Imagine how surprised Robbin and I were when we got a phone call from Mike Rivas yesterday informing us that a heifer we raised was judged as the champion in the Commercial Bred Heifer Division. Frankly, we had forgotten all about her, one of two we sold last year after they were weaned to be entered in this year’s fair competition as bred heifers.
“Buttercup” didn’t make our cut for replacement heifers because she was a little younger than the rest. Our sincere congratulations go to Kyle “Mitchell” Davis who has been working with her since May 2018 and overcome any size constraints due to her age. She will sell at the fair this afternoon. Thanks Kyle.
With evening G & Ts
we will stare
across the creek
at black hills,
white ash remains
cut by cowtrails—
pink phos-chek trim
between blond dry feed
until it rains
until it rains
We map the burn,
watch the weather,
hope for ground soft-enough
to drive steel posts
for five barbed strands
of Red Brand
because good fences
make better neighbors
for a long time.
Ashes, white on black
slopes, drought-dead Blue Oaks, final
portraits of a fire.
It’s black early yet,
few lanterns glowing
across the quiet canyon,
drought-killed Blue Oaks:
in the rock-hard ground.
The wind will turn
the burnt to gray
until the rains
bring a fresh green
we can change.
It could have been several thousand acres of fences and feed. Robbin, Bob and I thank the entire CalFire crew for their professionalism, the pilots for their impressive air support, the dozer operators cutting breaks and blading existing tracks in the dark for what seemed to be well-over a dozen 4×4 engines, the water tenders and the often-overlooked hand crews with boots that still remain on our otherwise inaccessible ground. It was impressive. Thank you all!
Click photos to enlarge.
Double click to see CalFire personnel in upper left hand corner. 1 mile hose lay.
7:00 p.m.: 756 acres, 80% contained
Air support concentrating in the canyon across from the house, in the form of a turbo-prop tanker and helicopter, returned mid-day as winds picked up. Obvious concern was burning parts of Blue Oaks rolling down the north slope to the bottom of the canyon and igniting dry feed on the opposing south slope. More paint was laid at the bottom of the south slope while the helicopter dumped water on dead Blue Oaks that remained burning.
The real heroes are the many hand crews who have encompassed the burn with a 4-6 foot space cleared manually. Though there are 3 dozers still on the scene, they are limited to existing roads due to our mostly inaccessible terrain.
Meanwhile, we’re staying out of their way.
The fire started on the neighbor’s about 2:00 p.m.
Blading a road for 4×4 engines on the west flank at 7:10 p.m..
Last phos-chek dropped at 8:00 p.m. on our place. Hand crews and air support, planes and helicopters, kept the fire contained.
Coming off the mountain at 10:00 p.m. Dead Blue Oaks, as a result of the four-year drought, burning.
CalFire Incident: “Creek Fire”, 600 acres.
As in the past, we record our first Wagyu X calf and first Angus calf born as part of the age and source verification process necessary for the buyers of our calves to market them for export and domestically. Though born on August 28, 2019 to first-calf heifer 8144, I hesitated to post it because it arrived two weeks early. We had another Wagyu X calf born prematurely this year on August 14th to live only a couple of days.
It’s not unusual to lose the first calf born to a first-calf heifer when social urges outweigh maternal instincts, the calf too often left alone and subject to predating coyotes and eagles. Once a couple of calves are on the ground, the heifers begin to form nurseries. This morning another calf was born prematurely. It’s survival appears doubtful.
We put the Wagyu bulls out on December 13, 2018. With a nine-month pregnancy, due date for our first-calf heifers is September 15th, give or take a week. Quick to confirm that there were no other bulls anywhere near our first-calf heifers to produce a calf at this time, we’re left with a mystery.
We’ve read recently that unusually hot weather can shorten bovine pregnancies. Even though the rest of the U.S. has had a miserably hot summer, our summer has been relatively mild with the usual week to ten-day spells of temperatures above 105˚. Another factor may be that some Angus bull breeders are pushing for ‘calving ease’ bulls by selecting genetics for shorter pregnancies to produce lighter calves. Our Angus heifers may have these genes.
We have no answers, watching our heifers closely.