Posts tagged ‘ranch’

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What a blessing to like, nay, love where you live. Even now, 10 years in to ranching this patch of Arizona,  we will come across what is to us a new hollow or corner.

 Currently we are working on replacing a fence in Cochise Stronghold.  Dear husband and a neighbor  hiked up to it, four hours one way, and said this ain’t happening with horses! “Found” a meadow of sorts in a saddle up top and that portion of the fence is up.

Visted our neighbors to discuss possible  trails from their side. There  may be one you can take horses up, pack materials,  and get close to the portion we’re replacing. Noone has been up there in at least 3 years and the fences haven’t been touched in decades. 

Sometimes another’s perspective helps us appreciate what we have and see things with fresh vision. A dear friend who dropped by went with me to discuss trails. She remarked on how fun and interesting it was to hear the discussion with folks using place names and really knowing their country. “Would it be better to go up Lost Canyon? “”No, you’d be better going up that way and then taking South Fork”. You won’t find those names on a map anywhere but the folks who’ve ridden, hiked, and live it know exactly where they are. (And no I dont, just a general idea as it’s not our ranch). As my friend remarked, the map, their map is in their head. 

It is a joy to know this land, and yet be daily discovering new things, new nooks and crannies. To know and enjoy the seasons changing, subtle as they may be in the desert. 

As public land ranchers, we work to produce food on land that would otherwise be scenic but unproductive, keep the land and water for wildlife, and come, over years and years, to truly know and love our corner.

Because it’s publuc land, potentially the leases could be lost and all our hard work be for “naught”, yet we do it…because it’s home.

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Springing Heavy , Making, and Bumping Hard

Aww, spring when a young man’s fancy turns to love….and a cattlemen’s turns to judging teats and the back ends of cows!

Springing heavy – picture a very pregnant lady and you get the idea, heavy with life and anticipation.

Bumping Hard – cows vulvas loosen and swell to allow for easier birth and “bump” against the tail. When you see this you know it’s within the month, if not sooner.

Making a bag – udder is filling with milk. stage 1 – just the teats, stage 2 – teats and small amount in udder, stage 3 – teats and udder full, stage 4- teats and udder tight and full – real sooon!

We don’t have the facilities to bring every body up close to our house in a yard. They are out on the range and on their own. We have only had the joy of seeing calves born about 3 times and only once out in the pasture. Of course, if we come across a cow having trouble we’d help, but even checking our cows every other day to daily when they’re all calving, we just don’t see them all.

This little brockle faced heifer is our first of this year. cows

 

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!

 

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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Conservation Ranch 2015

We are honored to have been selected the Conservation Ranch for 2015 by the Willcox San-Simon NRCD.

Natural Resource Conservation Districts (NRCDs) were formed in the 1930s when the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), previously known as the Soil Conservation Service, was created in response to the Dust Bowl in the great plains. The service provides technical support and conservation training to farmers and ranchers across America, from installing pipelines to brushwork and whole ranch conservation plans. Participation is strictly voluntary and non-regulatory in nature. Districts are legal subdivisions of the state and as such have legal standing to coordinate with and consult on federal and state agency actions. The districts board members are elected by their peers.

Ranchers and farmers who have implemented and continue to implement conservation programs and practices are nominated by NRCS ranch and crop staff. The district board makes the final decision. We have a coordinated resource management plan with all of the Arizona State Land Dept, US Forest Service, Willcox NRCD, and Arizona Game and Fish. As part of the plan we have replaced and rebuilt 13+ miles of fence, cleaned out two large dirt tanks, and implemented brush removal on 1250+ acres. Work is ongoing to continue improving the grassland for wildlife, our cattle, reduced soil erosion, and improved habitat for endangered species.

As a former NRCS range management specialist, this is especially meaningful to Sonia. She used to nominate folks for these awards and is thrilled to have come full circle. Sonia’s grandparents received a similar award years ago for their work on their farm in Arkansas, which just makes this award all the more poignant.

This has and continues to be a whole family effort. Emily was at work and unavailable for the photo, but as “camp cook” she earned this too!fam pic

Cowisthenics

Went grocery shopping Monday night and called dear hubby to tell him how close I was to home. He replied we just got back to the house (9pm) as #53 was down in the mudhole on Pearce Road. One of our neighbors called her sister who called us. The sheriff showed up (not sure why though someone may have called him). Drug her out of the mud with a rope (see sometimes we’re mean post). She didn’t get up but appeared happy and chewing her cud. Went out the next day, nope not up. Called another neighbor who has a hip-sling. This contraption fits over the cows hip bones and then you lift with a chain and tractor or backhoe. Got her standing and steady. She got a drink and proceeded to go down again moving. Called the neighbor back who had just left. Cranked her back up. Led her off to level ground where she stumbled and went down again tripping over her own hooves. Called said neighbor and borrowed hip sling. Cranked her up and left her a pile of cubes to munch on. No sign of her this morning (it’s a 1500 acre pasture) so so far so good. My back was a little sore and I was ready for bed after lifting her head up to get her front legs under her!