Tag Archives: Brangus

A Season for Everything

As the book of Ecclesiastes says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” So many things happened here on the ranch after the last post back in May. There was “a time to be born and a time to die.” We discovered that two more of our original five heifers were bred and there were hopes that they would give Genesis (#1 calf) some siblings. Unfortunately, #60 (yes, that’s what we called her) had difficulty with her birth of a bull calf. He was simply too large for her to give birth to. We thought we could save her and we did our best doctoring her for a few days, but she decided the journey back to health was too long and hard. She was under a tree close to the house and we stayed with her for many hours. Even Shadow would go out and lay down with her. She simply closed her eyes and went to sleep. Then just a bit later, the third heifer went into labor and had issues. Charlie and Jason stayed with her until the early morning hours when she hid herself in one of the thickets. We found her the next morning and unfortunately she had lost her calf – another bull calf. She had an injured back leg but we were able to nurse her fully back to health. Melissa was here that weekend also to help out with #64. (Yes, that was her name.) It was a true team effort! We learned a lot about the bulls that you choose to breed your cows, breeding heifers, and breeding cows and have made plans to go a different direction when the next breeding cycle begins. We also learned the value of hiring an experienced and knowledgeable cowboy. Cowboy James taught us so many things about taking care of a sick cow with his know-how and his compassion.

Since the last post in May, the first five bred cows that Charlie bought have calved and the five calves that he bought have grown. They all have names because that makes it easy for me to keep track of them…and it’s fun! So much has happened since May, but I like to divide the posts by year so I can create a book from them. While this will be the ‘official’ last post for our second year on the ranch, there is much more to share. Stay tuned!

Here are some photos to enjoy so you’ll know the names of the calves too! (Click on each photo and it will pull up a larger image!)

Growing Pains

It was just a year ago that we purchased our first five heifers. Now we have one cow, one calf, and four heifers that we are waiting to determine if they are bred. Genesis_5.19We are fairly confident that we will have 2-3 more calves, but only time will tell. Our goal for our cow-calf operation was to have a herd that was on the same calving schedule. It makes it easier to manage a herd if the calves are born around the same time. With Genesis (calf #1) coming in January and no others showing up yet, we were trying to determine the best method to meet our calving schedule goal. After talking to some local cattle raisers and a broker, we decided that our next purchase would be bred cows that would give birth about the same time as those that we already have.

On Tuesday, Charlie went to a ranch that came highly recommended to look at bred Brangus cows. We thought we would try to find ten cows to grow our herd. 6 + 10 = 16 (with future calves) sounded like a good formula. Imagine my surprise when he sent me a text saying he had bought 5 bred cows and 5 cow-calf pairs. 10 cows + 5 calves = 15 new head!!

To prepare for these new cows, Charlie and Jason plus a couple of friends built a new pen with chute. The plan was for the cows to be delivered and unloaded into the pen where they could stay for a while until they settled down from the ride to our place.

What really happened was the driver didn’t want to drive into the pasture and back up to the pens. (He had several reasons why.) He decided to back partially into our gate, let out the five calves and then the ten cows. He assumed that the young calves would huddle around and wait for their mamas to come out of the trailer. Boy, was he wrong. Those calves, all being 30 days old and younger, went c-r-a-z-y! The two older ones ran out into the pasture but then headed back to the fence line. Shadow herded one of the calves to keep it in the fence. One managed to find its way out and was in the area by the fig trees where Raya was. 0430191138bIt was just standing there when Raya was trying to walk up to it. We scooted it back into the pasture. However, the oldest calf – a black Brangus steer – hit the driveway and headed out to the road. As I made it to the road, I saw not only the black calf but a tan one following it! Charlie and the driver took off after the two runaways in the side by side and found one in the neighbor’s pasture and the other one pasture down. So the phone calls began to call the neighbors to help round the calves up. The tan one found its way back to our pasture shortly – listening to the mama cows billowing. We were afraid that it was going to take more effort to get the steer back, but soon he was in the pasture next to ours. Our neighbor was able to rope it and was leading (pulling) it back to our pasture. Charlie, on the other side of the fence, was trying to guide the steer and did a great job because the steer looked at him, put his head down, and plowed over Charlie knocking him to the ground! Charlie wasn’t hurt but discovered how much power a 200 pound calf has! All 5 calves were safe and sound in our pasture.

When we checked on the new members of the herd after dinner, we could only find 3 calves! It was a warm day and it had been a strenuous day for them so we were hoping they were bedded down in the woods where we couldn’t see them. Several friends told us to be patient because even though calves might stray, they would always come home when their mamas called for them. And, they were right. Charlie went out for a headcount on Wednesday morning and saw all 10 cows and 5 calves, plus the original 6.

In the afternoon, we went out to check the herd. The new group was back by the pond figuring out the best shady spots.

After dinner we drove out to see where all of the cows and calves were. We found the ‘Original 5 + 1’ in the front of the side pasture and the new herd members in the back of the side pasture. DSCF7436We parked next to the Originals and watched them and talked to them. It was in no time that the new cows began walking toward us bringing the calves with them.DSCF7461 They came close enough for me to take some great shots. DSCF7484One of the Originals let out a loud ‘mooooo’ while facing the newbies. She has done this several times! She’s the one that I call “Sassy Pants!” It didn’t stop them from coming closer.

After a bit, one of the cows decided it was time to move on and began walking to the back of the pasture again. All of the new cows started following her and her calf except for one cow. The youngest calf had decided that it was time for a nap. Her mama stood there beside her and then started nuzzling the calf until she woke up, stood up, and then followed her mama to the others.

It’s hard to believe that our herd has grown by leaps and bounds in such a short period of time. 5 cows + 1 calf (Genesis) + 5 bred cows + 5 cows + 5 calves = 21 head.

Now the question is how many calves will be born and when!

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

Happy anniversary! Today is our second anniversary as land owners. It has been an exciting two years and we have many plans for the upcoming year. We are continuing to attend local workshops and training sessions on raising cattle and improving forage. We have purchased our own five black Brangus heifers.

Brangus are a cross between black Angus and Brahma cattle. Charlie was able to help brand and vaccinate them with the help of the man who located these heifers and is our “hired Cowboy.”

When “our girls” were delivered to us, another young Charolais heifer was brought over that needed some social interaction with other animals. 0619181959aIt’s very interesting to watch these six and the other heifers and cow. Sometimes they blend in with the bigger herd and sometimes they wander on their own in their own smaller herd.

We are focusing on taming them so we can handle them with we need to. Our heifers like to come up to the fence next to the house in the mornings especially for some hand-feed hay. 0619182005gI’m also working on talking to them. A simple “hello girls” generally gets their attention. A couple of them are getting comfortable coming up to us and will let us rub their noses. The others are curious and we’ll keep working on them.

Our cattle business is a cow-calf operation. That means that we will breed our heifers and sell the calves they produce. From the proceeds of the sale of those calves, we will purchase more heifers to breed and sell those calves, etc. The heifers have been with a bull since January with their previous owner and they are once again with a bull in our pasture. In September, we will begin testing each of the heifers to see if we will hear the patter of little hoofs in the Spring.

We have set up our records for tracking our cattle activity. Charlie cleared out and cleaned up the existing pens in the back pasture that have not been used in about 5 years. He and Jason have discussed how to renovate and expand them for when we need to work the cows.

It’s exciting to think about what this year will hold for the Wheeler’s Lazy J Ranch. Charlie and I have learned lots of new things and will continue to learn more. Stay turned for the next adventure!