Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cowboy up!

If you think Amazon Prime is dangerous to your fiscal health, try online cattle buying.

It's a pretty neat deal when you get right down to it. So long as you've registered and proved your bona fides to the sale barn in question, you just log in, watch the live stream, and bid.

It's fun and thrilling and frightening and a good way to spend a ginormous quantity of cash in a hurry.

So Monday we bought cows. Forty-eight head of mostly red, mostly young, bred cows. Due to calve March 1.

On Tuesday I had my work cut out preparing for their arrival. Nothing big, mind you, just a bit of repair to winter-ravaged fences, 
Installing steel posts on Tuesday. The gray thing is a post driver.

setup of the loading chute and corrals,

and turn on water to the north stock tank array.
This kind of ice is a serious challenge, on the order of two-feet thick. The north array wasn't used all winter and therefore froze pretty much solid.

Just normal, everyday stuff. Of course I'd been sitting on my ass for the last five months, trying to heal up from an infection and surgery.

To say I'm out of shape is a mild understatement, on the order of calling the super bowl a soap scrimmage.

Do they still have soap scrimmages?

Last week we had four or five inches of snow and some very cold temperatures. Typical January weather. We also had a pesky westerly wind, also typical to the season. I hate to complain about the wind. It keeps the air fresh and clean, and being one of nature's favorite tools, sculpts snowdrifts into sparking treasures. But when it blows across snow, ice and frozen earth, it's cold! Being on the mend and in the process of rebuilding my temple, I got out and hunted some pesky jackrabbits. After the last two years of abundant moisture (and therefore abundant rabbit food) we have a serious population overload of the damme things. I reduced their numbers by about 30 but couldn't tell the difference -- still jackrabbits everywhere. I hauled their carcasses up to the north side of the interstate as a peace offering to the coyotes who, because of hunting pressure, are not overpopulated.
120-yard offhand heart shot. Surprised me almost as much as the rabbit.

Anyway, back to Tuesday. According to my Gear Fit II (FREE with the purchase of a new phone!) I took something more than 12,000 steps and managed to travel on the order of six miles via LPC (leather personnel carrier) while working. I also pounded about 20 steel posts into frozen ground and clipped/nailed wire up to about 300 posts. Why? Why climb the highest mountain or fly the Atlantic? Why did Rice used to play Texas? I chose to work on fence not because it was easy, but because it was hard, because that goal served to organize and measure the best of my skills, because it was a challenge I was willing to accept, unwilling to postpone, and intended to win, and the others too.

Damme, how did Kennedy get in my head?

Well, long story short, it was a beautiful day, balmy and warm for January, and it felt good to be active and get some work done.

But it also felt bad. It hurt a lot. Muscles and joints used to not doing a damme thing set to whining and complaining and hurting almost immediately. I manufactured a lot of sweat and breathed a lot of breath and my heart pounded a lot of blood through a lot of miles of circulatory system.

But the cows came on time and unloaded without complication and were healthy on arrival.

They were also remarkably docile for having gone through the upheaval of auction and shipping.

I was pleased. It felt really good to have cows back on the place. I fed them some hay and kept them in the corral, having decided to turn them out to graze in the morning. I went home, at a bite, wrote a bit, then went to bed exhausted.

It was hard to get to sleep though. Every joint and muscle ached except for my newly repaired ankle. Eventually though, sleep came, and I awoke refreshed and ready for a new day.

The new day brought a new weather front with sharply colder temperatures and a freezing fog.

I turned the cows out and let them explore. They got out and about and found the winter grazing to their liking. I think they'll fit right in.

I think that droop-eared boss cow in front has a bit of Bos indicus in her.

This (Thursday) morning it's snowing like crazy. It's about 11 degrees as I write this and, thankfully, there's no wind. Also as I write this it appears that Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, guaranteeing another six weeks of winter. As it's just over six weeks until calendar spring arrives with the vernal equinox, I remain puzzled at how the rodent contributes to the conversation.

Despite the snow and cold the new cows look and act like they feel right at home.

And finally, from the "you ain't gonna believe this shit" department...

Speaking of Amazon Prime, I inventoried calving supplies the other day and noticed we were out of or short on a few things, specifically disinfectant and lubricant, both of which are required when assisting a cow with difficult birth (dystocia) or "pulling" a calf. If you're curious/interested/bored enough to wonder about details, you can take a run through this site.

At any rate, these items are expensive. I wondered if there might not be an advantage in ordering on line. There was. But when I searched the site for J-Lube, which is a veterinary powder you mix with water to make lubricant, I found that ranchers and veterinarians are not the only humans interested in lubrication. Check it out, if you dare. The interwebs is a wonderful learnin' tool, but there are some things I didn't need to know.


  1. It's good to see cattle out there again!

    Great pics and vids as always Shaun!

    1. Thanks Sarge! You ain't kiddin' it's good to see cows back on the place!

  2. My post driver(s) are red. I recognized yours immediately. My more used post driver is made by Mahindra has a nice front end loader on it. Amazing how fast 3000PSI can push a T-Post into the ground.

    1. :)

      When I'm building fence I use dead dinosaurs to place posts. When it comes to repair, considering distances between replacements, the presence of wire, and all the associated details of stretching, clipping and nailing, it always turns out easier to use to ol' armstrong. It's also better on frozen ground by far. The tractor loader will bend the posts instead of drive them in. The repetitive concussion of the armstrong seems to break up the ice. Not that it's easy, but it beats making steel pretzels and shouting bad words at the world.

  3. So good to see cows on the ranch again! They look like a nice even bunch. Post driver looks like the one I have, darn thing weights a lot, and I'm sure not getting any younger using it...

    1. Thanks Brig, the world seems right once again. Doesn't make you younger, but it pokes older in the eye. That's the theory anyway! :)

  4. If that is the best your .40 S&W SIG can do, I am gonna stick with .45ACP.
    Has the new tail lamp arrived?

    300 posts of nailing wire to posts, even at just one minute per posts is still 5 hours of driving staples. No wonder you are bushed!


    1. Ha! I was using my 10/22 takedown. I don't like the sights much (my excuse anyway) so I use a lot of KW.

      Most of those posts only needed 1 or 2 wires nailed, so it wasn't all that much work.

      Good to be back in the cow business.