Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heat Checking 101

I think that I mentioned this the other day, but if I didn't I will say it again. We are gearing up for a flush tomorrow. We are flushing only about 10 cows this time, whereas we normally have two days of flushing and do around 20 or so cows. If you have started reading this and have no clue what "flushing" means, check this out.

So tomorrow will be the culmination of about two weeks of hard work. We have been giving shots, checking heats, breeding cows, and Catherine and I just got back from giving our cows that are in the group a pep talk to make sure they know they need to have about 10 embryos each. We also picked a few dewberries on the trip too, but I will save the dewberry stuff for another blog.

One of the most important steps of getting ready for a flush is checking the heats. This way we know when we should breed the donors and have an idea of how many recips we have that will work. The following explains just what it is that I have to check for and after reading this, you all should be able to apply for a heat checking position.

First you need a group of cows to check heats on.

Here is one group of the recips. We have just over 100 recips that we set up for this flush. These will be the cows that play the surrogate mom for the embryos they will receive from the purebred cattle.

We also paint the tailhead of the cattle to help us out. You see, sometimes the cattle come in heat in the middle of the night and we normally just check the donors at night. The reason for that is, we have to know exactly when the donors come in heat, so we know when to breed them. The recips just have to show a heat to know that they will maybe work for putting an embryo in. But the reason for the tailhead painting is this, if a cow comes in heat and is mounted (I will get to this later) their paint will rub off. So I may not see the cow in heat, but if the paint is gone I know she was.

Also notice the green leaf on the cow. I didn't put that there but thought that it was rather strange that our cow had a tree growing out of it. You heard it here first!

Ok, after the shots have been given and the tails have been painted it is time to sit back and watch. What are you looking for you may ask?

This is what you want to see, standing heat. (You do know what a heat is right? It is when a cow is in estrus.) So when I see this I mark down on my sheet that has all the recip numbers on it. I put the time that I saw the cow in heat, and then check for others.

Lookie Here! Another one!

Notice anything funny about this picture? Look real close. Do you see it? That's right, there is a bull in the background. Our poor Brahman bull 159/7 is in a pen right beside where we had a group of recips. He can see all the action, but can't get in on any of it. Better luck next time big fella.

Why the different application for the above picture? Well I just wanted something different. Deal with it will ya! I also wanted a different logo, but looks like someone thought we should keep what we got. I will address this later in another blog.

Ok, here are two more cows. Can you tell which on has been in heat. Let's say you are me and just drive up on these two. One isn't mounting the other, but on has been in heat and one hasn't.

Check out the tailheads. C34 is still holding out, but the cow in front of her has been in heat. She has no paint left.

This is something else you will see when checking heats. No, the cow isn't smiling. It is called the fleming response. Bulls are normally thought of with this behavior. There is a special sensory organ that helps detect heat located somewhere in an animals head. Anyway, this is what it looks like. Sometimes Catherine and I try to do our best imitation of this and then laugh at how stupid we are. You should try it. Go practice in a mirror and come back, I will wait.

This was one of the recips that is in the group. I thought she was kinda cute and named her Beatrice. She looks too young to me to be a mother, but you know that teenage pregnancy is on a rise in cattle.

You won't believe who came out and helped me check heats!

It's Mr. Dragon, or is it Mrs. Dragon? I am too afraid to look, as he/she can be quite cranky. Regardless of gender, Dragon was quite the helper the other day.

Roast Beef anyone? Haha, I couldn't resist.

Any guesses on what it is that Dragon found here? It is something that I really like to find.

Here how about we take a look from another angle.

It is a new baby. This is my favorite part of the day. I get up and first thing go out to the calving pasture and check to see if the stork dropped of any deliveries.

Here is his close up. This little fella is not very old, not more than 2 hours.
We start flushing cows at 7 in the morning, so that means about a 6:30 penning time. So I should have probably been in bed yesterday to get up on time. I will admit, the snooze button and I are very close friends.
I will try to get some more pictures of us actually flushing the cows tomorrow. But if the flush goes bad, we will all probably be in a bad mood tomorrow and I may not feel like blogging.

Stay tuned!

P.S. I noticed that we have gotten a few new followers. To those newbies I would like to say welcome to our blog, where everyone else already knows how lame we are but seem to stick around anyway. And for that, we thank you!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our Little [REPTILE] Ranch

We must be on some sort of hidden camera show. First it was a water moccasin and then a dragon. Now it is a turtle, another snake, and a little more of our favorite dragon.

So recently we have been synchronizing another group of cows for a flush that we have coming up next week. I have been checking heats like crazy and if I ever see a cow ride another it will be too soon. (I will write a blog about this shortly.) Anyway, when I was driving from one pasture to another, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was a huge buzzard in the middle of a grass field that was recently mowed. But why would this buzzard be doing in the middle of a open field? There was no dead animal that I saw, but I could see this brownish lump. So I decided to investigate and this is what I found.

It was a turtle, and a pretty good sized one. I think that this is a box turtle, but who cares about the specifics. It is a good thing I came because as you can see it was almost lights out for this fella. Since it was Earth Day and all, I decided that I needed to put a rescue mission into action for my shelled friend. So I had a box in the back of the jeep and picked up the turtle and brought him to the house.

First to see my find were the two porch cats, Buttons and Beans. They were rather unimpressed with the turtle. Beans tried to slap him in the face but the turtle must have made some sort of noise, because in mid-swing Beans jumped about 5 feet off the ground.

Buttons also wanted to say hello. He too was unenthused with my find. Oh yeah, dragon also said hello. He is quite the chatty little thing.

On a side note, I do not have a name for dragon. Any thoughts??

Finally Catherine came out to see my new friend. As soon as she saw what it was that I found she yelled out "Mr. TURTLE!!!!" (pronounced: Midder-Durdle). She yelled this with such enthusiasm that you would have thought they were childhood friends. ]

Next we took a couple of close ups of Midder Durdle.

Then I decided to take him down to the creek beside the house and release him.

When I saw this excellent beach front property I knew that it would be a great domain for my new turtle. He was not real sure of what he wanted to do when I sat him down. He just kinda sat there. I was expecting him to come of his shell, tell me thanks for saving him, and then slowly walk into the water waiving as he went.

So after about 15 minutes of him just sitting there, I gave him a little nudge with my foot. Good thing I had my camera on him because he shot off.

He moved so quick this is all I could get.

Also, when I was down by the creek, these stupid birds kept flying all around me trying to get me to leave. But do you notice the good weed kill that I got? There is still a touch of green but that will be gone shortly. Maybe a bazooka this time, I don't know.

The next day, when I got back from judging a showmanship contest, I called Frank to see what was next on the agenda for the day. He said that everything was done for the day, but that he killed a snake. So I jumped on my dragon and flew over to the pens. This is what I saw:

Are you still there? Did you fall back in your chair or run around the house screaming?
This is a chicken snake and although not as deadly as the Coral Snakes, Water Moccasins, Cottonmouths, or Copperheads that we have around this place but still just as scary to this guy. There is also a few alligators down in the swamps of a place that we lease. But I try to stay away from there. I think that a witch lives back there and has nightly sacrifices of birds of prey and stuff like that.

Here is Frank with the snake that he killed. He is not scared of anything - not even a fighting cow coming at him. He thinks of it as a challenge, whereas I think of it as a perfect time to wet my pants and suck my thumb. Anyway, Frank grabbed the snake so I could get a picture of it.
Then after we were done taking the picture of Frank with the snake, we hung it on the fence.

The folklore is that if you hang a snake on a fence it will bring rain. And we did get a little shower yesterday evening. Maybe it was because of this guy.

You may notice that Dragon was not in any of the snake pictures. He told me that he is scared of them and didn't want to get out of the car.

So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to think of a great name for Dragon. Nothing is off limits. But nothing girly - he is a manly dragon (just not when it comes to snakes, I guess he gets that from me!)
Until Next Time!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Little Dragon

Recently Catherine and I have become the owners of a new pet. Yesterday Catherine, her mom, and I all went to Catherine's cousins tee-ball game. I wish I would have taken my camera because these little kids made me laugh. They would be out in the outfield picking wedgies, the girls would do cartwheels, and some were just as serious as could be. The combination of all three made for a very pleasant and fun filled evening.

It wasn't until on the way home that we got our new little friend. We all were a little hungry and wanted to stop for a quick snack. McDonald's was the closest stop, so we pulled over and got a quick bit to eat. Somehow Micky D's got our order confused and gave me a Happy Meal. Little did I know that they also put a surprise at the bottom. It was a DRAGON!!! A fire breathing, flying, scaly dragon.

We did not have much of a choice but to take him home and let him live with us. I mean, he is a dragon, you kinda have to do what he says.

Here is our dragon. He was wanting to help me type this blog, but his feet were too big and he could not make his words correctly.

Here dragon is doing a little exploring. He said he was hungry and decided to see if there was anything in these pots.

We played a quick game of Hide and Go Seek. This is where I found him. He was buried in the grass plant thing that we have on the bookshelf.

One of his recent kills. He was very proud to report that he took this big fella down!

One thing that most people don't know about dragons is that they love to help out with laundry. Hopefully, he will be helping Catherine with this stuff and I will be released of my duties.

Apparently he was not satisfied with the huge bird he caught and discovered some biscuits. But not even a dragon wants to eat a biscuits with nothing on it.

I suggested that he try some strawberries on it, but you can tell by the look on his face that he was not diggin' that idea.

How 'bout some good ole butter dragon? Nope, he wanted the spreadable kind.

Well he found the spreadable kind, but it was guarded by a big mean salt pig. But I think we all know in a showdown between a dragon and a pig who will win...

The dragon of course! After a huge battle, he stands proudly by his butter. I can tell he is going to fit in just fine around here.

After a long and stressful day, all he wanted was a hot shower. However, he still can't get the concept that he needs to be under the water. Looks like I still have some training to do with my dragon.

I will be sure to keep updating everyone on the adventures of my dragon. I am going to try to take him with me to work cows this morning. Who knows, it could all end up as BBQ.

Some of you may think it is rather silly that I am blogging about a kid's meal toy. But, it find it rather funny and that is what the little Elves that are sitting beside me are telling me to do.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Little Rancher • UPDATE

So here's the story. I have been sitting here at this stupid computer since like 8. It is now 10:20. For some reason my computer is going insanely slow and my eyelids have became ridiculously heavy these past couple of minutes.

I was going to put up about 15 pictures tonight, but since the computer is dumb I will try again in the morning. DO YOU HEAR ME COMPUTER!!! PUT THE PEDAL DOWN, YOU ARE WAY TOO SLOW!!

So now that I have that off my chest, I will give you an update on the current standings of the Our Little Rancher contest. Actually, I am just going to say who is in the top five and then you can try to figure out the rest. So the front runners are Crystal, Kimball, Shelia, Callie, and Ramona.

Thank you to all for your comments, they are our favorite part of the blog. Except, when you say things like "Catherine is right on this one Luke, keep the same logo." That was not at all how I thought that poll would turn out. Oh well, can't win 'em all I guess. But keep the comments coming, there is still 10 days left to get those comments in.

So I am off to hit the hay. Hopefully this pathetic machine will have its act together in the morning.

Over and out!

**For some reason, the text size is all messed up. Again my computer must be on its last leg. Hopefully, I can get it all resolved in the morning.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Identity Crisis

Ok, so I am getting bored with our design on the blog. Maybe because I look at it every day, I don't know. But regardless why, I am wanting a make over. I have been playing around with some different ideas for a logo for Our Little Ranch. Catherine says that there is "No way!" that we will be changing the design of the blog because she likes it how it is, blah blah blah. But I want change!

So you can help me out by providing your input on which logo you like the best. All you have to do is leave a comment with the logo that you like best. I have my favorite picked out and so does Catherine. It will be interesting to see which ones y'all like.

Or if you think that we should keep the blog the same way we have it now you can say that too, but no promises if you comment will get published. Just sayin'.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Don't be comin' on OUR little ranch!

Today Luke and I left the house with the intention of going antiquing, but got distracted by the prospect of milling around Tractor Supply. We didn't have anything to get, but how can anyone NOT love that store?!

We went in to TSC and left $100 poorer, with several 'treasures' we needed, such as a new garden spade, a $30 container of fly spray for 143 & company in our pen, and Luke's prized find that he feels makes him a real Texan now... a machete. (Is that how you spell it? However you spell it, you can't say it without making me think of the bad man in Big Jake who macheteed that dog!)

Afterwards we went to my Mom's to visit with her and my grandpa. Sure enough, as it does every Spring in Texas, the part of the conversation came up where we discuss any snake sightings/killings of the season. Of course we can stick our chest out over Beans' having the first snake kill of the season back when he was Our Little Assassin.

We left and headed back to our house. I was on the phone with a friend and walked in the house. Not ten seconds later, I hear the back door open up and Luke says, "Where's the gun? There's a huge-a** water moccasin out here!" So I immediate wet my pants (not really, this time) and grab the shotgun. Luke calmly instructs me to get Beans and Buttons and get them on the porch with me, while our Manly Man Luke takes care of the predatory reptile, which obviously was coming after our prized porch cats.

Like a mother hen putting her chicks underneath her wings, I called my trusty little guys Beans and Buttons and lifted them under each arm. I held them close and yelled to Luke and said, "I got 'em!" and then he said, "Ok, get ready." Then I bowed my head (I guess it was instinct) and hung on to my little guys for dear life.


"Ha-HAAAAAA! I blew your head off!!!!" yelled my super enthusiastic newly christened Snake Killing husband.

The kitties weren't even PHASED! They looked at me like, "We deal with snakes all the time with our BARE HANDS (or claws)."

So immediately after this excitement, what do I do? Call my mother, of course. Since she lives just about half a mile down the road, she jumped in her car and gunned it our way. Not ten seconds after I got off the phone with her, I see a cloud of dust and a green blur headed down her driveway. Probably 1 minute after getting off the phone, she was here in our driveway to weigh in on the action.

We evaluated the snake and, due to its slight movement, weren't able to definitively pronounce it dead. So, we called our cow herd manager and Guy-Who-Could-Have-His-Own-Snake-Hunting-Show-On-Animal-Planet, Frank.

We didn't want to shoot the snake again, because Frank gets a real thrill out of almost-dead snakes. He likes to poke and prod them, carry them around on cow sorting sticks, and then put them in the back of his truck to, I can only imagine, chase poor unsuspecting people around with them.

So, Frank came to play coroner. Thankfully, he took the snake away and hung it on a fence somewhere on the ranch to "warn" all its relatives.

Here's photos from the event, which was the most excitement we've had here since the exciting lunch break about a month ago.

Beans was comfortably lounging not 15 feet from the snake at the time of discovery. While I did take him away during the actual shooting event, once we got the "all clear," he came to check the situation out.....

.......and torture the snake.

"Hey, we're not done with you!" — Beans

John Wayne striding over to consult with his fans.

The snake's transportation to his final resting place, wherever that may be.

I wouldn't let him touch it, so Frank supplied some pliers. Luke supplied the face all his own. Thank you hero for protecting us from this snake! Look at you with your gun!

After the excitement of the snake killing, Frank and Luke proudly compared their machetes. Then they went and chopped down some thistle weeds together. Nothing like male bonding. Something about men on this ranch and their machetes... my dad has one, my grandpa has one, Frank has one, and now Luke has his own. Frank's machete is a ghetto macheto though and looks a little less "you-can-buy-at-Tractor-Supply" than Luke's. Frank's machete looks as if it has been handed down from generations, gaining stories and folklore as it is passed on.

I wonder if Frank's machete has ever seen or had contact with El Chupacabra? But... that's another blog.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It ain't pretty.

That's the thing about ranching. But... it sure can be funny.

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, Luke and I aren't at a loss for humor. We find something to laugh about in even the most boring of all situations.

We have 3 head in our little pen right by our house. We have 143/6, who is the alpha cow of the group, plus two younger heifers that we bought earlier this year that we are 'growing out' until they are ready to be bred. 143 is so nice to us... she lets us pet her and stands at the gate morning and evening at feeding time. However, she's a big bully to the two younger heifers. They want to be friends, and they want to get pet and scratched too, but 143 isn't letting them. Anytime the little heifers inch towards us, or stretch a curious neck out thinking about giving us a sniff, before long, 143 comes a-runnin' and butts them out of the way, as if to say, "Hey... if you're giving out the petting and scratching, here I am." It's not her most attractive personality trait, but hey, I'm sure we've all known people just like her who push others around to get in the spotlight. And just like those situations, we let 143 manipulate us into getting what she wants — we begrudgingly oblige and give all our petting to her. As I'm writing this, I feel guilty.

Anyways, these 3 lovely Brahman ladies needed some hay the other day and since both Luke and I are SUV drivers, we usually have to borrow a truck to go to the hay barn (which is only about 200 yards from our house, I should mention) and get them some square bales. We used to have our own round bale circle hay rack thing, but it got stolen by my dad an unknown thief.

None of the ranch's trucks were available and we had to... improvise.

My husband, the yard man, got on his trusty red lawn tractor (okay... it's not a tractor), drove it down the road to the hay barn, loaded up 2 bales in the "foot" area of the mower, and headed back to Our Little Ranch. Now... he is getting really creative with the hay moving, because if you'll remember, last time he loaded it on top of his Jeep. This time, he was already mowing the yard and I'm guessing a light bulb went off. Hey, whatever works.

I could NOT miss this. I took a break from laughing hysterically at how ridiculous this hay transportation was to run inside for my camera.

Luke The Expert Driver had to finagle his way through a very tight entrance. The angle just doesn't do it justice, but the tiny gate from the yard to the pen left only centimeters on each side. Nice concentration face, Husband.

Taking the long way around. 143 is probably running my way right now, thinking, "Oooh, pet me!"

But sorry, 143, I can't pet you, because I'm always distracted by evening sunset photo ops.

The two little heifers in the pen probably saw this and high fived (or is it hoof-fived? high hoofed?) and said, "Haha, 143! You are losing your touch, loser!"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cat talking to Cats.

So as promised here is the blog that maybe reveals a little too much of the weird world that is Our Little Ranch.

***Our legal counsel said that we should write a disclaimer to this blog so those men in white lab coats don't try to come get my wife. So this blog is written in good fun and no actual accounts of real life cats talking actually took place.***

But use your imagination anyway, it makes life mucho better. And this is how the cat talking ordeal went down.

Two nights ago Catherine and I were just about to go to bed and Catherine blurted out "Do you know what Dixie just told me?!"

I responded with "No, I do not know what the cat just told you." I said it in a very "here we go again" tone.

Catherine proceeded with this:

"Well she told me that she has been hearing us make a fuss about how much we like the porch kitties and she needed to get some things straight. First off, this is her house and she is not sure why we keep calling it ours. She told me that she is the master here and we need to do what she tells us to, not the other way around. She also said to me that all decision making processes like bringing a new pet into our lives would have to be brought up to her at a weekly household meeting. And finally that when we are gone she has parties at the house, because it is her house and she can do what she wants."

Seriously, I cannot make this stuff up. I about wet my britches and could do nothing but smile. Catherine told the story with such a serious face I was beginning to wonder if the cat could actually talk and I just was not paying close enough attention.

We don't say much about Dixie because she really is from "the bad place." You know, like H-E-Double Hockey Stick! She is evil! She will just randomly latch onto our arm and hold on for way more than 8 seconds while you flail your arm around in the air as you run around the house trying to get away from Satan kitty. But the weird thing is after she makes an attempt at your life, she then crawls back on you and starts to purr. It's like she is thinking "Okay, we are friends again.'' The vet told Catherine that she should put her on anti-depressants to help her. Does that sound like rubbish to anyone else?

Even though Dixie/Diddles/Rucifee (the list goes on and on!) is mean at times she can also be very sweet. Here are some pictures of "The Lady of the House" when she was a little younger. I have tried to get some pictures of her recently, but each time I do the camera explodes.

This is Dixie and her brother Tad when they were just babies. I wish her eyes were still blue like this, but now they are yellow/tan/green.

Here they are again. This was one of the last pictures of Tad. Unfortunately, the guy who comes and fills up the semen tanks with nitrogen ran over Tad. And that was the end of that.

But Dixie has moved past that, and here she is playing Christmas Kitty. She still gets in the tree, but with her current body condition score, the tree tends to lean and/or fall over when she gets near the top.

Here she is working. Dixie likes play pretend secretary.
So that is the most recent Cat talking experience I have had. I am sure that I will be met with something like "Luke, Dixie just told me how much she likes her pictures on the internet," when I get out of here.
Until next time friends!