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Winter in Laradise

Laramie cows

 

There’s a reason recent blog posts have been mostly of sheep. In the winter, the sheep stay relatively near (100 miles) to the Home Ranch. Most of the cows go to spend the winter eating hay at the Spiegelberg Ranch near Laramie. A couple of days ago, granddaughter Siobhan, a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, went to visit the cows, including our summer nurse cow, Loralie. Here’s Siobhan’s photos of the winter cows.

coming through the gate

on the Laramie Plains

Loralie

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2022 in Animals, Cattle, Family, Folks

 

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COP26, an All-Globe Effort

sheep grazing on the Routt National Forest–reducing wildfire, building soil

As international negotiators huddled in the last hours to hammer out an acceptable agreement, agriculture garnered little attention, except as a source of methane emissions. The need to produce 50 percent more food worldwide in the coming decades was hardly mentioned at all. Virtually no notice was given to wildlife and wildlife habitat enhanced by agricultural production. These are glaring omissions.

Fossil fuels, especially coal, were the crux of the negotiations.

Oil, gas and coal provides about 80 percent of all the energy used by human civilization. In China, it’s 88 percent (US Energy Information Administration). In the U.S., about 80 percent. The other big influencer is India, third in emissions and receiving 70 percent of its energy from coal alone.

India and China’s negotiators intervened in the last hours to water down language about reduction of fossil fuel use and subsidies to “phase down” from “phase out.”

Here’s a link to see the makeup of the delegations.

 COP26 delegations

An emphasis was placed on deforestation, but other than an exhortation to plant trees, attention was not given to the role sound forest management has in sequestering carbon and managing water.

To the credit of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) they stated, “At COP26, governments recognized that soil and nutrient management practices and the optimal use of nutrients lie at the core of climate-resilient, sustainable food production systems and can contribute to global food security. It was also recognized that while livestock management systems are vulnerable to climate change, improving sustainable production and animal health can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing sinks on pasture and grazing lands. improving sustainable production and animal health can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing sinks on pasture and grazing lands.”

In the end, we believe our Solutions from the Land team of seven was highly effective. We communicated with folks high (John Kerry) and low (the lone delegate from Tajikistan) about the importance of agriculture and forestry, and its role as a solution to climate change.

If the goal of no more warming than 1.5 degrees centigrade has a hope of being met (we’re currently at 1.1), it will take all sectors. The solutions are not simplistic,

Cattle trailing off the Forest, after a summer of grazing management

 

 

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Bubba and Chandler, first snow

 
 

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Trailing the cows off the Routt Forest

Bubba and Eamon conferring with Leo

 

Trailing down, audibly OR The Silence of the Calf

Crunching as the calf dives into dry willows
“Quakey” aspens rustle up autumn, leaves flutter to the ground
“Hup, hup!” I holler, trying to spook the calf out of the willows
A thump on the ground as I dismount, followed by
more crunching as I thrash through the willows
A sigh as I realize the calf has somehow escaped me
“Hey there, pretty baby” as I push the filly aside
“Stand still, I said” to my mare as I mount
We sit very still, listening
to low bird song and the chuckle of aspen
but not the bawl of a calf
“Hey, you guys OK?”—our cowgirl come back to see what’s taking so long
“Holy cow, look at that!”
A smoke plume silently rises, signaling the faraway
crack and crash as molten trees succumb
as animals dash madly from the deadly flames of the Mullen Fire
Another sigh—of relief—that the blaze is far away
“That calf caught up”
“Oh good”
The quick clop of hooves as we trot up to the herd

“Come by! That’ll do!” Reluctantly the Border collie drops back
Mooing—meaning “get over here and stay by me”
Whinnying as the filly realizes her mom and I have moved to the lead
Clip-clopping as she races past the cows to catch up
They watch, knowingly
The distant rumble of cars, trucks, RV’s
The flash of my gloved hand
“Just go slowly. The cows will move. Watch the calves”
“Thank you”
Finally, the clank of chain and squeak of gate
as the cows and calves slip through
to green grass
The dark settles, birds silent

through the gate and off the Forest

headed down from the mountains

 

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Branding at the McCullem Place

bringing in the cows and calves

 

The McCullem Place is part of our Powder Wash ranch west of Baggs. It serves as spring pasture for some of the cows and calves. The homestead era headquarters is mostly gone, so we set up portable corrals, brought in the cows and calves, and processed the calves. These are some of the Akaushi-cross calves so we also had to take a snip of ear to check their bloodlines. We built an old-fashioned fire to heat the branding irons. We had another great crew of family, friends and employees.

 

 

 

Eamon and McCoy

cows and calves in corral

crew getting ready

Karen, Edgar and Eamon

Juan with branding fire

McCoy and Aspen

 

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Dry winter

on the feed line

 

 

Black cows wintering

near Laramie, munching hay–

waiting for snowfall

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2021 in Animals, Cattle

 

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Merry Christmas to you and yours!

 

The holidays are here,
The year is almost gone.
Sunset’s coming sooner,
long nights–they linger on.

Christmas on the Ladder Ranch
brings us gifts galore.
Family gathers ‘round us
while Yuletide fires roar.

Deep within the meadows—
summer’s rush to green has passed–
round bales stacked like coins,
winter’s wealth, its shadows cast.

Fair weather birds have fled,
but winter sounds abound,
brave trills of chirping chorus
echo bird-song all around.

Coyotes add their yips and howls
and wail their eerie cries
which echo through the hills
making hackles rise

On man and beast alike.
On Battle Creek, an icy sheen
glows while cracks and groans—
add to winter’s subtle keen.

But here beside the fire,
with its crackle and its roar,
we’re warm and well and happy,
with all we need and more.

There’s children’s cheery laughter—
they cry and yell and shout,
like to scare the coyotes
as they run and tear about.

There’s cows and sheep and horses,
there’s canines large and small—
dreaming Border collie dreams
and guard dogs watching all.

The cows must fill their bellies
with grass hay long since cut,
and raked and baled and scattered
‘long the tractor’s snowy rut.

They’ve calves to grow within them—
throughout the winter’s cold
and await the season’s turning—
winter solstice comes and goes.

And ewes upon the desert
munching daily corn,
awaiting warmth in springtime
when their babies will be born.

In Battle Mountain’s folds,
deer and elk have bedded down.
In hollows under oak brush,
there’s shelter that they’ve found.

We thank the Lord for blessings
for His creatures great and small—
for all of those we care for,
Please Lord, bless us all!

We are grateful for our friends
and kin, found both far and near,
from Ladder Ranch to you and yours,
Merry Christmas! Yuletide Cheer!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2020 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Poetry, Sheep

 

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Middle Smylie haiku

Cows in Middle Smylie

December cows graze

on summer’s hay, fall’s stubble

awaiting winter

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2020 in Animals, Cattle, Poetry

 

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Pregnant or Open?–That is the question

Tate and Tim, bringing more cows

After the cows come down from summering on the Forest, it’s time to learn if they are pregnant. It’s hard to get them to pee on a stick, so our neighbor, Dr. Ben Noland comes with his ultrasound and checks for pregnancy. One after another, he calls out “Pregnant,” “Open,” or “Late.” “Late” means pregnant but calving outside the window of time when we want to be calving. We also vaccinate, check and sometimes replace eartags, and look at the cow’s general health. Most of the cows go into the pregnant pen. Some of the lates will be sold to other producers who calve later. Pregnancy testing is a key management practice since we don’t want to feed cows all winter only to learn that they won’t be raising a calf next summer. Thanks to Dr. Ben and our entire hard-working crew!

I TOLD you that I’m pregnant!

Eamon and McCoy at the chute

Dr. Ben with his ultrasound

Kyla checking eartags

Tate and Tim at the ready

McCoy with pregnant cows

 
 

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Shipping the Littles

Cows and calves headed for the corrals

 

It’s shipping time for the calves. Some of our calves, born last spring, will leave the mountains and their mamas and head to buyers who will feed them for market. Some heifer calves are sold to a buyer who will raise them to be replacement cows. Some heifers calves will stay with us to become our future cow herd. In every scenario, we bring the cows and calves into the corrals at the Home Ranch, sort them, wean them from their mothers who are already pregnant with next years calves, and send the calves to their various homes, and the cows to winter country.

Tate, and multiple Border collies, bringing up the cows

Bubba watching the gate

Pat and Bubba watching the cows

through the rails

Eamon sorting, Ned the brand inspector watching from the fence

Meghan weighing the calves

onto the truck

Meghan trying to keep Clyde awake

 

 

 

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