Tag Archives: rainfall


iPhone Photo by Terri Blanke


We’ve begun processing our Wagyu calves with a second round of vaccinations for Snake River Farms that we plan to ship in the first week of May. Each calf gets an Electronic Identification (EID) button and a tag to match at the same time. These calves are from our first-calf heifers that we poured the hay to from last July into December because of the short feed and to keep our first-calf heifers in shape to cycle and breed back. We don’t have to run the numbers to know that these calves won’t bring enough to pay for the hay we fed.


Every feed season is different, even in a drought.  The Christmas rains saved our bacon, over 3 inches or nearly a third of our rainfall to date. And again, in the nick of time, two storm at the end of February and beginning of March that offered nearly 1 ½ inches.  The three events made pretty decent feed in the corrals above and elsewhere as we approach the end our rainy season—nothing forecast for the next two weeks—proving once again that it’s not the quantity of rain, but the timing that’s most important in the cattle business. 


With a shortage of water to irrigate alfalfa in California, hay will be expensive.  Having cut our herd by a third last year (6 inches total), we hope there will be enough old feed to carry us through until November without feeding much hay in our upper country. However, we’ll have to help our younger cows in our lower country where the south and west slopes have already turned brown.  How many will be the question. 


We couldn’t keep any replacement heifers last year, and may not this year as the market gets stronger.  We’ll be making lots of decisions in the coming thirty days as we begin to harvest this year’s crop and plan for the next.






When hillsides leak,
it could be Kauai
less the rattlesnakes

denned nearby until
the first of March
to bathe in the sun.

When this draw runs
from Buckeye to Greasy
we have enough,

our measure of rainfall
filled with when
we fell in love.


Greasy Loop

Kaweah Watershed - January 10, 2011

The gray fog and low clouds clinging to these saturated foothills finally gave way to a little sunshine yesterday. This shot of the snowpack in the Kaweahs was taken from a ridge below Sulphur Peak. I attempted the loop in Greasy to check the cows and calves and to make certain that our bulls were still home working, and to assess the condition of our roads. It’s WET, water running, dribbling, oozing everywhere. With an accumulation since December 15th, our rain gauge overflowed, holding 12 inches when completely full – a lot of rain for this country in a little over two weeks.

Creek in the Road

I ran into the creek at the bottom of Sulphur, a part of the flow diverted into the road up the draw by limbs, leaves and debris that I was able to remove with a shovel and chainsaw. Remarkable runoff when one considers that the last significant rain occurred a week ago.

All the stock ponds are full and running out their spillways. I couldn’t complete my loop because the pond at Grapevine was going over the dam/road, and I had to backtrack through Sulphur to get off the mountain. Despite the cold on the Kubota, it was exhilarating to see some sun and cattle.

Slick - calves unbranded

(click photos to enlarge)