We were shipping cull cows two days after Robbin and I returned from Oklahoma City on the 21st of April, and only now as we try to decompress from our three months of processing, weaning and shipping since, do we recognize how intense our pace has been—like stepping off a merry-go-round, it takes an awkward step or two to slow down. Neither of us can do what we used to, so we tend to string the workload out rather than try to get it all done at once, a mindset that’s ostensibly easier on the cattle, but tailored to fit our decreasing capabilities.
Weaning a pasture at a time took six weeks of gathering, sorting, feeding a little bunch each week. The dry spring took its toll on the calves, more uneven and lighter than in past years. Typically we’ve been able to put together two loads of 7-weight steers, but this year we were hard pressed to have two loads at 625. As we weaned them, we took our later steers and heifers, our lighter end, straight to the auction yard to utilize our irrigated pasture for our replacements heifers and the steers we would sell on the Internet.
As we shipped the steers on July 8th to Hereford, Texas, I thought about J.B. Allen, night feedlot man and friend many years ago. Back in the early-90s when contemporary cowboy poetry was fairly fresh and exciting and I was publishing Dry Crik Review, J.B. would call, perhaps two or three times a week, with a new poem to read over the phone. Hoping to make a connection, I was not surprised that neither truck driver was from Hereford.
The real sigh of relief came the evening after we processed our replacement heifers on July 11th. The load was off and we were done. This past week we’ve been addressing all the things we’ve postponed for the past three months, maintenance issues of one sort or another. Out early to irrigate and feed the bulls and heifers to beat the heat, today we head into our 26th straight day over 100 degrees. Back to business as usual.