A Day In The Life...Working Cows
Hello everyone! Today we worked our Black Angus cows. What does that mean? Welllll let me show/tell you! :)
First, we have to move the herd from their grazing pasture into the pens located by our house. That can either be an easy process, or a 'make you lose your mind and want to pull out your hair' process. It just depends on how the cows are feeling that particular day. We never know, so it's always a 'fun' surprise. Today they did really well so yay! Cows are super (SUPER) food motivated and LOVE protein cubes. You can 'train' cows to follow a food truck that dumps out those cubes, or you can train them to come to you by shaking a bag of those cubes. What usually happens is my father in law either drives his truck that has the cuber attached, and calls the cows over. They usually see the truck ahead of time, so they are usually SPRINTING across the pasture to get to the food. Cows sprinting is one of my favorite things ever, seriously. Their ears are so cute, and I just love seeing them so happy! If I can ever figure out how to upload a video on here I will show you! After the cows have started moving towards the truck, my husband and I get on our four wheelers and get behind the herd to keep them moving, and to keep them from running away. Again, sometimes it's super easy and the cows cooperate, but sometimes we encounter 'rogue' cows that just decide to do whatever they want no matter what. I have had cows run me down on my four wheeler and ram it because they don't want to go to the pens. Some. Cows. Are. CRAZY. (More on different cow personalities later, it's the best haha) With those cows, we have to do everything we know possible to get them to come. Last year, we had three cows decide to run in every different direction and break through every fence in their way. We had to call in two men on horses to rope the cows and bring them to the pens. Those cows were CRAZY and were mean as can be.
Once all of the cows are up in the pens, we need to start separating them into different sections. One section is all of the mommas, the other is untagged calves, and the last has calves that are older and already tagged from the previous day of working. We usually start by working the momma cows by bringing a small group (maybe 5) at a time to spray with a de-wormer and mark down their numbers. Once they have been accounted for and sprayed, we let them back out into the pasture so we can work the calves. This time is no exception for the mommas to lose their cool. Just last week we had one cow freak out and jump OVER the 5 foot fence. I have never seen a cow get that much air, but this momma was determined. She was a crazy angry cow. Just like any other momma, these mommas are verrrrrrrrrrrry protective of their babies, and don't like being away from them. So, most of the time we have to deal with angry momma cows making noise all around the fence. The calves that already have tags are usually the calves that we gather and take to the sale barn to be sold. They are usually 7-10 months old by then and even though they still drink milk from their mommas (adult cows would still drink milk if they could, they LOVE it!) they are old enough to eat grass and protein feed, so it is safe and healthy to wean them.
The calves that are untagged require the most work. (yay) They need to be tagged, given shots, & sometimes castrated. We load a group of them into a small section of pens to make it 'easier' to work with them. (see picture below) My husband has had a couple of his toes broken and many bruises from this process so it is still dangerous. While there I get all of the syringes ready with the vaccines, and the number tags are all laid out and ready for me to hand to my husband. Who likes shots? No one. Calves are no different haha Some calves are not super bothered by the shots, but others FREAK OUT! Thats when toes are broken and bruises are formed. Then come the tags. Who has had their ears pierced? Me! It hurts. Same process, some calves aren't super bother by being tagged, but others lose their minds and start going crazy. Once the calves are ready to go, we let them back out with their anxious mommas and take note of which calf # goes to which momma.
The calves that we are selling will spend the night in the pens, and be fed a lot of food before sending them to the sale barn. Early in the morning we pack them into a trailer and haul them off. I hate separating mommas from their babies, thats one of my least favorite parts of this business, but it's actually very healthy for the momma and the baby after a certain point. When the calf has reached a certain size, they are drinking so much milk that it is hard for the momma to eat enough food to take care of herself & her big baby. The mommas begin to get very skinny, and need to not have a calf so they can start gaining some weight back. We have had some seriously skinny mommas. It breaks my heart to see them like that, but as soon as we wean their calf from them, it is amazing how fast they bounce back!
I super condensed this process in this post. Us working cows can take anywhere from 3-4 hours depending on the cows cooperation, and the weather conditions. Today it was in the low 50's so working them was no problem. HOWEVER, when it is over 100 degrees in the summer. It's literally the. worst. thing. everrrrr. and it feels like it takes a week to get them finished. I am thankful for the cooler months in Texas, as we can get much more accomplished outside and with the cows without feeling like we are going to pass out after 1 minute outside! I am not a native Texan, so the heat still kills me. However, my native Texan friends that I have met just LOVE the heat so it doesn't really bother them. I am trying to get used to the heat, but miss the cold! That's a whole other post so I will just stop there!
Thank you for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer! :)
Have a blessed weekend!
A Day In The Life...Number 85
I don't like that my first post in this series is going to be sad, but this just happened yesterday and I need to write it down to help my heart. Before I get into too much detail, I am just going to say right off the bat that this little guy did not make it, he passed away late yesterday evening.
It's a fact that everything dies at one time or another, and since we work around so many animals, it happens more often than my little heart likes/can handle. This is the fourth cow we have lost in this last month (I will have a separate post on that later), and it never gets any easier no matter the amount of attachment I have. On Friday afternoon, we worked our Black Brangus cows to get all of the calves vaccinated and tagged, and weaned the calves that were old enough to be sold. I will go into more depth about that process another time, we are working our Black Angus cows this weekend, so hopefully soon! :) Once all the calves are separated, we keep them in a pen on their own so we can check on all of the momma's and give them the medicine that they need as well. Most of the calves are walking around making noises for their momma's and aren't usually laying down because of all of the activity. As soon as we had the calves in place, I noticed that this little guy went to the corner and fell fast asleep. (See picture above) I thought that was very odd and asked my Husband & Father In Law to come and take a look. They both assumed he was sick and was just tired, so when his time came around to tag & vaccinate him, we also gave him some antibiotics to help him feel better.
After all of the momma cows had been let out, and the calves were all tagged and ready to go, we opened the gate and watched to see which calves went to which momma so we could take note incase of a problem. The mommas and babies rush to each other and it's easy to pair up who goes with who, not 85. No momma came to him, and he went and laid down in the middle of the pasture. The thought went through our heads that he might be a twin, and that his momma had rejected him. That meant that he was probably malnourished and needed to be bottle fed (MY FAVORITE, most of the time haha more on that later). I made him a bottle and went and fed the little guy that evening, still no sign of momma. It wasn't until the next morning that we noticed he was sucking from a momma! YAY! We drove closer to see which cow was his momma, and it turns out she is one of the oldest cows in that herd, and was not producing much milk which is part of what was making him so sick & slow. After some deliberation we decided it would probably be best if we separated the two and bring 85 to our house so I could monitor & feed him regularly. So we went and picked him up! (See picture below) Most of the time when we pick up calves, they make a lot of noise and move around a lot making it almost impossible to hold on. Not 85, he was very calm and did not make any noise or move. I thought that was weird, but was hoping that some more milk would perk him up!
We brought him to our house and put him in a special pen behind our house. We made sure he was comfortable and had a nice place to rest before bringing him another bottle. Just a quick thing about bottle feeding, when the calf is used to the bottle and knows what it is, the process is amazing and so much fun. Teaching a calf who doesn't know what the purpose of the bottle is to drink from that bottle...NOT so fun. It is messy, sticky, frustrating for both myself and the calf, but totally worth it in the end. (I will have a post about my other bottle feeding experiences later.) Since he was so weak, we had to hold his head up and 'force' him to drink the bottle. He got the nutrients he needed, but it was not a fun process. I went to wash my hands before coming back to check on him, when I noticed his waste was full of worms. :( My heart sank. I knew that he wasn't getting enough milk from momma, but the worms were what was causing him to be so sick, and that is not an easy fix. In a panic I called my husband and told him we needed to give him some de-wormer ASAP. We gave him what he needed, and knew that the rest was in God's hands.
I came back that evening and fed him another bottle, he was still fighting to take it, but he seemed like he was perking up some. I went to bed feeling hopeful that we could save this little guy! :) The next more, same thing, he was sitting up and took the bottle a little better that time. I felt even better. We went away for a couple of hours to drop off our truck that has a BROKEN TRANSMISSION uhhhhh (so expensive) but came home ready to give him his next bottle. I got it ready and called my sister thinking I could talk to her and feed 85. As I walked up he was laying on his side making noise and shaking on the ground. I hung up and ran to see what was going on. I tried to sit him back up and calm him down, but I knew he was different, I knew he had taken a turn for the worse. I called my husband in a panic (again), and said he needed to come take a look. He did, and his lack of response made it clear to me that this sweet calf probably wasn't going to make it. All 85 wanted to do, and could do, was lay on his side and his eyes would twitch very violently at random. We tried giving him some more milk, but he wouldn't take any of it. All we could do at that point was make sure he was in a comfortable & safe position and check on him frequently. I went up a couple of times every hour and repositioned him and tried to get him to drink milk. It wasn't going to happen. We did everything we could, but there wasn't anything else we could do. I sat with him and tried to comfort him, I don't know if cows know that I am doing that, but it makes me feel better doing it. I left him around 8:30 to go inside to eat and thought that the next time I saw him he would probably be gone.
I went outside around 10 with the hopes that he would be sitting up and that I would need to run inside and make another bottle, but deep down I knew that he probably wasn't going to be alive when I got there. He wasn't. I sat next to him and cried for a few minutes and said a prayer for his sweet little soul hoping that cows have a place in heaven too! I slowly walked back inside, my husband looked at me and I shook my head and started to sob. We sat together and I cried for a while and brought in one of my dogs to snuggle with. As I said earlier, we have cows die multiple times a year so this isn't the first time I have encountered it, but it still doesn't get easier and I cry equally for each cow that we lose. My husband is so sweet in those moments, he's not a crier like me haha but I do know that he does feel sad.
We have a special place that we put our dead cows, so after some time in the house, we had to go back and take him away. Every time we drop off a cow, I always say a prayer and cry (again), and hope & pray that the other cows we have would be healthy and happy. I love cows, and I absolutely love working with cows, but it is so hard for my little heart to handle losing those sweet little souls!
Let me know if you have any questions about anything and I will do my best to answer! Thank you all for reading, again I'm sorry it was a sad post today, but I promise there are much happier ones to come!
Have a blessed day!
Before I get started, I just need to take a moment and let something off of my chest so I am not anxious about it throughout this post and posts to come...I am not a great writer, in fact, writing and English were my two WORST subjects throughout my entire education. I don't understand grammar (at all), I can't spell (spell check and google are my two best friends), I capitalize the wrong words, most of my sentences are run-on sentences with the entirely wrong punctuation, and I probably use the wrong tense in most of my writing. I have always been self conscious & envious reading other blogs that are so eloquent wishing that I could be more like that. I feel like my words aren't super exciting or captivating, and sometimes probably don't make sense, but I have come to terms with that and am trying to embrace that God did not gift me with the ability to be super grammatically correct, or have an amazing vocabulary ready to go at all times. I have reached a point in my life where I need to make some serious physical & mental changes, and after a lot of prayer and thinking, blogging has been put on my heart, and I think this could be a good step for me on my journey to a healthier ME! :) If you can read through the bad grammar and punctuation without cringing, I invite you to read along!
I am starting a new blog series titled "A Day In the Life" where I will share stories about anything & everything that happens in my life! (The good and the bad) My life can be very interesting sometimes, and lets be honest, I want a place where I can talk about, and share more pictures of COWS! Whether you have been following me for years, or a few days, it's no secret that I absolutely ADORE cows. I live on a cattle ranch in Central Texas, and my life consists of knitting & cows. You know a lot about my knitting, so now it's time to share more about the wonderful, messy & sometimes heartbreaking side of raising Cows & life on a ranch! I will share some of my favorite & least favorite memories, and all of the lessons I have learned along the way. I am going to take you on a journey into what it looks like to live on a cattle ranch, and all of the work that goes into it. Also, if I am feeling up to it, I might sneak in some more personal blogs about me and whats going on in my own little head! :) I would love to say that my posts will happen at the same day & time every week, but I am far to ADD for that & things happen at random over here so stay tuned! :)
I would love to hear from y'all! What would you like to know more about? Do you have any questions about cows or ranch life? Let me know! :)
Have a blessed day!