Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Tonight I read back some of my previous posts and noticed I am kind of painting myself into a corner. I have been focused on the fun part of life and the humor that goes with it. Lets just hope that continues and I do not get to the point where my post consists of “worked today, it really sucked, the end”. As you can see I am messing with some background changes to the blog and font colors so please let me know either in comments or email what you like or dislike about any part of the blog. Thanks to those who have commented and emailed me so far.

Anyone who has livestock has chores to do everyday in the winter. The first time I heard the word “chores” I was in 3rd grade little league. The coach stressed the importance of communicating and calling for pop flies. So each time there was a pop fly fellow infielder Pedro Garcia would squat down, cover his head with both his throwing hand and glove hand, close his eyes and yell out, “es chores, es chores”. The dictionary says chores are small or odd jobs, routine tasks around a farm or home or a hard or unpleasant task. Sometimes the daily chores encompass all three definitions. I consider my chores the basic feeding and daily things I do taking care of the cows and ranch. Right now I have a pretty standard morning routine.

My youngest daughters alarm goes off at 6:10 am across the hallway and although I rarely wake from the alarm the hard thud of her fist on the snooze button is usually what will make me jump up and yell out something like, “shoot him honey before he gets me!”. I get dressed (at least partially), start the coffee, then I go outside to my used pickup lot and make my selection for the morning. Right now the choices are gray Dodge, black Dodge, or brown Ford. Each of them has their advantages and disadvantages. The gray Dodge has the best heater and radio but the steering is stiff and the passenger window will only go up halfway. The black Dodge is a diesel and takes forever to warm up, has a terrible heater but is the most mechanically sound and least likely to strand me somewhere. The brown Ford has a good heater, the windows all stay up, warms up reasonably quickly, and is fairly sound mechanically. However, to get out you either have to crawl out through the drivers side window like Bo Duke, crawl across the seat and out the passenger door or lower the drivers side window, reach your arm out and around and use the outside handle to escape. I do not remember precisely when the inside handle broke off but I know Monica Lewinski still had an unstained blue dress at the time. The two other sometime choices, white ford short and white ford tall are currently on injured reserve.

After somewhere between three to thirty trips back and forth to the house for coffee, cell phone, red book (which is oddly black this year), Copenhagen, wallet, fencing pliers and jeans I am rapidly on my way. I go check on the fall pairs and the older and younger spring calving cows which are only a couple miles away. This usually goes pretty quickly but will take more time soon as the spring cows start to drop calves. Then I go to our corrals and feed hay and grain to “chocolate milk” a 2 year old brown rat tailed steer which is soon going to move from the corrals and into our freezer. I then take a walk through the yearling calves checking them and doing some digging through manure with my boots looking for any telling health issues or loose change.

By this time the school bus has came and left with the youngin, my wife has headed to work and the college girl has usually left as well. Once the house becomes female free, I return to the house and do my morning online stuff. Email, checking the futures board, any new market reports, the weather, Washington Cattlemen’s Association related stuff, usually a post or two on some political message board just to see how much hate mail I can get (current record is 134 for one post). Around 9 am I go and feed the yearlings their morning hay. Then I make a 25 mile roundtrip to check on the main group of spring calving cows. There is no calling in sick for chores; they have to be done every single day including Christmas morning and some Sunday mornings with a dry mouth, nausea, a headache and a vow to never again…….yeah right.

The middle part of the day is pretty boring right now; fence mending is a focus at this time, because the other choices are paperwork and equipment maintenance. Sometimes during calving season the chores do not have a morning and afternoon session. It all just melds into one long day. As the shadows of the day get longer my afternoon chores consist of doing the morning chores all over again except for driving to and checking the spring calving cows. We have had 48 hours now of above freezing temperatures so the frost is pretty much gone from the ground. Learning from my lessons last week (blog post, day of the procrastinator, Jan 8th) I think I better plan on building the last of the electric fence over the next couple days, if the daily chores will allow it.

. I need to get a new camera as my old one seems to have died so I can share some pictures of the new calves as they arrive and some of the other great things I see everyday. That is something I like most about this life, the things you get to see while outside working next to nature. Well that and the massive profits which if saved over the years can someday buy a pretty darn nice door handle.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the coyote aka Canis Latrans .