Irish Blessing

Irish Blessing

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Your Mission, If You Choose To Accept It

See that little orange tab on the heifer's ear? Try quickly finding that 1-inch long, 1/4-inch-wide narrow band in a calf's fluffy winter ear hair while she and gang of 700-pound-plus friends are barreling toward you. Kind of like finding a needle in a haystack, don't you think? Except this haystack could cause a bruise or two.

Nobody said this farm wife gig was easy.

Last week, we gathered feeder calves to get them ready to sell. The calves were born last winter. Last fall, after they came home with their mamas from summer pasture, they had their doctor's appointment.

We build our cow-calf crop by keeping 25 of the heifers born each winter. As the calves came through the chute, Randy identified the heifers he wanted to retain for our herd and who'll eventually be mamas for the County Line, choosing the ones in good body condition and good confirmation.  The veterinarian gave those heifers a calfhood vaccination to prevent brucellosis, also known as "bangs." This disease causes abortion or premature calving. The vaccination must be performed by an accredited veterinarian, in compliance with state and national regulations.
The vet used a device to "tattoo" the animal to show it had received the brucellosis vaccination. Then he used green ink to mark the tattoo.
The orange bands help identify the calves who've been calfhood vaccinated. At least the orange bands are easier to see than a tattoo would be as cattle run by us!

The "find-a-needle-in-a-haystack" exercise wasn't the only challenge. We ate a lot of dirt while we gathered and sorted calves.
Our part of Kansas is in a severe drought. We haven't had appreciable rain (or snow, for that matter) since early October. Today, the snow storm appears to be going north of us again. Getting the cattle up to the sorting corrals on 4-wheelers was a dirty job.
Even though Randy had Shawn water down the sorting pens, all the dirt in the air had us sneezing and coughing the rest of the day.
Last Wednesday, we loaded the remaining heifers and steers onto a semi for their trip to the Pratt Livestock sale barn.
Loading the truck is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. The trucker tells us how many head of cattle he wants in each group. And we send them on their way, up the chute and into the truck.

 If Randy's smile is any indication, it's a good feeling to get them all loaded ...
 ... and on their way to the sale barn.
Randy and I went to meet the truck at the sale barn and answer any questions about the 79 calves we were selling.
Our cattle were unloaded, counted and put into a numbered pen, kept separate from other seller's cattle until they go through the sale ring and are sent to feedlots.
Next time: Results from the sale barn.


  1. Good job sorting and loading all those animals! That long narrow chute looks like it works really well! I hope you had a good sale! With the price of meat what it is here, you'd think that the price at the sale barn would be better. Hopefully Kansas is a better market!

    1. Randy was pleased with the price. (More on the 2-8-18 blog post).

  2. Ugh! I couldn't cope with all that dust! Sincerely hope the drought breaks soon. Pleased to see that Randy was pleased with the sale price.

    1. Yes, I can't seem to shake some congestion, but I think it's tied to all the dust in the cattle lots, besides all the illness going around at this time of year.

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  4. It is a good feeling when all goes well loading the cattle truck. Randy does look very pleased.

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