Get along little dogies

Actually, the term “get along little dogies” originally meant sick or orphaned calves.  Ours are neither.  And, anyway, the term has morphed to include calves regardless of their health or parental status.  (Amazing the things you can learn by watching way too much television and having a minor Google search addiction, eh?)

Now, where was I…

It’s time for the calves to be vaccinated, tagged and branded and that means all hands on deck to move the little dogies to a corner of the pasture to be worked.  Our ranching neighbors pitch in and family–cowboys and cowgirls alike–from all around show up to help get the work done.  It’s an incredible sight–a well-oiled machine–to take in.  Here are a few photos from our last branding of the year:


Love is in the…

The other day, love was in the barbed wire fence leading to the calves who were weaned just this fall.

MFR heart barbed wire fence

Finding the love and beauty that surrounds us, isn’t that what life is about?  There are barbs along the way but mostly it’s threads that are intertwined to create strong ties and lasting relationships.

I hope you enjoy it today and everyday!  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Bottle calves

Last summer my little cowgirl took on her first herd–a handful of bottle calves.  They were orphans or sickly little things when they came to the corral at the house. girl and calf The little cowgirl spent hours with the calves and named all of them after gemstones–Sapphire, Onyx, Ruby, Pearl, Agate.

bottle calves

Eventually most ended up with nicknames–Sapphy, Big Boy (Onyx was the biggest in the group and never took to a bottle),  Pitiful Pearl (she was blind and had a tongue that didn’t work properly), Aggie.

The little cowgirl fed them morning and night and spent the hours between gentling them to the point they would come running at the slightest sound of the gate squeaking open.

MFR sapph bottle

She participated in 4H this year as a Clover Bud which meant she couldn’t officially show an animal at the fair but she could participate in the bucket calf show, an event for Clover Buds who are learning the livestock show ropes.  Sapphire turned out to be her guy!

MFR sapph at fair

Everyone is a winner in the bucket calf show.  And, while cute may not win the steer show in a couple years, he won with me this year–a perfect gentleman in the show ring!

Over the summer, the calves grew, were allowed out in the pasture at the house.  They learned to follow their two-legged leader back to the corral for dinner with little more than a call of, “Sapphy, Saaaaapphy, Saaaaapphyyyyyyyyy.”

MFR herd in pasture

By late fall, the herd was big enough and healthy enough to go to their winter pasture.  The little cowgirl shed a few tears for her babies.  But, she goes for a visit, just a couple pastures over, as often as she can.  They still come to her call, eat out of her hand and expect their usual scratches between the  ears. But, now they are taller and stronger.  The hard part is going to be explaining the day when her first herd is loaded on the truck.  She may be taller and stronger, too, but this is going to be an emotional one.

MFR sapph grown up

Snow kidding!

It’s been a while since we’ve had any moisture. For months we’ve been hoping for a good rain, any sign of moisture.  But, nada, zip, zilch.  Just dust, dust and more dust.

Cowboy and dust

The old timers are saying they’ve seen it this dry in places over the years but never quite so dry over the entire region.  For the last 48 hours everyone has been talking about the snow forecast.  It’s here.

Snow in the yard

It’s not very wet snow and it only fell for a few hours leaving just a couple inches. But, we’ll take it.  And, the horses are enjoying it, too!

Horses in the snow

Snow kidding, the forecast was finally correct!

Cowboy Fashionista

Much like the rule about white shoes, Cowboys around here have a rule about straw hats:  Straw hats between Memorial Day and Labor Day only.

This is Cody in his work wear the week before Memorial Day.

My understanding is that this is mostly true in Cowboy Culture, or should I say Cowboy Couture. When it comes to his hat, my cowboy is fashion conscious, even if it means toughing out a few hot days in late May until Memorial Day arrives.

This is Cody in his work wear on Memorial Day.

Now, when I met him in 1995, he was mixing and matching black shoes and a brown belt… it was nearly a deal breaker for my fashion taste.  But, I was able to overlook the belt and shoe problem since this view was so much better.

Tiny calf

Last week, I introduced you to Andre the Giant, the biggest calf on the ranch.  This week, meet Tiny, the smallest calf on the ranch.

Tiny is so cute and super sweet.  Luckily, she has a momma who loves her (and a cowboy, too, by the looks of it!). But, momma is a first calf heifer who doesn’t seem to be producing quite enough milk, even for this little one.  In that case, we are keeping her close by to supplement feedings.

She is happy for the extra meals.  Although, she’d rather have the real deal from her momma.  Who can blame her?  Mother’s milk is called “liquid gold” for a reason.

Andre the Giant

Meet Andre the Giant!  He was born on Tuesday night to Cow #5187 and weighs over 100 lbs.

His momma ran away for a day after giving birth so we loaded him up and took him home for a bottle.

Momma was located and they are now back together.  Both are adjusting well.

Sheesh, I’m pretty sure I would’ve run away for a while after trying to give birth to a baby this big, too!

More time for more work

In the age of technology, ranching has become more efficient.  There are still things that are done the traditional way but with cell phones, trucks and trailers things can be done a bit faster and with more communication.

This week, the guys moved a set of yearlings about 13 mountainous miles to their summer pasture.  They drove them horseback, begining at first light.  This photo is not from this particular drive but the beauty of the early morning was quite like this:

 Fifty years ago, the guys would’ve driven the yearlings, then they would’ve made the ride back home.  They probably would’ve packed a sandwich and hopefully would’ve made it home by late-afternoon, assuming everything went as planned.

These days, we can meet the guys with a truck and trailer at the end point.  They are home in time for lunch, the horses are spared the trip home on foot and one more project (or two or five or more) can be completed before dark.

Spring greening

At 6800 feet above sea level, spring comes a little later here than other parts of the state–as a rule, we don’t plant our gardens before May 15 and we keep our winter coats handy until then, too.  But, it’s hard not to get a little feverish when we start to see a hint of spring greening.

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