This is the way we ship our cows, ship our cows…

(Title sung to tune of Here we go round the mulberry bush.)

This weekend we spent two days of 10 hours a day working our cattle. We shipped our calves to market. Translation: 500 miles, 6 round trips to Willcox, 4 lunches from drive thrus, and hours for the guys in the saddle and me in the Polaris crew calling and trailing our cows. They are trained to come when we call them so it’s easier than it sounds though not so “western” as the movies. The neighbor generously let us use his corrals as we are gathering and shipping from our forest service lease. Unfortunately, one group of calves got in a tussle Saturday night and let themselves out into his fenced yard (old corrals – the post was rotted). Extra hour spent fixing it. So much for making it to church! The calves did well at the sale. Next….new babies any time.

We are privileged to grow food for your table and ours. Daniel took the photo of the burger, he knows where his food comes from lol!

 

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Coyote Carnage

Just when I’m supposed to be hitting the books, as in taxes, the chickens started literally screaming bloody murder this morning. Sure enough, the coyotes we’ve seen lurking for weeks made a hit. 4 of my sons 8 chickens are confirmed dead and one is missing. Because of where we live, we haven’t been able to get a safe, clear shot.

Free range isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 35 chickens over 5-6 years would squawk about that… if they could. We started out with a small coop and letting our chickens free range. Then we went to a large coop and letting them free range during the day.  After losing chickens steadily, we remodeled and moved the small coop into a fenced yard.  We are in the process of taking down a large hoop house that was damaged in the wind to redo. It worked well for awhile, but the ones that flew out of the yard were still getting picked off.

This morning the coyote must have dug under, though I don’t see any obvious spots, or he jumped a 4 1/2 foot fence! Either way, my son lost half his remaining flock and is very down. He got his gun and went hunting but they were long gone.

Well, tomorrow morning bright and early, we will be ready with bait in the form of the dead chickens and a .308 rifle!

Please do not rant to me about coyotes being harmless or getting a bad rap till you’ve had to comfort your son losing his prize birds and worrying about them attacking your horse or cows. I don’t shoot anything, including snakes, unless they infringe on the boundaries of safety. Well, Wile E., you stepped over the line.

The real “scoop” on an Az Dairy and A2 milk

Tonight for Farm Bureau we had the privilege to visit the Kerr Dairy farm in Buckeye, Az. Sine is our state women’s chair. She and her husband Bill are the second generation of the family at the dairy. Their son,Wes, gave us a nice tour. We got to hang out with the “girls” and pet babies. We learned several things:

*the milking machines let go of suction automatically when they sense the cow’s udder is close to empty – contrary to the myth going around that dairy cows are hooked up to machines sucking away until their udders bleed

*antibiotic use is only when the cows are sick – once the antibiotics are clear of the cows system she returns to the herd. At organic dairies a cow thats sick is culled for butcher as antibiotic use is prohibited altogether. How many of us go to the doctor and get upset when we don’t get an antibiotic when we’re sick?

*babies go to the barn for the first month of their life….a nice covered barn where they have their own pen with plenty of room to move, get water and feed free choice and bottles twice a day. The pen floor is lifted of the barn floor so they aren’t laying in their own poop.

*All the pens are kept dry as possible to reduce smell, facilitate manure management, and improve cow health. Being Az, the pens stay pretty dry!

*Holsteins can come in red too!

*A2 milk – I asked Wes about this issue. He is quite knowledgeable about his cattle’s genetics and this is what he said…

A1 milk comes from a genetic variation in European breeds. A2 is a recessive gene. This is similar to some folks having blue eyes. A1 milk is not a health hazard or cause of any disease. Some folks with digestive needs do have an easier time digesting A2 milk. A2 is not currently available in the US from US herds but is imported from Australia at this time. The Kerr’s are using bulls that have been found to be A2-A2 in response to the possibility of consumers asking for A2 certified milk.

In typical neighborly farmer fashion, we enjoyed some pizza and fellowship after the tour. Thank you to the Kerr family for sharing your farm story, your home, and your passion for God’s creation.

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Ranchers = Conservationists, Malpai Groups 25th Anniversary

Proud to claim the Glenns, McDonalds, and Don Decker as personal friends!  I was working as a rangeland management specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Douglas when this group got started. Can’t believe it’s already been twenty five years! Kenzie, Warner’s granddaughter, is a national beef ambassador. She has been, and continues to be a great example to our 4H community. Thank you for the great stewardship of our precious resources.     http://www.nature.org/magazine/archives/octnov-2015.xml

Ranch “date”

Ranch date – working together

  • water gap repair – soil erosion slowed
  • cool breeze
  • cerulean blue sky fading from east to west to slate blue and then charcoal
  • towering castles in the sky with white tops and gray heavy bottoms
  • violet mountains and coral clouds
  • red ochre baked soil fading to a soft terra cotta
  • pearlescent clouds washed to a silvery gray
  • basso rumble of bulls and tenor bawl of calves, cows answering
  • coyotes “singing”
  • flame sky in east and twilight in west
  • job well done
  • nighthawks talking
  • velvet lips, affectionate pats
  • comfortable silence
    • peace, purpose, holy space
    • dusty clothes, dirty hands
    • content hearts
  • sunset reflectionwater gap2water gapsoniawashflame sky

Arizona History With Grandpa – Field Trips Homeschool Style

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Spent the day with Grandpa Cook on a history field trip. Drove over the mountain in our Polaris ranger  to the “West Stronghold”. We were on the west side of the mountain, ranch is on the east to the ridgeline and the east stronghold is one of our pastures.  (Google Cochise Stronghold for a good overview).

Hiked to council rocks, discussed Apache chieftan Cochise and his life, and viewed pictographs. Grandpa is still the best hiker in the bunch at 72 and with bad feet – though Daniel is fast catching up!

Granny provided a  “small” picnic – two type of sandwiches, hotdogs over a campfire, pickles, boiled eggs, cookies, twinkies, ice tea, and soda.  When we were kids, granny’s picnics were a regular occurrence and yummy!!

Left to head home and found ourselves in a downpour. Turned around and headed the “horse” for the “barn” in Tombstone – otherwise known as Granny and Poppa’s house. Spent the afternoon watching TV, making chocolate chip cookies and drying out. Drove home in the cool of the evening.

Blessed by being close to grandparents, Dad’s prodigious knowledge of history, no lightning just rain, and Granny’s cookies.

Don’t miss everyday blessings waiting on “biggies”20150902_110839[1]20150902_104955[1]20150902_121144[1]

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Fire on the Mountain

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Excitement for our week – a “natural ignition” fire on a neighbors ranch and in one of our pastures. I was in town and a friend alerted me to smoke. I sent Emily and Daniel out to see where it was. Once they called me back and said it was close to the ranch but not too bad, I told them stick around since our neighbor  Miss Kay wasn’t home just in case they needed to put a sprinkler on her roof.

Conflicting thoughts ran through my head.

First and foremost, safety for our neighbors.  The windmill to the far left is ours, windmill in the background one of our neighbors. Three families live off the grid in our pasture.  ( Tip – if you live rural, particularly off grid make sure you have water storage and good water pressure! Also check with the local fire departments to see what kind of valve their hoses hook up to and consider installing one on your storage tank)

One of the cabins and a poly plastic storage tank did burn. Emily and Daniel did hang around and end up soaking her wood pile, rescuing kittens and a milk goat, another neighbors dog, and generally helping other neighbors evacuate.

So proud of them doing exactly what was needed and being the kind of neighbors we should be in rural areas.  We are sure sorry for Kay’s lost guest house. Returned the animals this morning.

Secondly I’m frustrated that once the houses were saved and the fire affecting them contained, all of the fire was put out. We really could have used a burn on the forest service hills and mountains behind the houses. The longer they don’t have some smaller, controlled burns the more catastrophic a fire will be, much like what is happening in Oregon.

Fire – scary, exciting, destructive, renewing and ultimately not in our control. Thankful for the Lord’s provision even when we don’t always understand it or see it.