Thursday, December 29, 2011

Being 5231 in 2012

Oh man am I ever excited for 2012. Sadly when it comes to this blog 2011 was not a stellar performance in content and especially in regularity. Several things contributed to this but rather than crying like a child and making excuses I am going to rededicate myself to getting back to a better blog with better regularity. I know we are in the time of New Years resolutions and I could make a long list and then feel crappy about my failures by mid February or sooner. I am instead going to make myself a list of 100 “options” for the New Year and then feel tremendously successful if I achieve a 10% success rate. I have some newly found energy and focus and it is other people in agriculture that I have to thank.

There are so many great “agvocates” out there that do so much in telling our story. What is truly amazing to me is how they do it on such a regular basis and do such an incredible job of it. Many of them find the time to actually post DAILY! I figure I have a minimum of 3 posts a month just taking time to direct my readers to other bloggers and “agvocates”. There is a downside to these great people in the fact that the more of them I find the more I prefer reading them than I prefer sharing my own life. I will share some of these incredible people and their contributions as we make our way through 2012. Most of these people I have met through Twitter and if you have an account I would be glad to know and “follow”. My account there is!/TheDailyCowman

To help with this new focus and adventure I went out tonight and bought myself a new laptop. This desktop is getting old and slow and between my maintenance schedule of dumping coffee on the keyboard, blowing off the tower once a year and regular kicks from my boots it has developed a few issues. The new laptop uploaded pictures in about 30 seconds tonight that I have been trying to upload on the desktop for months. I just feel that a blog post is so much more interesting if I can post a picture from my daily life when I post.

These days I am working to get as many cows to cornstalks so they can feed themselves and not be fed expensive hay. Lots of hotwire fence building, panel moving and cow hauling rule the day as we fast approach spring calving. Dakota has been home this week for Christmas vacation and having her help makes the day so much more fun and productive. As this young lady approaches her 15th birthday she has become an integral part of getting things done around here, I am very proud and thankful for your help Gus. Between her help and her mother going dutifully off to work everyday to earn money to feed us it makes my addiction to chasing cows much easier to indulge in.

One thing you will notice on this blog as we charge into 2012 is that some posts will be much more abbreviated. Some nights it might just be a few sentences or a picture or two but to see that I only did 6 more posts in ALL of 2011 than I did in January of 2010 makes me want to try much harder. I thank all of you that have supported my efforts and as always I am a big boy and any input you have will be gladly taken as to how I could improve.

I tend to relate just about everything in life to mother cows, sometimes that is not always a good thing but you would be surprised how much cows imitate life. One of the things a good mother beef cow does is raise a good sized calf, while rebreeding and preparing herself for the following year. I am going to do all I can to emulate cow #5231B. This little cow has at times been a bit of a challenge because of her attitude but because of her amazing ability continues to stay here on the ranch. Today’s picture is her with her massive steer calf #0231W born in February 2011, clear back in September 2011. This big boy is now being fed out and will provide nutritious, healthy and wholesome protein for a hungry world. His momma will be bringing another stellar child into this world soon I have no doubt.

I also need to shout out a Happy Birthday to a very special lady that turned 21 today. Chelsey, our summer intern is enjoying a few drinks tonight and they are very well deserved. Happy Birthday kiddo!

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Eastern cottontail rabbit aka Sylvilagus floridanus.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Awesome industry

Hey there! Does anyone remember me? The guy that used to blog now and again. *Sighs* life has a tremendous way of being very ironic when it comes to blogging. The "busier" life is the more I see in a day that seems to be blog worthy. The busier life is the less I feel like blogging about it at the end of the day.

Last year about this time I did a blog post entitled "Beef counts and time flies" Tonight I am going to mostly focus on how far the beef counts program has come in a little over a year.
What is beefcounts ? Long story short, cash and animal donations are taken and matched at a 50% level by a beef processor here in our state . The money generated is then used to purchase high quality beef roasts to help serve hungry families in conjunction with Second Harvest . There are also Washington beef industry organizations as sponsors including the Washington Cattlemen's Association WCA of which I just began my second year as President, (yea I know people vote really weird sometimes) Anyway, it is a great program and the links will show you how you can help.

So as this year progressed we once again talked about "rollover" auctions that could help raise money for beefcounts. This is a very worthy program but I debated if I could really stand the donation of a $700-800 animal. I went to my Franklin County Cattlemens Association and asked them if they would be willing to go "half". Tom, a fellow cattleman and friend of mine quickly made a motion that the county association buy my calf outright and then donate it to beefcounts. I quickly thanked him for his generosity but said going half would be as much as I hoped or would ask for. Tom then proceeded to tell me it was his motion and that it was to buy the calf at market price and reimburse me and then donate the calf to beefcounts and I should just shut up he politely suggested. Our county cattleman's association is made up of the best people I have ever known. Hard working, honest, good neighbors and very generous. They voted unanimously to buy the calf.

So this was last month and Dakota and I chose calf 1000W a solid black steer calf as the calf to be donated. As we approached this evenings auction we have had quite a story. Our Washington State Beef Commission, asked if Dakota and I would do a radio spot to promote beefcounts. I was all for it because for whatever reason I feel so much more intelligent, sexy and fit on radio as compared to television. So we got a scrip, Dakota and I practiced like crazy for 10 minutes and then did the radio spot at the end of last month. Radio is amazing these days as they can crop and edit so quickly and Dakota and I only did two takes to get the spot done. Overall I was very happy with the spot although I feel my voice is a bit flat. I was really impressed with Dakota though and the final product was acceptable, you can hear it here.....ARRRGGGGGHHHHH, so I cant save a mp3 file as a video and I dont have time to convert the ad tonight. So you will have to wait until a later date for the radio ad, sorry. Here is a picture that is running with the ads. UGHHHHHH........

So tonight at Toppenish Livestock auction calf 1000W entered the ring, he was sold numerous times and the Washington Beef industry raised over $32000 for beefcounts. AgriBeef will match that donation by 50% and with other donations I am sure we will clear $50000 to help feed hungry families in our state. For the month with other county and member donations we have raised very near $70000 for this cause.

I am so proud to be part of this industry, and I thank all of you that donated. I will not soon forget and now I can actually say i sold a weaned calf for over $30000 and it will be true!

Todays picture is one of Dakota and I that has ran with the beefcounts ads. If you read this and would like to make a tax deductible donation it would be very appreciated.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Washington DC and me

Hey everyone and thank you to my new blog fans that have been emailing me! I actually have so much blog material I am not really sure where to start. Since I was last here so much has happened and most of it positive. I was able to enjoy a day on the ranch actually working today and not only did I like it, I craved it and needed it!

I spent a good part of last week traveling and visiting our nations capitol "agvocating" for the cattle industry and the Washington Cattlemens Association. I am here to tell you that there is probably a good 10 blog posts related to that trip alone. Both from an awe perspective, to disgust and humor standpoint. I had been to DC before but not as a lobbying effort and not post September 11, 2001. Things are a bit different in that city than it was prior to that date. The city like so many in the south has its share of humidity and for a fat cowboy wearing a long sleeved shirt, sports jacket and felt hat coupled with being out of my element and nervousness (yes it happens to me too although rarely) I think I could have solved the drought in Texas just with the moisture my body expelled. Having to practically get nude and past security with a a metal belt buckle, steel shank boots and a tin Copenhagen lid got to be quite a chore.

I traveled with my friends and fellow cattlemen Jack (aka heart attack Jack) and Vic (aka Sidewinder). Other than being asked what part of Texas we were from as a bit of a pain in the ass I will say a cowboy hat on the capitol mall gets a whole lot of respect and a few raised eyebrows. I just love being in a place where the people with neon pink hair and fishing lures on their face filling piercings look at you like YOU are the "freak". I think having a conversation with an armed capitol policeman with a machine gun and discussing just how effective said firearm would be at picking off squirrels in the park is something that they rarely get to experience. Jack and I were even invited to join a wedding reception for a beautiful young lady and a military young man because they wanted some pictures to remember their special night with the bride wearing my black Stetson. Good times indeed, however nobody in DC that I came across can drink whiskey like cowpokes from the great state of Washington. The other wonderful observation was the ladies love a cowboy hat and we got lots of compliments and the riffraff seems to clear a path as you walk down the street. It is almost like if you are crazy enough to wear a cowboy hat in DC you are probably crazy enough to dispatch anyone that bothers you.

Instead of going into great detail as to our lobbying efforts I will instead post about some of the more amusing and exciting parts of the trip from my perspective and twisted observations. It started in the park and fly outside the Seattle airport. As Jack squeezed the car into a tight slot I noticed that the guard shack had a sign in the window, "like" us on Facebook! Now I do not have a Facebook account as of yet but I am just not thinking when I do have one I will be "liking" a park and fly parking lot. Then we got to the ticket counter where Jack, Vic and I had a long discussion over checking luggage. Someday when there is Cowman airlines things will be different. All checked bags will be free and any carry on item bigger than a Copenhagen can and a wallet will be allowed but will cost $8,974 per item. It drives me nuts to watch people hold up a flight as they try to stuff a bag that could hold an elephant or half of Rosie O'Donnell into an overhead bin! Before I even had to witness this spectacle I saw something that my mind just could not let go as we waited in the boarding area. At another gate I noticed a dwarf couple (aka little people aka midgets) board a plane. Other than the fact that an unfortunate sight at a strip club in Vancouver BC years ago on a fishing trip made me very midget uncomfortable I also had this thought. Why did this couple really need 2 carry on bags that were at the upper limit of size? I mean really, one shirt of mine, a pair of socks and some denim trousers would not take any more cubic space than a midgets wardrobe for a month.Here I was being very politically incorrect in my thoughts as I headed out to be politically correct.

Our flights were mostly good considering my claustrophobic butt and I only needed 5 beers @ $5 each to make the flight to Atlanta without breaking out a window and doing a DB Cooper minus the cash. Hey that really was not that bad, Jack needed 4 beers and he is not even claustrophobic! After throwing away my boarding pass with my plastic chef salad container in Atlanta I was able to convince Lila at the gate to give me a new one and let me go with my friends to DC. This flight was much shorter and would have only required 2 beers but luckily our flight attendant was not very attentive and only served us one each but also did not charge us. Here we enjoyed our first of many taxi rides of the next few days that ranged from one that was really fun with a guy from Ethiopia that had lots of great reasons why we could become bazillionaires ranching in his home country to one son of a bitch that could do nothing but grunt a pissy "mrumphfff" to any question asked.

This is getting long and I have not even gotten started so a few other quick thoughts;

To a Washington cowboy $150,000 is a lot of damn money, that same amount in DC is equal in perspective to the change in Griseldas ashtray to my total ranch operation.

Our National Cattlemens Association (NCBA) of which our state is an affiliate has some really top of the line people in DC and helped us get face to face access to people that matter and I was thoroughly impressed with their influence, hospitality and genuine down to earth people that did so much to make our trip more productive and enjoyable. I also want to thank the Missouri Cattlemens Association and their leadership for all the conversation, perspective and fun.

A quick karate chop to the steering wheel of a taxi cabs horn means, get the f*ck out of the way.

It is damn hard to find Pendleton brand whiskey in Washington DC.

The waterfront of the Potomac river has some wharf rats that look like they could wean 6 weight calves.

If you are going to join the occupy DC crowd you would get more respect if you did not stand next to a sign saying "corporations are evil" while using your Apple iphone, and AT and T connection and holding a Starbucks coffee while wearing your Nike shoes.

When a flight attendant asks a four year old boy that is in the row in front and across from you "may I get you anything young man?", and he says, "yeah, I need a place to POOP." it is much more amusing to me than it is to his father! Oh my that was solid gold I tell ya!

A young lady flight attendant named Cassidy will probably never have children.

All flight attendants named Patrick are not gay but at least one is. (not that there is anything wrong with that)

You cant tip a flight attendant for providing good beer service but if you give them a $10 bill to throw away as she passes by she probably wont throw it away.

Last but not least, those of you that happen to know Jack should tell him, "It a'int easy Jack!" every chance you get just to see his temple pulse.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Northwestern Fritillary butterfly aka Speyeria hesperis.

Today's picture is an old one of cow #5019w with some birds because although I have a new camera I am not getting my pictures from the media card to load, arghhhhhhhh!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Insane in my own weird way

I am going to try a little something tonight I have never tried here. Going into a blog post with really nothing of a story, an issue or an idea of where this is going. I have done this before but I have never finished the post and certainly never hit the "publish" button. Just for the sake of doing something different I will post whatever I end up with here but will take no responsibility for lameness. It is now 8:51 p.m. and as I cruise the internet, email etc I will try and add to this post over time.

Ok, so I did not get very far. I went to Youtube to watch some footage of the plane crash in Reno. Invariably it does not take me long on Youtube before I check out some music. One of my favorite songs of all time Jamey Johnson sings about the realities of life as he sings "In Color" anytime I think life gets a bit rough this is a good reminder of just how lucky we are to live where we do, and do what we do for a living in a country that despite its problems still is the place many aspire to get to.

We made it through the Adams County fair with "Lebron" getting blue ribbons in both market and fitting a showing. Lebron was the third son to become a show steer of cow #02G a nondescript Hereford/ Red Angus cow that when crossed with an Angus bull produces some really good and easy to tame blue ribbon steers. Dakota had a pretty successful show season with all blue ribbons and one Reserve Champion in fitting and showing. We decided after her first year that we were going to show our own raised calves. This in some ways limits her chances to win against high priced purchased "club calves" but her carcass data and live animal placing has shown as a commercial beef operation we are on the correct trajectory. I tell her the bottom line comes down to dollars and sense (cents). If you pay a high price for a fancy steer and then in the end win a championship ribbon but lose money because your inputs are too high you wont last long in the world of the cattle business. The show ring can be a great learning tool, it can also be a way for people to chase fads and lose their ass. Just like many things in life moderation, learning and having some fun is key. When you do that the profitability thing will slide into place for the most part.

Now, as I posted that last bit of wisdom I listened to many songs including this gem by Everclear with excellent lyrics and drum and guitar twangs. "Insane and rising in my own weird way", you cant ignore the beauty of words like that!

Fall calving is pretty well wrapped up with just a handful of cows left to drop kids. So far it has been excellent with nothing in the way of calving problems or health issues. Knock on wood. Today I rounded up some cattle so I can move a few yearling heifers to a friends lush pasture and take the pressure off the grass a bit. Tomorrow I have a WCA meeting in Ellensburg so the hauling will have to wait until Wednesday. I look forward to tomorrows meeting as I have been a bit out of the loop lately because of the fairs. There really is nothing better than spending a day discussing industry issues with fellow cattlemen.

I was going to post one last thing tonight but in the interest of time and because the subject matter really deserves a full post I will save it. Christine, I love you so much and although I sometimes forget you come from a totally different world, your love of me, our kids and your embracing of what I do means so much to me. Check back for a post tomorrow about this unique love of someone that is not often easy to even like yet alone love.

Today's picture is "LeBron" as a young calf back in March 2010 who had been tagged incorrectly and was giving me heartburn at the time. He is in the lower left of the picture, and remember all pictures ab be viewed in full size by clicking on them.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Beavertail cactus aka Opuntia basilaris.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nothing to lose

It is way too late to be posting to this blog but I have been wanting to get something posted and now seemed as good as time as any. Tonight I am going to tell the story of "Kobe" a steer that had a bit of a rough go of it in the beginning but in the end turned out just perfectly.

I flash back to April 2, 2011 which is one of two "weigh in" days for two of the fairs Dakota attends and shows at. The day was a nice spring day in the Columbia Basin and Dakota and I loaded her 3 steers named Shaq, Kobe and LeBron in the stock trailer to head to Connell for weigh in day. The loading went fine and when we got there we helped other entrants get their steers weighed and tagged and waited until there was a break in the action to weigh her steers. Shaq went first and all went well, Kobe was second in line and as he was ran up the alleyway I worked on loading Shaq. In the blink of an eye and one open gate and next thing we knew Kobe was weighed but also freed of the confines of the corral. Personally, I think he would have come back to his friends but being in an unfamiliar environment and with the help of some zealous pursuers he bolted and headed for downtown Connell. I jumped in a friends pickup hoping to coax Kobe back to the corral but as the minutes passed I felt more and more like a cheap hooker on a Saturday night, it really looked like we were f*cked bad.

Kobe traveled down the Esquatzel canal and I was a bit late to cut him off at Columbia Avenue so off through the sand dunes he headed. I know Dakota will tell you I had Marks pickup at a 89 degree angle going up a hill but in all reality it was only 87.5%. Kobe traveled, and traveled and went through 3 barb wire fences and was getting more on the "fight" by the second. He went through a few different yards and also took a tour of the partially built new grade school. By this point I had taken an inventory of what the cab of Marks pickup contained and luckily there was a lasso in our possession. The problem was that even though the Olberding family has been in the beef business for generations we have some type of roping disability and my confidence of what the future held for us was not good.

As Kobe ran I could see a place ahead that looked like maybe we could corner him with the F150. Cornering him was possible but the only way to do that was on Dakotas side of the pickup. I made a loop of the lariat, handed it to her, gave a short presentation on how to properly toss a loop, told her the family was full of great ropers, and then prayed to Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, Moses, Waylon Jennings, Motley Crue, Larry Olberding Sr. and anyone else that was listening and not laughing at that point. As we approached the point of no return I gently let Kobe bend down the passenger fender like a good Nascar racer at Bristol and told Dakota, "Just throw the damn loop darlin, we ain't got nothin to lose at this point sweetheart!".

The next few seconds seemed like a week and I will remember them the rest of my life. Dakota threw the loop, the loop sailed wide, high and true and gently laid down around the neck of Kobe. The next few seconds seemed like a year as Dakota and I looked at each other in disbelief and realized we would never win the lottery but holy hell we got this calf!!!!!! Now I am not a big Ford man but with a double dally around the steering column and 678 pounds of pissed off Angus steer on the other end the Ford proved to be "built tough". The cavalry soon arrived with more humans and my pickup and stock trailer. We were able to get Kobe into the trailer, shut the gate and travel back to pick up Lebron who wondered just what the hell all the ruckus was about.

We got Kobe home and treated his cut up legs and gave him some antibiotic. Dakota was justly concerned about his future as a show steer. I told her it really was not his fault and we would give him a try. As the spring and summer went on Kobe calmed down, learned to trust humans and he came to really love Dakota and Chelsey our intern. Still, because of his past we always wondered if something would set him off and especially if he would give problems if he returned to Connell for the fair.

Last week Kobe got a blue ribbon in market class and stood as the Reserve Champion intermediate 4H fitting and showing steer. I was so proud of this animal and also of Dakota with what life had presented and the final outcome. Kobe also did great as a bovine gaining over 4 pounds per day and finishing at 1369 pounds. When life looks like it is so imperfect, a bit of perseverance, trust and faith can really pay off! Congrats Gus, and Kobe you will always be a special memory for all of us.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the cow, calf, bull, bovine aka Bos taurus which is the most important for us in how we make a living.

Today's picture is Kobe as a newborn last January. I also am adding a YouTube video of a song that captures the essence of this story. Tom Petty sings, "Even the losers, get lucky sometimes."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

County Fair

It is hard to believe that it is already September. We got through our first of three fairs over four weeks last week and things went pretty well with blue ribbons. Dakota and her steer named "Shaq" did well but no champion ribbons. She did get into the championship round in fitting and showing and I really thought she has a reserve championship won but the two girls that did win grand and reserve champion did an excellent job and were very deserving.The intermediate 4H division is full of excellent showmen (actually mostly young women) and just to compete in the championship round is a real accomplishment. Even though Dakota has placed higher at different fairs in the past I felt this was her most "successful". She really took things upon herself this year and not once did I feel frustrated at her focus, work ethic or self discipline. Not only did she have her steer responsibilities, she also had volleyball practice every afternoon last week. She did well and as a freshman made the junior varsity team. This is something I have longed for and yet seeing her grow up and become so responsible is a double edged sword. This does not even take into consideration noticing the teenage boys and their staring eyes coupled by their spittle laden chins of drool. Arghhhhhhhh!!!!! Good job Gus (Dakota), we are all very proud of you, love you and you can slow down the growing up whenever you like.

The fall calving continues to smoke along with a calf or two a day. So far it has been really excellent with very little in the way of issues. I am wayyyyyyyyyyy behind on tagging calves and hope to spend tomorrow getting a few more marked. Last weeks hot weather, the first real heat we have had all summer, has been tough on the grass. The fact that the spring calves are now getting big enough to put a fair dent in grass growth is not helping either. I need to move a few cows around to other pastures and I am going to take a few yearling heifers to a friends just to keep the grass from getting overrun. This week it has cooled down and has been very pleasant but the days are certainly getting shorter and although I hope we are at least a month away, in this part of the country it can frost anytime now that we are into September.

So, for lack of other material a few fun observations from the fair and this past week of running around getting steers delivered, harvested and graded for our "Steer of Merit" program.

Subject; teenage boys and girls at the fair.

One thing I love seeing at the fair is the same kid that is shoveling cow shit or washing a steer at 6a.m. in irrigation boots looks quite different at 10a.m. as he/she heads into the show ring wearing their best jeans, starched shirt or blouse and both the exhibitor and the steer have their hair styled to a level that would make Sally Hershberger jealous. Then, in the afternoon another transformation takes place as that kid heads out to practice in football cleats, volleyball spankies (second skin shorts Arghhhhhhh!!!!), or soccer or cross country gear.

As a casual observer and listener to teen communication I noticed quite an anomaly. When the boy is in his t shirt, football pants and cleats heading to practice the girls think he looks "hot". When the boy returns from practice he is wearing the same clothing but is now "gross", "stinky" and "dirty" in the eyes of the female teen. Contrarily, when the girl heads to practice she is viewed by the teen boy as "stuckup", "slutty" and a "full of herself". However when she returns later in the evening wearing the same clothes soaked in sweat she is now "hot". I often laugh because especially the young men have no idea how life changes over time. There was a time in my life when a cheer leading outfit, painted nails and high heels was the ultimate. Now a woman in insulated Carhartts that knows how to sort cattle is a huge turn on. The high heel thing is tough to get over.

Subject; VIP Tent at the rodeo

Last year I commented that I felt the VIP tent stood for very intoxicated people but I changed that this year as the Washington State Liquor control board may read this blog and have some obscure law and send me to a CIA prison in Nocowistan. I now know VIP stands for very inspired parents. Anyway this year the highlight of the VIP tent was watching my baby sister asked to leave. LMAO, granted she pretty much got caught in the crossfire of some wild friends but still. Standing there as Mr innocent was almost amusing as my sister asking the security guard if there was no height requirement for his job! OMG, Sis, that was awesome, I was ready to leave with you in support and protest but I had a full drink.

Subject;blog grammar

Most of the time I first post this on a Word document, then edit, then transfer and post. Some nights, like this one, in the interest of time i post directly. The blog does have spell check but does not do much for punctuation or grammar. Even when I post first to Word I run into a bit of an issue. I type something out and it says "fragmented, consider revising". Many times I know it if f%cking fragmented, hell I am fragmented. Other times I know it is not perfect in a grammatical sense but it is written exactly how I would SAY it. Then I have to decide if I want it to sound like me or sound like an English Professor. I do however have some rules that I cannot break because of my own issue with the specific issue. Your, You're and They're, their, and there are something I notice if incorrect. The one misspelling I notice every time is the word "quiet" as in STFU or soundless. It is so petty but when I see someone post something like, "I told them to be quite!" I cannot help but ask them quite WHAT????? Do you mean quite quiet?

Subject; hitchhikers

I know this really does not fit the fair and sometime in the future I will tell you a great story about a hitchhiker I gave a short ride a few years ago. This is based on a woman and man hitchhiker I saw waiting on the northbound highway 395 on ramp yesterday. Now, I am not a judge and maybe these people just had time on their hands or wanted a scenic route but still. You do not stand on the NORTHBOUND on ramp of highway 395 in PASCO Washington with a sign saying "Eugene, OR". I mean I guess you could eventually get there and it was a small sign and maybe they needed to stop at a cash machine in Cranbrook, British Columbia to buy deodorant or teeth, er I mean toothpaste but it still seemed like a long route to take. If nothing else they should have at least eliminated the "OR" part. That way the could say they were headed north to their friends in Eugene, Saskatchewan.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Western Screech Owl aka Megascops kennicotti.

I STILL have not purchased a new camera so I am posting two pictures that I think have graced these pages before. One is Dakotas show steer "Shaq" as a newborn last February. Then as a weanling last November. I will get a picture added later of Shaq at the fair. He was a good steer and so easy to tame and he really loved Dakota. Cycle of life keeps spinning.

As an added BONUS I am posting Chris Ledoux video of his great song "County Fair"

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

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I know I seldom get here with any regularity anymore and often when I do post I feel it is so lame it hardly warrants publication. Tonight once again I really do not have time for a full post but I was sent an email today with a link to a great youtube video and wanted to share it. I hope it makes BOTH ladies and gentlemen who read this blog have a bit of a chuckle.

Here is Craig Campbell and "Fish"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Karma, good karma

Well good news!, I survived another Washington Cattlemen's Association summer range tour. This is not something as easy as one may surmise by reading today's blog post or reading a post about last years range tour

it has quite often became a matter of near death in a school bus. Now growing up I was a pretty good kid on the school bus because the bus driver and my Grandma Sally were friends and I knew any trouble would be reported directly to Grandma who was someone I never wanted to disappoint. Maybe that is why I tend to keep quiet and not let my white knuckles show on these tours because I am , well I am just an afraid man. I actually got a break today as I chose the front or "non dusty bus". This was good because the second bus was driven by a man that was so fearful he would be left in the forest that he had a following distance of .0000000478 seconds behind the bus I was on. On the downside my bus had a woman driver which as we all know can be dangerous, this reminds me of a joke; You know why Helen Keller was a bad driver? Well because she was a woman of course!

Anyway, great tour today and I want to thank the US Forest Service ( which when I thank a government agency is an odd thing) specifically the Pomeroy Ranger District of the Umatilla National forest and all the agency people and cattlemen that attended. This is a truly beautiful area of Washington state and the Pacific Northwest. Despite many challenges related to endangered species, environmental group lawsuits and some large fires in recent years it was nice to see a collaborative approach to ecosystem management. This is good for the "permittee" rancher, the local communities, the local forest service agency and their management, the United states taxpayer and most of all it is good for the health of the forest. Multiple use and dollars spun through local communities to create a strong and prosperous country, with a reasonable management plan that eliminates the idea of no use as well as the idea of overuse. I also would be remiss if I did not mention the ladies of the Asotin and Garfield County Cattlewomen's associations. Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray may have television shows but these ladies would give them a good beat down on how to prepare and serve lunch in the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington. Really ladies, it was incredible from the marinated BBQ beef to the oatmeal cookies and everything in between.

It was great meeting some new people today and seeing so many old friends. Although my lady bus driver who seemed to have no problem bouncing a school bus over a cattle guard at 73 miles per hour (store this number) on a forest service road tried to send me to the afterlife today I am still here and breathing. We actually made it back to the ranger station late this afternoon, and despite the occupants of the second bus needing to be screened for miners lung for the dust they ate all day it was a awesome day. Thank you so much to all who attended and made the tour a success.

So all we had to do was make the trip home over the winding highways back to Connell, USA and life would be perfect. A pretty simple task for most people on most days but somehow difficult for me. We were a good distance out of Pomeroy and about 13 inches from the Garfield/Columbia county line when a diligent Garfield county sheriffs deputy clocked me for doing 73 miles per hour in a 60 miles per hour zone. When the conversation starts as , "Sir, please shut off the engine to your vehicle." you just know it is likely not going to be a friendly conversation about how law enforcement and the beef industry can collaborate. So I got a $113 ticket and a curt, "Do you have any questions?" from officer illegible. I thought about asking him if his wife was named "Moana" but I haven't had a ticket in a few years and was terribly out of practice. Things like this used to really piss me off but not anymore. Tomorrow I will be outside working with cows, grass, and mother nature and have lots of good friends and a great family and officer illegible will answering to a boss, being an asshole to citizens and will likely be the one of the few males in Garfield county not having sex with Moana. Oops, did I say what I was thinking again.

The day turned back around quickly as we continued on our trek through the desert on the way home. We blasted through Starbuck, Washington with a speed limit of 35 at 37 mph in an awesome show of defiance and I am sure we crossed the double yellow line on the bridge at Lyons Ferry just for good measure. Somewhere between Palouse Falls and the highway 260/261 Junction I spotted a rattlesnake in the road. We made a u turn without signaling; where are you now officer illegible? and Jack and Neil dispatched the head off said snake. Chelsey our summer intern now has a set of much coveted rattles and tomorrow we will gut and stretch a snakeskin for a future hatband. Now you try and tell me that there is no such thing as good karma for people like myself ;).

Today's picture is not from the tour because someone; Chelsey did not have her camera charged, but instead is calf 1302w on February 15th of 2010, I will try and get a picture of her in the next few days to show how much she has grown.This picture, like all pictures on this blog can be seen full sized by clicking on it.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is Meadow Foxtail aka Alopecurus pratensis.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Cowboys and Cattlemen

Just a short blog post tonight as I should be in bed for an early and long day tomorrow. We are having a WCA range tour tomorrow near Pomeroy Washington on some forest service grazing permits to look at some water systems, grazing management, post fire damage areas etc. A few of my fellow cattlemen are going to be in my yard at 6 a.m. to make the trip.

We have had a couple of really great things as well as a very heartbreaking thing happen here on the ranch the last few days. I will get into those in a future blog post. Tonight in the interest of time I wanted to share something I found very inspirational and helpful in dealing with life the last few days. There is a young woman in our industry that is a great agvocate and supporter. She is a magazine editor, a 5th generation South Dakota rancher and writes a great blog @ ht
her name is Amanda Radke and she does an incredible job. One of the things she does on her blog from time to time is have photo contests related to things in the beef industry. The latest was Cowboys and Cattlemen in honor of Fathers day. As someone who misses my dad so much I was very impressed with all the photos people contributed. Senior Beef Magazine associate editor Jamie May made a video compilation of the entries. Enjoy and thank you to Beef Magazine, Amanda and Jamie and all that contributed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summers here!

The #NWP2P <span style=Summer, sweet sweet summer, finally here and manifesting itself in the glorious way that it should. For a cow calf operator here in the Pacific Northwest summer does not mean that there is not enough things to do but it does mean you have some flexibility in your day and the real plus is that the cows are feeding them self on natures bounty of growing grass. It is also a great time because it is often the time of year that the cows look their best. Slick, fat with growing calves standing beside them. Memories of past calf crops and the calves that specific cows have raised in the past flood your mind as you work among these amazing animals. The weather can at times get a bit too hot to be comfortable and everyday irrigation water must be attended to but compared to snow, ice, cold and feeding supplemental feed daily to cattle it is a great time. We pushed right up into the mid to upper 80's today but there was a nice breeze and it was a great day.

I was dragging a bit as yesterday was a long but informative day. I was up at 3:30 a.m. and Chelsey and I left at 4:30 a.m. to drive to Ellensburg. There we met 4 other cattlemen and traveled to Lynden which is in the very north part of western Washington near the Canadian border. We had our monthly WCA executive meeting and then did an afternoon tour of a river basin on the west (wet) side of the state. We learned about river biology, regulations, shellfish growing in Samish bay and how some of those regulations are affecting members of our industry. The weather was great and some fellow cattlemen had put together a great and informative tour. Thank you to all that participated to make it a very great day. We did not pull back into the driveway until midnight and once again Chris and Dakota covered chores so I could be away to serve industry. I am a very luck man indeed and appreciate all the help my family has given me over the time of my term.

This evening Chris and I traveled south to Pasco for a dinner sponsored by the Washington State Beef Commission (WSBC). For those who do not know our industry deducts $1.50 per head from every transaction of cattle sold to fund our promotional efforts and advertising. The WSBC does a tremendous job for us and tonight was the mid point dinner of a great program they sponsor each year. The Northwest Pasture plate tour takes chefs and food service beef providers on a 2 day tour to educate them about modern beef production practices. They see a cow calf operation, a feedlot, a packing facility and have speakers to answer questions about what we do daily. I had a few very great conversations with people outside our industry tonight about what I do for a living and my role in producing nutritious, wholesome, high quality, and great tasting beef for a hungry planet. It is such a paradigm shift from years ago of how we conduct our business.

Some people are reluctant to embrace this new era but personally I just love it. I have always been fascinated with what people do for a living. I once spent most of an afternoon with a Peruvian sheepherder in southern Idaho talking about what he did for a living because although it is animal agriculture it is very different from what I do. To live in this country with so many opportunities and options and learning how different people have approached and ultimately succeeded in how they make a living is something that has always amazed me. To talk with these people who are the last link between my product of beef and the final consumer is so informative and educational. The hope is these conversations and information sharing helps to promote a vibrant, profitable and sustainable beef industry. I for one am a believer that the path is correct and events like this one helps everyone in the production and service chain to have years of success. Thanks to everyone who is attending and participating in this event.

Well this is one of those blog post that I feel is boring and humorless but the kind I am going to have to post now and again to have any consistency here. I am trying something new here by posting a "twitpic" from today's tour. This may have some editing time over the next bit of time. OK, it looks like it is posting but you will have to click on the picture to see it full size.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Red Backed jumping spider aka phidippus johnsoni, one of which seemed to want to make sure I did not open an irrigation valve today.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You'll be there

I am posting direct to the blog page again because, well I guess just because I don't want to mess with posting it to a Word document and then post it here. I do not know when I will get this posted but it is Fathers Day or it will be Fathers Day tomorrow. Fathers day is always so bittersweet for me. I reflect on my Dad, and my kids always do something very special but at the same time missing my dad during this time is acute.

Today Chris, Chelsey (our WSU student intern) and myself attended a memorial service for a great man who is the father of a close and lifelong friend. All my thoughts and prayers are with the Wieseler family tonight. A great family, a great contributing family to the Columbia basin and especially to our local agriculture community. Today was a great tribute and sendoff for their family patriarch and may their loss be tempered by good memories of a great man.

I have never been someone that has handled the passing of others very well. I guess I am lucky in some ways because I feel those who embrace life and living the most are the ones who accept death the least. There is another dynamic that hit me last week when I learned of Leonards passing. I have been blessed with several great friends in my lifetime. Many of them were friends from a very early age and many of them continue to be close. I certainly do not want to discount the level of friendship of anyone but Leonard was the last dad to pass away of my closest 4 friends. Age has never really been an issue for me but knowing that myself and my 4 closest lifetime friends are now the "old guys" is a bit of a punch in the gut.

As Fathers day is upon us I thought I would share a story about my Dad that I experienced just a few weeks before his passing that I found very amusing. One of the things I really enjoyed and I feel Dad enjoyed as well were the days we were able to spend together going to a cattle auction. When I was very young it was a one ton Chevrolet truck with 4 cows in the bed, Dad driving and me dreaming that I could someday be him. In later life it became me driving Dodge a pickup pulling a 24 foot stock trailer with 12 cows in it and me still dreaming someday I could be him. When Dad and I traveled there was no limit to what issue of the day would be discussed. Even though on most issues we agreed, for him it was about teaching a life lesson and for me it was challenging his entrenched thought processes. We could have a pretty great banter over the argument of Hereford vs. Angus and an even better discussion about spring vs. fall calving.

The last trip we took to the livestock auction in Toppenish together we were discussing how to sort out media reports for truth or fiction. We both agreed that sometimes in today's "soundbite" world things often got distorted in a rush to be the first to report. We then discussed how to avoid being taken by a soundbite and how to decipher truth from hype. We arrived in Toppenish about the time we had agreed that you should be careful not to rush to judgment, have three reliable and credible sources and if something did not pass your own "smell test" to be very wary.

Dad and I both purchased a few bred cows and pairs at the auction that day and had a pretty great time. On the way home we stopped in Granger and while I pumped diesel Dad purchased a few items that we mutually enjoyed for the way home; black licorice, saltine crackers and Coors beer. I not only had plenty of time to fill my mostly empty tank, I also checked the cows we bought, checked the trailer tires and still seemed to wait forever for Dad to emerge from the store. Dad never met a stranger and if he struck up a conversation it might go for quite some time. Those that know me also know that never happens in my life.....anyway.

We headed down the road and I wish I could remember what issue we discussed but I do remember we were not exactly in agreement. I teased Dad that he was in a weak argument position and I jokingly asked him for his "three reliable and credible sources". Dad did not hesitate at my challenge. First he quoted a passage from the Bible, then he quoted a speech from former President Ronald Reagan, at this point I was a bit taken aback by his knowledge and wisdom. I somewhat mockingly said, "ok that is two, who is your third source?". Just as calmly and with just as much fervor as he made his first two points he flung out a very insightful idea. I did not disagree with his idea but I did ask him where he got that knowledge? With as perfectly poker face he said to me, "That guy I was talking to in the store named"Ted" is where I got that from!

Well my mind was changed that day, I do not know "Ted" but I do know that on this Fathers day I really miss the man that made me so much of who I am. He taught me so much, gave me so many opportunities and did all he could to teach me how to face life without his guidance. Tomorrow I am going to travel to Dayton Washington and pick up Dakota from 4H camp and take some time to enjoy the trip home just as Dad did with me years ago. Once we are home I may not make her change an irrigation handline just so she can remember who she is like Dad did with me years ago but I will tell her how much her Dad loves her just as he did many years ago.

I miss ya partner, and Happy Fathers day to you! You'll always be there for me. Today's picture, real environmentalist species and everything else is represented in this song played at Dad's celebration of life. Listen to the lyrics, it really captures how my Dad lived, and how those he left behind miss him. I'll see you on the other side Dad, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Anybody got an ax?

I am going to post this direct to the blog page tonight in the interest of time. Today was a day of travel as I headed to Olympia Washington. I had 3 travel companions today, Jack our Executive Vice President of the Washington Cattlemen's (WCA) Association, Vic our WCA 1st Vice President who is aka "sidewinder" and Chelsey a WSU Animal Science student/Vet school student and who is currently spending part of her summer on the ranch with my family as an intern. The objective of our trip was to watch and hear arguments before the Washington State Supreme court related to our ability to provide water for our cattle. I will not go into specifics of this protracted legal battle but rather comment on a few observations I made today.

Now, first and foremost these views, opinions and comments are my own and in no way should be hung upon Jack, Vic or Chelsey aka "Havarti cheese girl". The first thing I noticed today is people on that side of the state don't understand the rules of MY road very well. One rule they really ignore is that when I turn on a left or right turn signal on Griselda it means they have 3 seconds to get the hell out of my way. Sorry son, but your Volvo "grocery getter" might as well back off when Griselda wants to change directions and you don't need to honk at me in appreciation for not driving over the top of you.These people do not even know how to give a proper "thumbs up", they use their damn middle finger. If people would focus a bit more they would have noticed the cowboy hat worn by the driver and I would not even have to use my turn signals! You just can't find people with good manners anymore.

We made it to our state capital and the first thing I noticed was the lack of people now that the legislative session is over. I also noticed how quiet it was and the amazing lack of lies, empty promises and bullshit. Refreshing actually. The Supreme court of our state is located right next to the capitol building. Here was where I really noticed something shocking. If I want to pay my property taxes or pay a traffic ticket in Franklin County, like for illegal lane changes, I have to almost get neekid to do so. Full security, metal detectors, belt buckle has to be removed, apple, potato and testicle cutting knives have to be left behind to even get into the courthouse for the issue of "safety". Well apparently at the Supreme court level it is not an issue. They did not even have any law enforcement present that I could see. As Ronald Reagan so eloquently said, "government IS the problem."

The next thing I noticed today is not nearly as easy or politically correct to talk about as the things I have mentioned so far. I know they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and knowing this I really struggled to be objective and kind as I made assessment of people in the courtroom today. For the most part I would say that the people represented a very average cross section of the everyday citizenry except for one segment of society that was represented today. Is it some kind of requirement to be freakin butt ass ugly to be an envirowhacko? Do you have to look like you have been subject to a terrible fire to your face that was subsequently extinguished with an ax? Let me tell you, I have seen felines on the pavement that had weighed a Peterbilt with their head that looked better.Anyway, a pretty good day in court, time will tell but I feel better tonight about the issue than I did before today's judicial exercise.

I finally have my new center pivot putting down water after some real struggles. Somewhat overbudget and damn sure over completion date but it is up and running over a new crop of corn. In the long run this will be a very good thing. I still have not purchased a new camera so today's picture is an older one of Festus that shows how much more attractive he is than an envirotard.

Today's real environmentalist species is....oh hell, whatever check this video out and tell me if my views from today are not correct.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Brad Pitt may play me in the movie!

You ever been in a car crash? For that matter a good crash with a horse, motorcycle, bicycle, camel, water truck, street sweeper or shopping cart will suffice for what I am trying to explain. I have had the joy and pain of experiencing all of the aforementioned items. Well, not the camel crash but back in the first gulf war I had a nightmare that I crashed an explosive laden camel with a spoiler on it into a 7-11 but the Slurpee juice splattered up and killed the fuse and I ended up in jail and that was plenty frightening in its own right.

This latest crash of mine was basically fairly mild in that it just affected my online presence. True, part of it was the few times I did have an internet connection the last thing I wanted to do was post a blog but mainly it was just plain lack of connection. I have been busy as well, some days it seems in my mind I get very little done but without much of an internet connection I have still found plenty to do. April somehow came and went in a total blur. The weather has been very cool and wet and we are an easy 3 weeks behind normal in growing days. On the plus side the grass looks good and I have had plenty of chances to skip moving a handline without fear of grass burning up the next day. We had a reporter and a cameraman from a media agency here on the ranch in April. These two fellas must have missed a few prayers at some point in life to get stuck with the assignment of following me for a day. Brad and Colin were so professional and made me and the rest of my family feel totally at ease. Thank you both for working around us and thank you for doing such a great job. These guys took tons of video and had to condense it into a short presentation for NCBA (National Cattlemens Beef Association) Cattlemen to cattlemen program. I was nervous about the whole thing which is not something that often happens to me but it went well and I was pretty happy with the final outcome. They say a camera adds 10 pounds but I swear there must have been 5 cameras on me and not just one as they filmed this. Oh well, I am not fat, I am just hard to kidnap! Here is the final story Brad and Colin produced.

The start of May brought spring branding, vaccination and castrating day. Once again my family and extended family and friends helped immensely making a tough job easy and enjoyable. We also were helped that day by two young ladies attending Washington State University and Tori and Chelsey were great help. Thank you to these young women who are each going to spend part of their summer with us as interns learning about the beef cattle industry. I and a local irrigation company have been working to get a new center pivot up on part of the ranch and hopefully early next week we will be putting down water with the new system.

With the time away from this blog I have had ample opportunity to reflect on how maybe I could change things here to make it easier but more consistent. One thing I need to do is not be so desperate to keep things the same. Some days maybe all I will get time to do is post a picture or a short quote or story and I need to be satisfied with that. I have yet to buy a new camera because to be honest money is really tight right now with the situation of putting up the new circle. Dakota completed her 8th grade softball season and I want to congratulate both the 8th grade girls on their undefeated season and also the Connell Eagle ladies high school softball team that won the state championship last week. I also want to thank all of you that have waited patiently here wondering where the heck I have been. Between the ranch, WCA business and spring I got to feeling a bit overwhelmed but I think with this new reliable and faster internet connection I will be more consistent here.

Today’s picture is old 5288w and her last calf she had last fall. This little cow was 16 years old and I really hated to see her go but she leaves behind a 3 year old daughter to carry on her legacy. Well it is almost 1 a.m. and just to do something different I am not posting a species from the ranch today but more to come in the near future!