Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feeding tubs to the cows

The weather has been super nice for December.  No wind and lots of sunshine.  The temperatures have been in the high 50's out here on the prairie.  We have been feeding the cows a protein supplement in the form of a grain cube we call "cake".  The supplementing of protein helps the cattle digest the coarse dried grass  that has grown through the summer.  The grass has now dried and cured and is ready to be grazed throughout the winter.  Until the snow comes and covers it too deep for the cattle to readily graze.   The weatherman says we are in El Nino, which for us means mild temperatures and dry moisture conditions.

We run out of cake and can't get more till early January.  So we go to plan B.  Which is feed lick tubs.


As you can see we have plenty of grass.  The lic tubs are scattered throughout the pasture so that the cows scatter all over the pasture to eat grass and have a convenient place to lic some protein.


I does make life easy to have a flowing creek that runs about a mile through the winter pasture.  It keeps flowing and it will have to be really cold before it would freeze over so the cattle could not drink.  The alternative for water is a steel tank by a hydrant for water.


The cow were pretty scattered out this morning.  But when the saw me they thought of their cake and came on the run.  Marshall and Tammy have been spoiling some of them by feeding them by hand so the cows eat out of your hand.  Some are very insistent.


This cow is trying to eat my glove off of the seat of the Kubota.  She thinks she has to have something.  They are very spoiled.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Early winter 2014

Winter has not been too severe on us and the livestock yet.  We had some below 0 weather a couple of weeks ago.  Then some snow.  It then warmed up enough to take most of the snow and ice off.  Now today as I write this it is back to 0 with a stiff breeze, that brings out the wind chill.

The other day we sorted off the heifers that were suitable for replacements and hauled them to a feedlot by Vale.


Here they are waiting for the truck to arrive.  We gave them virus shots when they were on their mothers last September. Then weaned them in October and gave them booster shots then.  So far they have been very healthy.


The truck is backed up to the chute and about ready to load heifers.


The last of the heifers loaded and they are off to Vale about 45 miles away.  They will winter there and they will come back in the spring when the grass is green and weather is warm.  Right now that seems like a long time.
After the heifers were loaded Tammy and Marshall brought the grand kids along back to finish feeding the sheep and the cows.  They had fun giving cake to the animals.


After they fed the sheep the cake buckets were re-filled and taken out to the cows so they could have some cake.

Then it was back to the house and some projects.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I have been moving haystacks for the last month.  Ryan has been rebuilding corral.  Then a week ago we sold some steer calves.  The prices are really good, so that is good.

Tammy and I went up to get the cows here moved closer to home so they would be easier to get in when we weaned.  It was a cold morning when we decided to do this.  The cows were waiting at the gate to come home.


Then we drove around the pasture to make sure all the cow were included in the herd.  It took a while to drive all the pasture to make sure nobody was left behind.  Then we got all the bunches rounded up and headed to the gate.

As you can see it was cold.  Here Tammy had rode her four wheeler for close to an hour and she was ready for the trip home which was with the wind and so much warmer.  She didn't even smile for the camera as she sped by.  That was a grimace not a smile.


The next day we got the cows in and sorted off the calves and weaned all the calves.  Then hauled the calves over to Ryan's to wean  them.  The cow seam ready to be rid of their calves.  But they were hanging around the corrals this morning.


There were a few out in the pasture and they came filing home as they heard the tractor start and thought hay.  Here they single filed across the dam dyke in the morning sun.


Then I went over to Ryan's to check on the newly weaned calves.  Other than lots of bawling all seemed well.  Most were eating or had eaten and just missing mom.  In a few days they will start their new life as a weaned calf and will have forgotten their mother and their mother will forget them.


I finished moving hay stacks today and we sorted off some lambs to sell tomorrow.  So the fall work is winding down.  If the weather holds we will start some fencing projects that never got done last year because of  "Atlas".

Monday, September 29, 2014

Since the last blog we went to the South Dakota state fair in Huron, SD.  When we returned there had been and inch of rain and our sheep were getting out and running all over the place.  After several days of fixing fence and putting them back in they finally settled down.  It never looked like all the ewes and lambs.  Tammy ordered some sheep wormer from the animal health store and we got the sheep in and sorted the ewes and lambs and wormed everything.  We counted all the sheep out the chute gate and were short  87 ewes and 176 lambs.
Tammy rode with a local pilot and the they flew the next day for an hour and a half and saw nothing.  Then we called the sheriff and reported stolen sheep.


We went ahead and weaned the lambs.  These are some of the lambs that we have left.  Notice the red "B" on the shoulder of the lambs.  Some brands are faded and some are more visable.


Here are some of the ewes that are left.  Didn't get a very good picture, it should have showed the right side.


This is a picture of how high the sweet clover is above the hood of the four wheeler.  It is as thick as it can be and very hard to drive through.  If the sheep were driven to the south of our place they would have to go through this stuff. I don't think they could have been made to get through it, but we looked anyway.

I have been moving hay stacks off of the fields lately.  There is lots of hay stacks to move so have been busy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

frog catching and staffers.

We have all been busy putting up hay.  There have been a few showers of rain that we have gotten some rain out of.  The first round of haying was finally done and now we are trying to put up a few second crop alfalfa bales.  I baled around two hundred little square bales of alfalfa that we put in the lambing barn.

The one evening when the kids were over someone came up with the idea of going frog catching.  I think the county fair was to have frog jumping contest.  So I had a strainer that I duct taped to a pole and we went out back of the barn to a small dam to catch frogs.

They found some buckets to put the frogs in and our pole and we headed for water.  It wasn't long before a frog was spotted jumping in the grass.  Then the screams of exitement followed.  


We tried to hold back the frog spotters from getting ahead of the frog catcher and that worked for a while.  Except grandpa couldn't go fast enough.  There were more frogs jumping than we could spot and catch.



Brooke was ready to pounce upon a frog at the same time I was bringing the frog catching net down and I splashed her and she missed the frog and I missed the frog and she was not happy with grandpa for spoiling her chance.

We finally captured a frog in the net.  They are trying to see who can get him out from under the strainer first.


We actually did catch a frog or maybe two.  I don't think the frogs made it to the County fair.  Some how they all got away.

Then we were honored to have two staffers from Sen. Johnson's DC office take time out of their schedules to visit our ranch.  We had a couple of neighbors over and took four wheelers out did a pasture tour with the staffers and discussed some of our problems.  The predator problem and the funding mechanisms.  

Here we were discussing our deep well and the miles of pipeline and the problems of watering several thousand head of livestock in the dry years.


We also stopped by several cattle burial pits from the Atlas storm.  And discussed the situation after the storm and how the events happened.  I think they get a feel of the remoteness of our area.  Not a tree, road or high line wire in site.  The only protection from a storm is a low spot in the creek or behind a hill that fills with snow.

In the weeks to come we should start giving fall shots to the calves and lambs and do some sorting and pulling bulls out of the pastures.  Hopefully we will have some more pictures.  And moving haystacks into the stack yards.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Haying in the summer of 2014

I haven't put out a blog for a month now.  We have been very busy putting up hay.  It quit raining the last days of June. In a normal year we would start cutting hay around the 10th of June.  This year because it kept raining the hay was growing and so we weren't too concerned about a late start, but we have a lot of acres to go over so we need to get going.  I started cutting around the 20th of June, but that hay got an inch of rain on it.  What I cut for hay early on was a slope on a hill where I feed cows and sheep in winter.  The water drains off of the slope so it drys out quicker.  The bales weren't too thick but we did get some baled.


Then when it quit raining it quit.  This is usual for area.  Once it quits raining it quits for several months.  I don't think we got any rain in the month of July.  Now we are into August and the grain harvest wants to start and we get a rainy spell.  Last night by Rapid City they got over 2 inches in a short time causing flooding.  Here we just got the step wet.

Here on the gumbo there is not a lot of good hay ground and normally we bale 300 to 400 bales.  This year with the sweet clover that grew in the pastures we cut more acres and got over a 1000 bales here.  Then moved over to Ryan's where the good hay ground is and we are about done, but have baled over 1700 bales over there.  Ryan does the baling and has had many days where he baled over 100 bales a day.  Several days of over 150 and one day he got like 180 bales baled.  In 2012 we had 475 bales total for everything


This a 16 ft hydroswing that cuts hay and runs the hay through two rubber rollers that crush the stems and helps the hay dry quicker.  Then it puts the newly mowed hay in a windrow.  The windrow is wide and high. This hay is producing in the range of a ton and a half to two tons per acre.  Which for us is really good.  Last year was really dry and we got 12 bales on a 10 acre patch, where this year we baled 32 bales.  The one field that the biggest difference from year to year was on the gumbo.  Last year I got 4 bales on a 22 acre field and didn't cut it all.  This year we got 66 bales on the same field.  This makes it very hard to plan how many head of livestock you can run from year to year.  One year you have too many head of livestock and the next year you don't have enough.  So the extra hay bales from this year will carry over into next years feed piles and maybe the into the second or third years.

Tammy is eyeing all the second crop of alfalfa that is growing up.  It looks good. Normally we have to scrape to get 150 to 200 little square bales for the lambing barn.  This year we could bale a 1000 or more.  Maybe we will round bale some second crop.  That happens like once ever 20 years.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Aftermath of flood.

When the flash flood came we only got 1.25" of rain but three miles up the creek the neighbor got over four inches in a short time.  The creek started going down in the middle of the after noon.  The County road crew said the water went over Fairpoint Road in 22 different places.  This is a twelve mile stretch.  The next day the county was out with gravel trucks hauling gravel to the bad spots.  We live only three miles west of the Fairpoint Road and didn't get much rain. That's normal for us to get less rain.

I went down to the creek crossing north of the house and the flood had washed a dead tree and some debris right in the middle of the trail.

Since it wasn't so muddy here I have started to cut some hay and get some baled.  Where I cut was a hilltop and side hill where I feed the cows and the sheep through the winter.  There is sweet clover mixed into the crested wheatgrass so it does put up some hay.


As you can see the bales are not very thick, but at least we are getting some hay up.  I have started cutting down on the bottoms along the creek where it didn't flood and the hay is quite thick.   It has been rained on twice. Two nights ago with 0.30" and last night with 0.50".  Quite sever thunderstorms.  Usually someone gets hail out of these storms.  A week ago Ryan had a hail storm hit his alfalfa field.  I was adding up the moisture since June 1 and the total is 6.50" of rainfall.  The whole month of May we got about 0.75".  So we were quite dry but now we are soaked up and ready for some sunshine.

Tammy went up to look at the cows and sheep the other day.  We had moved the cows to a pasture that is full of sweet clover this year..

Sweet clover is alright feed but you need to graze it when it tender and growing.  Once it goes to seed and starts to dry up it feed value drops.  Then it becomes more of a fire hazard for prairie fires.


The cows are grazing in a lake bed.  The sweet clover hill top is in the distance, but they like the tender grass in the lake bed.  Reminds me of watching moose graze in the swamps with just their antlers sticking out.



The pasture is good, but this ewe is laying down with her lambs. So they are not standing looking out through the grass.  Years like this a person needs more animals to graze all the extra grass, but we will just have it for next year.  Some years all the grazing the animals have is last years grass.

Hope to get busy haying in the near future.