Today was a town day. One of my granddaughters had an orthodontist appointment and I needed to get some supplies. Last Friday we turned the cows back out to winter range. Yesterday I took out some salt and protein tubs. The dry native grasses here retains quite a bit of nutrition but to be sure the cows are getting enough we supplement with tubs of molasses based protein. We had gotten a little snow over the weekend and the drive across the ranch was peaceful and quiet. IMG_0071.jpg
When I got up to where the cattle were supposed to be, there wasn't a cow to be seen. The 6 in of snow had covered the grass and driven the cattle down to lower elevations. So I had to do more driving to find where they had gone. An hour later I found them and dumped out the salt blocks and tubs. IMG_0074.jpg
Usually at this time of year this basin is full of cattle. Yesterday it was empty.
We have winter grazing permits from Nov 1 to Jan 15 but usually snow covers up the feed before then. If it doesn't warm up and melt some snow we will be bringing cattle off the hill in a week or two. We feed half the cattle hay during the winter in the meadows at the ranch and trail the other half down to the home place (47miles) where they feed on crop residue and hay. Not many ranches trail cattle that far any more.
Here is a photo of us bringing the cows home last winter. 20180117_142058 (1).jpg
It takes us 4 days to bring them home. Spot, 'my' dog, is trying to help. Actually our neighbor gave this pup to my grand daughter because he got stepped on by a horse as a pup and has a crooked leg. Although he healed up and is sound the breeder didn't think he should sell him. Some ranchers don't like to use dogs on their stock and I used to be one of them. A lot of 'cow dogs' are poorly trained and are in the way more than they are a help. But about 20 years ago I was introduced to some highly trained cattle dogs that changed my mind. Now I really enjoy working stock with dogs.
Spot is just 20 months old now and is turning into a decent dog. He's an Australian Shepard and his biggest fault is he has so much desire to work that he was hard to get under control. Last year I resorted to putting a front foot in his collar in an attempt to slow him down. He still got into a lot of trouble running around on three legs. My granddaughter has spent a lot of time doing 'ground work' with him, teaching down, sit and stay, commands that are transferable to cow work (along with speak, rollover and shake hands etc).
I need to go for a few minutes-- to be continued...