I haven’t written in a while. Not since the cattle have been dry-lotted on pasture hay. Which was as soon as I rounded them up and sold the last of the bulls. I may have a couple four hundred pounders left. I was out of good pasture here at home and I didn’t want the cows to overgraze so I confined them to the barn yard. Well, two barnyards to be exact. Last summer I rearranged the cement feed bunks and divided the one yard into two. It makes sorting the cattle much easier. If one gets by me it doesn’t disappear around the barn so the others think there’s a way out. Now it has to stand by the divide fence where all the others can still see it. That usually leads to it wanting to rejoin the others for a safer feeling. No herding animal wants what is perceived as a predator between them and the herd. Separation from the herd is the first step in stalking/killing and they sense that. A noble instinct.

The bulls brought good money. Even slim Jim with the frozen off tail. If it’s beef the market wants it. I’m still tempted to off the whole herd. Call the trucker and send them to the sale barn. Or at least all but maybe sixteen. The number I started out with back in the eighties. I’d be back up to a hundred before I knew it. I seem to have more girls born than boys. Not just the human kind. When I sold off the northern herd a year and a half ago I had eighty five percent heifer calves in the calf crop. Which was handy since I had told my brother who’d bought them that I would except the heifer price (usually lower) than the steer price for the calves. He was going to have to cut (castrate) the bulls to make steers. That adds labor and may set the calves back while they heal. It also increases the chance for illness and some have even died from the procedure. I know I would. I’m not that noble.

I am a father however. Six times as far as I know. A full bull. On a full pull. I hope. I’m not out of the gate yet. I still have one aged seven. Eleven to go. I think I can make it. Barring any fatal accidents. Or the complications that can arise from such. I have five of the most wonderful daughters and had one of the most wonderful sons any father could ask for. I know we all say that but that’s because it’s true. To us they are. To them we are. Even though it’s not perfect no one treats us better than our immediate family. Especially when we then they get moved out on their own. Brothers and sisters are much easier to get along with after they’ve moved away from home. I saw it in my siblings. Now I’m seeing it in the kids. Every gent in his own tent. But then the buck stops there. No one else allowed. I’m all for family. One per house. A noble idea?


Post Script,

I missed the opportunity to bring this up on Mother’s Day and almost forgot today.

The real reasons for Mother’s and Father’s Days.

In the spring when showers are plentiful and days are getting longer more grass and other vegetative growth is increasing daily. Given all other odds against it spring is the time in nature when one of the best windows of opportunity for bringing into this world and raising up a grazing animal opens up. So if you are an owner of these animals and tasked with their dependency on you to thrive a potential mother should have given birth by the day with the date designated Mother’s Day. If not she’s to be sold. She’s no mother you want to own/manage from here on out since she won’t cycle to be re bred in time for a spring calving next year. If you want to make sure that is going to happen in a herd of cattle you need to refrain the bulls from breeding the herd until nine months prior. If you turn in the bulls in the middle of June on the day with the designation Father’s Day you’ll start to have the potential to calve in the middle of march. Just in time for spring. So your Mother’s/Father’s day present is the right to be present. It’s time to breed.


The Dunlap Run

Done the Dunlap run. I thought they would never head back down through the barnyards. The cows were on the upper pasture above the lane when I decided to set up the trap. Well, close the downhill side gate on the barnyards. A really simple trap. But then cows are really simple people. Keep em fed and don’t take out too many at a time so as to scare them and they are a pretty contented bunch. Hardly ever a stampede. That either takes a spook or a brook on a hot summer’s day. Or me calling the girls to new pasture. Or good leafy alfalfa hay.

When I had them in the yards I realized there was no longer a cow in heat. I guess I should have done it yesterday when they were riding. The fact nothing had been allowed to eat the weeds and grass in the catch pen lured in all that would fit. I didn’t need the alfalfa. It wasn’t hard sorting out the six bulls I had in the pen. I had more trouble keeping the sorted ones from coming back in than I did keeping the ones in that I wanted sold. Every cow in the herd wanted those tall green groceries. We were loaded and roaded before I knew it.

Up at the Dunlap Livestock Auction I had two pickups with livestock trailers ahead of me in line to unload. The trip was pleasantly uneventful. I gave the gal working the unloading chute the information about the bulls and we were unloaded and reroaded in no time. On the way home, as I rolled through Minden, I thought I heard a strange squeaking when I went around corners. I had been driving with the rear sliding window open all throughout the trip. Listening for any such type of weird sounds that may mean wheel trouble on the old Rawhide livestock trailer.

After parking the rig at home I went around checking the tires and rims for heat. The tires were a little warm on the insides of the rear two treads. The rims were all cool except for the front right one. It was very hot on the hubcap and quite warm on the rest of the rim. I guess I know which wheel bearings to grease in the morning. After Dad’s Mass. I told Mom I would attend the Mass she’s having said for him. We all need all the prayers we can muster up. Feel free to offer up your own. I’m sure no one will mind. Well, maybe Satan. But he knows where he can go.

Sea (to shining) sea …….




Rain. Good. Good rain.

But not before six more bulls sorted themselves. I quickly loaded them up and hauled them off to the sale barn.

This morning when I got up and looked outside it hadn’t rained. I decided to give the cattle a second bale of hay. I’ve been feeding them only one bale at a time for a few weeks because once it warmed up they started wasting too much hay. They were only half done with the bale I had given them last evening. I decided that another bale was timely if it was going to rain since I hate slopping around in the mud to hay them and by evening again they would need another bale. While I was driving by the cattle pens (I’m haying them out in a corn stubble field) I noticed the two herd bulls that are there to breed the cows were in the pen following a cow in heat that was trying to lick the mineral blocks I feed there. A few other younger bulls were tagging along for sloppy seconds. I jumped out of the tractor and swung the gate shut to lock them in.

After I finished haying cattle I unloaded the rest of the hay from the flatbed trailer so I could unhook it from the pickup truck and hook up the stock trailer. I threw a small square hay bale into the catch pen to coax the group in. A few cows and calves were swept up into the catch pen with the bulls and heating cow. They sorted out quite easily since the whole bunch was busy with lunch and not really aware of what was going on. I ran up to the house and asked the stay at gone mom to help me run the bulls up the loading chute. The last six bulls I had loaded were a lot smaller and I had barely been able to get them pushed into the trailer. I needed her to stand outside the chute and give them a little shock on the butt to get them up into the trailer while I stayed in the back of the column and kept pushing them towards it. Mine is a rather dangerous job given that cattle can kick backward very hard. I was fortunate. I was only kicked once and it wasn’t that hard.

Once I had them loaded and the truck and trailer were back up on the gravel pointed towards the road I was safe from rain and the mud that goes with it. I backed the rig up to a drop cord and plugged in the air compressor I keep in the truck box. It’s a thirty gallon tank with an electric built in pump. I like to have extra air out on the road in case I need it to get to the next town should a tire start to leak. I grabbed my hat and a cup of honey tea and we were off to Dunlap, the earliest sale in the area coming up on Tuesday. On the road again …….

On the way to Dunlap I remembered the first batch of calves I had sold way back some 28 years ago. Probably because they were sold at Dunlap also. Back then I hired a trucker to haul the calves the day before the sale. When I went up to watch the calves sell I noticed after passing the last town along the way that I was running very low on gas in my car. Having left my wallet at home I had no way of buying gas. With seven miles to go to Dunlap I began parking the car and walking the ditches for empty beer and soda cans. Here in Iowa we have a nickle deposit on each one. I would go about a half mile at a time and walk up one side and down the other side of the road throwing cans into an old box I had found in the trunk.

I wish I had left earlier. I waited quite a time on the bleachers watching calves sell hoping to see mine. When the killer cows started selling I went to the office to see if mine had sold. The cattle had sold by the time I arrived at the sale barn and they had my check waiting when I walked into the office. It was almost as much money as I had paid for the cow/calf pairs the year before. And I still had the moms. Maybe these cows were worth the effort after all. Maybe my old man was right. Livestock was farming, growing crops was glorified gardening. I pocketed the check and have never looked back.

What I did look for was a service station that would take all those empty cans. Here I was with a multi thousand dollar cattle check but no gas money, both feast and famine. Dunlap isn’t that big of town. I finally had to explain to a gas station proprietor what had happened, showed him my calf check and convinced him I wasn’t trying to con him. He seemed to think I had too many cans for that stretch of highway.  I was a little in awe myself as to how many cans there are along the roads. I had a trunk full and a few on the back seat floor. I think the rest went to a HyVee store to buy beer.

This isn’t what I had planned for a Sunday but then I’m not allowed to follow my plans anyway. Something better always comes up. That’s OK, plans are tentative at best anyway. I had planned on getting the two breeding bulls out of the herd a couple weeks ago so I wouldn’t have cows calving in January next winter. Hopefully those two weeks will be during our January thaw. Sometimes His plans, no every time, His plans are better than mine. Have a great Sunday even if your plans don’t pan out. As long as the gold does it will be alright.

If you’re at the Dunlap sale barn Tuesday …….

See you then, see you there.



All Time High

Sounds like a personal problem.

Familiarity has it’s advantages. My old blog, CoCreator’s Blog, was dashboarded here at WordPress. Cocreator’s New Blog is made 100% road ready as a unit here at WordPress. Free and turnkey on. I simply settled in and started typing like the old days. Ah the old days. These are those before we know it. The list of things to do becomes two lists. The list of things done and the list of things that may never get done. How did old Froadie used to say that before he called it a day? “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow, ’cause if you die tonight you won’t have to do it tomorrow.” Then we’d go have a beer. Guilt free.

I thought of old Froad today as I was hauling six bull calves off to the sale barn. He got a much undeserved ass chewing and was run clean off the farm of a brother of mine as we were sorting cattle. Actually before those cattle were even in the catch pen. All he did was tell my brother to calm down after the herd had done an end run around Froad and me. I don’t know if he ever made it right with Froad, or if one ever really could but me an’ Froad became com-padres that day and I look forward to having a beer with him in heaven some day. Without the “boss”. Calves are at an all time high so I guess I’ll be buying.

The great thing was I have learned a thing or two since that time so long ago. These six calves I was marketing today were self sorters. That is they separated themselves from the herd. I had a heifer in heat and all the bulls were dogging her for a chance to mate. She was looking for anywhere to get away from them. When I opened the gate on the catch pen she was very easy to steer (no pun intended) into it. A trailer load of the bulls eagerly bulldozed their way into it right after. (Again no pun intended) When I offered her a quick trip round the pen and right back out the bulls were so busy fighting, jockeying for the best position behind her they never even noticed she was gone until this morning I think. I had quickly fed them some shelled corn and some supremo hay on the ground inside the catch pen. Also known as something else to fight over.

To add the cherries to the top of this whole sundae (or was it Thursday? Wednesday? Both?) I flipped a coin (figuratively speaking) as to where they would be sold. I have three major sale barns about an equidistant trip from my farm gate. All of them have their regular sale on a different day of the week. I had decided that the one I was going to was the one that had the soonest sale. Which I had thought was Saturday. That would give me a few days to try to “sort” some more. As it turned out when I came wheeling up to the sale barn it was surrounded by pickups with stock trailers and nearly full of calves to sell at one of their special feeder calf sales. When fortune’s on your side you kind of have to run with it. One load is enough if that’s the case. There were no more bulls “riding” when I got home from the sale barn anyway.

Did I mention feeder cattle are at an all time high?