It seems that, as some character in a comic strip once said, the busier I am, the behinder I get!!
The last of the calves were shipped, following the September round up, and I must say that for once we were not too unhappy with the price – the only miserable thing was that the heifers, which looked so good, went for a much lower price than the steers and bulls, but as a lower price for heifers is normal, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised – it’s just that they were so lovely, those girls! Our veterinarian told us an interesting thing last month and we are going to try it. He said that for some reason, heifers born early in the year tend not to breed as efficiently as heifers born later in the season. Of course, most ranchers, when picking their replacements, pick the biggest – and perhaps, therefore, the ones not so prone to breed successfully. Ironic, isn’t it? Another one of Nature’s jokes – but we thought we would give it a try this year. It really broke my heart to send off those wonderful looking heifers, so straight backed, fat, and full of energy – but we kept some 30 of the smaller ones, making sure they were also good quality – so – it will be interesting!!
A bit along those lines, we have a cow in the herd that is 17 years old this year – and she has had a calf every single year that she’s been in the herd! Now that is really beyond the call of duty, isn’t it, and so we decided that, instead of shipping her with the rest of the older cattle next round up, she will be honorably retired. She has, at her side, her this year’s calf, so we will pen them up for a while to give him a bit of a boost, and then she will be turned out with the two princesses, Clementine and Twiggy, to live out the rest of her years in peace and comfort. Of course, she may surprise me and live to be 25!! but even if she does, she will have earned it.
Those of you reading this have probably seen the Martin Clunes snippet on the home page. The company sent me a copy of the entire program, and I watched it last night. It was absolutely fascinating – I must say that I don’t wonder Martin is the star he is in the UK! The program just breathes his love of horses, and, even though I have been around them all my life, I learnt a great deal about this wonderful animal.
And just about when I thought our rains were over, here came another storm from Baja California, out of the proverbial blue, and dropped over five inches on us in the last week – how wonderful is that! The country has never looked better. The grass is headed out now, full of little seeds which I am sure are pretty nourishing, to judge by the girth of the cows seen at this last round up, and the donkeys, Miss Sarah and Miss Katie, just waddle in from the pasture every evening.Some of you may remember a little Mexican horse called Peanut, who was in the Grapevine string for quite a few years. Peanut is, without a doubt, the homeliest horse in the world, conformation wise, but he is, and always was, a real trooper – people loved riding him, he was always kind and honest, and did his utmost to give everyone the best ride he could, so he was very popular. He is also very cunning – somehow he managed to bribe me into a goodie every time he was led out to the mounting block, and this habit of begging earned him many a treat the others didn’t get. The years passed and he has grown elderly – recently he grew very thin, and looked almost ready to depart the ranch for that pasture in the sky – so we turned him out in all this grass on the cattle ranch ….. and now he is fairly blooming! His skinny body is fast filling out, his coat is beginning to shine, and he has that same gleam in his eye that says “so where is it, where’s my treat??” Of course, he also eats a goodly portion of Senior, and oats, and alfalfa pellets morning and night, and spends his days wandering around the pasture, eating all that good grass, and then meandering up to the headquarters for his evening feed, followed by a peaceful night in his corral. It feels good to be able to reward him for the years of honest work, and I believe I would take in washing before I would break my promise to give him a happy retirement!
And if you have been wondering why I have fallen behind with some of these musings, it’s for a very prosaic reason. I have once again inherited the job of bookkeeping for the ranch, a job that I thought I had got rid of many years ago. But truthfully, I am glad to have taken it over again – it has put me back in touch with the reality of the operation and many unnecessary expenditures are now a thing of the past!