20 October 2019 – 34 and snowing

We have some wacky mountain weather going on here.  This morning, the sun was shining and Dave and I worked outside wearing jeans and sweatshirts.  I went running this afternoon and ended up in short sleeves.  About one hour after I returned, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and now it is snowing and blowing.

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It looks like the white thumb of death just north of us!

Fortunately, it is supposed to go back into the 40s tomorrow with lots of sunshine, and 50s for a few days after that.  Since my last post, the weather has been really nice and we have been outside enjoying every last drop of it. We finally finished building our corral. Dave and I agree that this was one of the most complicated projects we have completed since we moved here.  First, we had to decide where to put the corral.  We debated about terrain, wind direction, proximity to the house, access for a trailer and all sorts of details.  We settled on the east side of the barn.

Second, we weren’t sure about the best way to set up the panels and the head gate. We consulted with friends, family, books and the internet to come up with a system that would allow us to separate cows and calves, and result in an alley to run them through the squeeze chute or into a calf table.  Also, we wanted to build in an accessible way to load cattle into a trailer.  We debated and debated, drew our ideas on paper, moved panels and moved them again. This is the corral.

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Rough sketch
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Reality

Third, we completed the “barn yard” by clearing out some of the large rocks and boulders and putting down gravel.  Now the corral is accessible with alleyways on the north and south side of the barn.  We can also drive the tractor through the barn to get back there and clean out manure.  Once more, Dave and I are happy for the snow to have a break from moving rocks!  Anyway, we are super excited about completing this project and will keep you posted about the functionality of the corral.

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South side alley
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East side sans rocks and with new gravel

After we separated out Shiner, the steer, and sent him to the market with the neighbor, we moved the four heifers we intend to keep into the new corral.

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Andie, Cupid, Fatz and Lucky

These four girls, all born in April, are as quiet as little church mice.  We haven’t heard Moo-One from any of them. They are really warming up to us, though.  Of course there is always one piggy in the group and this group’s piggy is Fatz.  She is already eating cake out of our hands and I joke that she is Dave’s new girlfriend.  She follows him around constantly nosing him to see what he’s up to…..or if he has any cake in his pocket.

Our plan is to keep these girls in the corral tonight so they are secure during this little snow storm.  Tomorrow we will release them into a pasture that we fenced off this summer, which we are calling the Maternity Ward.  We wanted a pasture close to our house.  We also wanted it to be about two acres so next spring we can move the pregnant cows in, leaving them just enough room to graze while limiting their wandering space so we can check on them when we expect calving.  The extra fenced off pasture will prove to be helpful in the fall, too.  We are keeping these four young heifers here while they are being weaned from their moms.  The big ladies are being kept in a pasture at least two fences away to prevent them from breaking through the fence and finding their kids.  This will need to go on for at least a few more weeks until the moms lose their milk and the babies stay off teat.

In addition to taking care of our facilities, we helped our neighbor separate his calves for market.  He has a much bigger operation than us and we ended up working nearly 300 calves.

It is always fun to participate in this neighbor’s operations because we learn a lot and we end up very grateful that we only have a handful of cows.  We do appreciate the cowboy lifestyle and enjoy watching them round up their herd on horseback.  Maybe one day we can participate in that part too.

Everyone here is doing well.  The Sheriff recovered from the pulled out toenail and has returned to his mischievous self.  He cannot stay out of the dirt.

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Sheriff Joe in the gravel pile

This dog loves, loves, loves getting as dirty as he possibly can.  I try to brush him or towel him off before he comes in, but he has very long fur and when he stands in the sunlight wagging his tail, he looks like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown.  I think I could rent him out for Halloween parties as a fog machine.  Except instead of fog, it would be a dust machine and his wagging tail would just create and blow dust all around the venue.

Okay, that’s about it this week from the Holler.  We’re in for the evening by the stove watching the snow blow around and looking forward to tomorrow and a few more days of sunny warm weather.  We hope everyone is having a great October!

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October sunrise