Cattle Expo

We have just returned from a trip to a weekend cattle expo hosted by the Idaho Lowline Cattle Company at their beautiful ranch in Hayden, Idaho.

In case you have never attended a cattle expo, it is kind of a combination of speakers, hands-on workshops, cattle on display and some for sale and generally a good time for cattle people to get together and share information. As you can imagine, it is a lot of work to host one of these events, and I can’t say enough about what a great job the Northwest Lowline Association and the Idaho Lowline Cattle Company did. Lots of new faces in the Lowline crowd and that was nice to see.

There were speakers on various cattle topics . . .

. . . and hands-on showmanship classes. This was the junior class. And a practice judging round. Some of these kids had never been around cattle before but they learned quickly and had a lot of fun.

Another hands-on class was on AI. In the cattle world AI refers to Artificial Insemination, which is a good tool for breeders. Any guesses about what is in the picture below?

If you said the reproductive tract of a female bovine you are correct. Participants had a chance to practice their AI technique. I wasn’t very good at it; I believe we will stick to the old fashioned method – a bull.

Of course the weekend wasn’t all classes and speakers – we had to eat. Rick grilled grass-fed burgers for the crowd and they were delicious!

It was a great learning, networking and fun weekend. And now we have returned to our own little ranch where our first task was to rotate the cattle to new grass.

Four Years!

May is an important month in our household – or maybe that should be ranchhold? Anyway, May is a big month for us. Two birthdays and Mother’s Day and then Father’s Day soon to follow in June. Our children tell us every year that having two birthdays and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all within five weeks time is really bad planning. I agree. I would also like to point out that I had nothing to do with planning any of it. This particular May we are also celebrating another milestone.

Our blog is celebrating a birthday too. Four years ago this month our very first blog post appeared.

I went back and checked some of the statistics – in case you don’t have a blog you may not know that you get a re-cap of all your posts and visits and comments and lots of other things I would never have thought to keep track of. This is a portion of the first blog post which appeared May 6, 2008.

Deer

May 6 by  Brenda

The deer are out and about with the warmer weather.  Yesterday we saw six at one time in the backyard and near the feeder, two bucks with little knobs on their heads and four does. 

We don’t see as many deer these days as now we have our two ferocious watch dogs running around protecting us from the wild animals.

I thought it was interesting to go back over the statistics and see what has happened over the last four years.

There have been 360 posts a fact that truly surprised me. What could I possibly have had to say for 360 posts?  Also we have received 844 comments. Thank you commentors (is that a word?) it is always nice to know there is someone out there who actually reads this and looks at the pictures. I know some of you read and don’t comment on the page but tell me about it when I see you and that is nice too. All told, in the last four years we have had 58,512 visits. Wow. That’s 14,628 visits a year – or a little over 40 visits per day. Hello Visitors – and welcome!

Over the years we’ve covered a lot of diverse topics here.  Flowers are always good, these Johnny Jump Ups are Rick’s favorite.

The hydrangea was so pretty last year.

Our dogs have made frequent appearances on the blog. Here is Grizzly with Grandpa Russell.

If you are a Grizzly fan you can see More Grizzly here.  Molly must have equal time of course.

And you can see More Molly Here. We have cattle so they show up a lot. I especially like the calves and the milk face, they are so cute!

The relatives come to visit and we have shooting contests. I don’t remember if Beth was the contest winner but she does seem serious about her weapon – I wouldn’t mess with her.

Food is always a favorite topic around here. Our friend Karla made these delicious shish kabobs. 

We’ve had grass fed beef burgers – they were delicious too if I do say so myself.

Rocks are – unfortunately – a frequent topic. Digging them with our favorite neighbor’s tractor is easier than digging by hand.

Which our favorite son-in-law is doing here.

Chainsaw wood carving at the local 4th of July Loggerodeo; I’m still amazed at the skill.

Our dogs were the proud parents of ten puppies a couple of years ago. Our daughter arrived just in time to help care for them. They were adorable weren’t they?

Our brand new 1961 Scout has been featured; here the windows are all frosted over on a cold winter morning.

Megan’s cat who doesn’t drink out of a bowl like a normal cat, but only drinks out of the faucet made an appearance.

Rick in the pasture with the bovine boys – I think they are looking for treats.

The lovely, glacier green Skagit river. It is such a treat for us to live in a place with abundant water.

Our nephew and son wearing goofy hats. In their defense, neither of those hats belong to them, they just got stuck wearing them. It was COLD!

A USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II affectionately known as the Warthog; always near and dear to our hearts. If you want to know why, read the rest of the story here. 

A waterfall about two miles from our house. Did I mention we like living where there is a lot of water?

Chickens . . .

. . . and eggs.

Many diverse topics and pictures. So what has been – by far – the most popular post with the most visits and hits?  Any guesses? It surprised me to learn it is one I posted two years ago – and it has had 3,745 views in the last two years.  It is this post I did on my home-made, no poison, Mouse Trap. You can read the full Mouse trap post.

Yep, the mouse trap. There must be a lot of people out there with mice problems – it has had 43 views just this week!

I must confess when I started this blog four years ago, my only thought was that it was a good way for us to share our pictures and news with our friends and family far from us. I never really thought so many other people would find us here on our little corner of the web. It’s been fun and it is interesting for us to look back too at how much things have changed on our ranch over the past few years. So, Happy Birthday to our blog, and many happy returns.

Life on the Ranch Lately

It’s been a busy, busy time around here. The cattle are enjoying the lush, green grass of the summer pastures.

Grass fed Beef at American Alps Ranch

The spring grass is holding up well as we rotate the cattle through the fields.

We’ve spent a lot of time working on getting our lower pasture ready to seed. There was a quite a bit of logging debris left to clear before we could plant the new grass.

A birthday has been celebrated. If you look close, Rick is telling you his age before the birthday.

Our Liberty apple tree was covered with blossoms and so beautiful. We got a fair amount of apples from this tree last year and are hoping for a great harvest this year.

We finally had time to start working on our poor overgrown, neglected garden. It was really a mess.

We cleared away a LOT of weeds.

And got the new plants and seeds in the ground. The tomatoes are in their wall-o-waters and snug as our nighttime temperatures are still very cool.

We found this nest being built just on the inside of the fence on our cattle chute.

Maybe it is from a paper wasp? I’ve never seen a nest like this before – I try to avoid stinging insects. Anybody out there know what it is?

Some of you may remember our adventurous chicken Amelia.  If not, you can catch up (or just enjoy again) Amelia’s story here . Her adventure continues here  and there is  even more Amelia here .  Amelia has had a pretty interesting life for a chicken. She is up to her wandering ways again. Please try not to notice the weeds she is pecking in – we haven’t got that area cleaned up yet.

Don’t tell Amelia and her old hen friends, but their replacements have arrived. Hopefully we will find new homes for the old girls.

In spite of the weeds, my asparagus produced a pretty nice crop this year. Amelia’s digging the crowns up twice last year didn’t damage them too much.

And they were delicious! A little butter and a bit of garlic salt, mmmmgood.

Sorry for the blurry picture – I just couldn’t resist this milky calf face. The calves always look so annoyed when I sneak up on them to take their picture. The cows are used to my ways.

And a cool cloud formation over the mountains to end the day.

Green and Growing Fast

Now that spring has finally arrived here in the North Cascades, the cattle are on fresh grass in the summer pastures.

The pasture isn’t the only thing that is growing. The wild berry vines at the edge of the pasture are loving the warmer weather too and threatening to take over our electric fence.  Some of the canes are so big the only way to cut them down is with a chain saw.

There are places in this world where vegetation of any kind doesn’t grow unless you water it regularly with a hose or a sprinkler system. Even then it is “iffy” if the plants will survive the baking heat.  I know this for a fact; I’ve lived there.  Here in the rain forest – ninety (90) plus inches of rain per year and mild summers – it is just the opposite. Things grow wild very quickly and if you don’t want it you have to mow, chop, weed-eat, hack, chain-saw and machete it down.  At least once a season and sometimes more.

This fence looks like it has been abandoned and overgrown for decades. Are you surprised to learn it was the viable pasture fence up until 4 or 5 years ago?

Isn’t this a lovely and productive berry patch? Actually, there is a fence in there somewhere and the wild berries have completely overgrown it.

The wild berries – I believe they are blackberries, but I’m no berry expert – can and do take over in a very short time. Did you ever see that movie Jumanji where the vines and leaves grew right before your eyes through the doors and windows and took over the whole house? Sometimes these berries remind me of that.

And let me tell you those thorns are nothing to ignore. Last year, Rick and I just hacked down a narrow path behind the electric fence with our pruning shears.  I wore a heavy, long-sleeved shirt and leather gloves and still had scratches and gashes and blood running down my arms. I’m really glad we have the hedge trimmer and chainsaw this year!

Now the fence is safe from the berries and everything is neatly trimmed – at least for a while.

Cranky Cat

Our cat Patches, the world’s crankiest cat, has enjoyed the construction of the squeeze and chute and cattle working pens over the past few months.

It’s given her an opportunity to be close to the action without being too close.

She picks her spots quite carefully.

And uses the fences as her own private climbing maze to be in the way at every opportunity.

She has a gift for being able to pick just the right spot to be most obstructive.

There are eight identical fence posts on that line. Which one did she pick to sit on? The only one with the screws that we needed to use.

It’s a rare talent I think to always be able to be in the wrong place at the right time.

Curious Creatures

Cattle are very curious creatures. We’ve been working closely around them for weeks, months – it seems like years – building our new pens and handling facility. They always nose right over to us to see what is going on. We had almost completed the new holding pen on the hill a couple of weeks ago and decided to leave the double gates open to let the bovines get used to them.

It’s always easier to get them through a new gate if they think it was their idea. Two new gates and crossing a gravel road – that could really cause them to balk if we pushed them hard.  So, we left the gates open and the first few brave ones ventured across the road. Soon a whole group came over to see what was happening.

Rick was quickly surrounded and then they headed up the hill to check  out the fence Alex was still finishing up.

Since they were intent on exploring, we opened the gate to the runway up to the new handling pens. This section is still temporary fencing, with the cows and new calves on the other side. They were very curious too.

The herd moseyed on up to the new pens and inspected them thoroughly.

Eventually their exploration time was over and we shooed them all back down the hill to their pasture. The cow & calf pairs seemed to miss them, because they went over to the corner of their pasture in front of the new pens and laid down; all except for the new bull calf who was chasing his tail – literally. And he caught it. Don’t you wish you were that flexible and limber?

I’m happy to report the afternoon of exploration paid off a few days later when it was time to use the new pens, runway, chute and squeeze. The herd was already used to the new gates and it made things easier on everyone involved. We dumped some hay in the new side and opened the double gates and the whole group went right through with no problem.  Then on up the hill and through the pens and squeeze like they knew what they were doing. There is a saying I’ve heard for working with cattle “Go slow, get there faster” and I think it is true.