Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kickin' Up Dust

"Summertime and the livin' is easy."

The song from the old musical, "Porgy and Bess," should describe the cattle's return to summer pasture. But as the mamas and babies left the corrals, they were kicking up enough dust to warrant a line in a sad country music ballad instead.

We waited 2 1/2 weeks longer than normal to take cattle to the Rattlesnake Pasture. The decision to delay was a collaborative one between Randy and his cousin, Don, who co-owns the pasture.

Drought again plays into management decisions for Kansas farmers and ranchers. For more than 100 years, their family has been taking cows and calves under the canopy of cottonwoods on this dirt road to the Rattlesnake. Back when Randy was a child, the pasture was co-owned and managed by his grandpa Clarence Fritzemeier and Clarence's two brothers, Ed and Harve. To be fair to everyone, no one took their cattle to the pasture before May 1. 
The tradition stuck. But because of drought in the past few years, Randy and Don have delayed taking the cattle to pasture. They've reduced the number of pairs they are pasturing there by a third. And they have been taking them off the pasture earlier in the fall in an effort to rebuild the grass.

After seeing the cattle raise up the cloud of dust Monday, I thought they had better eating in the pasture south of our house. That's where we began the cattle round-up.  The cattle have been getting supplemental feed and hay there while they've been waiting for the Rattlesnake to hang out the "Vacancy" sign this spring. 
It was a beautiful morning for a 4-wheeler ride. Randy and I took 4-wheelers to the far end of the pasture to make sure there weren't any stragglers left behind.
We bring them through a series of pens and eventually end up in a smaller corral by the barn, where we sort the mamas from the babies.
The mamas are never happy to be separated, but it's for their babies' welfare. We haul the babies in a separate trailer so they don't get stepped on during the ride.
It took two trailers two trips each to get the babies, their mamas and two bulls to the pasture. We unload them into a pen until we get all the cattle there. That way, the mamas and babies can find each other more easily.
The babies move with their normal exuberance for life, jumping out of the trailer. 
Their mamas usually come out of the trailers at a more sedate pace.
After we got all of them hauled, Randy herded them out of the corral to begin feeding at the Rattlesnake.
The picture below shows that the grass isn't in very good condition.
But, as they moved away from the corrals, they were able to find a little more green.
We pray the weather forecasts showing good rainfall for our area in the next few days are accurate. I will gladly dodge raindrops to decorate graves this weekend. Maybe I'll even throw in a rendition of "Singin' In the Rain."


  1. Kim,

    While drinking coffee and waking up yesterday morning J and I decided we like to get the cows out to summer grass and out of our hair. It's nice to turn them out to be cows. J mentioned he also likes to bring the cows home in the fall. It takes him all morning to drive down and check two pastures of cattle. Come fall it's nice to have them close to home.

    We are moving the last group of pairs to grass this morn. Then we have a few yearling steers and spay heifers to turn out. They are about ready to set us crazy jumping out.

    We are ready for a breather!

    1. Great minds think alike, right?! I hope your grass is in better shape with your moisture this spring. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!