The Beatles chorus kept floating around in my head as we sorted mama cows and their babies earlier this week. It is the drought that has been singing the other part of that song - the "nah, nah, nah, nah" part - kind of like an annoying schoolyard bully.
Two summers of drought have depleted grass supplies in our Rattlesnake Creek pasture. Even with some snowfall and rains late this winter and early this spring, we have to reduce the number of cow/calf pairs we will take to the pasture in May.
Randy and his cousin, Don, share the pasture, which has been in their family for more than 100 years. Last summer, they had 91 pairs of cows/calves and 3 bulls. But this summer, they are reducing the number of cattle by one-third. For us, that means taking 13 fewer pairs to the pasture. With limited feed, we took the mamas and their babies to Hutchinson to the sale barn this week.
Monday morning, we ran the mamas and babies into a corral, then sent the cows into the larger lot. The guys then ran the babies into the barn and into the waiting cattle trailer.
Even though they don't like it, it's best for the babies. We kept the babies segregated in the front part of the trailer so they didn't get trampled during the 45-minute trip to Hutchinson. Our trailer has a partition, so we put four cows in the back of the first trailer, then loaded the rest of the mama cows into the second trailer.
Most of the time, we market our cattle through Pratt Livestock. This time, Central Livestock of South Hutchinson was having a special cow/calf sale, so Randy chose to take them there.
Because of my accompanist job at school, I couldn't go to the sale on Tuesday. I should have sent a camera with Randy. I didn't. Anyway, he was fairly pleased with the sale results. They averaged $1,626 a pair, even figuring in the cow and calf that had to be sold separately because of the calf's injury.
When the drought breaks and the pastures are replenished, Randy hopes to have enough replacement heifers that he can restock our herd from the cattle we raise. But, if not, we will reverse the process and buy some through the sale barn.
We'll cross that bridge when there's water under it. Literally.
|A photo from 2010|