Moving Cattle

I’ve been asked how we move the cattle for our rotational grazing program. Do we have to round them up and herd them? Chase them down? How do we get them into the next pasture? Today was time to move the cattle and here is how it went. The cow /calf pairs are lined up at the fence waiting for us. And bellering as loud as possible in case we haven’t noticed that they are ready to move to new grass – no chasing involved, thank goodness! There is usually a short learning curve of about one or two moves when we have to bring them up from the end of the field and coax them carefully through the gate. After that, the bovines have it down and are standing at the fence waiting for us, and reminding us loudly that they are ready to move – now.

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So Alex holds the gate open while Rick walks behind the cattle. We use a 3 wire electric fence system with a solar charger. 

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The cows walk through the electric fence gate and the calves follow along behind their mamas. The cows have done this move many times and they don’t wait around. 

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Rick encourages the last calf to join the rest of the group. If one stray gets left behind, especially a calf, they don’t like it a bit and usually get a little squirrelly – that’s the technical term for it. Their mama’s get even more upset, not good. You want the whole group to stay together, much easier for everyone involved. 

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And here they come towards me – munching on mouthfuls of fresh grass as they go. The new calves born this spring have the green ear tags and the cows are yellow. 

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Alex closes the 3 wire gate behind them. I recommend you make sure you have the electric fence turned OFF before you start moving the cattle. Or you can find out the hard way a time or two and then you will always remember to check the fence. It does give you a jolt. 

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The group made the turn in front of me and are heading toward their new pasture which is clear down on the other side of the field. The closer they get to the fresh grass the faster they move.

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The cow/calf pairs are moving past the field with the steers and yearling heifers on the left. We are going to move that group next.

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As soon as the cattle get to the new pasture, they go through the gate at a run; kicking up their heels and enjoying themselves. No one is pushing them – in fact they are quite a ways ahead of us. We just trail along behind and close the gate.

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The mamas and babies – who are really not babies anymore – grazing in the new field of fresh grass beneath Lookout Mountain.

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Those little calves from the spring have really grown. They are all looking good and stout. It will be interesting to see how much weight they have gained when we bring them back home and run them through the scale this fall.

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The whole group of bovines is as nosy as ever. Rick and Alex were working on the fence and they all went over to take a look.

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And that was the first cattle move of the day. Nice and easy!

Harry and the Grouse

A couple of grouse have been hanging around our yard and orchard the past couple of weeks. A grouse for those who don’t know (including me):  ɡrs/ are a group of birds from the order Galliformes. They are sometimes considered a family Tetraonidae, though the American Ornithologists’ Union and many others include grouse as a subfamily Tetraoninae in the familyPhasianidae. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere, from pine forests to moorland and mountainside, from 83° North (Rock Ptarmigan in northern Greenland) to 28° North (Attwater’s Prairie Chicken in Texas).  That clears it all up doesn’t it? Rick says they are about the size of a hen pheasant if that helps you at all.

 This is a ruffled grouse from Canada which looks pretty close to the ones we have to me – but I am no bird expert. 

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 Apparently there are quite a few types of grouse, Siberian GrouseFalcipennis falcipennis, Spruce GrouseFalcipennis canadensis, Franklin’s Grouse, Falcipennis (canadensis) franklinii, Dusky GrouseDendragapus obscurus, Sooty GrouseDendragapus fuliginosus, ptarmigans: Willow PtarmiganLagopus lagopus, Red GrouseLagopus (lagopus) scoticus, Rock PtarmiganLagopus muta. Well, you get the idea. Lots of types of grouse and I have no idea which one(s) we have exactly. So, back to the two in our orchard.

Harry the cat has been stalking the two grouse around the yard and orchard. Harry is quite a hunter and has had his share of rodents and birds. The grouse pair – a mother and young adult we think – wandering around the yard bother him a lot. This morning the pair were near the corner of the orchard. The adult grouse is on the top of the dog house and the younger one is just barely visible behind the fence board near the (dead) tree well. 

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Harry the cat notices the bird on the doghouse.

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Harry is stalking the grouse from below . . .

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Harry jumps / climbs up the dog run fence after the grouse who flies over to perch on the little shed on the left.

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The grouse starts to scurry away as Harry is coming down off the fence after it.

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The grouse comes full circle back to the top of the fence of the dog’s pen. Harry went off to lay low until his next opportunity. 

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I must say this little drama worked out a lot better for the grouse than I expected. The dogs have completely ignored the pair and that is not always the case with fowl. The last time the dogs got a hold of a bird about that size they did this.

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Only it was a chicken in the middle and it really didn’t go so well for the chicken. We have since trained the dogs not to play tug-o-war with chickens and they must think it applies to grouse too as they have (so far) left them alone. I don’t know about Harry though, he seems pretty determined to catch them.

When It Rains . . .

It has been VERY dry the past several weeks here at the ranch. In fact the driest July on record in over 50 years. So, we really needed some rain – which we got over the weekend. Thunderstorms rolled in and a little over an inch of much-needed rain fell on our pastures.  Higher up above us in the Cascade Mountains a lot more rain fell; some reports say 5-6 inches of rain in 8 hours. And all that rain in such a short amount of time caused this.  

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Eight mudslides cover over 1/4 of a mile of Highway 20 at milepost 152, about 40 miles above us. 

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They have brought in heavy equipment and are working hard to clear the road. Hopefully they will get it back open by the weekend.  In addition to the slides on Hwy 20, the road we live on – Cascade River Road – had a washout about 15 miles above us. Hikers were stranded overnight until they were able to build a temporary road and the hikers drove out. 

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Loved the rain and hope we get more, but hopefully not quite so much all at once. You can read more about the situation here. 

Ahoy There Matey!

As I mentioned, we had visitors last week. Rick’s sister Becky and her husband Daryl were here and we enjoyed visiting with them and seeing some of the beautiful sights within an hour or two of our ranch.

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One of my favorites was a ferry ride to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

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There are a LOT of islands in the Island chain, but San Juan island is the largest – and only about 10 miles from British Columbia, Canada at the closest point.

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The islands are so beautiful and riding the ferry – as long as the weather is nice – is a great way to travel. When we arrived in Friday Harbor we saw boats. Lots and lots of boats.

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Before we go any further here, I must confess what little I know about boats I learned watching Gilligan’s Island on TV. Remember Gilligan, the Skipper, the Professor and Mary Anne? Stranded on an island after their “three-hour tour” went awry? If you are too young to remember that it is your loss – the show was a classic! Anyway, I know nothing about boats, but we did see lots of them.

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Little boats.

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Sail boats.

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Boats towing other boats

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If it floats, they probably have one around the island somewhere.

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It was fun to walk along the dock and admire the boats – or maybe they are yachts? What is the difference in a boat and a yacht anyway?  I was amazed at the prices though!

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If I’m reading the price correctly that is over 3 MILLION dollars. For a boat. It doesn’t even have a front yard – or a backyard either actually.  And that isn’t even the most expensive one we saw. This lovely boat – or maybe it is a ship? – was even more.

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Almost Seven Million dollars! For a boat. Does that come with a laundry room do you think? I really believe if you pay $7 million dollars for an abode of any kind – floating or not – you should get a laundry room; preferably one with someone who does the laundry for you. And imagine the expense of running (or sailing or whatever it does) this boat / ship / yacht! I couldn’t even afford to buy the gas or diesel or whatever kind of fuel it takes. 3000 gallons to fill it up – oh my.

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I think I will stick to riding the ferry and enjoying the sights and being a landlubber.