Life on the ranch is always busy! Spring seems to be extra busy as the to do list expands daily as the snow melts. This year, the snow melted later which means that we even have less time to get all the spring tasks done. Some of the chores that we must do include branding and vaccinating calves, fencing, turning cows and calves out to pasture, harrowing fields, and putting in new crops while continuing to feed and hoping the weather conditions are appropriate.
Branding and Vaccinating
Branding and vaccinating happen first when the corrals dry out a bit. My brand has a lot of meaning to me. We call it “the house that my grandparent built” as it is my grandparents brand “WO” with a rafter above it. The “WO” stands for my grandfather’s name. He was a very special and incredible man who is one of the reasons why I love ranching so much!
Fencing and Feeding
We must check all of the spring pastures fences as the fences must be ready when the grass is ready. Since it was a cold spring, the snow took longer to melt and the grass was slower to grow. Our winter started on November 1st last year, so needless to say, the haystacks were getting smaller fast this spring. Many people had to look for extra hay as our winter was longer than usual. This results in a huge additional expense. Cows eat approximately 35 lbs a day and this spring, hay was between $150-$200 a ton (2000 lbs.) in our area.
While we are getting things ready, we must also feed, morning and night, and check calves. It is important to check the calves each day as we want to make sure they are all staying healthy. Sometimes, we will need to catch one to give him/her some antibiotics, if necessary.
Harrowing the Fields
As soon as hayfields are dry enough, we need to harrow before the grass gets too tall. Harrowing helps to level out the fields, spreads out the manure and any leftover hay and helps to scrape the surface of the field. We also have lots of voles in our area, so harrowing helps to spread out the vole hills.
Getting Cattle Records Organized
In the evenings, we are working on the spring breeding and pasture lists and updating the records from calving season. My mom and I work on deciding which cows will go to which pastures and with which bulls. We look at genetics along with calf records for each cow, by using our cattle management program. Some cows will produce bigger and better calves with different bulls. We also try to have some cows on each pasture that were there previously.
Hauling Cows to Pasture
Once the lists are finalized, we then need to sort and load the cows and calves to each of the pastures. When we are sorting and loading cows, the boys love playing in the dirt near the corrals.
The Next Tasks In Late Spring
Once the cows are out, our focus turns to getting the equipment ready for haying, getting new fields put in and checking the summer pasture fences all the while checking the cows on their spring pastures and pounding posts when the ground is soft!
It’s a Great Life to Live
Needless to say, as a rancher, our lives evolve around the ranch and our children are also surrounded by it!
I love watching my children grow up in this amazing industry! Each and every day is different on the ranch and each day depends a lot on the weather!