Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The thing about summer....

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation!

Today is Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere.  This day brings mixed emotions... it means many things, some of which are (in no particular order):
  1. AI season is officially over and the success of our next calf crop is now in the hands of the bulls.
  2. On the calendar, the year is more than 1/2 over.
  3. Today is the longest day of the year and they just get shorter from here on (boooo).
  4. We are trying to start haying and considering June is typically (and hopefully) a wet month in North Dakota, we are ready to rock and roll, but Mother Nature doesn't think we should be yet.
And so this is the theme for this month and the spring of 2012 which came to a close yesterday..... WET! 

Brad commented how last year when there were scheduled things that HAD to be done on a specific day, it would rain the night before, but then the day of, the weather would hold and things went relatively smooth.  This year has been an entirely different scenario.  We have been rained on and blown over at every opportunity this spring.  It has been WONDERFUL!

Pete AI ing cows in the rain
Brad and Lee hoping Pete will hurry up AI ing cows in the rain
The saddle horses grazing in the rain
Me out checking water lines and making sure bulls are where they are suppose to be in the rain
Me, happy to be working in the rain
So, June 2012 has been a wet month and we are so very thankful for that.  We look forward to July bringing successful haying weather.  Time will tell and I keep reminding myself that it is in Mother Nature's hands.

Happy Summer All and TGIR.... Thank God its Raining!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Time flies when you are having fun!

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken Oil Formation!

So, it truly has been a busy couple weeks.  This is the first time I have been in the office in a week.  As I was returning phone calls today from people who left messages dating back to May 31st it reaffirmed the fact that time flies when you are having fun.

It is true that I have a 'love / hate' relationship with the month of June.  On the ranching calendar the seasons (instead of winter, spring, summer and fall) go something like this:  feeding hay season, calving season, farming season, branding season, fencing season, breeding season, making hay season, harvesting season, weaning and shipping season, crop and hay hauling season, and gettin' ready for winter season.  Many of these seasons (which I suspect I have missed a few) are happening simultaneously and it can be a lot of balls to juggle sometimes..... Oh, and then there is the never ending business end of things - the office work which I'm sure everyone can relate to.

June truly is one of the busiest months as we are fencing and trying to get water lines going to our summer pastures, trying to get hay equipment lined out and running, sorting cows (organizing them) for breeding and summer pasture assignments...... AND breeding our cows.  Some days I wish it was as simple as turning the bulls out, but the rewards of the technical breeding program that we attempt to manage each year is just too high to let the bulls have all the glory.

My office the month of June!  On the desk, records and equipment for loading AI guns.  On the floor, three liquid nitrogen tanks which keep the 'A list' bull specimens alive until thawing them and breeding the cow with them.

We have the opportunity with current breeding technology (Artificial Insemination or AI) to use any bull that we want without having to purchase him either private treaty or at public auction, which is a good thing.  Many of the bulls we AI to sold at public auction for five or six digit dollar figures.  We are able to purchase genetics on the 'A listers' to use on our cows for $20.00 to $50.00 per breeding.  Typically, between 70% and 90% of the cows we AI settle to those 'A list' bulls making the extra work that we do financially rewarding to our ranch.
Brad AI ing a commercial heifer with Pete holding her tail out of the way and probably harassing Brad at the same time.

That being said, it does not come without sacrifice and commitment.  Every weekend in June is truly a family work group outing.  It is a time to pull together, work really hard and begin looking forward to the next spring when we get to start delivering the next calf crop that we work so hard for in June. 

Two heifers waiting quietly in the double alley this AM waiting to be AI'ed as they were in 'standing estrus' the PM before.

The weekend 'breeding' crew eating lunch after the AM breeding.

SOOOOO,  although I love working the entire month of June with the 'breeding' crew, I hate how fast the month goes EVERY year..... TIME FLIES WHEN YOU ARE HAVING FUN!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Our Day, Our Way

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken Oil Formation!

June 1, 1996 was a cool, overcast, dreary day with showers in the Watford City area.  I remember this clearly because we were surrounded by friends and family and on that day I committed the rest of my life to Peter George (IV) Best.  It was the first day of the rest our lives together.... and it has been 16 years of blissful wed!

Sooooo, when I called my mom on the morning of June 1, 2012 and she agreed to take Kyle in to day care and pick him up, I thought "Perfect.  A wonderful day of togetherness on our 16th Anniversary."

My knight in a heather grey "Soar with the Comets" (in 1997) T-shirt on the Honda 300!

When I informed Pete that we didn't have to make drop off and pick up, his response was "Great, we can try to get the south RS pasture fenced."  Just so you know, this pasture is 'the one' that NOBODY wants to fence.  I would rather fence the other 57 miles of fence we are responsible for if someone else would do those 3.  It is incredibly rough and for years, we ran horses in it because the fence was so bad.  This year, because we have more heifers than usual, we are upgrading the fence to hold heifers in by replacing most of the corner braces. 

This was not exactly what I had hoped for ON OUR 16TH wedding anniversary (but at least we would be together)!

Game Plan - load up the corner posts and mending supplies on the Ford and also bring the 4-wheeler.  Pete informed me that our wonderful neighbor to the west, Perry Ecker told him about a trail that would get us to most of the corners of the west side of this pasture with a pickup.  I thought this was odd as I was completely unaware of this 'trail'.  And in the most respectful way possible, you must be informed that Perry 'will go anywhere and try anything' in a fencing truck or on a horse.  I was a little skeptical of the safe return of the Ford from this trip.

'The trail'.... Pete scouted ahead on the 4-wheeler for holes and washes.  When you can't see the ground you are driving on, it is a true test of 'trust'.  It doesn't have the same effect as being blind folded and guided to the drive way to 'the new car', but I suspect it is close.

Using the high ground vantage and binoculars to save time and energy scoping places that would have to be 'packed' into if repairs were needed.

Tyra and Gunner had a great day and considering it was the warmest day of the year, they drank over 1/2 the water we packed for the day.

This is the west end of the ranch and where we spent our 16th wedding anniversary.  It is a beautiful place and it was a beautiful day.

We spent the day exercising our 16 years of skills that we have built together and even if there would have been more romantic or relaxing ways to spend an anniversary, none would have been as productive (and productive is blissful)!!! AND, we got the Ford home safely and in one piece.  THANKS FOR THE TIP PERRY!  It made the task much EASIER.

AND to the most wonderful husband in the world, happy 16th and THANK YOU (for getting the gates on the way home ;)  )!