytime an animal leaves the ranch. When a cow is sold, the person's name on the bottom right gets the check! My name went there today, yay!

Yellow slips, we fill these out anytime an animal leaves the ranch. When a cow is sold, the person’s name on the bottom right gets the check! My name went there today, yay! Happy birthday indeed! I’ll invest this back into the Ranch in the form of heritage piglets! Pork!

After working all day, and working hard! I would post pictures of my bruises, but trust me, you don’t wanna see that. We drove the hour and a half home to the Valley and Daniel took me to my favorite Mexican restaurant for a margarita and dinner. I got so much love on my social media.  It was a good day. Thanks friends (also I am exhausted and feel old, lol).

Food of the Gods.

Food of the Gods.

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