When the cows and their calves come off of the summer National Forest grazing permits, it is time to sort them. We pregnancy test the cows, and sort out the opens, and the cows who won’t make it another year at our high altitude. Some will go on to slaughter, and some will go on to homes where the wintering conditions are easier. We sort the heifers from the steers. The steers are all sold, and go on to feed and eventually become steaks. The heifers are sorted into replacement heifers for us, replacement heifers for other ranchers, and fed heifers.
Monthly Archives: October 2013
This is the time of year when we decide who stays and who goes. The rams are evaluated, intimately, by Geri Parsons and her crew (this year her one-woman crew) at Optimal Livestock Services for fertility, age, potential disease or injury, and condition. The ewes are evaluated by our crew for many of the same traits which indicate whether they will be productive for another year. We check their teeth, which affects their ability to eat the hard winter grasses on the desert. We check their udders, and their overall condition. The rams are basically judged to stay or go. The ewes are judged as keepers, good old ewes who are sold to someone who can give them an easier lifestyle, and “killers” who are culled due to age, condition, and injury to their udders.
October 1st is a day of transition for us. It is the off-date for the cows and sheep who have spent the summer grazing on our national forest permits. This year, it is also the date that the Farm Bill expired, and the government shutdown started for everyone except Congress, which continues to dither along. No budget, no Farm Bill, no Immigration Bill, no plan. After a dry spring and summer, we finally received blessed rains, a lot of our ponds and reservoirs have filled, and the springs are flowing. After foreseeing a dry fall, we have blessed water. The leaves are finally changing colors–the latest I can remember. The first freeze came on the day of the equinox. October 1st is Rhen’s first birthday. Last year, the trappers killed a bear who had been killing rams. We said, “Bear in the morning–baby in the afternoon!”