Sunday, April 13, 2014

Transition from calving barn to lambing barn

Well it finally has warmed up for a few days.  The calves are enjoying the warmer weather.

The mud has started to dry up.  It seemed like it would never dry out.  Tammy and I calved the first calf heifers for about five weeks.  We then hauled the last eight head over to Ryan's so he can finish calving them.  We turned the heifers and their calves out in the pasture with the cows that are not to start calving until April 20.  Then got the sheep into the close lots by the barn.  We can start feeding the sheep extra grain to get them into shape for having their babies in a couple of weeks.

The calves enjoy being out in a bigger pasture.  They are getting to be a month old and can venture away from their mothers for a short period of time.  The pasture they are in has a small dam that is running over with water.  Last year at this time it was bone dry.  We had to fill a tank with water daily last year   and now the cows can drink anytime.

The sheep are in the lot and we feed with a bale processor that grinds the hay bale as it puts it out in a windrow.

Once the animals are moved around to their new locations, then we started cleaning out the barn and moving cattle panels around and sheep panels back in.  We use a tractor and blade to drag the straw and manure out of the barn so that it can dry out.

Ryan and Shilo are providing added weight to the blade so it does not skip over the wet straw.  They ride the blade for a short time as I get a good load to pull out of the barn.

While Logan doesn't get to ride the blade he does provide push power.  So after two days of barn cleaning and the barn finally clean it was time to feed Grandma's sheep some cubes.

It is great fun to feed the sheep out the grainery door.  Next week we hope to get sheared.

Monday, March 31, 2014

In like a Lion - out like a lion.

Well the late March blizzard has arrived.  It didn't start snowing here till after 5 AM, but it really snowed at times.  Weather Service is saying gusts of wind to 62 MPH and temperature of 18 for wind chill of -4 below.
Last Saturday we had a beautiful day with a temperature of 72 degrees.

These calves are all out of our first calf heifers.  These calves are all about two weeks old.  They really enjoy the nice sunshine and warm temperatures.

Tammy and I have been calving our first calvers and have been having pretty good luck.  We have ten left to calve.   We need to send the last ones over to Ryan to finish and we need to get ready to shear the sheep.  This means we have to clean out the barn and scrape the corrals.  It has been hard to do because all the ruts in the mud have remained frozen most of the time.

The cows at Ryan's have been calving right along lately.  Yesterday ahead of the storm he had four cows calve just in the afternoon.  Our cows that are here don't start calving till around April 20.  So this date is creeping up on us.  They calve out in pasture and have to take care of themselves.  The sheep will be in the corrals and occupy the barn, so no cows allowed.

This was the scene outside the barn this morning.  This is the heifers left to calve.

Yesterday there was no snow anywhere.  These heifers had spent the night in the barn so had not been outside very long and got this much snow on their backs.

I have to include one picture of my faithful dog Peaches.  She is patiently waiting for my return to the four wheeler.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Well we had gotten 3 calves before the extremely cold weather last weekend. Luckily the heifers quit calving while the weather was the coldest.  Then they started calving again.  The weather started warming, but slowly during the week.  We plugged along at one calf a day.  With fifty heifers to calf and fifty days to do it in we would get done.  It would just be slow.

Tammy caught these heifers sleeping one night during one of her checks.

On Thursday we moved the bulls to a pasture that is their spring pasture.  There is a shed there and a small springy creek for water that flows most of the year.

The older bulls know where they are going and know it is that time of year to go there.  So they march right along to get there.  Not much fighting and sparring going on.

Then we rode with the four wheelers down to the cows and brought them home to Ryan's.  They will not start calving for two more weeks.  Usually we wait long enough that a calf is born while the cows are in winter pasture.
But this year we brought them home early enough that no calves have been born yet.  We got this done one afternoon while Tammy watched the heifers at our home.
The next day it was colder and had froze the ground and we hauled three loads of heifer calves down to where the cows had come from.  They will be locked in a small lot of about 20 acres.  Hopefully the fence will hold them until they learn their boundaries. Once they figure out where the feed and water and shelter is they will be content and not try to get out.

While I was gone moving heifer calves Tammy was home calving.  That day we had six heifers calve.  All our pens were full as we tried to keep the new mothers and their young babies separate.  Fortunately the next day was to be really nice, so we could start letting some outside.

I have a few black cows and heifers and always like it when the calf they have is red.  So I have to show this to my friends that have black cattle.

The water in the creek has come up in the last few days.  Grand kids were over and we walked down to where the creek is overflowing around the culvert.  I think the ice has plugged the culvert.  So the water is really flowing around causing a water fall.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First calf of 2014

Well I guess March is going to come in like a lion.  Supposed to be cold and windy.  The beginning of February was in the minus -23 degree range then it got mild and into the 50's, even up to 64 in Rapid city. Now we have had 2-3 inches of snow and below 0 with predictions by the end of the week to be -10 to -15.
Last week Sturgis had its Ag and home show.  They had pens of bulls and heifers on display and junior livestock judging contest.  We took some lambs up to be judged in the contest.  It snowed four inches in Strugis during the contest so the kids had to feel and judge wet sheep..  The heifers and the bulls that they judged were all wet from the snow also.  There were even a pen of four goats to judge.

Monday it snowed and the wind blew hard and we had a ground blizzard most of the day.  The temperature stayed at about 8 degrees, so it was cold.  Tammy and I sorted off about ten heifers that we thought were close to calving.  We call them the "heavys", because they are heavy with calf.  We are not supposed to start calving until March 1.  We put them in the sheep barn.  We had to move sheep panels and troughs out of the way so the cattle don't break them.

Tammy checked them before she went to bed and I checked early in the morning around 4 AM.  Lo and behold I had a little "jewel".  A little heifer calf was born in the barn.  The wind had gone down so it was somewhat warm in the barn.

She is a nice little heifer calf that weighs just 55 pounds.  Mother and daughter are doing well.

The ladys-in-waiting.  The ones that are yet to calf, the heavys.

This picture was taken just before sun down.  It shows quite a few holes in our barn. The barn is not all that drafty.  A few warm bodies take the chill off.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another cold front

Another arctic cold front has descended upon us.  This morning it was -13 degrees. It is supposed to be colder tomorrow morning.  We fed cake to the heifers and the cows were scattered in bunches to be in the shelter and were warming themselves in the sun and didn't care if they came for cake.  Tractor didn't want to start so we went to gather eggs before they froze.  Out of four eggs, three had frozen before we got there.

Then we went to the house while the battery charged on the tractor and the engine heater had a little more time to warm the cold engine.  I tried it in an hour or so and it still didn't want to go.  So back to the house and an early lunch.  After lunch it had warmed to 3 above 0.  Then the tractor finally started.  I guess the battery is just getting weak.

Then I fed hay for the next two hours.  I fed extra bales to everything because of the cold weather and also I fed hay for tomorrow.  The tractor probably won't start and we want to go to the Stock Show in Rapid City.  Thursday is sheep day at the fairgrounds and Red Angus day at the Civic Center.  Tammy is making a ground lamb spread for people to try during the sheep shearing contest.  Last year there were shearers from the surrounding states and Canada.  Some came from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and New York.   It is good to see the many young shearers and some old guys that just want to compete to cross of their bucket list.  There were at least two young women entered last year.

I want to watch the Red Angus show and sale and visit with breeders and meet the new ones.  We used to show down there for around twenty years.  So it is fun to go and watch.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter time lull

This time of the year is normally not such a busy time.  We feed and water the livestock every day.  We have to make sure the water is thawed out and working.  It has been unusually cold and and windy interspersed with windy and warm.   Last week the temperature got up to 52 degrees here and the snow and ice were melting.  The creek was flooding and it was getting muddy.  By the next evening the wind was blowing 60 MPH and the temperature had dropped to 5 degrees.  With the wind chill it was quite a dramatic drop in temperature.

The creek is flooding because the ice has stopped the water from flowing through the culvert.  As you can see we have lost most of our snow with this last warm spell.  Where the water goes around the creek crossing and has made a waterfall where it goes back in the creek.

With the wind blowing like it has for this last month the weather service has said we are going to set a record for the windiest month on record..  The average wind speed was averaged at around 14.6 MPH.  The previous monthly record was set just last April at around 13.6 MPH.

The sheep bunched up really tight when the wind was blowing soo hard.  I had  to feed in the corral several times last week to keep the wind from blowing all the hay away.

Since Tammy and I are going to be calving heifers this year in the sheep barn we decided we needed a calving pen.  So we got a calving pen and set it up.  Now we have a month to wait for the arrival of the first calf.  Since we had lost a few cows in the storm we needed to keep our numbers up so we are calving way more heifers than usual.  So rather than have Ryan calve all these by himself we decided to do it over here.  He will have is own to calve at his place.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Brought the cows home and number branded the heifers

The last post I did we were still plowing a trail to get to the pasture where the cows winter.  We brought them home here shortly after that.  There was a weather report of coming cold spell again so we just brought them home.  They were just settling in to their new surrounding when the cold spell hit.  They called it the Polar Vortex.  They always seem to come up with new names for these things.  We were colder in early December, but the wind really blew this time so the wind chills were quite sever.

When the weather had warmed up we got the herd in and sorted off the coming first calf heifers.  They will get better feed and it will help to tame them down some being close in the lot.  They will start calving around the 1st of March.

Then we number branded the heifers.

We use a hot iron to number brand the heifers.  Most of the heifers already have a number that is tattooed in the ear.  You have to catch them and restrain the head to read the number in the ear.  So it is much easier to read a brand on the hip.  Ear tags work for a year or two but either fall out or get caught on something and get torn out, so this works good.

Also the first number in the sequence is the last digit of the year.  this way we know what year the animal was born that way.  So when they get to be 10 or 12 years old we will know that they are getting old.  We keep a lot of our cows till they are 12 to 14 years old.

The sheep are no longer in the breeding season.  They are now in a time of being dry and just pregnant, so they do not need quite so much feed.  We have quit feeding them their grain cubes every day and just feed hay.

We use a bale processor that grinds the hay off of the bale and puts the hay in a nice windrow for the sheep and cattle to eat.   The grinding process knocks off any dirt or mold that may be on the hay and fluffs up the hay so even old coarse hay will look appealing.