Moving day for my chicks and poults

As the chicks and poults were outgrowing their home in the stock tank, I have moved them into a bit larger area where I will keep them until they are big enough to not slip through the fencing in the outdoor courtyard. Which I think will be in about two weeks.

Of the poults that I ordered from Ideal Poultry, I did lose one that didn’t look good from the start. It’s head was a bit crooked and one eye didn’t look right. I had thought it was one of the White Leghorns, but it ended up being on of the Buff Orpingtons instead. I am a bit bummed, as I really like the Buffs, but hopefully I can pick some up next spring. The Narragansett Turkey poults are doing well.

In the meantime, we are hatching out about a dozen eggs, hopefully, that I collected from our current survivor hens. We decided that since they seem to be the ones that are surviving both the coyotes and the puppies, they must have some excellent survival skills, or just plain good luck. But since some have survived several years of being free range, I think they deserve to be continued on. We’ll see how it goes. Heck, who knows. Maybe I will start my own breed! Ha, right!

Anyway, here’s the video for anyone who wants to see my little flock.

 

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Damage to gate by bull

Ok, somebody has got to go away. Reno has slowly destroyed one of our gates. It needed replacing, so maybe I should thank him for ripping it out for me, but I would have like to have done it on my schedule, not his. Dratted bull!

Our neighbors have some Longhorn cattle and a bull, so Reno thinks he should be with them and our little herd. Needless to say, the neighbors aren’t too crazy about that, but no matter how the fence between is fixed, Reno goes through it like it doesn’t exist.

So, hopefully, he is going home. We really just don’t have a place to keep him right now

Here’s a few snapshots of the now defunct gate…

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Little dun bull calf – 5 weeks old

Here’s a few photos of the dun bull calf that I took this morning. He’s looking good. Healthy, running around and enjoying life. We are considering keeping him and selling his dam after he is weaned at around 6 months old. I will be looking for a Dexter cow that enjoys people and is easy to milk.

New Dexter bull calf

Twila had her bull calf on June 20, a nice looking dun bull calf. He is by Blue Creek Elliott, who is now in Parachute, CO.

Herding Evaluation for Tucker – English Shepherd

I had the opportunity to attend a herding clinic put on by Falkenhoff Kennels here in Delta, CO, this weekend. The owner, Marion Lewis, had invited Val Manning of Terre Norte Kennels, Wellington, CO, to come to her place for a clinic. As I wasn’t able to attend the entire clinic, I chose to go to the evaluation portion. I am happy to report that Tucker did well. He has a lot to learn, but that is the handler’s fault much more than his! He has never seen goats that I can recall, but he didn’t seem too bothered by them, and started to work them readily enough until he passed me standing by the gate. Then he quit on Val. Oops!

Since he’s not use to being around strangers or working with them, I think he did well with her for the minute that he did! After he tried to climb through the fence, I went in and Val and I worked Tucker on the goats. I should say Val worked Tucker, I just came along for the ride! After a bit, she had him gathering, flanking, wearing and some driving.

Not sure how I will finagle it, but I am very interested in continuing this with Tucker. It would be a tremendous help  for both of us and he’ll get out and about more, which, considering where we live, is great!

Val felt like that he did well under the circumstances and feels that I should spend time working on directional commands with him. Luckily, she gave me  a few pointers that I think I can work with. So, over the next few weeks, I hope to start working on his commands and preparing for the next time I go, which, fingers crossed, I believe will be next month.

I was able to take a short video of Tucker starting to work for Val. Unfortunately, since I had to go in with him, I wasn’t able to do any more recording, but one of the ladies that was there, Nancy, was kind enough to take photos for me.

I’m looking forward to working with Tucker and attending the next class that Marion has.

Here’s the short video I was able to take of Tucker before he tried to climb out of the fence. Tucker’s introduction to goats.

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New calf at the Singing Bull Ranch

After much anticipation, Twila finally had her calf. It’s a very beautiful red/fawn colored heifer. She’s big too, and looks well built with a pretty face. Her sire is the Jersey bull, Reno, that we have for someone else. Looking forward to seeing her grow up! She’s very likely going to stay here and learn to be a milk cow.

Which is what her momma is here for. I’m going to attempt to  milk her so that we have fresh milk, butter, etc. Should be an interesting experience!

Thoughts of spring a comin’!

Clouds over the West Elk Range

Clouds over the West Elk Range

The temperatures are warming up after our frigid December and early January days. Right now, I’m looking out my window at partly cloudy skies, with most of the clouds hanging around the mountains. We woke up to snow on the ground yesterday and today, but both have quickly melted off. I’m hoping that more snow fell up in the West Elks from these two little storms, as that is where we get our water from for irrigation during the summer.

Lucinda

Lucinda

Junior

Junior

Another fellow came out to look at Junior and Lucinda. (The other guy changed his mind on taking Junior home with him.) So while the equines were locked up in the paddock, I took the opportunity to take some snapshots. They’re all a bit muddy from lounging around the wet fields, but they’ve come through winter really well this year. If we can get that much graze off of  5 acres or so that we had fenced off and watered, then the rest of the field should produce really well once we can seed it and irrigate it.

With the sun shining and the weather warming up, I’m thinking ahead to what we should plant in the garden this year. Chris is going to help me put it in. We’re going to do raised beds, see how that goes. I’d like to raise some unique and different things to take to the farmer’s markets in the area, start making this place earn it’s keep a bit more! I think once we can get moving in the right direction, this will turn out to be a very lucrative ranch/farm, just going to take a bit of work. No, actually, a lot of work. But it’ll be worth it in the long run.

We’re also going to start purchasing pipe so that we can water areas that are difficult to get to with flood irrigation. Could be gated pipe, or more likely something we can use to run sprinklers as we would have more control of how much water is used and where it lands. Half or better of our pasture/field doesn’t grow much simply because it’s difficult to get water to. With the new irrigation project done, we’ve got piped water that is under pressure, so we should be able to move it up hill without too much work. Our pasture should look really good this summer! Let’s just hope for more moisture in the mountains, as well as down here in the lower valleys, so that it will be a decent water year.

We have some other things in the works, so it should be a great summer this year! I’m looking forward to warmer weather and lots of new adventures!

All is quiet on Singing Bull Ranch

CJS Twila - Dexter cow

CJS Twila – Dexter cow

Fall and winter have been pretty quiet here on the ranch. We’ve sold all of our cows, but still have two of our bulls, Elliott and Reno. Chris bought me a Dexter cow with a Jersey cross steer for Christmas that is suppose to be a milk cow. We haven’t tried to milk her yet, as it’s just been too cold. We also don’t have a stanchion or chute, so we’ll have to figure something out later. She was bred again by Reno last summer, so we should be getting another Jersey/Dexter calf from her. Hoping it’s a heifer!

One of our mules has gone on to Utah, and Junior has found a new home close by here. We still need to sell Lucinda, as we just don’t have the time for them anymore. Chris wants to keep Otis, as he is a good riding mule. I’d kinda like to sell off all of the mules, because they can and will kill the calves or other small livestock that we may have. Chris saw them toss around a full sized goat that we had a few years back. She survived, but she sure was hurting there for a bit. And they did a real number on one of our newborn calves. I believe he had neurological issues for awhile after that. Poor thing walked funny, with his head down, and if he got too tired, he would fall down and his legs would twitch. I thought we were going to loose him, but after separating him and his mom from the rest of the herd and putting them in a stall with a run, he recovered fully and grew into a nice little steer.

Rainin' on our snow.

Rainin’ on our snow.

We’ve had some decent snow and a bit of rain so far this winter, so we’re hopeful that the water year won’t be quite so bad as last year. I’ve heard we’re only at about 80%, but I haven’t checked it yet. We’re not into our ‘wet’ season yet, so hopefully we’ll get more snow up in the mountains over the next little while. I know it’s been dang cold here lately, rarely getting above the low 20′s for most of December. We were actually getting rain at the end of January. That just created a lot of mud as it melted the snow quickly. Two mornings we had sheet ice on the roads as it was just barely raining, and right at 32 degrees. Chris said he could only go 10 mph on the roads it was so slick.

With luck, we’ll have some good pasture this year. We’ve been lucky in that Chris had fenced off some of the pasture last summer and used some sprinklers to irrigate it. That’s where the horses have been all winter, and there’s still a bit of graze out there. It’ll be tight, and we may have to buy some hay, but we haven’t fed them at all this year. If things go well, and we can lay some gated pipe and sow some seed, we could get the pasture looking really good this coming summer. Maybe to the point where we won’t have to feed much hay to the livestock. Time will tell, but I believe it’s an obtainable goal.

This summer we’re planning on putting in a garden. I am going to purchase some meat birds, probably  experiment with both the Cornish X and the Freedom Ranger and see which do best in our situation. I’m also planning on purchasing some Basque Hens, and maybe some Buckeyes. The Basque because everything I’ve read say what a wonderfully friendly chicken they are, as well as a dual purpose bird and excellent forager, and the Buckeye because they are a Heritage breed and my dad is from Ohio, as are they. We’re also talking about maybe buying another Dexter milk cow or two. I would like to have a small herd of purebred Dexters, using Elliott’s bloodlines, to provide new, dual purpose blood to this area.

Although we need the cold, and the wet, I’m looking forward to spring and summer. I think it will shape up to be a wonderful year,with lush pastures and an abundant garden. I think it’s time to go look through the seed catalogs!

Late summer update

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. Mostly this is because I get in the house pretty late at night now, and don’t have the energy to write up something. We’ve been busy, although not accomplishing as much as we’d like. The drought didn’t hit as hard as everyone thought it would, but it’s still dry around here, and we’ve lost part of our hay crop as well as pasture because of it. So, we have decided to sell off most of our livestock. We’re down to three pairs and a steer. The cows that are left are our two Belties and our red cow. Seems kinda empty without the rest of them here, but we can’t afford to feed them this winter, so it’s better if we sell them now. We still have our bulls, but hope to have them sold off too.

Annie, red dun mare

Annie, red dun mare

We’re also debating on selling off some of our mules. The horses will stay, as two of them are our original horses, although we haven’t really decided on the little dun mare that we got from our neighbors last year when they moved. I’ve brought her in to the paddock so that I can start working her. She’s a bit odd, as sometimes she’s reasonably friendly, but other times she’s crotchety and doesn’t really want me petting or scratching her. I’ve had her follow me, then walk away. I’ve had her walk up to me and want affection, then pin back her ears. So I’m in the bare beginnings of figuring her out. Maybe she’s PMSing? I need to start working her. Then maybe she’ll become a bit more consistent with me.

Wimpy and her heifer calf

Wimpy and her heifer calf

We’ve had a few calves, although MayMay and Ellsie both slipped (aborted) theirs, so they went to the sale barn. Wimpy, our red cow, had a little red calf this month. (You can click on the picture to see it bigger, and actually see the calf.) Elliott, our new red Dexter bull, is the sire.  I think it’s a heifer calf. Olive Oyl, our black and white Beltie, also had a heifer calf earlier this summer.  The bulls did their usual flirting with the neighbors cows, so the one is in a stall, and the other one is being leased out. Always a challenge when you have bulls around.

We have decided that we really need to focus on fixing the fencing and pasture here. Most of the fencing close to the houses is falling down, as it’s woven fence and is attached to t-posts. There is no way of holding it up, so the cows easily jump it, even with an electric braided wire running on the top. ( I never knew that a heavy, 1200 lb. cow could clear a three or four foot fence with ease!)  The horses and mules don’t bother with it much, but the whole thing needs replaced. The actual gate into the paddock is attached to a post that is falling over, which makes it a challenge to open and close. The paddock itself is made up of hog panel, which the bulls and cows have managed to bend and twist like you wouldn’t believe, so it all needs replaced. It’s too difficult to try and build it while we have the livestock, so we need to sell them or relocate them.

On the bright side, the pasture is looking good where we can get water to it. It is growing very well and thick. We currently have a large area fenced off so that we can grow it for grazing on this winter. We’ve had very hot weather, and a very early and long summer, but we’ve been blessed with some rain showers and cooler temperatures off and on enough to help grow some of the pastures. They had predicted that the irrigation water would be gone by late June, or middle of July, but here it is the end of August, and we’ve still got a bit of irrigation water to work with. We’ve been wondering about the weather, as it has been getting fairly chilly at night, and we’ve noticed here and there the colors on the leaves are already changing. Might be in for a long, cold winter. Ugh. Not looking forward to that.

Two new calves

Kauai and her new little bull calf

Kauai and her new little bull calf

When we called “Uncle” David last Sunday as we boarded the cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, he told us that one of our cows had calved earlier that morning. Of course! She had to wait until we were gone before she would have her little calf. Maybe she feels guilty, as he doesn’t have a belt at all, just some white hairs on his belly. And he’s black. Our Belted Galloway, Kauai, is the mom, Elliott, our new red Dexter bull, is the dad. I was hoping that maybe they would have  a dun calf, as he has been proven to throw dun, but it’s not to be. Sigh…black is sooo boring!!

Olive Oyl and her new calf

Olive Oyl and her new calf

Today, as I was going to the other house to do laundry, I looked over at the paddock where the pregnant cows are and thought I saw a bit of white that didn’t belong to anything that we own. I had told Chris last night that both Olive Oyl and Little May where showing signs of being close to calving, so I was hoping that the little bit of white that I was seeing wasn’t a figment of my imagination. So I went back to the house to get my camera just in case, and walked out to the paddock to check the cows. Laying in front of Olive Oyl was a little black belted calf. Too cute! I’m glad we got another belted calf, although at the sale barn, they don’t know what to call them! LOL Looks like she hadn’t had him too long before I saw him, although he was dry. I think it’s a bull calf, but we’ll know for sure next weekend when we take the calves down to Robert Tracy’s place to brand. (Hopefully it will be a freeze brand as I really strongly dislike the hot iron!) He was still a bit unsure on his feet, but he looks healthy, and he was up and nursing while I watched them. I love little calves!

When Chris and David came over to check him out, Tucker was laying beside me. The little belted calf came over to check me out, and suddenly, Olive Oyl put her head down and charged the fence. Chris thought she was after me, but I didn’t move, as I knew she was after Tucker. Poor Tucker let out a sharp bark and jumped away from the fence. He was pretty shaken up by that! We figured they were getting a little too nervous with the three of us and the dogs hanging around, so we went back to the chores.

This year is not starting out very well for water. March, April and May were much hotter than normal, with temperatures easily in the upper 70′s and lower 80′s much of the time. Usually these months are cold and damp, with a lot of mud to deal with. The mountains are almost devoid of snow, which is very unusual. It looks and feels more like July than the middle of May. Pastures are already suffering, the grass just didn’t grow this spring, as it was too hot with no moisture. This is putting us in a position where we may be forced to sell of most of the mules and cows, as we don’t have any graze to speak of. I hate to sell the few cows we have left. I don’t mind selling a few of the mules, but I don’t want Junior to go. He’s the only mule that will literally run to greet you. I would really like to work with him, as he’s such a sweetheart. I don’t know how he’ll be to train, but I think if a person were to make the training fun, he would quickly be looking for what will happen next with a very good attitude.

Close-up of Tippy, four month old Dexter cross steer calf

Close-up of Tippy, four month old Dexter cross steer calf

On a happier note, here’s a picture of one of the little twin calves that were born back in February. This is Tippy, the little steer calf. He got really curious about me and the camera when I was taking pictures of Olive Oyl’s calf. I could have reached out and touched him he was so close!

For other news happening at Singing Bull Ranch, check out http://hellomynameisemmaleeandimaratterrier.wordpress.com/. EmmaLee is the proud mom of 3 little boys. Very handsome little boys I might add! (Nope, I’m not prejudice! LOL)