It was a sad and exciting week on the Lazy J Ranch. Big Boy the Bull has moved to a new pasture with lots of new ladies waiting for him. While Big Boy did a great job leading our herd and increasing calf production, it was time for a different direction on the ranch.
Big Boy was a protective leader of our herd and yet very gentle with the new calves. It was fun to watch him interact with the herd and with us. As big as he was, he would still snuggle up next to you if you had cow candy to share. He loved being brushed and rubbed. However, if he needed to, he could show you how big and tough he was!
Big Boy was purchased by a local rancher and friend who has taken him to his herd. He will be joining a herd of Brahma heifers where his services will produce beautiful Brahma calves. He followed Jason right onto the trailer, but as the trailer drove out of the pasture, Big Boy turned his head and looked back at Jason and Charlie. It makes you wonder what he was thinking! It was sad to see his gentle spirit leave the ranch.
Big Boy gave us lots of nice looking calves, but we decided that we wanted to move forward to a homogenous herd – one where the bull, cows, and calves are all black Angus or Brangus. Our plan is to purchase a black Angus bull soon which will produce black calves with shorter ears.
Jason and a fellow welder will spend the next week building a new pen for the new bull with all kinds of bells and whistles. Whatever it takes to keep the bull happy. Stay tuned for pictures of the progress.
There is a lot of hard work that goes on at the Lazy J Ranch – but there’s also time for fun and games! From fishing to driving the side-by-side to saddle surfing, there’s always something to do.
The horses have been a fun addition to the ranch. We are trying our best to spoil Spirit and Charley the best we can. We’re learning about feeding, shoeing, and brushing the horses. We’ve ridden some, but it has been so hot that we didn’t want to stress them. (I told you we were spoiling the horses!)
We were told to be aware that sometimes horses and cows don’t get along in the same pasture, but we haven’t experienced that. The new calves were curious about the horses the first time they were in the pasture together and the horses were very patient with the calves.
The calves are interested when we go to the barn to feed the horses. Big Boy and some of the cows greeted me outside the barn when I went to feed the horses one morning. The calves decided to investigate what was going on inside the stall gates. Then, Skipper and Rocky Raccoon decided to play hide and seek from around the corner of the barn with me. Rocky likes to go out and greet Charlie for ear scratches and head rubs.
It’s fun to be able to interact with the animals and share these experiences with family and friends. Taking photos are something I like to do to share fun times and new things that we’ve learned along the way. Selfies are always fun with the herd and horses!
We work hard and we play hard here at the ranch and we love it!
It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by since the last post where Buck and Roy were first introduced. It wasn’t long before Sven, Elsa, Cookie, Oliver, Kristoff, Bunny, Midnight, Ana, and Flower arrived to complete Crop #4.
It was different with this crop. Because of the ice and snow, we lost two calves born during that time. We suspect that several of the cows had miscarriages, perhaps also caused by the harsh weather. With baling hay, moving the herd between pastures, and so much rain, we did not have the same amount of time interacting with these calves. We watched them grow and play and some were very curious about us and the dogs. But we were unable to develop the strong bonds as we have before. Not long ago, it was time to take the calves to market and start planning for Crop #5.
One thing special about Crop #4 was Genesis, who was the first calf born on our ranch, had her first calf, Kristoff. These are photos of Genesis and Kristoff and Mama 47, Genesis, and Kristoff.
As the saying goes, “Time marches on.” More next time on what’s been going on at the Lazy J Ranch!
It’s hard to believe that Calf Crop #4 has already started on the Wheeler Lazy J Ranch. Buck was born at the end of December. Patches, his Mama Cow, had some health issues so we had kept her in the holding pen near the house. It was nice having Buck so close when he was born and for his first weeks. Buck is the first calf bred by Big Boy the Bull born on the Ranch.
A couple of weeks later, Rose, gave birth to Roy, a healthy bull calf also bred by Big Boy. Rose was not in the pen and hid Roy for several days before joining back up with the herd. We would find Roy and then Rose would hide him again. It was like a “Where’s Waldo” game!
It’s fun to watch these two bull calves. Buck is pretty laid back and likes to follow Joni (the white yearling in the herd) around. Sometimes he runs and plays, but not like Roy. Roy loves to run and frolic. He’s so curious about everything around him. He is beginning to explore the other cows in the herd.
We are expecting up to 9 more calves due in February and March for this Spring crop. We are looking forward to welcoming these calves. I must admit that the occasional harsh winter temperatures worry me with the little ones on the ground. We are so thankful that Jason isn’t afraid of the freezing temps!
God has created these animals to take care of themselves and each other in all types of weather. We are simply stewards of the land and animals. We are going to do the best we can to protect them and help them thrive.
Well, the time has come for this crop of calves to go to market. Last Friday, we separated the ten calves from the mama cows and loaded them in the livestock trailer. The calves were actually pretty calm during the entire process. Charlie, Jason, and a friend separated them and I talked to the calves as they were loaded in the trailer in small groups. The calves were licking my fingers and letting me rub their noses. Once the trailer pulled out of driveway, Jason let the cows out of the pen and back into the pasture.
The cows left the pen quickly, but the ten mama cows came back shortly to inspect the area and find their calves.
Then they started calling for the babies. Then they went into the pens to look for them. Then they called out some more. Then they came to the fence to talk to (fuss at) us. Then they quieted down. Then it all started up again.
The Jersey/Holstein (JoJo) and one of the other cows came all the way inside the inner pen looking and crying…I mean mooing for their calves. (JoJo was Tank’s adoptive mom after he was abandoned. She took really good care of him. She is a good Mama Cow and was missing her Tank!) Charlie gave them all mineral cubes (Cow Candy) and ear rubs, but as soon as we walked back to the house, they started mooing again. Jason said that they were all going to be hoarse in the morning!
The next morning, those ten cows were still in the pasture around the pen. They had mooed all night long. By that evening, all but two of the cows had moved to the back pasture with the rest of the herd to the bales of hay that Jason had put out. JoJo was one of the cows that stayed up front. By the next afternoon, all the cows had moved to the back pasture.
Charlie and I went up to the sale barn to check on the calves. They were all in their pen just as calm as they could be and happy to see us. We had time for ear rubs, chin rubs, and finger licks. Champ and Tank came right to us. Hannah was being her usual drama queen self and was laying in the feed trough! The calves had been like a mini herd inside the big herd here at the ranch. They played together, fought over the feed trough, and rested together and that appeared to make a difference when they were at the sale barn. The calves in the other pens around them were pacing and nervous. Perhaps having six steers and only four heifers helped the emotional level of the herd. I had one more talk with the calves about how big they were and how it was time for them to go into the big world! I know they listened to me!
Charlie and I are very proud of the way these calves look and act. They look healthy and have a nice body condition. They are calm and not skittish – very even tempered. It is evident of the good care they have been given here at the ranch. We feel like we have accomplished our goal of raising the best calves that we could. It will be an exciting day when they go to auction and we see how well they perform and how they give back to the ranch so more calves can follow their footsteps.
Charlie and I knew that once the cows began calving that the size of the herd would explode. Well, that explosion began at the end of July. Since then, we have welcomed four calves to the herd. It is interesting to watch how the different cows act during pregnancy and then act as new mothers. It is also interesting to see how each calf has a different personality almost from the moment they are born!
Wheeler Herd Calf Album – Summer 2020
Calf #1 – Cosmos
Cosmos was tiny when she was born and loved to curl up on the grass. She has long legs and definitely has the Brahman influence in her body shape. She is a little shy but loves to play with the other calves.
Calf #2 – Hanna
Hanna was jet-black when she was born showing her Black Brangus heritage. She is curious about everything and everyone around her! When you talk to her and she looks straight at you and wiggles her ears! She loves to run and frolic with the other calves and yearlings.
Calf #3 – Champ
Champ is Calf #3 and a bull calf. He had a very difficult start having to be pulled from his Mama. But he toughed it out and has hung on to life. His hips were stiff from his rough birth, but he’s walking better now and even running. Now he’s having difficulty acclimating to heat. He’s a big boy with lots of fat and fur consistent with his Hereford father. He needs to be a champion to acclimate quickly to this hot and humid East Texas environment. Mama Cow is doing her best to take care of him. We are helping out also as we can.
This afternoon, Charlie found Champ in the woods unconscious but breathing. He was able to wake him up and he immediately went to his Mama and began to nurse. That was a good thing. Charlie contacted our cowboy and vet for advice on what could be going on. Both felt like it was heat stress causing the issue. They both recommended that we continue to watch and hope he acclimates to the heat soon.
Charlie spent the rest of the night reflecting on this and shared that he has gained a new appreciation for those that have worked in this industry for most of their lives. As he said, “You can do all the right things and try to be a good steward of the land and livestock but in the end it may not be enough.” We are working hard to help this little guy make it!
Calf #4 – Bess
Charlie noticed a little white face in the pasture this afternoon while looking over the herd and doing a headcount! We found Bess just moments after she was born. She was already up on her feet and walking circles around her Mama! When the other cows came up to see the new calf, Bess took off walking toward them to introduce herself to them. She is very outgoing! Her Mama was a nervous wreck trying to keep Bess reined in and close to her! She was relieved when Bess finally decided to lay down in the shade of one of the tree and rest. Mama was then able to lay down and rest also.
We are excited as we await the arrival of seven more calves within the next month with the possibility of three or more after that. It is a joy to see the additions to our herd and see how God created such nurturing instincts in these mother cows.
Stay tuned as photos of more calves are added to the Wheeler Herd Baby Album!
After a month in the pen, we decided that the three calves were weaned and ready to return to the herd. When Charlie opened the gate to let them out, they just ignored him. He was able to get Genesis’ attention and she walked over to him and then out of the gate into the pasture. Annie followed suite, but when she walked through the gate she kicked up her back legs and jumped out. Joni must have thought that would be fun and she did the same though and kicked up her back legs to bounce out of the holding pen. I thought that I was going to have to get into the pen to coax Stevie out, but by the time I climbed over the fence she was headed to Charlie to walk out the gate. It didn’t take long for Genesis and the three calves to walk over to the herd and mingle right in. Joni was the only calf that tried to nuzzle with her Mama. Mama Cow was very quick to push her away and let her know that she was a big heifer now!
Big Boy has acclimated in well with the ladies in the herd. At first, when they wandered from the other side of the creek in the morning for cubes, he would stay over there. Now he wanders with them wherever they are going. Or may they are wandering wherever he goes. It’s interesting to see them at the water trough. When there are several cows at the trough, they will sometimes push one another out of the way. When Big Boy shows up, he walks up to the trough and they simply let him walk right up and make room for him.
Big Boy’s job has been to find the three cows that haven’t bred yet and take care of business. After watching him for a couple of weeks, he seems to be trying his best to do his job. We’ve noticed him spending time with each of the three. We’ll know soon if he was successful. Our calving time is expected to be between mid-July and mid-August. Hopefully, we will have 14 healthy calves.
Coming up on the ranch…hay baling! The pastures were fertilized and sprayed for weeds in the Spring and the grass is growing very well. So well in fact, that the pastures will need to be baled soon. This will give us hay for our herd as well as sell some like we did last year. Stay tuned for more details.
After working the cows last month, the discussion of expanding our herd came up. Cowboy J. was telling us about a nice-looking Brahman bull that belonged to one of our neighbors. Originally, our goal was to buy a black Brangus bull to lessen the Brahman look from our Brangus cows. Charlie had even done a lot of homework about where to buy and talked to several ranches. That plan was put on the backburner after we had two visiting (not invited) bulls during the Fall. Our goal changed to finding out which of the cows were bred and taking care of their prenatal needs. We had put the idea of buying a bull off for a bit, but now we needed to talk about it. Charlie and Jason talked about breeding the cows with a Brahman bull. Charlie and I talked about breeding the cows with a Brahman bull. Jason and Danielle talked about breeding the cows with a Brahman bull. Finally, Charlie and Jason decided to talk to our neighbors and meet Big Boy.
We knew that Big Boy was a full-blooded Brahman bull and that he was halter-broke and could be walked around the pasture with a halter and rope. So far, he has bred small calves that grew quickly after they were born. This is important because some of our herd will be heifers (first-time to be bred) and it is usually better if their calves are small. Of course, you don’t want them to stay small so growing and gaining weight quickly is beneficial. We found out that all of his calves have been heifers (so far) which is good for us since we are building our herd with heifers that will become cows which give us more calves. Steers go to the sale barn to buy more cows and heifer calves!
Today was the day of transition. A portion of our common fence was cut and a temporary gate put in and Big Boy was walked into our pasture. He came in and quickly found the “ladies of the pasture.” Charlie and Jason were able to work with him by giving him mineral cubes. Thanks to our neighbor for taking the pictures of him with Charlie and Jason!
We’re looking forward to what the future holds with Big Boy as part of the herd. His immediate task is to find the three cows that need to be bred which will ensure that all 14 cows are bred with hopes of 14 healthy calves being born!
Once again, it was time to work the cows and wean the calves. Charlie and Jason discussed the meds to use this time for the injections and fly control. Charlie purchased the supplies and gathered together the equipment. Jason checked over the supplies and grabbed a few more. It was a nice cool morning which made it more comfortable for us and for the cows branding was on the agenda. We had gathered all of them up in the pen the night before and, as you can see, they didn’t really suspect anything was going on…until the cowboy drove into the driveway. Could they really remember the sound of the motor of his truck???
Working the cows went relatively smoothly including the branding and palpating. 11 of the 14 cows are bred. (Plans are being made for the 3 that aren’t bred.)Once the cows were finished and let out to the pasture, the calves were taken care of and kept inside the pen. Stevie Nicks, Annie, and Joni Paycheck were the last three calves born and the time has come for their weaning. Looks like they were wondering where all of the cows had gone! The calves made their way to the trap in the pen where they had last been with their Mama Cows.
Joni and Annie came to see us at the fence, but Stevie (in the background) was already bawling. Joni found her way to the fence where her Mama was. Mama wasn’t happy that her baby was locked inside the pen! She has been a very good and protective Mama. In fact, the next few mornings she came to the fence by the house and moo’ed to us. In fact, the first morning after the other cows wandered off after their morning cubes, she laid down at our fence. Since we have three cows to breed still, the decision was made to add Genesis to the pen with the calves. She is a yearling and we aren’t ready for her to be bred. She has had a calming effect on the calves. For the most part she has been happy with the creep feed, cubes, and extra attention she has been given, but isn’t particularly happy to be locked up again. She will definitely be the leader of this pack!
All of the calves are eating cubes from our hands and we walk among them several times a day to help them become accustomed to us. Our approach to raising cattle is to take good care of them and treat them as gently as possible which is accomplished by handling them often with care and respect.