The Sagebrush Sea

Ramblings from a Cowboy-girl.

Caking the Cows

The calves are weaned and shipped and the mamma cows preg tested; the focus shifts to improving the cows’ body condition for the upcoming winter and fetal development.  The moisture we have received this Fall has “turned on” some of the cool season grasses found on the range, but the cattle are largely relying on residual forage and weathered browse.  That is, dried grass and brush for the less scientific folks.  Protein is essential to a cow’s energy levels.  Dry grass alone,  does not contain enough protein to meet a cow’s nutritive needs.  So we rise early in the morning, to supplement the forage with “cake” or pellets of dried, compressed high protein food supplements.

My husband has the pick-up loaded and is out among the cows before sunrise.  He like most cowboy/ranchers is a morning person by nature and necessity.  Although, I am not as peppy in the early morning chill, I managed to take a few pictures to share with you.  Now that I am not in cow camp, but safely ensconced in my home with a computer and a big cup of coffee, I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Can the cattle see the pick-up?

Can the cattle see the pick-up?

Gratuitous silhouette.

Gratuitous silhouette.

Stringing the cake out, as cows come in.

Stringing the cake out, as cows come in.

Husband's favorite cow, I think it's the Brahma influence.

Husband’s favorite cow, I think it’s the Brahma influence.

Sunrise bovines.

Sunrise bovines.

Look at those eager faces.

Look at those eager faces.

11 Comments

  1. Oh those beautiful cow faces! I grew up on a small farm in Minnesota amongst gophers, marshes, savanah oaks and elms. I can’t imagine riding from one horizon to another as you’re able to out there. So happy to have run across you. Thanks.

  2. I use your blog to show my students the purpose of blogging! I also enjoy reading your blog on a personal level–I truly like living in “town” but your blog reminds me and makes me miss my “country” days. Hi to all!

  3. Just ran across your blog, and really like it. SW Idaho, that would sound like the Owyhee country to me. I live in Seattle, but discovered that part of the country a few years ago. Now I can’t get enough of it. I try to tell people about it and they just look at me like a confused dog, so I’ve pretty much given up.

    I thought I would share something I found in a book.

    “Out here the atmosphere is so clear one can stand outside at night, reach up, and almost touch the stars. The Milky Way carves an arc across the heavens like a white sash.`The sun shines at least three hundred days a year. It gets hot in the summer and well below zero in the winter. Almost without fail in the summer, a cool breeze arrives in the early afternoon, and in winter the humidity is so low that even below-zero temperatures are easily tolerated. …

    “This can be a lonesome country, eerily silent at times, especially at night. When coyotes out there in the sagebrush start howling at the moon, checking in and discussing the night’s activities with their pals, they are only making plans to locate something to eat. You might hear an owl up in one of the trees, his big eyes peeled for a mouse for breakfast, telling everyone about it with his mournful call. In the quiet of the night, howling coyotes and that sudden mournful call of the owl can send a chill up the back of the uninitiated youngster.

    “Sometimes the silence can be there in the daylight, too. And that is good. If it is very quiet, you will hear the song of the meadowlark sitting on a fencepost close by, or the scream of an eagle or a hawk circling overhead, like those coyotes and the owl, hunting for some lunch. When you see those things and hear those sounds, no matter how crazy and mixed up this old world is today, you know goodness still exists on this land – pure, God-given, natural goodness.

    “If it’s crowds of people, bright lights, car horns, angry drivers and the hustle bustle of the city that you desire, this is definitely not the life for you. I suspect most folks who drive Highway 95 in this part of Oregon would consider it the most boring, desolate stretch of road in America. We leave them to their thoughts, and wish them Godspeed. In our haste today, it is easy to miss the beauty and serenity of this wonderful land. For those people born and raised here, for those who have lived their lives here, and for others who have sought the solitude, this is their Eden.”

    - High Desert Promise, John Sackett Skinner

  4. I have to agree with your husband on the cows with the Brahman infulence……they make the best cows and mamas!! Too bad we get dinged on the calves showing any ear. Eager Faces is a great photo!!! Thank you for sharing…..

    • I’ll make sure to tell him, he’d be happy if the entire herd resembled Mama Brahma. I’d like it if they were all red-hided, but you are right, they are very good travelers and mothers.

  5. Love the pictures

  6. I love these posts about cows on the other side of the world. Your mob would sit well with ours – though yours may look a bit fatter at the moment. We are coming out of winter and are looking hopefully to the sky for rain – at the moment it is very dry and all the storms have delivered so far is lightning and fires. But the rain will be here when it is falling on the ground!

    • I hope your weather improves soon, Mandy. Life with livestock, eh? If it isn’t one thing it’s another. Maybe someday we’ll visit your mob and share some brangus love.

  7. Love your pictures and stories Rachel. Most folks have no idea the hard work that is put into ranching and what great care these animals receive.

  8. Thank you so much for all the updates. We that are now stuck in the “City” live vicariously thru your posts. Love the sweet faces of all your cow children…..thank you!!

  9. Such hard work! It certainly takes a special type of person to be a rancher.

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