Sunday, December 30, 2012

Well the Christmas season has come and gone.  A few days before Christmas Grandma and I got in on decorating Christmas cookies with the grand kids.  Actually it went fairly fast as once the frosting started flying some cookies got lots of frosting and other less frosting. The candy eyeballs were great fun as some cookies got four or five eyeballs.

The weather got colder.  We had mornings that were minus 10 degrees.  Then it snowed steady for two days, Christmas eve day and Christmas day.  We hardly got and inch of snow out of these two days.  Very dry fluffy snow.  Luckily not much wind..

We had Christmas dinner here.  As it turned out we had nineteen people here.  The corn box was in the corner of the living room.  It is a low fiberglass sheep water tank with 100 lbs. of corn in it.  There was three to four kids in it most of the day.  Tammy roasted a prime rib from one of our critters.  She did an excellent job cooking it and I got to be the carver.

Then in the afternoon we took all the kids and anyone else out to give cake to the sheep.  Somehow they all had more fun than you could imagine.  Here a couple of kids get up close and personal with a llama.  Llamas like cake too.

Here is Tammy feeding the sheep and making sure everyone stays in the pickup and no one falls out and gets run over. It was cold and these kids don't dress very warm, I guess it isn't cool.

Tammy has been watching a covey of grouse that pick around in the field across the creek from the house.  There are only about six or eight birds.  This morning we had an unexpected visitor.  A red fox.  He was stalking our grouse.  I grabbed the camera and got a couple of pictures.  The one picture has a fox and a grouse.  Then the dogs saw him and the chase began.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Getting ready for Christmas

The four inches of snow that we go a couple of weeks ago still hangs around.  We have had some nice weather with temperatures in the mid thirties.  We needed to haul the heifers that we keep to the feedlot near Vale, SD.  We don't have the facilities to take care of them once we start calving. in March.  We have had them weaned for two months and now they are ready to go on to better feed.

This is the way it looked the day we hauled them to Vale.  Pretty foggy the whole way.  If we get weather 90 days after a fog like the old saying we will get a storm about mid March.  Should be a safe prediction.

We hauled the heifers up there with the trailer.  It took three trips.  It is about 45 miles.  Note the silage pile in the background.  This feedlot is fairly small, I think around 7,000 head and they mostly background replacement heifer calves.

Then I got a call one night asking what I was doing the next night.  I said not much of anything.  They wanted to know if I wanted to start my acting career?  They wanted a Santa Claus for the local school program.  So I practiced my HO HO HO's for a day and headed to the school program.

Then we went to the preschool Christmas program at Union Center.  We had two grand kids in the program.

Then the kids came over to make candy and cookies for Christmas.  Then decorate cookies, which is the most fun.  Then they helped decorate Grandma's tree.  All the decorations somehow ended up in one spot right in front.  Then they had to pose with the tree.

My Sister from Arkansas is coming up and stopping to bring my Mom who lives in Watertown along out for Christmas dinner.  So they will be here a few days. Our boy Marshall is coming out for Christmas.  He lives at Edgemont, but we don't see him much.  Sounds like the weather will be nice, maybe a little snow.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Finally snowed

Well the attitude around here has changed.  It has snowed!  We no longer have to look at the brown dreary drab colors of the surrounding landscape.  We no longer have to see the dust rise from the hooves of the animals as they graze and make their way to water.  We returned home from the CHS annual meeting in Minneapolis late Thursday evening and drove through snow flurries most of the way home.  We were pleasantly surprised to see 4 inches of new fallen snow the next morning.

Our load of cattle cubes came in last week.  So we go out every morning to feed cake to the cows and the sheep.  We measure the correct amount by number of five gallon buckets.  Each bucket weights 30 pounds.

The cows get five buckets and the sheep get eleven buckets. Some cows are slower about coming for their cake and we have to wait for them to come.  A few get overly anxious and want their cake NOW!

Fortunately, most of the cows wait patiently for their cake.  The slower one are still coming.

Tammy is the photographer so I poured out cake on this occasion.  All the other times I drive and Tammy pours out cake. The pickup had no driver as we go quite slow to do this operation.

The cows crowd around the stream of cake that is on the ground.  They each get their pound and a half of cake.

Then it is off to feed the sheep their share of the cake.  The cow are in a maintance  phase of their production cycle.  They are dry, meaning they have no calves sucking and are in the second trimester of pregnancy, so they require less nutrients.  The sheep are just now being bred.  The rams were turned with the ewes just last week so we want them to cycle so they can become pregnant and have lots of twins.

Tammy is pouring buckets of cake for the sheep.

              The sheep crowd around to get their share.

While we have three to four inches of snow, it is fluffy and the livestock easily pushes the snow aside and can still graze the grass underneath the snow cover.  This is a hill top and doesn't have much grass cover to begin with.  It doesn't take much water for the livestock to drink as they eat snow with every mouth full of grass.

Here is a picture of the sheep finishing their cake and the cows in the distance, about a mile away.  As you can see there is brown in the picture.  That brown is grass peaking through the snow cover.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Well we have made it to Thanksgiving.  We sold the bred heifers in Philip last week.  They didn't sell too bad, judging from the fact most people are selling their herds down to match the hay stacks.  Lots of old cows selling through the sale barns.  The heifers were the lightest heifers we have ever sold at 888 pounds.  But, they never had a mouth full of green grass all season.

I have continued to haul manure every nice day all month.  I have hauled away two big piles of composting manure and am working on the last pile, which is the biggest and may take 7 days to haul away.

The cows and sheep are out grazing in the winter pastures.  We have been feeding lick barrels.  They are a cooked molasses and grain tub.  The tubs weigh about 250 pounds.  They cost about $0.40 a pound or $800 a ton.  We have ordered a load of cattle cake six weeks ago and am still waiting for delivery.  This cake would have the same amount of protein for about $366 a ton delivered.  Cake is a compressed grain mixture with vitamins and minerals.

Cows out grazing along creek.

Looking down on the creek and the cows grazing.  Tammy thinks it looks like they are eating dirt.  Actually there is good amount of grass available, just the quality is not very good.  Past years the water would come up in the creek in the fall and the water would start running and the cows could drink live water.  This year with is so dry there is no water in the creek so the cows have to drink at a tank.

Cows lounging around the water tank.  It is supposed to snow later today so the sky is overcast.

The sheep grazing in the distance.  Picture turned out pretty good for as far away as they were.  Maybe next week we will get cake in and start feeding them.  We will turn the bucks out soon.  Haven't quite decided when we want to start lambing, but will decide soon.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We are getting the loose ends tied up and getting ready for a change in the weather that can come at any time now.  The lambs are sold, the calves are sold.  The heifer calves are weaned.  The bull calves are weaned and the other day we hauled them to their new home for the winter.

The boys have now a life of leisure in their new home.  They will eat and sleep and play.

Ryan sorted off his heifer calves and took them down to his place to winter them.  He has put together a nice set of heifer calves.  He will be able to sell  off his black ones and just keep red heifers to work toward a total red herd.  Then we sorted off my cows that have wintered with his cows for the last few years.   We hauled my cows over to the Fairpoint place, so Ryan will have just his cows at his place.  Since we sold half of the ewe flock we will have to make the lack of income from those ewes up some way so we will increase cow numbers.

Last Monday I went to Torrington, WY and bought a semi load of red stock cows.  Most of them are what are called solid mouth.  Meaning they have all their teeth but the teeth are getting short from wear.  They should be about eight years old.  Cows are normally in our area productive to about ten to twelve years old. We have had cows that get to be sixteen to seventeen years old, but this is unusual.

The weather has been nice for this time of year and I have had time to work on my manure spreader.  It has been several years since I have been able to use it because it was broke down.  We have make manure piles in several locations around the place.  I got started hauling manure.

Now our fields will have organic fertilizer spread on them.  We don't fertilize with commercial fertilizer.  Now we need some rain to dissolve the organic material and let it break down into the soil.  Last week we had 0.30" of rain.  The first rain since July 24.  Now the long range forecasters are thinking the chance is getting good to have another dry year next year.

The big news in our neighbor hood have been the land sales.  Ten days ago the place just south across the fence sold to the lottery kid for $402.  The place had over 12000 acres of all pasture.  Our well waters this place.  There is very little water left any place.  If next year is dry more pipelines will have to be layed out.
This week there was 1200 acres of pasture next to us that sold for $447 per acre.  This place hadn't been grazed for two years because there was no water on it.  It still has no water and has limited access. It is five miles from the nearest county road.

Monday, October 15, 2012

decision to sell lambs

As it is getting closer to cold weather and possible snow, we have decided to sell about 400 lambs at the sale barn.  The price seems to be $75 a head no matter the weight.  Heavier lambs sell for less per pound and lighter lambs sell for more per pound.  So no matter the weight the price comes out to around $75 per head.  We will keep a bunch of lighter lambs and feed them a while in hopes that the market may pick up.  I did some figuring of our cost to run a ewe for a year with current grain prices and our hay at our cost.  The cost per ewe per year was around $90 a year.

When we brought more cows over here we had to add another water tank to keep up with the added number of head that were drinking.  I don't think the water line that is buried is very big. I turn the hydrant on at 8 AM and turn it off at 2 PM and the amount of water is about right.  The tanks are just full and about ready to run over.

Ryan has gone elk hunting near Buffalo, WY with his in-laws.  So we have to go over to his place and do his chores.  We pitch hay in the manger and have three bale feeders that have hay.  Here are some calves around a bale feeder.

Since grain prices are high we have decided to feed lic barrels for now.  They are a cooked molasses product with vitamins and minerals.   In a week we will sort off the bull calves and start feeding them more grain.  Then we will sort off Ryan's heifers and he will take them to his lots to winter them at his place.  Then we will take the heifer calves to the feed lot by Vale.

The other day we set some railroad ties in the corral fence.  The posts had rotted off last spring and we had some corral panels over the hole.  We nailed up some new 2X10's across the ties and then some tin for wind break.  Tammy and I put in a new corner in a stack yard and have another corner to put in another stack yard tomorrow.  We haven't had the post hole digger over here for over a year so we have a few more posts to put in weather permitting.

Tammy has been busy selling puppies lately.  We took one to Belle Fouche.  Met a lady at Enning the other day.  She is meeting another lady at Maurine tomorrow.

The bred heifers are content up in the north pasture now.  I have been trying to sell them privately, but am not having much luck.  I will probably consign them to a bred cow sale in Philip around the first of November.  We have around ten black heifers that are nice, but I can't sell black heifers.  Every one knows that the black heifers are carrying a red hide gene.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Well we sold the steer calves a week ago.  They sold pretty good , although the average weight was down from previous years.  Lighter weight calves were selling good so we sold more of the younger and lighter calves. Past years we would have kept these young calves and weaned and fed them for a period of time and put more weight on them. Past years grain cost would be less than half of what the costs are this year.  Grass hay which is our primary roughage is in short supply and hard to come by if we would have to buy any.  Fortunately we have enough hay to get us through this winter.

The next day that worked for all of us we weaned the rest of the steer calves and bull calves and all the heifer calves.  The corral was really dusty.  The calves were ready to be eating something better than dry grass.  The mother cows are ready for the calves to be off so they can gain some weight before going into the winter.

The calves wander around and bawl for their mothers.  The more they walk the more dust they churn up with their hooves.  In a week we will see how many sick calves we have to treat.  It seems most years if calves get sick it takes about a week for the sickness to show up with a droopy ear or head down and coughing.  Today it tried to rain most of the day.  It did dampen the dust but didn't get anything wet.  The damp weather should help keep the dust down.  The cows and the sheep loved the dampness on the dry grass.  The dampness makes the grass more palatable.

We still have our lambs and are waiting for the price to move up.  The last sale in Newell showed a market that wanted lambs that were below 90 pounds.  If the lambs are above 90 pounds the price gets lower.  We will probably have to sell lambs before too long and keep the weight below 90 pounds.

Today we sorted our cow away from Ryan's cows.  Then hauled our cows over here at Fairpoint.  That way Ryan has just his own cows at his place..  That way we don't have to sort cows and calves and try to get the right brand on the right calf. We have plenty of grazing over here as this pasture has had no livestock grazing in it since last winter.  We are both looking to buy some short term red cows.  Don't know if we can find any since most cows sold will be black.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

This September is finally coming to and end.  Un-seasonally hot and dry.  We had no moisture of any kind this month.  Every morning we both cough and sputter from all the dust we breathed the day before.  Then clean the dirt out of our eyes.  There have been a couple of mornings where the thermometer has shown 33 degrees.  We don't even get a dew, the air is so dry.

The few stock ponds that have water in them continue to lower.  The pipeline and the water from the well has been the lifeblood for this whole area around us this summer.  There probably has been close to 2000 head of cattle watered from this well this summer.  It has pumped just under 5 million gallons this year.  At times it was a job just keeping enough water in the storage to keep up with the four pumps that pump out of the cisterns.  We had to add a plastic tank that stored another 1500 gallons to keep up.

We weaned the calves that were over here on the "gumbo" and took them over to Ryan's.  Their corral is so dusty that they are starting to show some signs of dust pneumonia.  We treated about eight head the other day.  Then Ryan's pipeline sprung a leak and drained his well.  I called around for a backhoe to dig it up.  Everyone's backhoes were busy putting in pipelines and so the earliest I could get one is next Tuesday.  So we are hauling water to the calves in the corral.

We got the ewes in and sorted off the older ewes and sold them.  The price was not very good, but we sold half of our ewes.  We still have all of our lambs.  They are on the creek eating the last of the green.  They look good but aren't worth much on this market.  Two weeks ago the lamb market was up and it looked like we were seeing the bottom and it was turning around.  Then this week the market was quoted down $5 cwt.  Carcass weights are coming down but are still 20 pounds too heavy.

We had the veterinary come out and pregnancy test the yearling heifers.  There were 11 opens out of 88 head.  So we thought we did pretty good for the way the year was.  The opens sold in Philip and they sold good.  Ryan and our calves go to the sale barn next week.  The calf market looks to be pretty good, so at least one market is good.

We now have a new neighbor to the south.  The Chaffee place sold last Tuesday.  The Spring family has leased it for the last thirty years.  They chased it to over $400 an acre.  It sold for $402 to the lottery kid - Neil Wanless.  Not a good year to sell as there is no water to speak of on the place and it looks like a desert.  They probably got all it was worth.

I finally finished moving hay stacks.  Was only hauling about one day a week lately.  I would like to mow the weeds along our driveway.  It is too dry and I would probably start a fire.  So will have to wait to mow weeds.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Well we have made it into mid September.  The weather stays hot and dry.  We have decided to sell about one half of the ewes.  We will keep the yearling, twos and threes.  Everything else will go to town.

Tammy and I going through the ewes  marking for age and checking the mouth for good teeth and checking for good bags.  The sheep market has continued to drop.  Ninety pound lambs barely bring $75 a head.  With high feed costs and high fuel costs everything else going up a rough estimate of our costs per ewe would be around $90 per ewe.

Right now our strategy is to sell half the ewes and hold the lambs until later maybe till December or January.  Hopefully by then the market will pick up.

Trucks coming to load out the ewes.  The ewes will be taken to Faith Sale barn to be sorted for age and quality.

Ewes heading up the chute into the truck.  loading went pretty well.  Loaded two trucks in about an hour.

On a brighter note we vaccinated calves with fall shots and took individual weights on the calves.  The weights on the calves were good considering the hot dry summer that they have been through.  Ryan had a good doing bull calf.

This calf weighed 660 pounds.  He was born March 17, 2012.  We had a couple about this size but didn't get a picture.

These calves have been sorted away from their mothers and wait for their trip down the chute to be vaccinated and weighed..

Sunday, September 2, 2012

We just got back from the State Fair in Huron last night.  Got to see the Red Angus Show.  Some new people that I haven't seen before.  Got to keep up on who is new.  Tammy spent her time helping give out lamb samples on Thursday then worked in the SD cattle woman's booth promoting beef on Friday.  I spent Friday at a board meeting for SD Farmers Union.  That evening Tammy got to meet some of her SDARL  classmates.  On Saturday Tammy was at the SD Beef Cookoff  by 8:15 in the morning.  They had 9 youth contestants and 9 adult contestants.  Allen and Corey Hockenbary our neighbors (a father and son team) participated in the contest.  Cory placed second.  So congratulations to Corey.

The weather has been hot most of this last week.  Last wednesday  the temperature got to 108 here. Had to keep a close eye on all the pumps.  Got back and went for a ride through the pastures over here this morning.

Don't quite understand what these gals were grazing on in this dry lake bed.  Last year this had a foot of water in it.

Last years grass isn't too great but that's all there is to eat so they have to be content.  That isn't water in the background it's bare ground from a dry water hole.  We have been feeding extra protein in the form of lick barrels for the last month.  We have enough old grass to last us through the fall and early winter grazing by feeding a little extra protein.

Then we went to see the yearling heifers.  Their pasture isn't much better.

Then they got curious and came up to visit.  As they got close they began to worry my dog.  I had a hard time keeping my dog from abandoning the four wheeler so I could take this picture.

Hopefully the weather will start cooling off.  Should finish hauling hay stacks this next week.  Then fix corrals
and get ready to give fall shots to calves.  We have a date to sell calves at the sale barn of Oct 2.  Then we have to figure what to do with lambs.  The lamb market keeps dropping.  The lamb market has dropped  about 70% from last year.  If this coming week is cooler we will work sheep some time. Sort the old ewes off  to sell them.  Then give overeating shots to the lambs.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spent the week hauling hay stacks, fixing fence and watching water tanks.  The one day it got hotter than the weatherman predicted.  The water pumps were pumping out more water than the well pump was pumping in. So we had to dump the 1500 gallons that we have in reserve into the cisterns to help catch up.

The puppies are growing and have had their puppy shots. We have run out of powdered milk but they don't miss it much they just eat more puppy food.  We carry puppy chow in a three gallon bucket every day to their dog food feeder.  Won't be long till we have to use a five gallon bucket.

This their home.  This is the tanks of water for the sheep, and it has sheep panels around to keep the sheep out of the hoses.  The puppies live inside the pen and can get out and roam around.  They hear the four wheeler come and they know food is on the way.  The sheep crowd around the tanks to get their drinks and the puppies are there.  Some days they are down in the creek sleeping in the mud or exploring.

These puppies are patiently waiting for food to show up.  Several are long haired like their long haired father Attila who is Great Pyrenees.  Some are more smooth haired like their mother Opal who shows Anatolian Shepard.

We had to move the sheep at Ryan's across the road to another pasture.  This is the fourth pasture they have been in this summer.

This is the band of sheep that Attila has.  Note that he has found the open gate for the sheep and stands there waiting for them to follow.  For as hot as it has been the lambs and the ewes still look good.

These are late May and June lambs and look to be about as big as their mothers.  These lambs are three months old and have seen the inside of a corral once when they were docked.  And have never seen the inside of a barn.  They are raised on the range and in better range conditions could be finished on grass, but this year there is not much grass. We have weaned the lambs that were born in March and were going to take them to a feedlot to be finished, but the lamb market has plunged  in the last several weeks. The price of feed, mainly corn has risen so feed cost are higher and market prices are lower so we are caught in the squeeze.  We weighed the weaned lambs the other night and they weighed 88 lbs. I guess we will keep them and feed them as cheaply as we can.

Tammy has been working on a project with several different groups for most of the summer.  It finally came together this last Saturday.  The event took place in the new Main Street Square in Rapid City.  It was a Celebrity Chef challenge.  Several teams of chefs and celebrities had to cook a cut of beef and what ever was in the basket in an hours time.  Then later in the evening several chefs came in from area fine dining establishments and showed off their ways of preparing different cuts of beef.

One team working on their creative dish of beef.  Between events there was a band  that played for the crowd in the Square.  That is Tammy over on the far left against the pillar watching the cooking demonstration.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The past week I have spent moving hay stacks.  I help Ryan work on fence in the morning and I move haystacks in the afternoon when it is hot and I can sit in the air conditioned tractor.  I am moving hay from the place north of Union Center over to our place at Fairpoint.  The trip is 15 miles and it takes two hours to do a round trip.

This my loaded stackmover.  I haul 14 bales that weigh about 1050 to 1100 pounds.  My tractor will go about 24 miles and hour at top speed.  I have five cattle guards  to cross and several steep hills to climb so it keeps the trip interesting.  

We now have some chores to do in the morning and evening.. One corral has 90 lambs in that we bucket three pails of pellets to twice a day.  The other corral has the bucks or rams in.  There are about 24 head and most of them have big horns.  They know how to use them.  

We lure them into one corral then put the pellets in troughs in the next corral.  Then stand back and open the gate and hope no horn catches you as the go by on the run.  The one dominate ram we call Petunia.  He loves to sneak up behind a person and scare you when he shakes his horns at you.  He then innocently look the other way as if to say "not me, I didn't do anything"  One day I will get a good picture of Petunia.  His nose is skinned up most of the time from defending his title.

Sunday we got to take the grandkids to the Central States Fair in Rapid City.  They got to ride some rides and see the elephant.  We went through all the livestock barns and the kids barn twice. After several hours of fun we settled down for some refreshment.

In a few years they will be able to wear grandma and grandpa out.  Right now we can wear them out first.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The grand kids came over and played with the guard dog puppies for the last time.  We need them to bond with the sheep.  So we need to limit human contact with them.  They are a month old and the mother has started to wean them and we are feeding them puppy food.  They have been living under our house steps.  It is very hard to refrain from petting and playing with puppies when we go outside.

Tonight we took the puppies out to the sheep pasture.  We have three water tanks for the sheep.  All fed off of one water hydrant.  There are four sheep panels around the hydrant to protect the water hoses and floats that automatically shut off the water.  This is a good place to put puppies.  Hopefully it will be a while before they start chewing on the water hoses and make them leak.  In the morning they will be nose to nose with a sheep for the first time in their lives.  We made a shade for them to stay out of the heat of the sun.

Tomorrow Ryan will come over with his four wheeler  and we will get the yearling heifers and steers in the corral.  We will sort off the steers so Ryan can haul them to Philip to the sale.  Between the two of us there should be a trailer load.

Last week Ryan was chasing cows and his four wheeler quit.  The starter just spun the motor over like there was no compression.  We thought that a hole was blown in the piston because of the hot weather and lean fuel mixture.  I finally hauled the four wheeler to the shop last Saturday. After pulling the cowling off and the fuel tank I found that the spark plug had blown out.  When we tried to screw another in it wouldn't tighten.  The threads were bad.  So we went out back and found an old four wheeler.  This one was 13 years old and had quit several years ago.  The cylinder head looked like a match so we pulled it off and put it on the newer four wheeler.  So we got it running.  I told Ryan we were $80 an hour mechanics.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Well we finally received some rain, then some more.  Monday evening we had lots of lightning and a hard shower of 1.15" rain.  Then Tuesday night it rained hard again. About washed the puppies away.  Just over an inch in the rain gauge.  The rain has broken the extreme heat we have been receiving. Must have been over a week with 100 degree plus.

Wednesday morning we went up to our north pasture to repair some water line that needed to be fixed before we can put cows in there.  We found  that we had had a prairie fire Monday night.

The burn was about a quarter mile long and not very wide.  The rain must have put it out.  We thought a new way to get cows to eat cactus.

Getting the water tank ready for cows and fixed a little fence.

This would be the dam to water the cows if we didn't have piped water.  I think most of this water run in with the rain we just had.

The lambs and calves look good in spite of the hot weather of the last couple of weeks.  Now if lamb prices would perk up.  Lamb prices have dropped 60% from last year.  We may have to try and hold lambs for a while if we can justify the extra feed.  By holding them the price may come up later in the year.