Monthly Archives: February 2013

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!

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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!