Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fall Homecoming: A Parade of Sorts

A few weeks ago, we were at K-State's fall homecoming parade. We've had "homecoming" of a different sort during the past couple of weeks on the County Line.
In Manhattan, there's a parade staging area at the mall. The organizer gets all the floats and vehicles lined up for a steady line of traffic down Poyntz Avenue. We could have used a parade marshal to organize our annual round up of cattle off the summer pasture at the Ninnescah River.
Instead of tunes to a marching band ...
... our cattle danced to the "music" of a honking pickup horn. But they definitely weren't interested in marching to a 4/4 tempo. They marched to the beat of their own drummer.
Please keep the line moving, guys!

Instead of tissue paper-packed floats to provide decor ...
the falls colors of the prairie gave the ambiance. But early in the day, the colors were faded under an overcast sky.
We do the round up in two phases:  First, we gather all the cows, bulls and calves together into a lot. 
The bull and one of the cows were glad to clean up the hay leftovers from the back of the pickup before they were herded into a smaller pen for sorting.
During our first trip to the pasture, we separate off the calves and bring them back home via farm trailers to the farmstead for weaning.
It takes several trips using two pickups and trailers.
After we have the calves sorted off, we turn the mama cows and the bulls back into the pasture for an extended "vacation."
We don't have enough pens at the farmstead to keep everything separate while we wait for the veterinarian's visit to work the calves which were born in February and March of this year.
You'd think that the mothers would relish a little uninterrupted grazing after they've been serving as personal milk machines during the past six-plus months.
But when they realize their babies are leaving without them, there's a parade toward the trailers.
Every return trip, I stood at the gate while the trailers came through so the mamas didn't follow the trailers out of the pasture gate.
Before going back to the farmstead, we stopped at the co-op elevator scales to get both an empty weight and a loaded weight. After doing a little math, Randy figured that the calves averaged 565 pounds per head. He was pleased with the rate of gain.
Once at the farmstead, we counted calves as they came off the trailer, then they could enjoy a plentiful silage buffet in the corrals.
Our counting revealed a problem, however. We were several several cows and calves short. So Randy and I went back to the pasture to look for them.

By that time, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful fall day.
Don't tell the boss, but it didn't seem like work to ride a 4-wheeler in a pretty setting. 
While we could use some rain now, summer rains have kept the Ninnescah River flowing this fall.
However, after we had been searching for awhile, I must admit I was getting a little nervous about finding them. We hoped they hadn't escaped to a neighboring pasture. 
But the stragglers were eventually found. Randy opted to leave them there, knowing we'd be back the next week to pick up the rest of the mama cows.
Coming up on the County Line:  A visit from the vet and the 2016 finale to the summer pasture season.


  1. I've so missed having time to read of your life on the farm. A big hello from Barcelona as I fill in time to board flight no 1 home.

    1. Hello, world traveler! I hope you are having an amazing time. I know there will be lots of blog posts to read once you get back home. Good to hear from you!

  2. I have enjoyed catching up on yhour blog this morning. Life is very hectic so please forgive me for not being very vocal at the moment.

    It always intrigues me how you haul your cattle. In Australia cattle trucks are used extensively but not many farmers actually own their own cattle trucks. They employ the trucks to move the cattle for them. Two of our properties are 7kms (4.3mile) apart. We walked the cattle a couple of times, but our route involves crossing a national highway. I used to dread stopping the traffic to cross the cattle. Although we have right of way not many cityfolk respect that law. in the end we consider it to be too dangerous and now truck the cattle between properties.

    1. We use our two trailers to move cattle to and from our own pastures that are further away. There is one pasture that is only 1/2 mile away from the farmstead and we drive them that distance. We hire trucks when we take our feeder cattle to the sale in the spring.

      I understand being busy. We are slowing down a bit here, but I know you are in the midst of your busy season in Australia. It's always good to hear from you.