Monday, May 28, 2012

Working on waterlines

Those of you who have been following this blog knows that livestock water has become a major concern. I have been working on getting a leak fixed in the pipeline that goes north.  We got the backhoe in last week and have been working on it since..  I think we finally got things fixed.  Tammy put on her insulated coveralls and came to help me and brought her camera.

We went up north to build a fence around the hydrant to keep the heifers from harming the hydrant and float.  The wind blew about 40 MPH most of the day and the temperature stayed at about 58 degrees.

We took all the lumber up to the tank we used the four wheeler.  Two dog came along and watched the proceedings.  On the way back Tammy took more pictures .

Here are two more pictures of  stock dams that are dry.  Last year at this time these dams were running over with water from all the rain we were having at the time. This dam is in the small pasture on the east side of the fields.

This picture is of the dam that is along the north side of the first pasture north.  The sheep are in this pasture and get their water from a pipeline and tank that is in the south end of that pasture.  The bird that is flying is a swallow.  They are not very big, but he sure looks big.

Notice the lack of green grass in this picture.  Last year we had a lot of growth of grass and all of the grass could not get grazed so we had lots of carry-over in old grass.  Normally this would be good because the growth would catch snow and use the moisture from the snow, but we had no snow.  Not much rainfall this year so far and not much green.

This is me standing next to an alfalfa plant in my hay field.  Normally these plants would be as tall as the top of my mud boots.  As it is the plants are hardly tall enough to cut for hay.  I think the plants over at Ryan's will be taller and we will get some hay to cut.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Sunday afternoon I went over to Ryan's and we rode out and got the bulls out of the pasture and headed them home.  They have been a little hard to hold in their pasture, because they know it is time to be turned out with the cows.  We have to hold them in a small lot and feed them hay.

Here the bulls go down the driveway after they have come about a mile through the pasture.  It is a little greener over at Ryan's.  The calving pasture is on the right and a hay field on the left.

Early Monday morning we had to load our bum lambs and head to Ryan's to get our two bum calves.  Tammy had arranged two classes of Third graders to come out on a field trip to the ranch.  The ranch she found was Gary and Amy Cammack's at Union Center.  We took our young livestock to Cammack's to help add to the ranch experience.

Here is a Third grader from Rapid City feeding the bum lambs and petting a calf.  The school children got to ride a horse, practice roping a steer head, touring a wood working shop and touring a taxadermy shop.  Then they were treated to a wonderful lunch served by the hosts Gary and Amy Cammack.  Here Gary and Amy serve in the line.

After that we loaded three bulls to bring over and put with the yearling heifers.  Then we moved the heifers north to a small pasture that has good water in it.

Tammy found a new low stress way to move heifers.  She lets her dog off the four wheeler and heads off in the direction we need to go and the heifers follow.  They are either chasing the four wheeler or the dog I don't know which.  Here she is leading the herd.

We finally reached our destination. The heifers are enjoying a drink of really good water.  We took a sample of the water. It tested 290, compared to the 4600 TDS water they were drinking.

Just thought I would throw this picture in.  We have several hundred acres of this kind of ground.  We call it cactus hard pan.  The soil is a heavy clay loam that holds surface water and grows cactus.

Some day I will figure out how to rotate a picture.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Testing Water

I've been thinking about testing our water that the livestock has been drinking.  I guess not knowing is easier than knowing.  The neighbor stopped over today and had two water samples to test.  He had one sample that tested 13500 and another tested at over 17000.  Our heifers are drinking out of the same creek only several miles below his.  This creek hasn't had running water since last June.

We went out this evening and pulled two samples from spots that looked like the heifers were drinking there.  The spots were about half a mile apart.  With this meter you multiply the number by 1000, so this spot has a Total Dissolvable Solids number of 3940.  Kind of high.

The next sample was not quite to good.  A 4.93 which multipies to 4930.

Here is a table that kind of explains TDS.  We lived with this water meter back in the early 2000's before we drilled our well.  These numbers will get progressivly worse through the summer.

    Table 8. Recommendations for livestock water use based on Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).
TDS              Comments 
(ppm or mg/L) 
Less than 3,000  Usually satisfactory for most livestock. 
3,000-5,000      May not cause adverse effects to adult livestock. 
                 Growing/young livestock could be effected by looseness 
                 or poor feed conversion. At levels near 5,000 ppm the 
                 water is unacceptable for poultry. 
5,000-7,000      Should not be used for pregnant or lactating females. 
                 Usually laxative and may result in reduced water intake. 
7,000-10,000     Do not use for swine. Do not use for pregnant or 
                 lactating ruminants or horses. 
10,000 or more   May cause brain damage or death. 

Two days ago we leased a backhoe to dig up our water line that goes north so we can repair the leak.

We will be setting tanks and getting water to the pastures to the north.  The sheep in the pastures have piped well water and the cows with calves have a creek that has been running most of the spring so their water is pretty good for a while.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


We branded last Saturday.  Our branding is pretty low stress on everyone, people and cattle and calves.  We trail the cows and calves about a mile to the corrals and sort off the calves.

Here the calves have been sorted from their mothers and are going to another pen that will run them down the chute to the calf table.

Here is a calf awaiting his turn at branding and vaccinating.  We did one bunch in the morning and got another bunch in the afternoon.  We will still have another bunch that are calving now, which we will do in about three weeks.

Branding becomes a family affair.  The grand son is doing something with a sorting stick.  He is learning what goes on at a branding.
We brand to denote ownership of the livestock.  If it has our brand on it is legally ours.  When we sell or ownership changes a brand inspector looks at the critter and writes a bill of sale showing a change in ownership and the new owner will put their brand on.

On another note we are still critically dry.  We had an inch and half of rain a week ago, it helped green things up, but it is still very dry.  Some stories of people turning their cattle into summer pasture and the cows beating them back to the gate, wanting out.  There just isn't much new grass, only last years old grass.

The dams and dugouts are low on water.  we have to get a leak repaired in one of our pipelines so we can turn cows into the pastures up north.  We will rent a backhoe in Rapid City and dig up the line sometime this week.
Here is the guard dog "Attilla" out wading in the dam or mud hole that will water the sheep in a few days.  There is other water in this pasture and two water hydrants that we will have to set tanks to hold water.  Note the lack of green in the grass above the water.  Just old grass from last year.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Heifers come home.

Today we became a Red Angus ranch again.  The heifer calves that we sent to a feed lot last fall came home to be on pasture.  The grass has started to green, so it is time to get them back grazing.  We send the heifers to a feedlot because we do not have to labor to take care of them nor the extra feed to feed them.

Here comes the truck!  He as a pretty full load of around 70 head.
Here is a heifer looking out the portal of the truck.
  We unload the truck along the road because the corrals are full of sheep.  The heifers run helter-skelter when they come off the truck.  Then we hop on the four wheelers and get them in a bunch.
Here I am getting about seven head to the rest of the bunch.  They are really stupid when they gett off the truck.  They walk through fences, water, mud or anything else that might get in their way.

Here the heifers are exploring the deep side of a dug out.  The water gets really deep really fast so they have to swim.  Tammy and I got them chased to their pasture and they headed over the hill.  They keep makeing circles around their pasture until they get tired of running, then settle down and graze a little.