Moving into March on the Ranch

Hi I’m Mike, the cows are the backbone of
the ranch, and right now we are at the point where we can have a calf any day now. We are going to take a look at our most likely
to have that first calf of the season, and what else the month of march holds in store
for the ranch, on our Wyoming life. The ranch life is hard to explain, there is
the land, the animals, the fences and the oversized, almost over powering sky of Wyoming. That sky, day or night hovers over everything
we do here on the ranch. From it comes the sunshine, that plants and
animals both bask in, and the rain, that fills reservoirs and feeds the grass that in turn
feeds the animals. If life on the ranch is a cycle, that cycle
begins in the sky and often it’s the very first thing we look at every morning upon
adventuring outside. One look at the clouds, the sun or the lack
of either will sometimes dictate our day, week, sometimes our month. The month of March is a traditionally mild
month here in northeast Wyoming. The record high temperature for march was
set back in 1916 recorded at 92 degrees. The record low -23, on March 3rd 1960. Overall though, the average high for the month
is around 48 degrees, night time lows will still dip down into the low 20 and we can
expect about 11 inches of snow for the month. All in all, March has been a good month to
us over the years, and its traditionally a good month for the cows. A majority of the cows, about 60 to 70% are
entering their last month of pregnancy and any one of them could have a calf at any time,
although we would prefer if they would wait just a little while longer. One of the last things that develops in the
calf are the lungs. Calves born early are more likely to have
breathing problems, in additions its during this last month that calves will form their
final layer of fat about 2% of their body weight that will protect them from the cold. Any calf born early at this point will require
our intervention and help and its because of that we start keeping a closer eye on the
herd starting now and continuing through the end of calving which will be in June. Starting in March we will be out checking
the herd a few times per day, at least 3 during daylight hours and a couple of times during
the night. Cows are allowed to free roam about 400 acres
at this point in the season, although they all stick close to home, its any that wander
off that will definitely draw our attention, as a need to separate herself from the herd
is one of the first signs of calving, but like any rule its made to be broken and some
cows will have their calves right in the middle of everyone, sometimes during breakfast, pausing
only long to say hi, then getting back to eating. Because each cow in the herd has her own personality
its important that during calving you know your cows. Because I work often times by myself, I don’t
want to get hurt, and I make sure that during the entire season the cows are used to seeing
me, in the gator and on foot around them. They aren’t scared of me and many just see
me as another part of their world. Its also the reason that anytime I am around
the cows, I wear the same black jacket or hoodie. The cows see the colors and get used to them,
hopefully associating me with good feelings and happy thoughts. Another interesting wardrobe choice that I
make is the fact that I don’t wash my coat during the next few months unless I absolutely
have to. During calving, I will carry newborns, I’ll
have moms drop afterbirth into my arms and I will be pooed and peed on. All of that, carries with it a certain smell
that the cows recognize and one that helps them see me as less of a threat. Of course, don’t come into the house with
that coat on, in fact, keep a change of clothes somewhere. You are going to need them. Another thing that is never a bad practice
is note keeping. You have to know when each cow is due, that
is very helpful and luckily this year at preg checking, when we determined if each cow was
pregnant we were able to age her fetus and based on that we can get a rough due date
for each cow. So we know which cows are due to be calving
early. We also want to take any notes on cows that
we need to check more often, maybe a cow that has had problems in the past or one that is
notorious for having big calves that she cant have without some help. This year, I am breaking away from my pad
and pencil and I am going to try to join the 21st century. I have always kept cattle records on my computer
with a program called cattlemax, but this year I am headed out with an Ipad and a hotspot
from my phone that will allow me to keep those records on the go. I can now pull up, while in the field, which
cow is due to have her calf next, here we can see that we have a tree way tie, between
number 27, 150 and 184. I can also see their ages and any other pertinent
info about them. I know that while 184 is only 3 years old,
number 27 is 12. I also know that she had had a calf every
year, except 2015, those calves have all been average weight. I can also see that while she is due on April
2, in 2018 and in 2016 she had her calf about a week earl y of her due date. If I were a betting man, between her, the
middle aged 150 and the young’un number 184, I would say she would be the first to
have her calf. Then again, if I were in vegas they would
run me out of the casino because I have an unfair advantage, through years of record
keeping. Through cattlemax I can also add notes to
certain cattle but there is no real area to jot down a quick thought or something to remember
while calving, such as the location of a new calf, or a cow you want to check later on. For that, I use a google document. Its fairly simple to set up and I can make
notes on the fly, they are saved across google online and I can pull them up from any computer
and anyone I share them with can see them as well. This gives me a quick place to keep my thoughts,
cause my head, isn’t always the most secure storage place. So my life at this point becomes a lot of
driving around, checking on cows and looking at a lot of hind ends. In fact, I am quickly realizing that instead
of cows having ear tags, someone should invent tail tags, cause that’s where we spend a
majority of our quality time this time of year. Maybe something like a license plate. March may be the what we call the pregame
of calving, but its also a precursor to spring. Erin is getting busy planting and taking advantage
of her nice new grow room in the shop. Shes also already moving many plants into
the high tunnels, where they will continue growing even through the below freezing nights
and give us one of the earliest harvests in the area. Other projects that are coming up in March
include a brand new way to take home a piece of the ranch yourself through out website
and beef jerky raised right here, starting next month we will be offering monthly subscription
boxes, where you can get your favorite flavors of beef jerky, raised right here on the ranch
delivered directly to your door. And speaking of doors, you might be going
through this one soon, and come visit for yourself, the farm house is almost done and
in our very next video I will take you for a tour and let you know exactly how you can
book it for you next vacation, I promise not to work you too hard. Our goal is to bring people closer to agriculture,
and I can’t think of any closer than being right here on the ranch. Spring is around the corner, it doesn’t
look like it now and we still have a few snow storms ahead of us, and a few very hard long
days but with the right attitude, preparedness and a good pair of long johns, we have it
under control and I can’t wait to bring you along. Please subscribe, hit that thumbs up if you
enjoyed this video and get ready for a whole lot more as things heat up on the ranch. Until next time, have a great week and thanks
for joining us in our Wyoming life.


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