Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breaking Ice and Feeding

     So as the season has changed, I spend more of my morning feeding animals and less with Rachel Ray and The Price Is Right. But on a ranch, cattle and horses always come before you, so this is a sacrifice I gladly bundle up for and take. I have taken a few pictures from a typical morning caring for the livestock on the ranch (minus feeding the horses because they tend to get a little too excited and aggressive for me to be snapping pictures!)
Early morning we rise to go feed and water our herd. The cows know the 96 Ford and will come running either when they see it or when they hear our honking (they won't come for our Chevy, it doesn't have the caker on it!).
     The cows burn a lot of fuel when its cold and with all of them with babies on board, it is important they get the nutrition they need (mineral, salt, cake, good hay). We have not had much snow so there is plenty for them to eat in the hills but soon we will be feeding them 20-25 pounds of hay per cow every day. But for now we feed the cows "cake". It is a protein rich compressed grain and as hard as I try to figure out what's in it, all I know is cottonseed. Originally cake was developed as a way to take all the waste from processing crops like cotton, wheat, soy, etc. and try to feed it to livestock by compressing it into a tube-like feed. The cattle just LOVE it and it took off. They are "koo-koo for cako-puffs" my husband says as they joyously run to the truck.
     Here is my Husband with our cakeing pickup (you want a bad pickup because the cows will crowd it and dent it, they get pretty excited.)
Despite my efforts, I have yet to find a cow that will faithfully eat from my hand. My neighbor, Amber, however does not have that problem:

     Next Jack and I head to break ice in the tanks. He chips it up and I pick out the large pieces with a pitch fork and toss them out of the way. If the wind is blowing, the water movement keeps the ice from forming too thick, but on calm cold nights, there could be 6 inches of ice to chop through. Pray for wind!

     We drive 10 miles south down the one lane road to the other portion of the ranch where we feed our calves. They get wheat-mids, its like cake but smaller pellets and is made from wheat by product. We have 55 replacement heifers and fill 2 1/2 50 pound sacks from an auger to the grainery (we have to leave it unplugged because the deer have found the "on" switch). We honk to call them in and pour the grain into feed bunks and the calves happily consume. They won't eat from my hand either.
     This girl is waiting for food....they have to wait for all the calves to get there before we put out the feed. Sometimes they'll wait 10 minutes for the one calf that is on the other side of the meadow.... In cow world, its day one of "Occupy Feed Bunks" and the 99% are really sticking it to the slow calf coming in to feed. Ha. (Note: no feed goes to waste on our ranch, deer, pheasants, and like the back ground here, turkeys, come and clean up anything spilled from the feedings).
I hope you enjoyed sharing my typical morning with me! My husband and I are newlyweds, but here's how I see it:

4 years of dating
4 months of marriage
still having to "break the ice" with your spouse...


1 comment:

  1. OMGosh, what a start to ones day. Good for you guys, I love your post. It encourages this ol' gal and my homesteading efforts.



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