Cows need fed on Christmas, just like they need fed on Mondays, Thursdays and every other day in between. It was such an awe-inspiring beauty of a day that the cattle photos didn’t make the cut for the website. Check ‘em out on Facebook instead.
Is there a share-and-analyze-weird-dreams morning get-together over coffee? I’ve fallen into a sleeping pattern of waking up at 1 a.m., staring at the ceiling for two hours and then crashing into crazy dream world for two hours. It’s real neat.
I dreamed I was chasing cows last night. That’s not much of a stretch from real life. Not until I got to the part where I was trying to get the cows in by leading them. Being super cowgirl that I was last night, I managed to get a rope halter on a red baldy cow.
Not normal. Nor was it normal to lead her on foot for THREE miles across the canyons, hollering “Hey Boss!” to get the others to follow.
The real workout (as if it hadn’t been one up to this point) was when I was trying to convince the red baldy to come in through the side gate on the loading chute. I was throwing all my weight into the lead rope when someone opened the gate at the end of the chute and let in that angry black cow witch.
I dropped the lead rope and back pedaled my way up the loading alley, kicking the black cow witch in the face as she charged.
I was getting splinters in my hands from pulling myself up the side of the alley when I woke up. Exhausted, adrenaline pumping, thinking it all felt like a perfectly ordinary dream channeling real life until I remembered the rope halter on the baldy cow.
And then I remembered the escapade right before I tried to be a cow whisperer. I was looking for a parking space and accidentally drove through a church sanctuary during an important religious ceremony.
When I left my car to find the appropriate exit for White Flash, I returned to find a man trying to steal my stuff so I jerked him over the top of the car only to find out he was an undercover cop who thought I was a drug dealer.
Where’s the coffee? It’s been a long, hard night.
1. Working Cows Border collies were bred to herd stock. Cows are by far Doc’s most favorite thing on this planet. When a border is working stock, physical, mental and emotional systems are firing simultaneously. Working all day long in the mountains or down in the canyons is the only thing I’ve seen that causes Doc to head straight for bed in the evenings.
2. Frisbee/Agility As incredible athletes, border collies make a perfect choice for frisbee/agility dogs. It combines mental activity with physical activity. I just brought a frisbee home for Doc. He caught it on the third try, but it’ll only be a for-fun thing around here.
3. Obedience Training Engaging a border’s mind is really important. They are always thinking. Channel that thinking power into something useful. I work with Doc all the time, focusing mostly on herding commands. Even if we’re just jogging down the road, I stop him, put him down and heel him at varying intervals.
4. Play Dates Most dogs, especially young ones, love to play with their canine friends. It also burns off a load of energy without any effort on your part. My neighbors have a young chocolate lab. He and Doc have a real go of it when they’re together.
5. Run/Hike Walking isn’t good enough. I could walk Doc all day long, and he’d still be bouncing around at nightfall. A solid run or a hike in a new area can burn some energy units. Biking is good too. New things are important. Just like humans, dogs need to grow and learn.
Even with the edge taken off, Doc still digs. Only in his pen or when he’s hunting mice, but he’s still a digger. He still goes bonkers over his chew bones and sometimes blankets. He likes fetch but for no more than 10 throws.
He’s finally pushing out of his puppy stage as he’s well beyond two years. (Finally.) Even though he’s better at containing his energy, his boundless enthusiasm for all things active never ceases to amaze me.
If you’re wanting a dog to lie around at your feet all the time, a border collie isn’t a good choice for you. They rank right up there as some of the best companions a person could ever have, but you have to be willing to give them the exercise they require.
How do you handle the energy of your border collie or other breed of herding dog?
Cattle ranching is one heck of a game, isn’t it? Dependent on weather, markets, the grace of God, a handful of smarts and a couple of breaks. My dad always said cattle ranchers have no need for a Vegas trip, because they’re rolling the dice on the biggest gamble of ‘em all.
Guest posting today on Cattle Call, talking about some of the challenges young people face who want to start cattle ranching and how I’m changing my view on getting into the game.
Hold on to your knickers, I actually decorated for Christmas this year. With real effort and everything.
I just got home from teaching a self-defense class to little kiddos. I stepped out of my car, took in a deep breath of crisp, lightly-manure-scented air and felt my shoulders relax into pure peacefulness.
I like self-defense; I love cattle ranching.
Cows and horses just settle in around me, and they fit like a pair of really good winter socks. You know, the kind that don’t fall down inside your boots but also don’t squeeze the circulation out of your legs?
It’s just natural, the way I love the wide open spaces, that far-from-anywhere feeling. I don’t have to convince myself that I’m happy where I am, I just am.
I like spending time teaching and practicing self-defense. I like the way the kids’ faces scrunch up in concentration. I like the way I can tell when they’re picturing a sibling’s face when they throw a punch. But I don’t love it.
Love isn’t always warm and fuzzy like the commercials say it is going to be. It’s hard. There are rough patches. It’s not always easy, and you don’t always want to be where you are. But the thought of giving up on love? Letting go of it? Never formed into a real thought.
It’s hard to describe my love for cow poop and horse slobbers, but I figure it’s along the lines of what I was always told when it comes to finding love with a Someone. When you’re there, you know, and you don’t know until you’re there.
Last week, I mentioned Micotil when I was discussing treatment for bovine respiratory disease (BRD). I wanted to touch on it, even though it’s merely a drop in the bucket of things that are dangerous around the ranch.
Micotil can be fatal to humans. It can be fatal to animals as well if administered improperly, and it is a product that needs to be handled carefully.
A September 2004 High Plains Journal article talks about how a Nebraskan man died after an accidental injection of Micotil. A heifer in an adjacent pen charged and knocked him to the ground on top of the syringe.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided a list of safety suggestions when doctoring cattle with Micotil. Included in that list:
- Don’t administer Micotil if cattle can’t be appropriately restrained.
- Don’t work alone when handling or injecting Micotil.
- Never carry a filled syringe in a coat or hip pocket.
- Don’t hold the syringe in your mouth.
- Wear needle-puncture-resistant gloves.
Micotil needs to be injected subcutaneously (under the skin, not directly into the muscle) which places fingers uncomfortably close to the needle. If you are just learning how to administer medicine via a subcutaneous injection method, I would suggest not starting with Micotil.
There are many opportunities for things to go wrong on the ranch. Staying educated on products, reading labels and using a little bit of caution can go a long way in keeping those opportunities to a minimum.
One year. 365 days ago, I sat down and started this thing.
I didn’t know if people would read it, but they did. I didn’t know if I would keep writing, but I have. I didn’t know if I would make an impact, and…nope, don’t know about that, but I like to think so. Maybe a little.
It’s really encouraging to see how many people love agriculture enough to dedicate a significant portion of their time to share about it. Time is such a limited resource in our worlds, and how it’s spent is a true indicator of what we deem important.
Thank you for spending some of your time with me.
He’d spotted a sick calf up at the Adams County pasture. A cough. A little slow. He returned the next day with a rope and doctoring supplies. Shook out a loop, sailed it through the air, settled around the neck, and – kerplunk – calf fell over dead.
This happened to my brother not too long ago. Best heifer calf in that bunch. The day after that, he found the top steer calf pushing up daisies.
BRD – bovine respiratory disease. Pneumonia. Calf killer, ranch wrecker, make your hair gray, whatever you want to call it, it isn’t good.
I talked to dad Sunday evening, and they have 25 head in their sick pen. Any more than 5 or 6 is unusual. Wild swings in temperature with rain, snow and everything in between has bred a hotbed of disease, and the calves are succumbing to it.
There is a lot of controversy on the use of antibiotics in food animals. I am in favor of their use when circumstances require it. Deadly diseases like the BRD rampage on my dad’s ranch are certainly circumstances that require the use of antibiotics.
I am also a supporter of correct administration, proper dosages and ensuring that withdrawal times are met prior to slaughter.I believe that we have a responsibility to care for our animals to the best of our abilities while they are under our watch. Providing top-notch care from birth is the first line of defense against deadly diseases, but when diseases do rally the troops and invade a healthy herd, it is necessary to do what we can to help the animals wage war.
In a perfect world, animals – and you and I – wouldn’t get sick. They – and we – wouldn’t need a doctor.
Until that perfect world comes along, I am thankful we have tools like antibiotics to help maintain herd health.
I just about shook the poor man’s hand straight off his arm. That’s how grateful I was for his support and encouragement. Nothing says “Thanks for being awesome” quite like 18 handshakes, right? The poor man being Larry Olberding, Jr. (Twitter), current president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association.
Last night was the first time I’d attended the Whitman County Cattlemen’s banquet and auction. Events like these provide great opportunities to talk with and learn from those who have been raising cattle for decades.
Larry and I first ran into each other through our advocacy efforts online. We talked some via the cyber waves, and then we met normal-person style at the Klickitat County Cattlemen’s banquet a year ago.
We hadn’t run into each other since so you can imagine my surprise when Larry came up and talked to me last night. But not half as surprised as when he bid on a headstall at the auction and donated it to me in support of my cattle advocacy efforts here in the Pacific Northwest.
I might have blushed. And then I might have smiled and shook his hand 18 times. If you see Larry favoring his right hand the next time you see him, it’s my fault.
Now then. This certainly isn’t about me. It’s not even necessarily about Larry or his generosity, though it was definitely a fine example of that.
It’s about the bigger picture. As a young person who is passionate about cattle ranching and has mile-wide dreams for her future in this business, having the support and encouragement of those who have been ranching for awhile is huge. Bigger than huge.
What is going to happen to the future of cattle ranching? If young people aren’t supported – regardless of whether they choose not to seek out those opportunities or because support is never offered – then it is a future without much light.
Support comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it comes in the shape of a headstall.