Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A New Day at the Ranch.

Last month I enjoyed several days at the neighbors' ranch just south of us.  We two, that Spouse o' Mine and I, are non-farming, non-ranching folks, in a state of cattle-ranching, soybean-growing residents.  If someone owns acreage here, they are no doubt farmer or rancher.

Except us.  We have a small property which we purchased upon moving to Kansas because we had three kids and three horses, all six of whom wanted to move into the country.

I wrote in the last few posts about my experiences in the ranching world.  Go back to the beginning 
if you want to start from the uh...beginning.

A week or two went by, and I received a phone call from neighbor Rancher Joe: They would be gathering heifers up in the morning...

This is where my City Mouse lingo does not translate the Rancher lingo, here goes...

A huge ranch operation like theirs utilizes AI (artificial insemination).  In order for the ranch's  calving season to work like a well-oiled machine, they manipulate the heifers' hormones (synchronizing) into cycling at the same time - they will come into heat at the same time, be bred at the same time, and calve at somewhat the same time next January.

That said, his request to me was to go back to the Bunkhouse (more on this towards the end...) and help with the heifer biz, to get them cycling/into heat at the same time.

I could do that, I replied.

So the next morning, again a cool and muddy day, I headed to the Bunkhouse.  At this point in my cattle ranching experience, I had no idea, no idea atall, what to anticipate.  I went there with my china cup and thermos of coffee.  I was met by the herdsman, Brock.  He asked me to go down to the gate by the bunks...blah blah blah.  I frowned.  My mind had stopped at "bunks".

Bunks.  Whoa! What the heck did Brock mean?  What are "bunks"and where are they?  And so I asked him.  He looked at me as if I were making a joke. Two serious looks, facing each other.  He pointed to some cement (OK, concrete, for those of you who do not live like the Beverly Hillbillies and their "cement ponds"...) structures which, to me, looked like half-cylinders.

Nope. Those were feed "bunks".  Cows ate feed out of them.  I actually saw cows eating out of "bunks".  And, the house by the bunks, where Brock resides?  The Bunkhouse.  I don't get it.  But there is so much about ranching lingo that I do not get.  It's like talking to computer people and their vocabulary.  Sheesh.  Let's all speak English. No dialects allowed.

When everyone involve had arrived to the Bunkhouse, we commenced the day's deal:

Bring in each heifer (a female cow which had never had a calf...a virgin? Except she would only enjoy AI and not the fun of it all...).  My job was to write down her tag number (each cow, bull, calf, steer has a tagged ear which has all sorts of numbers to tell its hereditary information.), and then take a curry comb (a comb used to clean off all dirt and shedding hair {primarily used on horses...and that's how I have ever used it.)}.  I would take the curry comb and scritch-scratch the tail-end of the heifer, loosening dirt and hair off t tail end of the cow.  Then I would smack a sticker on to their tail side, which would provide heat detection in the very near future.  I made the joke "Moo-ed swings!!"  and all around me smiled a benign cheerio.  I suppose they have all heard it, said it, shared it, before.  But I was NEW to this ranching life!  Ha ha ha ha ha!  It was a funny (to me).

So that day, recording heifer numbers and scritch-scratching heifer hineys, was such a delightfully calm day...I left feeling that I had learned so much this past month.  I know part of the bull-cow-calf-heifer-beef- scenario that, once again, that Spouse o' Mine said, "People PAY to do what you did this week."

And there you have it: Kansas Cattle.


Kansas Lavender


Melissa G said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! "Moo-ed swings"! :D

I laughed!

twebsterarmstrong said...

Thank you, Melissa.
I thought I was hilarious.

Louise Plummer said...

I thought it was funny too.

I happen to know how they collect bull semen, because my son sat on an airplane next to some ranch executive and asked him intimate questions. I won't relate it here.

When we moved to Minnesota, they announced at church that we would be packaging turkey semen extender to make money for some project. Tom and I almost fell out of our pews.

Isn't sex always fascinating? It doesn't matter what species, it's always fascinating.

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