Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

Well here it is Christmas Day.  Ryan and his family headed to Nebraska for Christmas and will back after Christmas.  So I guess Tammy and I are ones who stay home and take care of the livestock.  Marshall has been helping us while I am recuperating from hip replacement surgery.  He was going to his Grandmothers for dinner in Sturgis, but the snow storm that came in last night canceled those plans.

Early this morning we had light snow and maybe an inch accumulated.  No wind made it pretty pleasant outside.  The temperature was 29 degrees which is pleasant for this time of year.  But after sun-up the wind picked up and it snowed harder.

We have been feeding cake to the sheep every other day and hay every day to them.  They are just ending their breeding season so need the extra nutrition.  The cows are still out grazing and eating lick tubs.

As you can see with the snow from the storm from last week and what we got this morning we still don't have much snow.  The roads have some icy patches so it is winter time driving conditions.  The Black Hills ski slopes and snowmobile trails have good snow so they are happy.  They got a good foot last week and looking to get a foot today.

Marshall has been building sheep grain feeding troughs and sheep panels up in the barn. I have been working in the shop welding tabs on some new stackmover chain.  The chains need replacing so now is a good time to weld the tabs on.

So from all of us here we wish all a Merry Christmas and healthy New Year.

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.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June flood came quick

A funny thing happened on the way to feed the bum lambs.  We had gotten 1.25" rain early this morning. Then about 7:30 it rained for and hour and we got another 0.50".  So we went up to feed the bum lambs.  I could hear this roar that I knew was water but no big amount was in sight.

We spent about 20 minutes feeding bums.  There is like 25 bums in two pens.  When we come out this is what we saw.

Looking north on the hill by the barn.  This is not the normal channel of the creek.  It is an overflow around the beaver dam.

This the northwest corner of the house looking west over the creek.  I have only seen it between the lilacs and the house once before when the seven year drought broke in 2009.

Tammy tried something new for a garden.  Since the soil is too bad to grow anything she used the raised bed method of gardening.  I looked at the garden a half hour later and the tires were under water.  This bed is just on the north side of the lilacs.

Looking south of house.  The water from the creek has breeched the dyke to hold it in the creek and has flooded the little red shed on the creek.  Most of the fence is out. Again.  The camper trailer on the far right is where the chickens reside.  The rest of the flat is hay field.  It will be a while before we can clean the debris off the fields let alone cut hay.

I will be a while before I can cross the creek with the four wheeler to go check the ewes and lambs and the cows and calves.  Then look to fix any washed out fence which there is bound to be.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

We have been busy in the lambing barn.  We have been lambing for about two weeks and are now about half done.  The last days of April we finally got some moisture.  It came in the form of rain with some snow.  The first evening it rained about an inch then it rain or drizzled for three more days with the wind blowing forty to fifty miles an hour.  So we had mud and needed to keep the sheep inside as much as we could.

We number the ewes and their lambs with the same number on the same side.  We do a hundred with one color of paint either black or red on the left side then the right side.  This helps us keep track of lambs and which mother they belong to.

Then when it dried up a little we squeezed a branding in one day.  Our son Ryan got everything ready to brand.  He needed to move his cows so he could quit feeding hay.  So he got enough crew together to get his branded in the morning and we got our calves branded and vaccinated in the afternoon.

The cows that we have here just started calving April 18, so after the rain storm got over I turned them out in the big pasture.  I only had three bales left and it was too muddy to get more bales in so I turned them out to graze.  I take the four wheeler out and drive around and check to see what has been born in the last 24 hours and write them in my book.

Yesterday Marshall and I took two four wheelers and rounded up our yearling heifers and moved them two miles to a pasture.  They had been working the fence trying to reach green grass and sometimes getting out.  This time of year they just don't like hay anymore.  They were good girls and just trotted down the road.

After two mile of a pretty brisk pace we arrived at their new home for the next month or two.

The pasture don't look very green but most of the grey looking hills are mostly old grass from last year, so it is better than it looks.  The weather remains unsettled.  We are predicted to get snow showers for Mother's Day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Well we got sheared.  Four shearers and two helpers came with a shearing trailer and wool sacker.   We lined up another three helpers to push sheep up.  It was supposed to be cold and rainy, but it was just cool and windy with no rain.  The sheep are dry and ready to be sheared.

We use a zig-zag chute to stop the sheep from backing up once they have started up the chute.  It cuts down on the stress of the sheep and stress on the handlers.  Also it take less help.  Once the sheep start up the chute into the trailer many times you just get out of the way and let them load themselves.

Once the sheep load into the trailer they are sheared.

Here is a big look of the shearing trailer and wool sacker all set up and working.  The face wool is separated from the belly wool and put in different sacks.  Just the best wool is put all together in certain sacks.  So each sack is labeled as to which kind of wool is in the sack.  Different wool has different uses so it needs to be separated and labeled.

In the middle is a wool sack that holds bellies and to the left is the closed door of the wool sacker, with a gas engine mounted on top.  There is a pile of wool in front of the sacker ready to be sacked.

Here are our sacks of wool on the trailer ready to head to Belle Fouche.

Here is a picture inside the wool warehouse in Belle Fouche.  They will take a core sample of our wool bales and send the samples to a wool lab.  Then we know what we have for a product then the manager of the wool warehouse knows which customers may be interested in our quality of wool and will offer the wool for sale.  Maybe some time in June we will get a bid and the wool shipped in July.

Then we went to get our bags of sawdust that we use for bedding.  Where we used to get it no longer did retail.  So we tried two different lumber yards and a feed store and no one had any.  The next day we found a supplier in Rapid City.  We had to take two pallets of bags as a minimum.  So we went to Rapid City and got some sawdust.  Sawdust keeps the barn cleaner and it easier to clean the pens that are bedded with sawdust as opposed to straw.  Plus the sawdust has a natural turpentine substance that helps disinfect where straw can carry molds and bacteria.

The wind blew so hard the day we brought this load home we were afraid it would blow over,  but we made it.  It is not heavy just sticks up in the air about eight feet.