Tag Archives: heifers

Early Morning Light

 

It was an easy gather this morning. Bob’s presence on this part of the ranch while irrigating and feeding with his Kubota has made these gentle heifer calves even more trusting and curious. I arrived by Kubota headlights with a couple of bales of hay ahead of the cowboys, Robbin, Terri, Allie and Bob, and had the bunch mostly gathered when the horses arrived to escort them to the corrals.

 

© Terri Blanke

 

© Terri Blanke

 

© Terri Blanke

Currently, female cattle can not leave California unless they have been vaccinated for Brucellosis, also known as Bang’s Disease. As a matter of course, we vaccinate our heifer calves to enhance the health of our cattle and the herds of our community and State. Hence, vaccinated cattle are more salable and presumably more valuable.

The presence of brucellosis in free-ranging bison and elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), Yellowstone National Parkland, Grand Teton National Park and the area around those parks, threatens the brucellosis status of the surrounding States and the health of their cattle and domestic bison herds, which are free of the disease. (Brucellosis link above)

The calves must be vaccinated by an accredited veterinarian who also places a tattoo inside the calf’s right ear and an individual metal ID tag in the same ear. Because we want to limit the stress of cattle-handling on the calves, we use this procedure to revaccinate,  a booster to help protect against respiratory and clostridial problems. And while in the squeeze chute they also get a dewormer and a shot of minerals.

 

© Terri Blanke

 

© Terri Blanke

Robbin and I are placing a patch over an eye to keep the sunlight out to reduce the pain and to help it heal with a little Neosporin.

 

© Terri Blanke

And in this instance, the calf got a shot of antibiotics to speed the eye’s recovery.

 

© Terri Blanke

Dr. Ken Fiser applying the individual metal ID tag.

 

© Terri Blanke

 

© Terri Blanke

Lots of hands and lots of syringes and applicators with less than a minute in the Silencer hydraulic chute.

 

All went smoothly, the processed heifer calves on hay and no worse for wear. What a crew–what a day!

 

ERRANT BULL

 

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The wire goes cold.
Red tail-hair hangs by a barb in a tangle.
Horned-bull bellowing in the flats
among the heifers close to the Solstice
half-moon waning—mark it somewhere
                    on a mind wall,
                    potential trouble in a poem
                    filed in cyberspace.

The wire goes cold.
A trumpet blares from my buttoned pocket,
beneath a zippered vest and heavy Carhartt
look-a-like advertising Purina Hi-Pro,
coils and split-reins in a gloved left hand,
small loop in the right with a flying U ready
to remind the bull he’s half-way home
and it won’t stop bugling
                    as if nearby
                    the cavalry
                    was just over the rise.

The wire goes cold.
We text and vox from the ridgetops,
from what our eyes have gathered
from the ranch. No emergency—
Cowboy Celtic wants to Facetime.
As we push the heifers another field away,
                    I call them back
                    and we yak
                    and they ride with me,
                    see green country
                    and cattle to the gate
                    just above the ears
                    of my horse.

 

Our Future

 

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According to my records, we’ve only had two days since the Solstice under 100°, but the mornings have been fairly cool from first light until 9:00 a.m. This morning was no exception, simply a beautiful Sabbath.

We’ve kept our replacement heifers close to the corrals since they were weaned in May and June, waiting for their Bangs vaccination for Brucellosis and second round of shots, deworming and fly control that has entailed pumping water daily. We’ve had a lot of eye problems due to foxtails and some foot rot due to bacteria encouraged by the wet spring. Having them close by has helped us gather for doctoring.

We think this year’s heifers are exceptional, both in genetics and temperament. They have gotten to know the Kubota since they were calves, and then again when it brought hay everyday to the weaning pen. So we utilize the Kubota when we gather—they come to it naturally.

Saturday, after Friday’s processing, I led the bunch off the dry feed and irrigated pasture, fed some hay, ready to open them to 300 more acres of dry feed and another source of water, our irrigation pond. By this morning, they were exploring the shore of the pond when I arrived to see how they were doing. Naturally, they all gravitated to the Kubota to discover tall, untouched green feed in the spillway of the pond where excess water flows back into the Kaweah River.

Followers of this blog know it’s all about the girls, our prejudice for females—after all we are a cow/calf outfit. Though we were quite pleased with our steers, it’s not about bragging rights as to how big or nice they were in the sales ring—just an annual dividend, they pay our bills. It’s about the girls, two-thirds of which, with a little luck, will be with us for ten years. They become our future.

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TWO BLACK VIRGINS

 

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Coming through the dry
blond stems of wild oats,
late spring rains

in their eyes, two black
virgins weave their way
to water as they discover

the near reaches of womanhood
that simmer within—come
to a boil from time to time.

And they are beautiful,
and innocent—just unable
to see what’s ahead.

 

Portraits of Girls

 

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Our solar pump is unable to keep up with the demand from our weaned heifers, so we’ve been having to pump water with a gas generator everyday as temperatures rise. While waiting for the tank to fill, I kept busy with my camera.

 

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