Monday, March 2, 2015

When I Talk about Feeding...

...this is what I mean.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (typically) for over half a year (typically), we are doing this in the early mornings...
By "this" I mean feeding and checking the cows.  We don't always get to go as a family, but when the schedule permits, the morning looks a bit like this...we wake up, eat a bite, get everyone dressed and geared up for the cold (if applicable), and load up in the pick-up.  Luckily we have one now that fits everyone!

We fill the feeder (on the back of the pick-up) with feed - this particular feed is called cake - and we start our day's mission to find all of the cattle in each pasture, feed them, and make sure all are well.
Once we spot them in the distance, we began honking the pick-up horn.  Yes, they've been trained to come to the horn, knowing that means food.

Here they come...
Before we dump any food, we count the herd to make sure none are missing.  If some are, we drop enough cake for the ones accounted for (in order that they don't follow us to find the missing ones).

 Sometimes if one is missing, she's sick.  Other times, she might just be a bit slow...
 ...or skiddish...
But, this time of year, they are more than likely missing because they're calving...or having trouble calving.  Even if they aren't having trouble, it is so important for us to find them in order to know if that new baby calf is okay...warm enough and strong enough to begin to get its mother's milk.

Once all are accounted for, they eat.  We feed in a long line or a circle that we've cleared (so the cake won't get buried in the snow).

 And, when they need a bit more than cake, we'll take them one of these.

 This is an old feed trough/house on the place that we just don't use, but it makes for a fun picture.
 One pasture complete, a few more to go.  On Friday it was cold enough to catch this...
The boys (and girl!) really enjoy getting out and looking for their cows.  They each have one, and it's so exciting for them to find them in the herd and to check to see if they've had their babies.
Peter hasn't named his yet, but he has a black baldy (black with a mainly white face).
John Paul's is solid black without a name as well.

Carter has the coveted Pearl (a Charolais) who is a creamy grayish color, and the other boys like to tease Carter by saying Pearl is theirs.  Carter never sees any humor in it.
So we make our rounds with this guy leading us.  I'm in the passenger seat which means I typically get to open the gates.

 And I'm the official snack manager for this little lady and her ravenous brothers.
We've realized that Carter has to sit in the middle in order for us all to not go crazy as Peter and John Paul pester each other.

Peter:  Don't talk!  You're hurting my ears.
John Paul yells.
Peter repeats himself.
John Paul pinches him.
Peter talks.
John Paul: You hurting my ears!  You have bad manners!

You get the picture.

Pasture number two...

Sometimes you just can't get a good enough count without getting out of the truck to walk through them.  Plus, it gives you a closer look to see if all are in good health.

All are accounted for, and the cake is dropped.

On days like this, after they are fed, the water tanks' ice has to be chopped in order for the cattle to get a drink.  So, out comes the ax.
This week, because of the weather, and because of the calving, we did a quick check on Saturday, and look what we found...
Pearl had her baby!  Carter's response to him being a different color..."Well dat's weeerd!"  But, he was so proud.

And so is she.
However, credit goes to Peter for having the first baby.  His cow and her calf are here...all alone.
Can't see it?  Neither could we until we got a bit closer.

Some of the mommas like to hide their babies for awhile to protect them.  And, often it's amazing how still those little ones will be, even if you touch them.  But, in this instance, Peter's cow knew she'd been found out, so she quickly left to find a new place of protection.

And, we're done for the morning.  Sometimes calves have to be pulled (in order for both to hopefully survive).  Other days it just takes a long time to find everything.  But, this past week everything went smoothly, and we were able to enjoy the feed mornings as a whole family.  I'm sure there will be many more of these days to come!

Jeremy drops us off at the house and continues his work as we prepare lunch for when we see him next.  In just a few short hours!


  1. Hi, I was just recently introduced to your blog through another (forget who) and just had to say that I love your beautiful pictures. From sitting in my boring corporate cubicle, the only word I can think is "whimsical" but I'm sure it's much more work than "whimsical." :)

    1. Hi Emily! Thanks for taking the time to comment! You're right, it can be whimsical at times :) Boring other times, too, so you're not alone there ;)

  2. I love this so much....all of it. That family time is something so special and so important. Love, too, that each of the kiddos have their own cow. Oh, and all the pictures are great, as always, but I adore the ones of Jeremy!

  3. I have met farmers but never ranchers...I love these pics. Aside from being gorgeous it gives a great llok into a life I know nothing about!

  4. These pictures are gorgeous, I was reading this just missing the days of living on a ranch (swap the cows for horses) but feeding in the mornings was my favorite. Hearing everyone greet me as I pulled up in my four wheeler. Such good memories!!

  5. Wow, Britt! This was so fascinating for me and the photography! Gorgeous. I can't wait to share this post with my kids; I think they'll get a kick out of it.

    Can you explain to me, please, is calving carrying, birthing, and raising the calves or just one part of that?

  6. These photos are so incredibly beautiful. My parents allow their neighbors to run cattle on their property, but it's central California, so rarely any snow. Still, these photos take me back to high school. Fuzzy cows always make me feel winter-ish.