Tag Archives: Wagyu X

Purple Chinese Houses

With so little rain, it’s not been much of a wildflower year—even the most common Fiddleneck and Brodiaea are scarce and on short stems.  But we began yesterday with these Purple Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla), a wild gather as we collected the last of the Wagyu X calves for their EID tags and second round of vaccinations before shipping to Snake River Farms.




We branded a little bunch, the last of our Wagyu X calves, yesterday. It was a beautiful morning, despite our hillsides turning as we wait for rain. Three girls roping, Corrine Ainley Manes and Terri Blanke above getting ready to bring one to the fire.



Corrine Ainley Manes catches two.



We even had time for Robbin and Heston Manes to get reacquainted, glove on his right hand just like Mom.



Audrey Maze throws a perfect loop to help the day run smoothly. With plenty of help on the ground, we got the work done and had lots of fun. Thank you all.





Bob has been waiting for this cow to calve for a week, checking her and her tribe of first-calf heifers in the evenings. I am impressed with the iPhone’s ability to capture a wide range of light, and if held still, its sharpness. He’s also captured the maternal instincts of this new mother #8118, a Hereford-Angus X cow, with her fresh Wagyu X calf – exactly what we’re looking for in replacement heifers.



On the horns of an infant moon,
the creek shrinks and pools
between sycamores and live oaks

as babies come to first-time mothers
bringing the bear tracks downcanyon
on the scent of spent placentas.

Black progeny of the river nymph –
white heifer driven madly by Hera’s
gadfly Oestrus to cross continents

and populate Asia – find maternity
perplexing at first. Yet, lick and nuzzle
the stumbling wet struggle to stand,

suckle and rest that enflames instinct
in all flesh. Worthy timeless worship,
no better mother ever than a cow.


“IO” is included in POEMS FROM DRY CREEK, Starhaven, 2008.





Followers of the blog and and Facebook friends may be bored with our photographs of cattle, but it’s the most exiting time of year for us and our crew as the weather changes. It’s essential that we keep our eyes on our coming two-year old heifers that are having their first Wagyu X calves by recording their tag numbers and any other information that will help inform us as to whether they’ll make the cow herd or not—and to a less anxious degree, our second-calf heifers as well.

The twin bull calves from cow #3054, a mature six year old cow, appear to be sired by our Black Granite bull from Tehama Angus Ranch, spitting images of him at this stage of their short lives. We think that she can raise them both.


On Time, 1st Wagyu Calf 2019



None of last month’s Wagyu preemies survived as the mystery lingers. This first Wagyu calf has arrived on time.


Bequette Corrals 2019



The original board pens were old when they were moved here in 1959 to accommodate the construction of Terminus Dam. Since the 90s, we’ve slowly replaced the boards with pipe. Two weeks ago, we finished upgrading these corrals with time enough to electrify the covered working area for the hydraulic chute and scales. We needed facilities to efficiently process and ship our Wagyu X calves. No two corral set-ups operate the same, even if copied exactly, as the landscape where they are located seems to be a factor in cattle behavior.



As required by our contract with Snake River Farms, yesterday we finished administering a second-round of vaccinations two weeks before we wean and ship two loads of calves to Idaho. It’s been like learning a new dance in these pens as we process the calves and deworm their mothers, experimenting as we go with what seems to be easiest on the cattle. After today’s fourth bunch, we’ve got our basic footwork down. A small, but nice set of pens for about sixty pairs, about as many as we want to do in a morning.






Two sections of grass,
twenty-four tons on the hoof
leaving for your plate.





It may be a softening that comes with age, with lots of time among animals reading their thoughts as they try to read mine, my body language not near as brusque as when I was younger, eager to get the job done. Whether palpating cows or processing calves, I’ve always dreaded the rattle and bang of the squeeze chute as the animal strains against the procedure, one after the other like an assembly line until the lead-up is empty.

As a crew, we work well together, find our rhythmic pace as vaccinations, electronic ID tags and dewormers are applied. Having to use an old squeeze chute for half of our Wagyu X calves this year, it was easy to compare it to our relatively new hydraulic squeeze, the latter designed to be much easier on both man and beast.

The animal’s approach to the old chute is usually hard and fast, hitting the head gate abruptly, banging shoulders and brisket before squeezed manually, hooves often thrashing. Though our hydraulic Silencer was considerably more expensive, cattle enter it more quietly before their heads are caught, shoulders against the padded headgate, and they seem comforted, more apt to stand docilely. All these years, it has been the old chutes, the rattle and bang and all that they imply that I have dreaded most—the Silencer is well-named.

We finished processing our Wagyu X calves yesterday, the first load ready to ship on the 10th. The horses seem to enjoy watching us work, waiting, while we are waiting to give cows and calves time to find one another and relax before turning them out, to head home.


Some born late, but
no leppy calves due
to lack of mothering,

I want to throw
my chest out as if
I was the Wagyu sire

as they wait for shots,
a second-round of vaccinations
and EID tags destined

for more feed, for high-dollar
plates all around the world
pending its politics.


Processing the Wagyu



As we approach the end of our grass season, we’ve begun processing our Wagyu X calves before we ship them to Snake River Farms in Idaho around mid-May to be fed and sold as American Kobe beef. Each calf receives a second round of vaccinations and Electronic ID tags consisting of a unique 15-digit number that can be read both visually and electronically, denoting the country of origin and complying with the requirements of disease traceability. Calves destined for the export market must have EID tags.

Born after the first of September, the calves have had a tough start with only 3 inches of rain accumulated by the end of February, but seem to have done remarkably well since our March and April rains. However, I don’t expect them to weigh as much as in past years.

Once the Wagyu X calves are shipped, we will take these cows, mostly second-calf mothers bred to an Angus bull, up into the Greasy watershed as we begin weaning our English calves. With a little luck, we ought to be done weaning by the first of July. With temperatures breaking into the 90s, we’re bracing for our usual summer heat.


Mustard yellow greens
under a blue sky, cows wait
for some direction.





Our end of February-beginning of March rains, two and a half inches overall interspersed with some 70 degree days, have been a game changer. Nearly doubling our seasonal precipitation totals, the ground and rejuvenated green absorbed the moisture and then offered dust in a matter of days only to be settled by another quarter inch on Sunday. Remarkable.

We scrambled in-between getting our Wagyu bulls together for their trip back to Caldwell, Idaho, on Friday, having addressed their work here since December 15th. As part of our contract with Snake River Farms, we rent their bulls for about a tenth of what a 2-year old Angus bull would cost, plus we don’t have feed them while they’re drawing unemployment nor are we fixing fence behind them. But last minute coordination of a health certificate from our vet, a brand inspector and a truck before we had them gathered was chancy as the cattle had already moved up the slopes to the taller grass on the ridges.

With more rain forecast for most of the next 10 days, Terri and I and burned several years of downed Valley Oak limbs and trees yesterday around our shipping corrals. Casualties of the 2012-2016 drought, it was a challenge to get them to the burn pile, but not without a touch of melancholy as a 400-year old tree, once a regular roost for Bald Eagles, went up in smoke.