Yesterday, Debbie Lyons-Blythe was sharing a day on the ranch, as part of our “Day in the Life” series. Today we pick back up, just as the cattle are about to “head out on the highway” …
After they walk through the brome and alfalfa field, they will walk a quarter of a mile on the state highway along our property border. I block the few cars at the top of the hill as the heifers trot down the highway! Luckily we planned the move during local church services so the amount of traffic is down. We hate missing church, but sometimes the work is more important and today is one of those times.
Once the cattle are caught in our pens, we sort off the cull cattle that were identified earlier in the year — the steers with low yearling weight, or heifers identified with too small of pelvic size [which would make calving difficult]. These calves will go to grass pasture for a couple of months before being shipped to a nearby feed yard.
That is about 50 head that we run through the chute. We apply a fly insecticide tag [to keep pesky bugs away] and pour on a parasite control [similar to products used on pets]. It is important to me that the heifers are handled in a calm and quiet manner. I will be working with these girls over the next 4-5 days by myself and sorting them and breeding them alone. If they are overly excited or worked up, that job can be dangerous and nearly impossible by myself. But if they have a good experience while we work them today, they will be easy to handle by myself.
Things go well and we are finished early. While I clean up the supplies and working area, Duane and the boys finish hauling the grass calves to pasture. We all meet up at my in-laws house to relax on the porch and enjoy a few minutes of conversation with Duane’s mom and step-dad. His step-dad had a stroke two years ago and it affected his eyesight, so he is home-bound. His mom was an avid gardener and enjoys keeping her yard looking nice — but it is now up to us to do the yard work. She purchased a couple of rose bushes and while we watched and relaxed, my boys planted them for their grandma.
The day was long, but very rewarding — especially ending up doing an important favor for someone in need. Grandmas and Grandpas are special to us and we will enjoy the rose bushes in the future as we sit on their porch with them, too.
Debbie Lyons-Blythe is a Kansas rancher and blogger at Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch. Be sure to check back next week as we continue this series, learning about a “Day in the Life” of a distributor, retail meat man and chef.