Spring

Spring on the ranch means calving season, one of my favorite times of year, though also stressful. This year we were expecting 20 calves; 19 from our experienced cows and 1 first-time heifer. Lowlines are known for their calving ease, but you just never know when you might have a problem. I am happy to report that all 20 calves have been safely delivered and mamas and babies are doing very well. This year we had several cows that calved in the late afternoon / early evening while we were there with them. It is always something special to watch them come into the world no matter how many times you have seen it.

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Here are some of this year’s calf crop enjoying the sunshine on the hill. We color code the eartags to the bull they are from. All these blue eartags are out of our bull Ox with the cow’s name listed above the calf number.

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I am always amazed at how quickly the calves go from newborn wet on the ground to learning how to stand and nurse. Usually within the first 10 minutes or so. Then, within a couple more days they are running and playing chase through the pasture.

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We are really pleased with the calves this year, great looking, sturdy built. And we ended up with 10 bulls – now steers – and 10 heifers. An even split. 100% breeding and calving success, you can’t ask for better.
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And now back to the other spring chores as we get the pastures ready to put the herd back on grass for the summer.
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Spring Calving

The first calf of the season has arrived. A nice calf out of our bull Snapshot and Denver our one first-time heifer (a female who has not calved yet) this year.

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We bought Denver last year when we were in – where else? – Denver at the National Western Stock show. Our Canadian friends Russ and Linda from Highpoint Lowlines brought her back to Washington for us on their way home. We met them down on I-5  to pick her up. She was in their big cattle trailer with one of their bulls behind her, so we unloaded the bull first and Alex held him while we unloaded Denver from their trailer and loaded her into ours.  All in a gas station parking lot with cars and trucks whizzing by on the freeway. We did get a couple of strange looks.

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Newborn calves are so cute and this one is curious too.

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Closer.

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Sniff. Her mama Denver (who is now officially a cow) is very calm, has lots of milk and is doing a good job taking care of her.

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One calf delivered safe and sound, 19 more to go. I hope they are all this easy and with these good results!

Warm and Sunny

Warm and sunny are not usually the words you would use to describe the winter weather around here. I must confess that in November when we had the first ice and snow I was thinking it would be a long, cold, snowy winter.

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Everything, including the water hoses, was frozen and that is just not fun.

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Instead, it has been warm and mild, too mild in fact. Here is what the mountains around us should look like this time of year.

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And here is what it looks today. Almost no snow pack at all – not good. I’m sure those poor folks back east who have been hammered with snow this winter would be glad to trade.

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 There is a saying around here about the caterpillar “wooly bears” (I don’t know what the official name is, do you?) and their stripe and the weather. I think it is the wider the stripe the longer and colder winter will be. There were lots of them crawling around in the fall and the stripe seems wide enough to me, but it has been a mild winter nevertheless.

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The rain gauge this year has barely moved.

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Compared to last year which was the wettest March on record – read more about that here – and the gauge was overflowing. Our dry spell is nothing like our friends in California and the severe drought they are dealing with. But it would be nice to get a little more rain. I probably should be careful what I ask for, one of our cattle friends just a little north of us says March will be very mild until the end of the month when we will have a blizzard. I really hope he is wrong, but we will see.