Saturday, September 25, 2010

Is that your final answer?

Is it September 8th yet? Is it time to post? I apologize for the long absence and lack of posting. I had the fairs for a bit of an excuse but the 3rd and final fair in four weeks ended a week ago tomorrow. I have really acquired many little bits of material over the fair season and I will take some time to reflect on some really beautiful, inspiring and fun times over the next few blog posts. For today I will kind of work on a general overview of the last 18 days and what has happened in those rapidly lived days.

Besides the fairs, parades, rodeos and community events fall is coming on hard in the Columbia Basin. Summer just seems to pass more rapidly every year and I do not like that very much. The fall solstice took place this week and it naturally depresses me somewhat to know that for the next 3 months the daylight hours will not only get progressively shorter but the dark will be more than the light. There are advantages to fall as well if you focus. It will not be long before the irrigation ditches are dry. We had wonderful fall rain last weekend and a bit more Thursday of this week. It was not great for the people trying to get up their last cutting of hay but it was enough rain to sprout new grass in the dry ground. This only happens about 1 out of 8 autumns here and from a cattleman’s perspective it is a great thing. A nice new green carpet of grass growing under the dried grasses left over, for momma cows and growing calves it is like the food of the Gods. The daytime temperatures are still in the upper 70’s and although it has not yet frosted at night there have been a few nights right at the 40 degree level.

The last of the fall first calf heifers calved last week without any problems. The heifer that lost her calf to scours (blog post September 4th and 7th) took to the orphan calf like Rosie O’Donnell to a box of Twinkies so that worked out fine. There are just a few fall cows left to calve and I am pretty confident we will be done in the next couple of weeks. The hill grass is holding out well and the home place and Dixon place are much better than last year at this time. The corn water is DONE and it is denting and drying nicely. The spring calves are really looking nice and carrying a lot of “calf fat” this year because of the good grass season. Sometime in the next two weeks we need to pre vaccinate the calves for weaning. I am not set on a marketing plan yet this year but am open to many options. The market is much better than the last two years but there is certainly some volatility that can be unnerving.

I gathered, sorted and sold a few older cows the second week of September. It is always a fall chore in which I really miss Dad for both guidance and someone to argue with over which cows have spent their last days here on the ranch. As I evaluate each cow I try to imagine just what conversation he and I would have had. There are times that I think Dad wins more arguments with me now than he did when he was physically here. Almost every one of these great grandma cows has some memory connected to him. What is amazing is as much as Dad and I would sometimes argue over a particular cow and her fate is that it has not ended just because he is not physically in the sorting alley.

These days there is a 13 year old young lady (Dakota) that is about like a trail lawyer working on a percentage defending some of these cows. The inflection of her voice is different but the words flow from her the same as they did from her grandfather. Sometimes she can be so smart, sometimes so smartass, sometimes so confident yet sometimes a bit yielding it is much of the same dance as it was with Dad. There are days that if she was wearing cutoff jean shorts with cowboy boots, a dirty straw hat and smoking a menthol cigarette and was 8 inches taller I would swear she was him. Saying things like, “Oh, so you think she wont raise a good calf next year like she has for the last 20 years” as she rolls her eyes and I put the cow in the cull pen. Then the discussion begins and like I previously said, I think Dad wins more arguments now channeling through her than he did in his own right.

I will be posting another blog post either later tonight or tomorrow sometime about a tour I went on today. I also want to thank all of you that have continued to support and even tell me you miss it when I don’t post regularly. I really do appreciate that. The last thing I need to update is Festus has healed fine and is right back to bringing sticks or other items to anyone willing to throw them for him.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is Tansy mustard aka Descurainia pinnata.

Today’s picture is 9194w a long yearling that calved early standing next to her fall bull calf. Her mother 5194w was probably one of the hardest cows for me to ever cull. Knowing that the line lives on does make me smile though. Knowing what her mother was like attitude wise around a new calf makes me know this calf will not be tagged before branding.