Our rotund Herefords have made a comeback! Even weanling Anna is a barrel with four feet. She gave me a dirty look when I told her she needed to step away from the feeder the other day, then she asked me for an apple. Sadie here should have a Murphy baby on board. It would not hurt my feelings for it to be a heifer, although Gillespie Ranch would sure like it another BWF bull to replace Patches. We also look forward to Sadie’s daughter, Rosie, having her first calf. She has turned into a fine heifer, but the jury is always out until she calves and cares for her own baby.
The boys in Montana all seem to be getting along in their new surroundings. Raptor got off to a rough start, but he has shaken off his homesickness and gaining again. Stay tuned to GBRanch,org and our Facebook page. We kept an Exceed and a Fate son for our own use and are really pleased with their looks and dispositions.
The calves are coming and so are days of no sleep, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Penny has moved in with the weanling heifers. She enjoys this arrangement quite a bit, even if she is the small fry of the group. It has been enlightening watching who takes care of her and who bullies her. MJ’s calf, Lightning, is one of the ones who looks out for her. As you can see she is politely allowing Penny to eat some of her bedding. Anna, the Hereford, enjoys tongue baths from Penny and has returned the favor. Maybe it is a red thing. Holly is definitely the herd boss and pretty much an unmovable object at the feeder for anyone.
Three bulls went to Midland Bull Test and two went to Treasure Bull Test. The initial weigh in for the MBT group revealed Raptor lost over 150 pounds between drop off and weigh in. It sounds like he has recovered from his homesickness, but this does put him behind the group. We retained his full brother, Tomcat, for our own herd and expect good things from both of them. The MBT tags are 295, 296 and 297.
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The conversation went something like this:
I don't have time to mow the lawn.
I know, me either.
How about a bottle calf?
Seems like the only solution.
Ah, bottle calves... We have not had one around for a few years. We have learned much from taking calves from ranches we know, but are simply too busy to handle their needs. Raising a premature bottle calf really put us in tune with what goes on in a calf's first few months. These unwanted calves have helped us immensely with the ones being raised by their momma. We have learned the signs of them feeling a bit under the weather and can head off anything too serious before it needs antibiotics.
With ranch work coming at a break neck pace around here, the lawn is barely being mowed every week. This month old heifer calf is doing her best to help us with that. Plus, she keeps the elderly ranch dog company. Her name is Penny and she has a great personality. She is already halter broke, comes when called and chases anything which enters the yard; especially the cat. In no time she will have our grass under control and I can move her to the orchard. I have to admit it is nice getting lovins from a calf again. It never gets old.
On other news, check back often for updated pictures of our 2018 calf crop! Embryos have really made a positive impact on our herd. We are can hardly wait for them to pass across the scale as weaned calves in a few weeks.
In the meantime, visit us on Facebook @GBRanch.
We delivered the last of the yearling Angus bulls to their respective herds last week. Everyone got a pep talk about being respectful, playing nice, sharing - you know, all the stuff you tell kids before going off to school for the first time. All of them are up to the task of having a herd of their own or even sharing some ladies on some pretty big ranges. I am most envious of Cisco who went into the Western Front area of Montana. What a beautiful place to go to work!
Our 2018 calves are growing well with the rush of Spring grass. They all had their first trailering lesson. We load some mommas into the front compartments and then let the calves "free choice" hop into the trailer. It is fun to watch their little gears turning and guess who will be the bold one to take that first step into the trailer. We have found this makes for a positive experience.
Our patience with them at this age means we have very little problems as they get older. It is also a great test of aptitude. Some calves absolutely know where their mom is and will make a beeline for the trailer. This is pretty incredible considering the calves and cows are separated before loading.
Thank you to all the buyers this year. It was great to work with you. We look forward to updates this fall and next year as the calves drop.
For about one month prior to grass turnout, we are blessed to witness several cover bulls running their own herds in adjoining pastures. This means there are regular displays of superiority. Seeing all their pacing, pawing, calling and breeding, reminds us how much these guys are true athletes. At G&B Ranch, we treat them as such.
First, we do not overfeed them. A bull who has to waddle around with too much weight means he may end up breaking down well before his breeding days should be over. Too much fat can restrict his natural locomotion, disrupt his semen getting from point A to point B and his breeding willingness. We use the term "healthy fat." He needs to have a few extra pounds for the his heightened activity, but not so much where his legs and feet will suffer. The smaller cows and heifers do not need the extra weight on them, either. We enjoy using the bulls for several years. before they are too big to breed smaller cows.
Second, our winter pens have plenty of opportunity for play and exercise. In this part of the world, spring time mud is inevitable, but we are blessed to have an area with good drainage. This means the boys in the bull pen can safely spar every afternoon to keep up their muscling and, more importantly, impress the ladies passing by walking to their waterer. After turnout, the cow pens have a nice grade to them so they get quite a workout traveling back and forth along the fence line.
Third, they are fed what they will be eating all summer - GRASS! Not only does this help their rumen, it really helps discern who is going to be thrifty. We cannot keep high maintenance animals and definitely do not want to sell something which requires super high protein food to make it through the winter.
All the herds are out on grass this week. The bulls are able to eat anytime they want to put their head down. They also do not have to worry about being sandwiched between other possible suitors. While I personally do not mind the bull calls at midnight, I know the neighbors will enjoy some peace and quiet!
As Spring rolls around, cows and calves are arranged into pastures according to the breeding plan for them. Unfortunately, this often means calf buddies are separated. The morning after a pen swap, these two bull calves met up to commiserate about the early morning snow. Skyknight, on the left, is sired by our Rampage herd bull. Surfer, on the right, is from Notch.
We started AIing last weekend and Dietz went to work covering a group of heifers. In a few days CIDRs will go into the ET recipients. What an exciting time of year!
Midland Bull Test is right around the corner. Reports from MBT staff are all positive regarding how our boys have blossomed. Be sure to check out their videos and individual pages for dam and sire pictures.
At long last, the MBT videos are posted. Even though staff and visitors at MBT have been keeping us informed on our bull's progress, viewing their videos is always much anticipated event. They all look great and I can see they kept their personalities. Bennett peeking over the tarped fence to see what is on the other side. Murphy pawing up the straw to let everyone know who is boss. Cisco looking like the resident badass.
Going beyond that, I see Bennett is tall as expected. His muscular body does not disappoint. He will do well in a mature cow herd. Murphy has a refined Ten X front with a great, stocky body. Cisco's chest is absolutely spectacular. For a few seconds he walks towards the camera and shows off his wideness and power.
Looking forward to sale day, April 6th! Contact us or MBT to have a catalog mailed. Link to the videos is http://frontierlivesale.com/sales/sale/midland-bull-test-sale.
This speedster is Calvin Fury. He was born a few weeks early due to complications with his twin. Unfortunately, the twin did not make it. On the plus side, this calf has blossomed. Curiously, he bawled constantly the first few days of life and then went quiet. Millie, his mother, had plenty of milk, was attentive and he appeared to be in fine health bucking around his pen. It makes me wonder if he was missing his brother.
Calvin Fury is quite the character and is friendly like Murphy (MBT 82) was last year. He enjoys shadowing me around the pasture waiting for me to rub his brisket. In the process of rescuing him during the complicated birth, my husband and I imprinted heavily on him. I have been teaching him hand signal instructions for it's okay to approach me and you need to give me space. I know my husband was skeptical when I told him earlier this week I thought Calvin actually understood me, but he became a believer when Calvin Fury reacted to my husband's signals.
Think I am crazy for teaching hand signals? It seems pretty logical to me. It takes very little effort on my part. Horses and mules learn them and cows can, too. I have been slowly, but surely teaching the rest of the herd directional hand signals. Some look at me quizzically and others seemingly catch on pretty quickly.
Last July I stashed my mule, Slim, under his favorite patch of aspens and headed into the thicket where I believed the main herd was just waking from there mid-morning naps. I walked under a rock bluff and could not shake the feeling of being watched. I looked behind me and up to see a gorgeous 4x4 whitetail buck watching me. Upon realizing he had went from the watcher to the watched, he turned and trotted out of sight. Of course, I had to follow. I quickly skirted around to a point where I could see the bowl he had went towards.
While I was doing my best impression of a rock, I felt a presence near me. April had quietly materialized at my vantage point and was standing abreast of me. Her head was up, ears forward and she was sniffing the light breeze. A few seconds later, Monday appeared and adopted the same posture. Nellie and RC arrived soon after. I asked them if they could see the buck, but all I got was a flick of an ear for a reply. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the buck scooting through the sagebrush about 250 yards away. They all saw him too and everyone relaxed.
The cows broke their vigilance and turned their affections towards me. Truly they were only checking to see if I had brought along any apples to share. Finding none, they shrugged and headed into the bowl to forage.
I took a moment to fully appreciate what had just happened. The cows had read my body language. They could see I was intent on something and wanted to figure out what it was. Cows read me all the time, but usually it is reserved for times when I am fully aware of what I am projecting. Things like go here, stand there, no it is not a good idea to turn around in the chute. In this case, I was just being me.
The cows are always watching. What a bunch of creepsters! As for the buck, he is in my buddy's (I use that term loosely) freezer.
Falcon, Ester's 2018 daughter with Quaker, nestled into fresh straw.
The past 10 days have been brutally cold and windy in the Pacific Northwest. Everyone loves their straw nests and the calves piled in like cord wood into their creeps. This lovely lady, Falcon, was especially thankful. Just prior to this photo she was rooting around fluffing up the straw quite vigorously. Then, with a loud alert call literally plopped straight into this position. I am pretty sure she would have burrowed into it if she could have!
Our boys at Midland Bull Test have been processed for BSEs, ultrasounds and video. We are very pleased with Lot 79s Percent IMF of 4.40 actual/4.45 adjusted. We have been focusing on raising our herd's marbling quality and he is a perfect example. Lot 82 had the largest ribeye of the group at 13.2.
The site of a calves snoozing after filling their bellies full of milk is always pleasurable. I wish I still slept that soundly! Sometimes they twitch or kick their legs and I have to wonder, "Do cattle dream?" I am sure I am not the first person to wonder this and it has probably even been studied. If not, it should be!
When I see one twitching away like it might be a bad dream, I can't help myself but to walk over and quiet the little one. Were they running away from a predator? Sparring with pals? They raise their head all groggily and usually don't mind the soothing touch and fall right back asleep.
Occasionally, I catch a cow or bull asleep with all outward appearances of dreaming - rapid eye movements, twitching, etc. This time of year, I hope they are dreaming about the shoulder-deep grasses of summer. I know I am.
Midland GS1 final weights were released. MBT 80 did not do as well as hoped. It sounds like he had some tummy trouble in the middle of the test. He had a slightly positive RFI. MBT 82 had a negative RFI, which is great news. Check out their pages for all the figures.
I managed to get out for some photos during our last snow storm. I found Foreman had smartly made something to protect her from the snow or maybe she was just having a bad hair day. Really, it is because she is a naughty cow who searches for leaves in the bottom of the feeders and throws everything else out. She walked around like this for quite awhile before I took it off for her.
She is now on the vet's feed bill and being readied for an embryo flush. This normally lovely lady has provided us with two wonderful calves. One was a standout at the 2017 MBT sale and the other is a much coveted heifer who is even sweeter than her mother - as impossible as that sounds!
Speaking of Midland Bull Test, they just posted their results of the last weights for GS 1 today. It was completely unfair of them to post yesterday to stay tuned for weights and then make us wait for over 24 hours! Argh!!!
E-3 Bobber did not make it the cut off. He ended up in the sick pen. Drat. The other three did alright, with MBT 82 Murphy making a strong comeback from his early tummy troubles. He gained 98 pounds in the past month. MBT 81 Cisco is the heavy hitter, as expected. MBT 79 Bennett is not to be discounted and had a great finish.
Some stats have been added to their respective pages - check them out!
It is always interesting to see who the calves choose for their friends every year. This is Mira, from our miracle heifer Dora, and Merry from Christmas. The latter is an elite breeding with SydGen Fate 2800, but Mira is every bit as valuable to us. See the previous post regarding Dora and her journey.
We are more than two thirds of the way through calving. It has been a long term goal to calve everyone in 30 days - even with the recipients who did not take with the embryos. Every year we get closer to that goal with culling and selection.
Our mothers are all doing a great job taking care of their rug rats in this miserable, sloppy, muddy winter! The older girls have two interloper steers in their pen. Logan and Boomer are incredibly gentle with the calves and have been great at keeping them warm and sharing babysitting duties so the moms can eat. It is going to be hard to send those two to the butcher when it is their time.
The bulls at MBT are due for their final weights this week. Come on, boys! Check back for updates.
Winter is officially here. Snow and single digit temperatures, even negative temperatures, have all arrived! The cows are home now and it is that time of year when we work for them rather than them working for us. Udders are filling and tails are swishing.
The assembled groups of young cows, older cows, weanlings and bulls have all sorted out their respective bosses. For some reason the mixed breed cows seem to have the most drive to establish a pecking order while the Angus just want to chill out and keep calm. There is one exception.
One new cow, MJ, decided she was going to pick fights for seven days running. This was surprising since when she integrated into the all Angus herd she was completely calm with zero sparring. When the BWFs arrived, she was relentless in her quest to be top cow. Then I remembered she is an ET calf. Perhaps her mother's herd was BWF. Despite all her tries, MJ ended up being middle of the pack. Our BWF and recipient cows are just too big and seasoned for the scrappy four year old to overcome. Thankfully she was in great shape and seems no worse for the wear.
Stay tuned for news about calves and the MBT bulls. Their second weigh date was a few weeks ago and the results will be posted soon. Steve sent us a picture of the bull who ended up being sick right as the test kicked off and said he turned things around.
The past week has been truly a "ranching" week. While not everything we touch has gone wrong, quite a few things have gone sideways on us. That is just the way of life sometimes.
Last night, when I checked Dora I finally felt her baby. Why is this a big deal? Dora was born a twin with a bull calf. She should be what is called a freemartin or sterile. The incredible journey this calf has had is a story worth telling. She was born to my father's wildest cow, aptly tagged #6. He recycles tag numbers, which drives me nuts, but that is another story. Anyway. crazy #6 had mid-summer twins, which is late even for his schedule. They were together the first few hours and then my dad and niece could only find #6 and the bull calf. My astute niece heard her bawling her head off when changing hand lines. The problem was she was bawling FROM ACROSS THE RIVER!
Yes, this little traveler had swam a swift and wide river. She was standing on the opposite bank calling after the herd. She was retrieved and put back with crazy #6. Unfortunately, the cow wanted nothing to do with her. I happened to be visiting by this time and when I found her, she was pretty much blind from eye infections from swimming the river, standing in the only mud puddle for miles and starving.
I set Dad up with a course of meds and feeding program. He is way overworked and the last thing he needed was a bummer blind calf. Thankfully my niece was there to help him, but when my mom called and asked me to take her I was there with bells on! G&B Ranch aka The Home For Wayward Calves.
It took quite a bit of doctoring to make it so she has some vision in one eye. She does pretty well, but she knows she is different than the other cows. Her best buddy was Notch (yes, the senior herd bull) her first year. They were great friends and often ate, laid and played together. By the time she was a long yearling, it was time to put her in with the weanling heifers. This was great since she was a wee bit bigger than them and ended up being the boss.
When she was bangs vaccinated, the vet found she had one ovary. He gave her a 10% chance of being able to carry a calf to full term. When she started having heats, we made an agreement we would try one season to get her bred and then re-evaluate what her fate would be.
When it came time, we put her and a heifer bull in their own pen just to give her the best shot at being bred without interruption from herdmates.
I watched her like a hawk and did not see her want to play leap frog again through the remainder of the breeding season.
Last night, when everything else was going crummy, I went and found her in the field. She loves attention so met me halfway. I have been checking her for awhile now, but I finally felt a little bump just where one should be at 8 months along. When I pushed it gently, it moved away and then returned a few seconds later. There may have been tears.
For her part, Dora just turned with her ridiculously fluffy ears and looked at me with her good eye wondering what I was doing. She refused to tell me if the baby is a heifer or bull. I feel guilty for making just one more request for an already miracle baby, but Santa can it please be a heifer?
What a problem to have over the summer! Just when our herd bull, Quaker, is up for his photo shoot time he walked on over into the tall grass. Keep in mind he is at the top end for height. The five month old bull calf to his left is barely visible. While all the snow and mud brought its own difficulties through winter and spring, we were extremely grateful to have moisture unlike many other places in the west. As in, gee honey, I'm so glad you got the tractor stuck again. I needed the shovel workout today. Sigh...
Our calves were very uniform come weaning time and it made for difficult choices on who to send to Midland Bull Test. Our favorite calf, E-9 Murphy, ended up on the trailer and his antics are missed here in our day to day.
The bull and steer calves averaged over 700 pounds and the heifers were not too far behind at 660 pounds. We wean at 180 days so the mothers have plenty of time to grow their next calf.
Our two fall purchases were careful choices from Gardiner Prime Angus Ranch and Thomas Angus Ranch. We are excited for their AI babies to arrive in about eight weeks. Both of the cows are donor quality and as they develop into cows they stand a great chance of being rotated into our donor program.
The cows are due home in about two weeks time. The past week really tested their foraging skills as we got about five inches of snow in some of their pastures which lingered for five days. They seemed to do just fine, but we did hear some complaints from Chiquita. Charlotte was also pretty happy to see me arrive with a bucket full of apples on snow day five.
Enjoy the new pictures. Be sure to check out each bull's page for pictures of their dams and some youthful pics.
This post is a little late. Spring turnout and all the chores took over our lives as usual this year. In early April we put tattoos in all the little one's ears. That way, the tattoo grows with them and can be more easily read when they are adults. It is also easier to handle them and this task does not get put on a day when we are trying to capture weights in the fall. We get better and better (read: less green on Bryant) at this job every year, but it still is messy.
This picture is Millie after she tried to clean the green stuff off of Willow. Willow is not her calf, but she is a good auntie and tried her darndest to clean up this little heifer. Unfortunately for Willow, it just ended up spreading it all around. Willow ended up biting Millie's neck for her efforts!
This is Millie's and Notch's calf, March. Millie already had an April, so we are pleased she moved up two cycles! Heifers are few and far between this year, so there is a lot of pressure on this little girl to be super.
As I cleaned the calving barn for the final time a few days ago, I was actually sad. We spend all year plotting and scheming about calves. Every day a calf is born, it is Christmas all over again - even when we are sleep deprived and just trying to keep everything alive and kicking.
The 2016 heifers have already begun to be synchronized to be inseminated this time next week. The embryos will go in near the end of April. Those nine months of gestation will be frustratingly long, for sure. Thankfully we have this year's crop to keep us occupied.
In other news, the weather cooperated enough in Columbus for them to finish up the videos and publish the RFI, EFF and MBT Index information. We could not be more happy with 608 Ragnar coming in at 110 and 609 Cap finishing at 103 for their indexes. Their videos looked great, too.
As ranchers, we have been extremely grateful for straw this winter, but not as happy about it as the cattle. They have always gotten so excited when the yellow pillow stuff hits the ground. We try to put it out sneakily while they are eating, but sometimes it is an afternoon chore and boy do they get to bucking, kicking, and playing king of the pile. Full grown cows get down on their front knees just to rub their faces and necks in it.
The weanling pen has been particularly raucous this winter about straw. They take to running in giant circles and diving into the pile before breaking out into head butting sessions.
The calves are big enough where they are getting into the playing, too. Last week, we set one of the big bales on the ground while dispersing it into another pen. Several of the young bulls decided it was a good idea to try to jump over it. Of course, they became high-centered, but they seemed to revel in getting fully submerged in it before blasting victoriously out the other side. The heifers stood by the outskirts of the growing pile cheering or laughing, I could not tell which.
The action is fast and furious when it is all fresh but it does not take but a few minutes before all the animals are lying down to enjoy some much needed time off their feet in some clean and dry bedding.