This week at the Ranch they’ve been bringing the cows home. This means that they gather all the cows from the summer pastures and move them down the stock trail to the winter pastures.
To help with the gathering they use a cake truck to call the cows together, this saves some time and riding. Similar to when you want to round up a bunch of kids at a birthday party and you holler “anyone want a piece of cake?” We have a siren on the cake truck which we always turn on when we feed, so once they hear the siren they come running, think of Pavlov’s Dog.
Once they’re all together the gate is opened and off they march. It’s 29 miles from the summer pasture gate to the winter pasture gate. They know the way and are usually happy to go so they march along at a pretty good pace. All the cowboys usually have to do is follow along behind to make sure there no one wanders off. The lead left the summer gate at noon and was to the winter gate by that evening, the tail end was home by noon the next day.
A couple of days later they were Pregnancy Tested or “Pregged”. This is a little more complicated than the EPT type of test. Each cow walks down an alley and into a squeeze chute. The squeeze chute is closed around the sides of the cow with her head sticking out. The chute applies pressure to the sides of the cow which helps to keep her calm.. This works in the same way that a weighted blanket helps an anxious dog or child with sensory integration issues calm down. It also helps to keep her still while the vet palpates the uterus. If the cow is not pregnant she will be sold.
The next thing that happened was Bangs vaccinations. Bangs vaccination is required by state and federal law. It is a vaccination given to all heifers (cows less that have not had a calf) between the ages of 4 and 12 months. It is to prevent a disease called Brucellosis which causes premature calving in cattle, bison, deer, elk and several other animals. It is caused by a bacteria and can be transmitted to humans, usually through contaminated milk that has not been pasteurized, and is also called undulating fever. The vaccination must be performed by a vet and the cow is given a tag and a tatoo in order to track cattle that have been properly vaccinated. Brucellosis is pretty rare in the United States anymore because of this program.
They have a couple more bunches to vaccinate tomorrow and that will wrap up the fall work. They will be feeding hay every day now and getting things re-organized, repaired and ready for calving to start in late Feb/early March. They’ll also start working on the paperwork and inventories for tax season. And by “they’ll work on paperwork” I mostly mean Mom. She generally gets stuck with the majority of the office/administrative work. Please see the Tough Enough post for a partial list of what Mom does.