Millie

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that a couple of years ago we had an orphaned calf, Millie. Since her mama died when she was four months old, she got a lot of extra attention and has become something of a pet.

She has a sweet personality and has become a real “people’ heifer since she was around us so much as a calf. She is also a full blood Lowline Angus – our other breeding stock are half bloods – so she is very small. Here she is eating hay this past winter next to Dolly a half blood heifer.

Well, our little Millie is all grown up – well at least as grown up as she is going to get – and has just given birth to her first calf, also a heifer.

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Millie was small as a calf, but this little one is tiny. The average size of our other calves born this year was 70 pounds; this one is maybe 40 pounds and she is a week old.

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She’s a spunky little thing and very quick too. Alex checked her when she was just a couple of hours old and he had a hard time holding her down.

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She usually stays pretty close to her mama.  Millie is on her own schedule later than the other cows and calves, so the two of them are all alone in this pasture.  All the other cows and calves are down the road at our summer pasture and those calves are all a couple of months old now.

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Millie is a good mom and diligently takes care of her baby. It always amazes me how these cows instinctively know what to do – even with their first calves.

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Millie really doesn’t fit with our meat breeding program since we’ve gone to half-blood Lowlines to get a little bigger carcass.

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As I said though, she’s a sweet little thing and she had this calf on her own with no problems. So, I guess we just have one option.

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 Name the calf! Rick calls her “Vanilli” As in Millie Vanilli – and if you are too young to remember that whole episode you can read about it here. Surely we can come up with a better name than that! Any suggestions?

The Bridge

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You may remember a few weeks ago in the news that the I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon was hit by a truck with an oversize load and collapsed.  Luckily the three people in the two vehicles that went down were rescued without serious injuries.

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Mount Vernon is the closest town of any size to the ranch (about 45 miles away) and where we do almost all of our shopping. I had been “downriver” that day doing errands and drove over the bridge about a half hour before the accident.

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After the bridge collapse, all traffic – estimated at over 70,000 vehicles per day – has been re-routed onto a couple of surface streets through town and across another smaller bridge over the river. As you might expect it has been a traffic nightmare. All of the truck traffic that usually travels I-5 was forced to travel through town – what a mess for the truckers and everyone else. The local businesses have really suffered due to the severe congestion. Some businesses have reported that their customer count has been reduced by 80%.

The good news is that the powers that be have been working on the situation and as of Wednesday the temporary bridge is in place and open. Hooray!

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The temporary bridge has some size and weight restrictions and a reduced speed limit, but traffic is moving freely again! This situation has illustrated for me that sometimes you take things for granted until they are gone.  I don’t think I will ever drive over that bridge again without being thankful it is there.

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In a beautiful place like Skagit County where there is lots of water and thus lots of bridges you learn that they are really important. The permanent replacement is supposed to be up sometime in the early fall, but for now I am very happy the temporary bridge is open!

Pasture Photo Shoot

Our friend, web designer and photographer Julie was here a couple of weeks ago. She took some great pictures of the ranch and cattle. Here are a few of my favorites.

Our son Alex with the heifers. We put our new bull Snapshot in with this bunch of yearling heifers last month. We’re anxious to see the calves from this pairing next spring.

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Curious steers in the tall pasture grass. You can see they are losing their winter coats; the old hair looks reddish brown.

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The herd on fresh grass. I love the mountains and clouds in the background.

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Cattle coming toward Julie – they are always curious about who is visiting them.

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Leela – puppy from our dogs Molly and Grizzly – waiting patiently on Julie’s truck for the photo shoot to be over.

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The pasture grass is getting tall!

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Maude a yearling heifer.

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A steer all alone in the tall, lush grass.

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Steers head on. They are shedding their straggly winter coats.

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Alex in the pasture with the herd.

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Flag Day

“And let us never forget that in honoring our flag, we honor the American men and women who have courageously fought and died for it…” -President Ronald Reagan

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From President Reagan’s 1986 Flag Day Radio Address:

“As the American Republic grew and prospered and new stars were added to the flag, the ideal of freedom grew and prospered. From the rolling hills of Kentucky to the shores of California to the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, our pioneers carried our flag before them, a symbol of the indomitable spirit of a free people. And let us never forget that in honoring our flag, we honor the American men and women who have courageously fought and died for it over the last 200 years, patriots who set an ideal above any consideration of self. Our flag flies free today because of their sacrifice.”

What powerful words from our fortieth president! Happy Flag Day, and God bless America!

Finishing Touches

We got our little ranch store open just in time for Memorial Day weekend, but it wasn’t entirely complete.  So over the past couple of weeks we’ve been slowly finishing up some of the details. The biggest item by far is our new display freezer. We ordered it a month ago, and it was supposed to be here a couple of weeks ago – and it was. Unfortunately, the first one had a broken door so they had to ship a new one from New York and it didn’t make our opening day. The new one arrived in one piece which is a good thing.

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It holds a lot of our wonderful grass fed beef and our customers can see it all without opening the doors.

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It is so nice to have a great way to display our meat. The freezer is quite tall and cleared the bottom of the beams by about an inch and a half, but it did make it!

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Another item on our to do list was to install our new sign. Rick and Alex climbed up on the ladders and put it up.

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Doesn’t that look nice? I love the barn style doors that John the builder designed and made.

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We’ve also been working on finishing up the inside of the store. We had a couple of old family mementos we wanted to display; Rick is putting up the support for one of them. Any guesses?

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The frame is for this old saddle. It belongs to Rick’s dad Russell who used it when he was a little boy riding his mule in the “holler” in Kentucky. Russell was 81 on his last birthday and he’s saved it all these years. The saddle is from at least the 1940’s and is still in good shape. I cleaned it with saddle soap and it was ready to display.

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Looks nice next to the display freezer and fits right in with our ranch theme doesn’t it?

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On the other side of the store are a couple more old things (did I mention I like old things?). The barbed wire “wreath” is shiny and new. I didn’t think anyone would appreciate old, rusty barbed wire though we do have a lot of that around from mending old fences. The refrigerator in the picture below is a gift from a friend and dates to either the late 1940’s or early 50’s – at least 60 years old. It has been sitting in our pole barn waiting for a place to be ready for two years so I wasn’t sure it would work anymore. Alex wired a new plug – the old one had a dangling wire and was held together with electrical tape – we plugged it in and it works great! Packages of dog bones are in the freezer and the cooler section keeps water bottles ice cold. They don’t make appliances like that anymore do they? It will probably still be working when our new freezer has gone kaput.

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The other piece of history that is an old keepsake is the Flying W branding iron. It is from Rick’s grandparents who had a cattle ranch in California.

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A bit rusty and worn, but if we put it in the fire it would probably still do the job. I must confess I’m glad we don’t brand our cattle; eartags and tattoos are more my speed.

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And last, on the back wall is another cool old item. See which one I mean?

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See it better now?

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The quilted cowboy wall hanging (you knew I would work a quilt in didn’t you?) is held up by an old yoke. At least I think it is a yoke, I’m not really good at horse and wagon parts. If anyone out there knows for sure what this is, please let me know. I just thought it was a great way to hold up my cowboy quilt.

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The yoke – we will assume it is a yoke until someone tells me otherwise – came off this old wagon that was pulled by draft horses. The man who owned the horses used to give people rides around the area and it sounds like it was a lot of fun. After he died the horses were sold and the wagon was abandoned in the pasture where our cattle are now grazing. Our neighbor who owns the pasture said we were welcome to the old wagon if we wanted it so we hauled it home. There were actually two of these “yokes” with a piece of wood between them that was rotted through. I still have the other one so you know what that means? Yes, I need to make another quilt to display 😉

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Bit by bit we are finishing up the store. It has the old ranch feel we wanted and our customers appreciate having a nice place to visit. We still have things to finish, so we will keep plugging along.

Asleep on the Hay

In between building fences, mowing and moving cattle, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on the store.  The other day our son Alex was working on a cabinet that became a coffee bar and our dog Molly was napping in the hay nearby.

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Heelers (Molly is 3/4 heeler and 1/4 black lab) always like to stay close to their people and Molly was peacefully snoozing in the hay while we worked nearby.

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Then our other dog Grizzly noticed Molly had a better spot than his. So of course he came right over and woke her and licked her . . . ??????????????????????. . . all in a plot to get her to share her comfy spot in the hay.

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Molly is wise to his tricks but let’s him think he is fooling her.

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And while the doggie drama played out, Alex is almost finished with the cabinet.

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And didn’t the little coffee bar turn out nice?

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