Tag Archives: Visalia Livestock Market

Weaning Steers


I think we’ve finally caught up and close to being on time with our ranch work since the last Atmospheric River at the end of March.  We got across the creek towards the end of April when flow was down to 90 cfs to see our cows while trying to get our fences up to hold them when we gathered and weaned.  Since the ARs, Dry Creek is spider-webbed with streams of sand in new high-water channels requiring some leveling with the skid steer to replace fencing and to approach the creek.  Meanwhile on this side of the road and creek, we’ve had a crew building fence to better accommodate the acreage changes since Robbin and I have scaled down our activities.


But on time, our first bunch of calves will be weaned and ready for Visalia Livestock Market’s “Off the Grass Sale” on Wednesday, May 17th.  They are 7-weight Vintage-sired steers.  The market has been strong, though slightly weaker  lately.  With our cow numbers down due to acreage changes and past years of drought, we will need whatever extra money the market will offer us.


After seven days a week for nearly two months, it’s a relief to feel caught up.






We began weaning our first bunch of calves last week, three weeks earlier than normal, due to the lack of rain in March and April. From second-calf heifers sired by Vintage Angus bills, all of these calves are headed to Visalia Livestock Market on Tuesday. The whole bunch averages 600 lbs.

Though lighter than normal, there are some heifers we would have liked to keep for replacements, but our continuing drought conditions and uncertain feed and water resources make that option impractical. Whether Climate Change or other weather phenomenon, we have come to consider our circumstances to be the new normal for Sierra Nevada foothill ranches in California where cow numbers have been reduced by 40%.

After three years of drought, our springs which are dependent on the Sierra snowpack, and our stockwater ponds which are dependent on rain, are severely impacted, some dry already before summer’s begun. Each operation continues to adapt to diminishing resources as we try to hold our cow herds intact, having already culled deeply in 2013 and 2014.

As we head into our fourth year of drought, we’ve had to change our perspective, hoping to offset our smaller numbers with a good cattle market.