Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beef counts and time flies

WCA pres Larry Oberding + co getting ready to feed more folks... on Twitpic

I have no idea where the time goes and why I seem to struggle with getting regular posts to this blog. Lately some of the problem has been related to me feeling like my posts have been boring and without the merits of being something people will actually read. I appreciate all those who come here on a regular basis and offer encouragement and I apologize for disappointing when there is no new blog post and also when there is a new post but it is boring to read. The main issue though is just life, so many things to do each and everyday and sometimes I do actually sleep. Since my last post here on December 8th I will give you an idea of all of the things that have happened since that time.

On Friday December 10th Christine and I traveled to Spokane. We were attending a Second Harvest/ Beef Counts food giveaway for the needy. Beefcounts is a venture that Washington and Idaho’s ranchers in conjunction with AgriBeef Company started back in October to help get wholesome beef into the hands of those who need some help with food in the area. Donations of beef, animals and money with a 50% match by AgriBeef have resulted in $75,000 worth of beef being distributed to people in need. I had my reservations about this project but spending the day helping people really was a great experience. The individuals and families in line that day were a cross section of any urban area in the USA. As difficult as ranching can be one thing we rarely lack is food including high quality, nutritious beef for our families. To help someone else and to talk with these people about our life especially during the holiday season was very rewarding. Thanks to everyone who has donated and helped with this wonderful program. You do not have to be a rancher to participate and all donations are matched with a 50% donation from AgriBeef. The website is

We lost most of our snow that week and just when it cleared off we got about another 4 inches this past Sunday night. On Sunday December 12th we had a great family day of working cattle. It was just Dakota, Chris, Festus and myself and was a long but productive day. The corrals were deep and shitty from all the melted snow but we all made it through the day. Christine said she felt it was “the filthiest she had ever been in her life” I might challenge that notion just based on the term “filthy” but I would be in a heap of trouble. Other than a slight delay with the neighborhood scales weighing calves we had a good day. We sorted calves from cows, then sorted heifers from steers, then loaded, hauled and weighed them. We also chose replacement heifers and show steers for the coming year. The ladies in my life (human not bovine) have really become indispensible hands at cattle working time. Thank you ladies for all that hard work and thank you for reminding me to take my pill so I did not yell at anybody (grin, wink wink).

Wednesday December 15th I met our WCA executive Jack Fields and we traveled to Walla Walla for their annual business meeting of their cattlemen’s association. Thank you to them for great steaks, great hospitality, great drinks and for driving “GPS” Jack crazy with your fooked up street naming system! I got home late that night, slept a few hours, fed cows in the dark and then headed back to Pasco to meet another cattleman for another meeting. Sam and I drove to Toppenish and a group of us traveled in a van together to Portland Oregon to meet with the US Forest Service to discuss grazing leases and other issues. Meeting with officials from the federal government is like that high maintenance girlfriend you had in college. You know you got screwed but you wonder if it was really worth the time and effort. Anyway I digress; it was a decent meeting and spending the day with fellow ranchers and even one sheepherder from across the state made for a fun day.

This past Saturday Dakota was spending the weekend with friends so I planned a romantic Saturday with Chris. The first thing we faced was about 2 inches of new snow along with massive flakes falling early that morning. I had the spring calving cows corralled up from the Sunday previous to get the “bawl” out of any that had not naturally weaned their kid. I had to give them a few days because they were being moved to a circle of corn stalks that was within sight and hearing distance of their calves. Calves will often get over losing momma fairly quickly but many cows will practically walk through fire to get back with their kids no matter their advanced age. With the snow and slick roads we had to take a bit of a detour because of a steep hill but when the day ended all the cows were in their new circle of corn stalks and all the coming first calf heifers were moved as well.

You can call Dr Phil if you want but I promise you a day of walking in foot deep muck while sorting, loading and hauling cows in the snow with your bride will do positive things for your relationship. (Yes I was medicated properly) There is nothing you can do with your clothes on and feel more in love at the end of the day with your wife than work cows. My military brat, urban raised wife runs a sorting gate, shuts stock trailer doors and occasionally cusses as well as any buckaroo I have ever worked with. I love you babe and I hope the fancy takeout dinner at the Pizza Factory Saturday night left no doubt about that love. We even splurged on Coors Light instead of Keystone!

Sunday we had a nice early Christmas gathering with family as my sister Shiann and nephew Chase are here from New Mexico. If you are an Olberding there is something you can count on doing many of your Sundays including visiting cousins, food, practical jokes, food, board games, food, beer, kids, food, sports, food, banter, food, you get the idea. I am lucky to be part of such a close and fun family. I was also able to see my oldest two daughters Amanda and Samantha. With their advancing maturity and busy lives is sometimes difficult to see them but seeing them become productive adults makes me smile lots. Yesterday Dakota and I spent the day together building hotwire fence. One of the advantages to being a ranch kid while on Christmas vacation from school.

Today I traveled to Ellensburg for our December Washington Cattlemen’s Executive meeting. A great day spent with friends discussing many issues affecting us in the beef industry. As WCA President I started a new program where each attendee receives a raffle ticket for attending the meeting. Dick Yoder, one of our second Vice presidents that traveled over the pass from Whatcom County was this month’s winner of a $100 bill. Congrats Dick and thank you to all of you that do so much to support the best industry in the world! I am always inspired and proud to be a cowman when spending the day with these great ladies and gentlemen.

With that you can possibly see why I don’t get here to post as often as promised. A busy but life full of things to do is the only life for me.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is barnyard grass aka Echinochloa crus-galli.

Today’s picture is me moving beef at the Beefcounts food distribution in Spokane. The picture can be seen in full size by clicking on it, as can all pictures on this blog.