Drowsy Water

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks

This year might be a tough year to be thankful.  The stock market is in the dumps, we're at war, the polar ice-caps are melting, and "our pets' heads are falling off!"  (Oh, wait, I guess that last one isn't true. I just couldn't resist. You remember Dumb and Dumber, the movie?  I obviously still have issues from memorizing that one).

So this year was a bummer.  Get over it.  Find ways to be thankful for what we have.  If you do, I'll let you in on something I've learned.  What I've learned is this: you know what is the coolest part about this giving thanks mumbo-jumbo? It makes you feel good.  It really does.  Try it. Take your attention off of the negative and focus on the positive.  If feels great.  If you don't believe me, watch me. 

I am thankful that I live on a ranch.  I live on a ranch in Colorado.  I live on a ranch in Colorado with a great family, loads of animals, and I get to meet amazing people each week every summer. 

I am thankful for a GREAT husband and his horse. . .

I'm thankful I get to dance a lot!

For doggies!

And for cows!

For friends,
And for BEAUTIFUL flowers. 

Whew, that felt great!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association 2008 Fall Conference

Ken, Randy Sue, Justin, Peyton and I spent the last three days in Beaver Creek at the annual Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association Convention.  We convene twice yearly with other ranches in the association to swap stories and ideas.  

Peyton enjoyed the trip and liked getting to wear Dad's hat! 


Mooo-vin' Out

Friday was a big day for the calves.  They finally moved off the ranch and are headed to cow-college. At college, they will develop into full-fledged cows and exit ready to fulfill their life's purpose. 

Their journey toward cow-hood began approximately a month ago when the little calves were weaned.  Weaning is the technical term for teaching the calves to eat hay and grass instead of their mother’s milk.  The calves are taken, in one fell swoop, from their mothers’ teet to a separate pen with hay.  No milk here, kiddos.  The calves then spend a few days bawling for their moms and the moms bawl for their babies.  Most mothers of nursing children will testify that this part of the journey tugs at their heart-strings.  Sometimes, the concept actually makes their udders ache. But that’s enough talk about udders. . .

Now, if we’d had the blog up and running at this point in their journey, I would have written a whopper about what happened to our calves when they were separated from their moms.  Long story short, a few wiley calves decided to take it upon themselves to find their way back to Mom who was a good five or six miles to the west.  Upon discovering the missing bovines, the story involved a horse-trough turned escape route, Justin roping calves along the highway, Randy Sue loping through meadows, Ken driving the trailer back and forth at least five times, a neighbors corral, and about 10 hours of chaos.  In the end, we had all our calves back at the ranch, and we also had a super-secure calf pen.

Once they are weaned, the calves are ready to go.  Randy Sue, along with a few other local ranchers, sells her calves to a buyer in Texas.  The ranchers convene in Kremmling before the calves are loaded and shipped to Texas. Here’s a step-by-step account of the departure day.  

Step 1: The steers and heifers are separated at the ranch before being loaded calves in the trailer to take to neighbor’s ranch near Kremmling.

 Step 2:  The group of steers is weighed, then the group of heifers is weighed. The scale looks like any other pen you’d see.   While calves are in the pen, the weight is registered in an adjacent building.  We weigh calves both to determine shipping load and to determine the average weight per calf.  Here, Justin and Randy Sue await the final reading for the steers.   Randy Sue’s average steer weighed 587 pounds; heifers average weight was around 540 pounds.

 Step 3:  The groups of calves brought by different ranchers are kept in separate pens.  Two important checks need to take place before the calves can be loaded in the trailer.  The vet must complete a health inspection to ensure no sick calves are being shipped.  Also, the brand inspector checks brands to ensure the calves being sold belong to ranchers. 

 Step 4:  The calves are loaded into the trailer.  Cow trailers are pretty nifty deals.  There are ramps that go up and down, and gates to divide groups of cows.  Justin ensured that our calves got a nice pen on the upper level for their trip. 

 Step 5: They’re off! They will spend the winter on a wheat field in Texas before heading to a feed lot. So long little buddies! 


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Winter is Here!

Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Snowflake. It's been awhile since you've hung around here.  While I can't honestly say that we've missed you, we do welcome you back.  After a recent warm spell we finally received our first real snowfall.  It calls for some celebration.  It's wintertime!

Wintertime on the ranch means lots of things. It means snow and wind. It means cold toes and red noses. It means feeding hay and shoveling roofs.  But it's not all bad.  The snow also brings skiing and sledding, hot cocoa and soup,  and a whole lot of peace and quiet.  

By March, the creek's gentle bubble will freeze in a silent slumber and a fellow begins to wonder if summer's warm days and late nights ever really existed.  But, the creek does thaw, the sun does warm, and, behold, springtime will come again.  

For now, we anticipate many days of snow and enjoy the changes that make our ranch special in the winter. 

Here's Clifford saying hello to the strange woman with the camera.  Notice how long his coat his getting? All of the horses are getting pretty fuzzy. They need it! Staying out all night up in our Colorado mountains means making it through below zero temperatures. 

Justin, Tyler and Randy Sue work in warm gear while fixing up our arena. The arena is bigger and better than ever before.  We've moved the pig pen and grain silo to make more room for lessons and clinics.  Oh, geez, I almost forgot. . . Justin and Ryan now have a roping chute too (I think that might have been the main motivation for the remodel!)

The ducks enjoy some of their last days out in their pond.  When the pond freezes over,  we move them into the chicken coop for the winter.   They are safer there, locked away, since outside they'd no longer have the ability to swim away from predators.