Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This summer has really been something else. From one perspective I should be very happy and content because cattle prices are good, the family is in good health and there have been some very joyous moments at different times. The problem lies in the fact that it seems almost daily there has been something that has happened that has been somewhere between disappointing to down right disastrous. I try to have a positive attitude and not let the little things get me down but so often a small bad part of a day seems to stand out compared to the so many great things I am able to see and experience daily. I am far from being a perfectionist but I was to the point where I just was craving one day without any setbacks and it seemed the day would never materialize. Finally, today I had that kind of a day!

We have had a summer intern living with us this year and Chelsey has been a great help and a great young lady to get to know. This week we had a late summer addition in her friend Tori who is an Animal Science student at WSU join us for the week as well. Having these two young ladies around has been helpful especially with things like everyday chores and irrigation water changing. Dakota and I have been getting much more done in a day and having these young people gain some practical knowledge in exchange for sweat labor and whatever beef product I can spawn off the BBQ has been a great thing for the ranch. Of course they also get the wonderful experience of being with me through my workday that has virtually immeasurable amounts of education! Lots of jokes and fun is had at each others expense in any given day but it helps the day to go by quickly and it is nice to see some progress at the end of each day.

As an example of the good things that have happened this summer is the "fall" calving. This is the first week we should be getting calves but because some of the cow calf pairs I bought last fall had already been bred when purchased we already have 10 calves on the ground. This is not perfect as far as timing goes but a live calf is welcome any day of the year on this place, especially the ones that come earlier than expected. On top of that some of these cows have some color other than pure black and we have had some pretty calves with a few different colors and markings. That's all good and as it should be. The problem is I have been bogged down and kicking myself for the one calf that died from a respiratory issue and not focused on the good. Ah hell, maybe I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to calving percentage but damn it, you just do not lose fall calves. At least I dont, not until January when they are big enough to really piss you off. Oh, oh, another tangent of the improperly medicated mind. Anyway......

This weekend as we were out driving through the cows Dakota asked a simple question. Dad, have you seen "Precious" in awhile? "Precious" was born to "Pretty" in early February 2010 and is a family favorite and especially a favorite of Dakotas mostly because of her white color. She is shown at the top of the page second picture down at age 40 days or so with her mother. When a bovine on this place gets a name more personalized than a ear tag number, it is the ultimate crowning achievement. That does not include the few cows that get temporary names such as "^(&*%*%^$$$&" and "#((^**^%" or other names that I may throw out in a moment of special recognition and lack of proper religious oversight. Precious was chosen as one of last years replacement heifers, we are looking forward to her first calf in the spring of 2012. When Dakota asked me if I had seen her in awhile my heart dropped a bit because I really could not recall the last time I had seen her. Dakota was adamant she was around in early July but a reconnaissance of the ranch high and low turned up nothing other than some skin and bones of some dead black hided cow that I still dont know her identity because coyotes had carted off both ears including the one with her tag. I was a little afraid Precious had gotten sick, went off on her own and had died and we just had not come across her. The thing was with her white color she would be damn hard to miss even if something had happened to her. As I questioned and pondered where she might be I thought maybe, just possibly she had gotten in with the neighbors cows but we had searched them as well and found no sign of her.

I was starting to get worried but just wanted to know one way or the other. Could it be the slight possibility she had gotten into the neighbors yearlings and been shipped off to a custom feedlot nearby? We knew she had lost her ear tag but she is branded so that did not seem plausible. This afternoon I happened to see my good neighbor in his yard so I stopped in to ask him if he thought there might be the possibility she had been mistakenly sent away. He said he doubted that because he had a solid in and out count on the cattle he had shipped away, but he did say he had some cows in another area some distance away and even though it seemed remote we were welcome to check if she was there.

After many looks through binoculars and some bouncy driving we not only found Precious today but one of her classmates and fellow replacement heifers happily grazing among the neighbors cattle. Oh what a relief and happy moment that was for all of us. To top that off EVERYTHING else went off without a hitch today and I am as happy and content as I have been in quite some time. Tori captured a picture of the runaway "Precious" and her ebony friend ear tag 0125W today when we found them. They are behind the center pivot sprinkler in the back of the image at the top of the page. Hopefully more great days like today are on the way!

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Milberts tortoiseshell butterfly aka Aglais milberti.

All I want is a little bit of affection from life. Today I got some and it reminded me of a great song sung by Little Steven Van Zant who played "Silvio" on the Sopranos television series. I rocked to this tonight as I typed this blog post. Here are the lyrics if you want to follow along;

Trash and vaudeville
Tight dresses and painted faces
It's time to free the lions
From the circus cages

Jaded baby
Come whisper in my ear
Better come closer 'cause
The music is loud here

I'm the monkey that you've always been afraid of
I'm the spirit that haunts your dreams
Deep inside
Don't you have a little bit of sympathy

Don't you want to
Give me some affection
Why is it so hard

Don't you get tired
Same smilin' faces
Don't you get a little bit lonely
Hiding in crowded places

Don't trust the stranger
You should know better
But this heart of darkness
Can be your shelter

I ain't rich enough I really don't belong here
I don't want to meet your mommy and daddy
I ain't good lookin' but you get used to it like I did

Don't you want to
Give me some affection
Why is it so hard