Category Archives: Ranch Journal

“Yellowstone Effect”

Devin Murnin, Western Livestock Journal, 8/29/2022

Most people have seen or heard of the hit TV show “Yellowstone” that airs on the Paramount Network. Admittedly, I have watched the show. It is set in picturesque Montana and packed with drama, lots of action and overly-fictionalized storylines around a ranching family trying to keep together the generational ranch that has been passed down to them.

This show is hard to watch if you are involved in production agriculture for the many incorrect portrayals of ranching practices and the over-the-top daily issues faced by this fictional family. However, it seems to be resonating with the public and is causing an influx of people wishing to move to the Big Sky state. The “Yellowstone effect” is real in Montana, and we have seen population growth and skyrocketing demand for real estate.

It’s no secret that the pandemic changed work dynamics, and the ability for employees to work remotely resulted in people moving away from areas with a high cost of living to more affordable locations around the country. Montana saw a huge demand increase for property. For example, in Bozeman, where the storyline of “Yellowstone” is based, the median price for a single-family home was a mere $500,000 a few short years ago.

read more:

https://www.wlj.net/opinion/devin/devins-comment-yellowstone-effect/article_8d1ab426-254b-11ed-9816-c36a6c2c9a13.html

SERIOUS BUSINESS

 

Occasionally, I feel guilty.

I’ve killed so many

that I may allow

one to escape

my will to kill

 

before becoming numb

as machinery,

before squeezing

 

               the pellet gun

               the .22,

               the .223

               or the 17 HMR—

 

…like now as I write:

one breaking from

the dogs’ empty pens

with cheeks full

of puppy chow.

 

Little bastards,

I’ve fed tens of thousands

to our local wake of buzzards

waiting for the first report

of war in the canyon.

 

Falling off hillsides in hordes,

battalions of vermin

to strip tomatoes

green from the vine—

 

every sweet and juicy issue

from my darling Elberta,

our plump grapefruit

and leather-hided pomegranates

that will never spread

as jelly on toasted bread.

 

Serious business in a drought

to become an oasis

for the flea-infested

and their underpopulated

predators, but I’d like a day off.

 

First Calf 2022

In the feed grounds this morning (8/29/22), our first calf of the season with its mother (7052), posted here as part of our age and source verification program and to share with those following this blog. Due September 1st, there are several other cows pretty close up, so it’ll have a playmate soon. An Angus calf, no Wagyu this year.

How To Beat The Heat

 

What a delightful afternoon after work (8/19/22).  109 degrees at the ‘Sip and Dip’: Katy Fry, Allie & Shawn Fox with Robbin, Buster and Tessa. 

Wind Event

Major wind event continues at noon today originating from a cut off low off the coast of Southern California, a pre-monsoonal surge of subtropical moisture bringing lightning and thunderstorms to the Southern Sierra and Central Valley into tomorrow. Little moisture. A.M. wind blew the top of a sycamore across our electrical service line to our pump at the corrals. We’ll have to haul water to our cattle.

Meanwhile we have cows and calves gathered in Greasy awaiting weaning planned for today if a tree hasn’t fallen across a fence up there. We’ll have to take some hay and check the damage tomorrow. We’re not done with the wind gusts.

BUMBLEBEES

                                   

 

                                    Judges in California’s Third District Court of Appeal

                                    ruled in late May that the bumblebee can legally fall

                                    within the definition of a fish when it comes to the

                                    definition of endangered species. “Although the term

                                    fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer

                                    to aquatic species, the term of art employed by the

                                    Legislature in the definition of fish in section 45 is not

                                    so limited,” the trio of judges wrote.

                                                – Western Livestock Journal, June 13, 2022

 

After work they like their G & Ts,

drawn to tonic and Tangueray,

slice of lime in an iced-down glass—

but some drink too much!

 

 

 

BENEATH THE EAVES




We’re talking cattle

with a rising moon in June,

making plans for cows and calves—

 

the gather and sort to town,

where old friends shuffle

across the sale barn’s catwalk,

 

boot soles sliding, glad

to be moving among the living

when so many are not.

 

No one cares about our conversations,

the moon eavesdrops when it wants

just to measure our progress.

 

 

LAST LOAD TO IDAHO

Photo by Terri Blanke

 

Say good-bye to your mothers

for the long ride

all you children—

the truck is clean

shavings on the floor.

Driver said it snowed

before he left,

needed chains on Donner

rolling empty here in May.

 

We shake our heads

about the weather,

damn little rain,

the creek’s gone dry.

With a week of winds

the oaks have come alive,

tree limbs dancing

like separate tongues

trying to lick the sky.

 

 

We shipped our last load of Wagyu X calves to Snake River Farms on Tuesday as we continue to gather and wean our Angus calves.  Both cows and calves have done well despite the extremely dry spring, in part because of our heavy culling that cut our cow herd by a third after only six inches of rain the year before. With drought across the Western US, cow numbers are down everywhere resulting in a stronger market than we’ve seen in years. With unpredictable weather, higher costs for grain and inflation, we may be raising beef we can’t afford to eat.

AFTER TAO TE CHING

                        What calamity is greater than no contentment,

                        And what flaw greater than the passion for gain?

                                    Tao Te Ching (“46”) Book of Songs)  

 

Following ten years drought,

gusty evenings under gray clouds

add depth to blond hillsides—

contrasting tomorrow’s summer feed

 

that begs embracing,

that begs old flesh to awaken,

 

but begs no mention but to look

with an empty mind.

 

 

MOWING

 

After I mowed the lawn, I opened the gate for the cows and their Wagyu X calves to the horse pasture to eat the grass and weeds horses don’t like to lessen the fire danger and make it easier to spot a rattlesnake at a distance.  A treat for the cattle as we wait to process their calves on Tuesday and a treat for us to see them in the evenings. 

 

We let our big dog Buster, a Great Pyrenees/German Shepard X that was part of the litter dumped on Dry Creek Road several years ago, loose to work at night keeping the coyotes, feral pigs, raccoons, skunks, etc. out of the yard.  We don’t want him to make a mistake while we’re sleeping, so we move the cattle out before dark.

 

Last night, Robbin walked and worked our Border Collie Tessa on commands to gently ease them toward and out the open gate—a great exercise and confidence builder for them both.  Tessa has been with us enough around the cows to know how we work them (old people slow) and plenty of herd in her breeding.  I’m guessing they’ll do it again tonight, it’s been good watching.