Friday, July 29, 2011

I *knew* I Heard Something!

Last night I was laying in bed waiting for my alarm to go off at 1 am. I had my alarm set for 1 am because we had just got a new batch of chicks in yesterday and I needed to get up and check the temperature of the brooder to make sure it wasn't too hot or too cool in there for the chicks. As I was laying there, waiting for the alarm to go off, I could hear a cow or something making a weird noise.

We still have two cows who were bred late last year who still need to have their calves. Earlier in the evening, just before we went to bed, I was out checking the brooder when I heard a cow moaning or something. I told Dan the Man that he ought to go out an check the cattle, maybe one was calving. So he took the flashlight and headed out to check the herd. He came back in a few minutes later and said nothing looked unusual and no one was calving. So we went to bed.

Having my alarm set for 1 am made it hard to fully fall asleep, especially since I knew I needed to get up and check that brooder. So I drifted in and out of sleep until I finally decided to get up at about 12:45. I kept hearing weird noises outside. The window was open. At least I thought the noises were coming from outside. I couldn't be sure if I was dreaming and the sounds were coming from my dreams or if they were really coming from outside.

I put on my cowboy boots, grabbed a flashlight and headed outside in my "sock monkey laying on the beach" night shirt. I no sooner got to the driveway on the way to the brooder when I was startled by Charlie, our 4 year old half-blood Lowline bull.

Country Chicken Girl: "Whoa! Charlie, what are you doing out here???"

He was on a mission to get into the field with the cows. We don't put our bulls in with our cows until August since we like to calve in May.

I yelled at him and told him "no, no!" but he just proceeded to push right past me towards the cows. Naughty boy! I ran after him, while yelling at Danny who was sound asleep in our nice comfy bed. Good thing our window was open or he probably would not have heard me.

Country Chicken Girl (chasing Charlie in her jammies and cowboy boots, running past the house): "Danny, Charlie is out and trying to get in with the cows!"

Dan the Man: " Huh?"

Country Chicken Girl (finding it hard to run in cowboy boots and jammies): "Get our here! Charlie is out and trying to get in with the girls."

Dan the Man: "OH! Wait, I have to get dressed!"

I don't know why he couldn't just put on HIS cowboy boots and come out in HIS jammies, but no, he had to get fully dressed! Like anyone was going to see him!

So meanwhile I am trying to contain Charlie, who is a tamest bull we own. Probably because we showed him when he was a calf at the National Western Stock Show and The NILE. So, needless to say, he isn't afraid of me and knows I won't hurt him, so he just trots right past me. I run in front of him and "boink" him on the head with the flash light.

"That'll turn him," I think to my self.

Charlie squinting his eyes like I'm beating him on the head with a baseball bat: "Oh, oh, don't hurt me!" but still pushing onward towards the girls.

Country Chicken Girl: "Charlie, NO, NO! STOP!!!" More "boinking" on the head, "boink, boink" with the flashlight to no avail.

Finally, Dan the Man comes out and yells at Charlie and we finally get him turned away from the cows and headed back to the corral where he belongs. Why does Charlie listen to Boss Man Dan, but totally ignores the little Country Chicken Girl in her sock monkey jammies and cowboy boots?

Wow, exciting night life here at the Open A Bar 2 Ranch last night. Oh, you wouldn't have believed how clear the sky was and how bright the stars were. The milky way was "out of this world" and I saw a falling star.

Sorry there are no pictures for this post, but I'm sure you can use your imagination and come up with some visuals of the story yourself!

The End.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sorry Kid-o, But You Are Off the Team

Yesterday, one of the heifers (as in a girl cow who has not had a baby yet) made a very bad decision that got her kicked off the Open A Bar 2 Ranch team.

Dan the Man and I were sorting the cattle, since we were taking a few of them to greener pastures down on the river near Mitchell. We are summering several of our cattle down there on pasture that we are leasing. We still had four heifers to take down there and those were the girls we were sorting out. These heifers are yearlings, they were a year old in April. Sometimes heifers can be a little ditsy, but I think it's because they have no idea what we want them to do since they are so young. They have never been off our ranch before, except to go to the veterinarian for their bangs vaccination. Bangs vaccinations protect cattle against Brucellosis.

So, we were moving the group of cattle (we were on foot and 4-wheeler) from the pasture to the corral. Not a long distance. All was going fine, the herd was just kind-of moseying along towards the corral. The majority of them went right in, but one heifer #038 decided that she was NOT going to go into the corral. So as fast as she could, she made a break from the herd and headed in the opposite direction. Big mistake on her part.

Dan the Man was on the 4-wheeler and not in the mood for any shenanigans because #1) it was too hot to be chasing heifers and #2) we had too much work to get done. He told me to get everyone in the corral and we would see if the one that took off was one that we actually needed or not. Of course, it was one that we needed.

After we got the three good girls sorted from the group that was staying, Dan the Man went after the little renegade. Usually it is very easy to run a stray back up to the corral because they would rather be with the group, than alone. But this little girl had another agenda. She was not about to go up into the corral. Danny chased her on the 4-wheeler and she eluded his every move. She then proceeded to go through fences in order to get away from him. That only made Danny madder. He probably should have left her alone for a while, but we really didn't have time. She needed to get on that trailer with the other girls so we could get going. Danny continued to pursue her on the 4-wheeler and she continued to run away... through three electric fences and straight over to the neighbors pasture in with their cattle.

Naughty, naughty, naughty! These are exactly the kind of cattle that will "wreck" a nice herd. If you get one that decides to "bolt" while you are gathering, the whole herd might decide to run with them instead of going where you want them to. We had a cow who would do exactly that and we got rid of her because of it.

Now we were faced with the same situation. Dan went over to the neighbor's and explained the circumstances. They both decided that it would be easier to get her out of their herd the next time they had to run their cattle into their corral, so the plan was just to leave her in with the neighbor's herd until then. Dan the Man came back and told me that she just lost her spot on the Open A Bar 2 Ranch team. He took the other heifers down to Mitchell and left her here.

What a shame, she made the cut and was a shoo-in for the team, but then she had to pull this stunt and go herself kicked right off. I guess someone should have told her that Coach Dan doesn't play around. One strike and you're outta here, especially when it's 100 degrees outside and he doesn't have time to give you a second chance.

This morning Dan the Man saw her standing with the neighbor's herd right in the corner of the pasture that borders our pasture. He figured he could coax her out of the neighbor's herd if we ran our herd down there and she could see them. So we went and told the neighbor what we were doing and they came on down to help us. At first it looked as if she was going to be a jerk and try to run away, which she did, but she actually ran up the fence line and went through the four wire fence and ran back in with our cows. As my grandma would say... Ay Yi Yi... while she shook her head back and forth and clicked her tongue!

Here she is, back in with our herd.
Looks like she found a little mud over at the neighbors.
Maybe she just wanted to go over there for a quick mud bath?

So it's with deep regret #038, that I must inform you that you have been kicked off the Open A Bar 2 Ranch team. Sorry kid-o, but we have no room for renegades in our herd.

I don't want to tell her, but now she is destined to become some of Open A Bar 2 Ranch's all-natural beef. That's ranching.

Naughty little girl...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Open House!

In order to catch you up on the goings on around here this summer, I need to tell you about the Open House that we had here on the ranch on June 18th.

Now, before you start bellyaching that you didn't know about it or wasn't invited... don't worry, we are having another one in October! Date to be determined...

Dan the Man and I have been wanting to have an Open House here at the Open A Bar 2 Ranch for some time now. This is not our first one, some of you chicken customers will remember the one we had a few years ago when we raised heritage turkeys. Actually that was in 2008. Anyway, I'm getting off the subject.

Dan the Man and I want our customers to feel as the Open A Bar 2 Ranch is "their" ranch. We want everyone to be a part of what we are doing out here and to get to know us and our operation on a personal level. We want our practices to be transparent.

The Open House was on June 18th. People who had pre-ordered chickens for Batch #1 we able to pick up their chickens at the open house. But that was not all. I decided to invite several of our "farmers' market" friends to also come set-up and sell their wares. We had 9 vendors who came!! They included the following: Diane Edwards with Wind Harvest Farms who brought some of their most delicious strawberries! Dan Weitzel, with Mitchell Valley Farm (a local CSA) who brought some yummy radishes and information on his CSA. Nancy Butcher, Jams and Jellies Just For You, surely you can figure out what she brought. Flower Field Farm, Nathaniel & Rylee McGown, who had free ice cream cones made with milk right off their dairy. Sarah Pinet, you know her as the "goat cheese lady" of Victory Hill Farm, brought her delicious cheve and other goat cheeses! Jennie Salters, Chalk Butte Pottery, you know the awesome chicken roasters... (see this post, and yes, Dan the Man bought me another one!) Laura and Jim Whelchel with Double L Country Store came with their goat milk products such as lotion and soap along with a vast array of other neat-o stuff. Beth Everett of Meadowlark Hearth CSA brought veggies and seedlings such as lettuce and last but certainly not least Jane Sedman, who you know as the bread lady or Mama Janes' Artisan Breads, who has the best buttermilk cinnamon raisin swirl bread on the planet.

We had our own mini farmers' market going on out here at the ranch. Thanks again to all of you vendors who came!!

The Open House started at 1 pm and of course, wouldn't you know it that a storm moved in around 1:45 or so. We are talking wind, rain and hail folks! Actually it would appear as if "Wind, Rain and Hail" seem to be this summer's theme! Thank goodness we had room for everyone to get out of the storm in the shop and studio. People were great and just moved inside and visited.

Here comes the storm.
courtesy of Katie Bradshaw.

Dave & Laura Whelchel, Double L Country Store waiting out the storm.
Picture also courtesy of Katie Bradshaw.

After the storm cleared, we continued with the festivities. I was afraid that the storm would put a quick end to the open house, but when the sun came back out, the people began to come out as well. Some even told us that the radio had reported a tornado sighting in Stegall which is 3 miles east of us!

Dan the Man gave tours of the operation to several people who went out in two groups. That was after the storm... good thing we had plenty of rubber boots to share! The children loved seeing all the baby chicks and the baby calves.

We had plenty of help with the open house. Our oldest son and daughter-in-law (Nick & Sarah) were here on vacation, Chris came home from Kearney for the weekend to help, Danny's parents (Bob & Penny) came down from Colorado, and Danny's sister and brother-in-law (Carla & Jim) came up from Casper. My sister, Lori, bought and helped me plant several flowers the week before to help pretty-up the place. Too bad most of those flowers got destroyed in the July 2nd storm.

Anyway... I think it is fair to say a good time was had by all. We had a wonderful turnout and can't wait to do another on in October. I hope I can convince Dan the Man to offer hay rides! We will also invite vendors. I can see it now... hay rides, hay castle for the kids to play in, pumpkins, gourds, indian corn for sale from the vendors, apple cider, cookies, smoked chicken, bonfire for making s'mores... awww yes!! Come on FALL!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yes, I am still alive...

Egads, it has been for-ev-er since I last blogged. Some of you are probably thinking I have fallen off the edge of the earth. Well, that isn't the case. Things have been a little busy and disorderly here at the Open A Bar 2 Ranch that i just haven't had time or the motivation to blog. How sad...

So I am going to try to do a few super fast posts to catch you up on all that has been going on.

One MAJOR event that has taken time out of my blogging was a MAJOR storm that we had on July 2nd here at the ranch that cause lots of damage. I'll post on that later. This post will be to get you caught up to the storm.

So where did I leave off... oh yes, The Robins: They've Hatched.

Yep, they hatched and them there flew away! There now you are caught up with that story! LOL. Actually I have more concerning the robins. Let's see, oh yes, two of the robins hatched.

I took this picture of the on June 12th. They were so stinkin' ugly that they were so stinkin' cute!

Newly hatched babies.

I got busy and didn't have time to check in on them as often as I wanted to so the next time I peeped into the nest this is what I saw. I wanted to get a picture of one of the parents sitting on the nest, so every time I went to go check on the nest, I would try to sneak around the corner of the barn and snap a picture, but the robins were to smart for me and would detect what I was up to before I could get the camera around the corner and focused on them. But this one day, as I rounded the corner with camera zoomed and ready, the robin just sat there and posed for me.

Robin sitting in the nest.

Hmm... I thought as I took a few pictures of it. Then all of sudden it flew away... well, kind of. I thought it had flown away since I was busy looking through my camera view finder and not looking directly at it. Through the corner of my eye, it seemed like it just kind of fluttered to the ground by the chute (as in cattle chute). I looked down by the chute and sure enough, there it was. That's odd, I thought to myself. Then all of the sudden two of my cats show up! It was at that moment that I finally realized the the robin on the ground was one of the babies and it was going to need my assistance or it was going to be a kitty treat. As soon as the cats showed up so did the parents. What a commotion! Cats ready to pounce, parents trying to dive bomb us and baby on the ground!

Baby on the ground. At least it was a soft landing in the straw.

I immediately told the cats to back off. This baby was off limits. Surprisingly they listened and obeyed, probably because I practically yelled at them! I hardly ever yell at them. Anyway, this little fellow was going to need some assistance getting himself back into the nest where he would be safe and sound. I gingerly picked him up and placed him back in his nest. Poor baby!

He was so scared, his heart was beating a million beats per minute. Meanwhile, the mother or father kept trying to dive bomb me and the cats. I carefully climbed up on some stuff to get to the nest and placed the baby back in the nest. He was so frightened that he just kind of melted into the nest trying to blend in and not be seen.

Trying to hide in the nest.

What an ordeal. I hoped that the baby wouldn't try that stunt again until he was a little more able and prepared!

So I have no idea what happened to the other baby, but I suspect that he might have perished on his maiden flight. I suspect that the cats might have been waiting for the little unsuspecting fellow when he made is first flight. Naughty cats.

The next time I checked on the little fellow who I placed back in the nest, the nest was empty.

So there you go... at least I didn't leave you hanging about the Robins.

That's all I have time for now, so later tater!

PS, I am not going to proof read this because I simply don't have time. So please don't criticize or poke fun of my writing skills or lack of!