Kidding Made Easy

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Today is the eight day of January 2013 and we are already more than half finished with kidding. We have been extremely fortunate in that the weather has been fairly dry and the temps have been moderate for this time of year.

Our does and doelings began kidding about a week and half ago and we have thirty healthy kids on the ground. If this keeps up we will be finished by the end of the month. We do not like kidding in the winter time but our bucks have different ideas than we do. They are hard to control when the ladies present themselves ready for some special attention. Trust me, it doesn't take second offers to have these big fellows climb over, plow through or rip asunder a fence. My fence building skills were honed at breeding time after the bucks got where they wanted to go. It's kind of like trying to stop a snow plow with a picket fence. Just doesn't work!

The weather being cooperative is one thing, but the biggest asset to easy kidding is our Heritage Spanish does. These girls hardly ever need any human assistance. They just stop and deliver, literally. They have their babies upon their feet in just a minute or two and within five minutes babies are all cleaned up and nursing. I have had these does have their kids in the woods 100 yards from the barn area.

This year I did something new, just because I didn't want to go hunting mommies and babies in the wild. We have had lots of coyotes lately and I was afraid they would beat me to the newborns. My wife of 48 years and I have been watching the girls really close for the last month and knew that the girls were going to start any minute so we closed their gate and have held them here close to the barn. It requires feeding a lot of hay and grain but we sleep much better at night.

We have eight or nine more does to kid. Our does very rarely have triplets but almost always have twins after their first kidding which is usually a single.  I believe that we are going to end kidding season with 46 or 48 kids. So far they are leaning toward about 60% bucklings.

We started raising these goats five years ago with four bred does that we bought from a CAE and CL free herd in Montana. We have sold over a hundred goats and built our herd from within. The bucks came from the same herd but are totally unrelated. Last year was our first year to sell any doelings. We have retained them all in the past. This year we may sell a few more along with all the boys, most of whom will be wethered.

Well, it's been a long day and I am going to call it a night. We have lots of other livestock to take care of so it's a good thing that the goats are easy to care for.

Until next time find something to laugh about. It's good for the spirt, soul and body.


What A winter

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For the state of Oregon this has been a great winter so far. During the month of December we had almost no rain until the 26th of the month. The temperatures have been mild and easy to live with. We had one five day period of cold heavy fog that I could have lived without but I am not complaining.


We are wintering 40 Long Horn cattle six of which are new calves born here on the ranch since October, 18 mixed breed beef cattle, 30 Heritage Spanish Goats, two beautiful Arabian horses and 35 chickens. Trust me, that is a handfull, especially if the weather takes a turn for the worse.  Life gets miserable fast if you are having to take care of all these animals in snow drifts.

The horses have a paddock at one end of the barn and during bad weather they stay in the paddock or inside the barn in the area that we have set aside for them. They are very patient and even let the goats or our two young steers eat with them. Very easy going.

Feeding the cattle is the largest chore but as long as we are contending with just rain, we are good to go. My wife and I have a system for hauling hay to the cattle in the rain, mud and all. We hook our Yamaha Grizzly 660 up to a small trailer that allows us to pull five or six hay bales at a time to the areas where we feed the cattle.  The Grizzly has four wheel drive and lot's of power. It makes the job really easy.

Snow is a different story. We don't have a way of putting skis on the trailer so our work gets harder. The Grizzly will still pull the trailer through the snow but the trailer has a tendancy to slide around so we have to be really careful when going down hill, and we live and work on mostly hills. I've learned to pray in warp speed.

Our goats are the easiest of the animals to care for. We never have to take hay to them. They come to us. They always show up at the barn looking for their hay during the winter when the browse is lousy. They usually hang around in the barn if snow falls and I am glad for that. We have killed ten coyotes in the last three and a half months and I am sure that there are more lurking in the shadows waiting for a tasty meal.  My great hope is that the meal I serve them is made of hot lead. That will turn them into a good coyote.

Right now the rain has returned with a vengence and they are predicting that snow levels will fall. Hopefully the air will stay warm enough to avoid an accumulation at our level. The mountains around us need lot's of snow. Our snow pack is about half of normal. Farmers and ranchers need heavy snow packs in order to have enough water to get through the spring and summer. It's critical.

Well, I hope that the weather where you are is treating you decent and that you are able to work with your livestock with as little trouble as possible.

The picture above, at the start of this article, is of my two herdsire bucks eating together last winter with a small skiff of snow on the ground.

Until next time, find something to laugh about. It is good for the spirit, soul and body.


Finally- Hunting Season Is here

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I can't begin to tell you how great a year this has been. I have been blessed to overcome some lingering medical problems and managed to get some jobs done around the ranch that I have wanted to get done forever. Items that range from getting fence posts replaced to getting a much needed pond installed.

The pond is a first step in getting more water for livestock in several different areas of the ranch. Currently we have only one dependable water source. The new pond this year and another that is planned for next year will give us the ability to create some cross fences and be able to manage our fields much better.  I am looking forward to that.

We are into the third week of October and hunting season is in full swing. We currently are in deer season and there is also a fall turkey season running at the same time. So far the turkey hunters are scoring well. We have had five turkeys leave the ranch and expect several more to be harvested. The hatch this spring and last spring were excellent with high survival rates.

Our bow hunters didn't do well this year. The fall bow season was too dry and warm. We had two fellows that are excellent hunters and very persistent. Unfortunately this just wasn't their year. I sincerely hope that they enjoyed the hunt and our visits. Our Rifle hunters are fairing better. Today, just after sun up, we had a beautiful 4x3 buck taken. The gentleman that took him is a friend and a really good hunter.  My wife and I have noticed as we work in different places around the ranch that the bucks and does are starting to pair off and move around more during the day. We have had some nice rains that make things quieter and the wild life is not so spooky.

A couple of years ago I started a hunting club here on the ranch. Instead of asking for money for people to hunt I offer them a chance to hunt for free if they will come to the ranch and spend eight hours working on various chores. The eight hours can be spread out over the whole year or worked all at once as each hunter finds time. So far the program works well and all of my hunters seem to be happy. No one has to pay money out of their pocket and I get some jobs done that my wife and I just can't get to ourselves. It helps tremendously.

Hunting season is always a special time for me. I enjoy visiting with our hunters and sharing time and stories (all true by the way, mostly) about the current season and hunting seasons past.  There are lots of laughs and good times. Once in awhile a group will get together and bring a motorhome and spend all weekend.  They have a great time.

I am looking forward to seeing more bucks leave the ranch before seasons end. Elk season is just around the corner and some times our hunters are fortunate enough to be here when one of the herds pass through the ranch. I have seen some really nice bulls leave here headed for the butcher shop.

Well, I have talked enough for now. I hope you all get a chance to get into the out-of-doors and do some hunting. Keep your bullets dry, shoot straight and go home with a great prize.

Until next time, find something to laugh about. It's good for the spirit, soul and the body.





Fighting The Cold Wet Weather

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You know, everytime I begin to think I know something about raising our Heritage Spanish Goats, I get a lesson on how little I do know. I have been raising these fine animals for three and a half years now and I thought that foot rot was something that I would never have to deal with. Wrong!

This past winter and spring were unusually cool and wet in this part of Oregon. We raise our Heritage Spanish Goats just outside McMinnville, Oregon.  The constant wet weather seems to be an ideal condition for the bacteria that causes foot rot to get spread around.

According to studies that I have read, the bacteria can only live in soil for two to three weeks. So, if you don't have foot rot you shouldn't be able to get it in your herd.  However, you can introduce it to your herd even if you have never had animals with foot rot set foot on your soil.  Let me explain.  This spring everything was soaking wet, water was running everywhere and things got muddy fast in any areas that had little or no grass.

Our neighbor shares an equipment barn with us and he also rents to people that raise sheep.  Those sheep occasionally wonder into the barn and hang out. It's an open front barn without doors of any kind so it's hard to keep the sheep out. While there, the sheep, being sheep, defecate all around.

You guessed it! Those sheep often have foot rot and limp a lot. The sheep are only here from January to March or April and then they are moved to other pasture. While they are here they deposit a lot of droppings in areas that my wife and I have to walk in. Until this spring I had never given a moments thought to the foot rot issue being spread  around by our boots.

That's right, my wife and I probably carried the bacteria from an area that our goats never come in contact with into the barn area where our goats come and go, on our boots. The sheep are never allowed to enter the fields where our goats are browseing for a particular reason. Can you guess that reason? That's Right, we don't want the sheep to infect our goats with their foot rot! It seems that we have done it for them. Isn't that just lovely!

We were lucky, only two of our goats started limping and we reacted fast. First we isolated them in sick pens and checked and trimmed their hooves. Of course we wore disposable gloves and cleaned the trimmers between goats.  The treatment consisted of soaking each of their feet in a solution of water and zinc sulfate and then we packed dry zinc sulfate between their claws. You can also use a water and copper sulfate solution or one of the foot rot treatments available in most feed stores and farm supply dealers. Remember, if you use copper sulfate it will leave a bluish tint to everything it touches. We kept the two isolated for three weeks and then cleaned the pens out thoroughly. We also set up some gates and resticted their traffic flow into and out of their barn and pen area behind the barn so that they had to travel in single file going and coming. In the middle of the narrow paths we placed about two pounds of  powdered zinc sulfate so that the whole herd had to walk through it. We kept the powder in those areas as long as the rain held off. We also put mineral blocks specifically made for goats that contains zinc sulfate in all the areas where they come and go.

It seems that what we did worked. We only had two that we had to treat. We have checked the rest of the herd and hopefully we have gotten beyond the foot rot problem. We have learned to hose off our boots when we have been in areas where the sheep have been.

I hope that I never get too old to learn. I have certainly learned a great lesson here. Getting foot rot takes a lot of time to clear up as well as money for chemicals. During this ordeal I also learned that during wet weather when things are muddy it is easier to transfer the bacteria around but you can carry the bacteria on your boots in completely dry weather so using good hygiene practices by keeping your boots clean all of the time is good advice.

Until next time, find something to laugh about. It's good for spirit, soul and body.



Why On Earth Do I Do This?

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To start this blog entry I want to apologize to everyone that reads this blog  regularly for not being able to blog on a regular basis this winter. I have spent a challenging winter trying to overcome health issues that have been hard to deal with and at the same time trying to get as much done here on the ranch as possible. My beautiful wife of 47 years has shouldered way too much of the load. I thank God that she is my soul mate. We are truly a team!

You know, there are days when I wake up stiff, in all the wrong places, sore and barely able to move and I have to ask my self why and how I got here in this my 67th year on Mother Earth.

Winters are hard on this old body and this winter my body really decided to give me fits. I was in the hospital in January for a week getting a tuneup on my ticker. When doc was satisified that I was back on track and released me I went home and promptly got Shingles. Now that is a disease that can make a grown man cry!

I have spent much of this winter clinging to my heat pad and getting little done around the ranch. The one thing that I have refused to quit doing is using my quad to patrol the back of the ranch. I have made many trips to the most remote parts to help keep predators at bay.

It seems like at our age that my wife and I would be down sizing and trying to take things a little easier but to be honest, neither one of us would be able to. We love our life style and where we live. We have 60 cattle, 35 heritage Spanish goats and 100 chickens and everything that goes with taking care of them and we wouldn't have a clue how to get along without the day to day challenges that go with our lifestyle.

Something about the way we live gets into your blood and you just can't turn your back on it. We face every day as fresh, full of hope but able to face adversity and over come. Living a ranching life style requires much from you physically, emotionally and mentally.  There are times when evrything runs smooth and according to plan and days when gut wrenching reality knocks you down and you struggle to get up and go again, but you do.

We lost a calf this winter that evidently caught pneumonia and we didn't find him on the back of the ranch in time to save him. It really tears at you when something like that happens. Some feedlots expect to lose up to 15% of the livestock that they feed but that is not what we expect.  We don't accept loss easily. To us it's not just part of doing business. Every animal that we care for is important.

I am glad to report that my ticker ticks and the shingles is getting better so I am back pretty much to my old self and am able to get out and get things done again. Now if the rainy weather will back off and actually let spring be spring I will be a happy camper.  Here in Oregon when the rain stops and the sun shines we race outside, do a happy dance and take turns chipping the moss off of each other. LOL.

Trust me , we get a lot of rain. It makes great forests, really beautiful creeks and rivers but it does get old. We get around 74 inches a year where I live and work and most of that comes between November and May or June every year.

Well that's it for now. You can expect to see me back here blogging regularly again and until next time find something to laugh about. It's good for the spirit, soul and body.


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