Hey y'all! Another Typical Day on the Ranch post!
Yesterday afternoon my brothers and I were charged with a task: To run all the cows through the chute, get hair samples, put patches on them, and give them their dose of bug medicine.
No problemo. The cows are really quite gentle and work fairly easily. So when Dad gave us this task Sunday night, we were ready to go. The plan was to get up early and get started right away to get it done. We had two set of corrals that we were working cows: headquarters and 'up top' corrals. Thankfully, the guys had gathered all the cows that night, so we didn't need to worry about that in the morning (that seems to be the hardest part sometimes). Deciding we would work the house first, then come in for lunch, and head up top, we went to bed, figuring we'd want a good rest before the next day.
The day started out slightly later than we had hoped (as one of us, ahem, wasn't able to get to sleep until about 2am)... However, we decided we wouldn't let that stop us. Dad had headed into work already, and mom was getting ready to leave for her day in town to do some things. Josh fixed us egg burritos while I went over the plans again to make sure everything looked right. So far so good. I was rather excited about getting the hair samples. =)
As we were about to head out, a friend who leases some pasture with us came by to pick up some of his cows. So Josh and Mr. S went up top to get his cows while Caleb and I prepped everything for working the cows at headquarters. After making several runs back the house then out to the corrals, we finally had everything (not that there was a whole lot but we just kept forgetting things...) Josh got back right as we were about to start. Glad to see our third cowpoke, we met him half way to see how his morning had gone so far. He brought us bad tidings. The cows had either knocked open a gate, or one of them didn't closed properly and they were now scattered in two pastures.
Pause for great big sigh.
We decided the boys would go ahead and go regather the cows before the spread out much further and I would wait down at the house. They left and I decided that, instead of wasting time, I'd go start working the cows on my own. There wasn't a whole lot to do per cow, so I figured it would be fairly easy. Slow, but easy. I headed out, intent on my mission and getting at least a couple handfuls of cows done before the boys got back.
When I got out to the corral, I realized that the cows needed to be pushed from a holding pen into the alley so I could push them into the chute. May not seem like a big deal, but when you're trying to push a bunch of bovine, you need at least two people else they just run past you in all directions. I attempted to push them from behind, but that ended rather quickly when I realized I was fighting a losing battle. So, racking my brain for ideas, I finally came up with a brilliant idea that, amazingly, worked quite well. I then began the process of gathering them into the chute (much easier now that I was in a narrower alley!).
I had done three cows by the time the boys got back. Not quite the handfuls I wanted, but hey, it was a start. Once they got there, we all jumped in and got to the task at hand. Josh dosed them, Caleb put on patches, and I collected hair samples.
I will go into a bit of detail on how we did the samples.. It was really cool. I simply had to grab their tail, take a section of the longer hair at the tip, and pull upwards, against the 'grain' of the hair. This pulled the hair, roots and all, out in neat form. I then placed the roots in a clear sticky pad. These will be sent into a lab for testing so that we make sure the cows don't have any illnesses or some other genetic defect that will affect their calves.
As we were working cows, we enjoyed joking around with each other, laughing about 'inside jokes' (none of which needed explaining because we were all on the 'inside'), and liking how smoothly things were going... Guess we thought that too soon. Before we knew it, a heifer had decided she didn't want to go forward and had succeeded in turning herself completely around inside the little alley leading up to the chute. Lovely. Thankfully, though, we didn't need her to go head first, since none of the things we were doing required her head to be caught. However, it's always a little scary when they are in the process of turning around as they can get stuck... Not to mention that you simple stand there looking at her helplessly, knowing you can't do anything to stop her. Getting near only makes her more frantic. So we backed off, silently praying she wouldn't get stuck. She didn't and must have had an interesting time going through the line backward.
Another cow later on almost broke her leg in an escape attempt by trying to jump up and out of the chute. Brilliant idea, cow. What was I saying about our cows being quite gentle? ;-)
Other than those little incidents here and there, everything really did go smoothly. A couple times, when reaching to get the tail for samples, my hand met with 'wet stuff'... *sigh*. All I could imagine was Adrian Monk doing that... (if you've ever seen "Monk", you know what I'm talking about).
But then, I suppose that's why I live on a ranch. It didn't bother me too much (or maybe it's because of living on a ranch that it doesn't bother me... hmm...) You just have to keep going. No stopping to 'get it off! get it off!'... =) Yup, bonafide country right thar. =) Anyway, back to my story...
So, we finished the cows at the house and went inside for lunch at about 2:30. Finished eating and checking a few things for mom, then got ready to head back out. We took all our gear with us, drove up to the top corrals (takes about 5-10 mins to get up there). As we went to gather the cows, poor Caleb walked right into a metal pole/bar that is sticking out horizontal to the ground. It is part of a fence, but we haven't finished building that fence yet, so it sticks out... he's not the only one that has done that. Poor guy. He really hit it hard. After he recovered a bit, though, we joked about him 'walking into a bar' and tried to put on shocked faces... Yeah, that helped a little. He's such a trooper, though, and got right back to work.
We had done about 5 cows when Josh realized he was out of the meds he was giving the cows and had forgotten to grab the new container from the barn. So, we paused operation and headed back down. Worked out fairly well, actually, as the boys wanted to grab some protein bars from the house (don't know why they were hungry, though. It's not as if they were working really hard....). =)
On our way up, I had taken off my jacket, as it was getting a little warm. When I hopped out, I guess I knocked over my water cup and later, then it got a little windy and I needed my jacket, I realized it was soaked and wouldn't do a whole lot of good for keeping me warm. =P So my new routine of getting hair samples went from 'get them and stand in the open while I'm putting them in their sticker' to 'get the hair as fast as you can, rush back and hop in the truck to stay warm while you now put the hair in the sticker'. =)
During all this, we did have a couple times that some cows got out and we had to chase them around the pasture a bit... or sometimes we'd actually analyze the situation to see how we could outsmart the cows to get them back in. Usually that worked better.. lol!
And so, after a day that we had hoped would be a morning/part of the afternoon project, we finally got home at 8pm. However, dad was really sweet and went and got us Taco Bell so we didn't have to cook anything. =)
So that, my friends, is just another typical day on the ranch. Do your days look similar to this? (I've found most people's do, whether they live on a ranch or not).=D
Your Ranching Friend Out in the Middle of Nowhere
P.S. Keep an eye out! I'm planning on doing a blog post of our recent trip to Montana (pics included!)