It has been a full and busy week of gathering cows and calves because it was time to pregnancy test the cows. Every cow that was out with the bulls this summer had to come in for her ultrasound so we were back in the saddle again. What a stark contrast the landscape displayed from our wet, lush summer rides to our dry, brown fall rides of this week. There were little flashes of color here and there as we rode along. Saltlover spread its red fingers along the ground, and the Hairy Golden Aster makes a subdued appearance amongst the desolate plains. The meadowlarks and horned larks were still out in the pastures singing us good morning or good evening as we rode along. The sky. Oh, the sky was clear, sparkling blue, and the days were perfect for saddle work.
Saltlover (Halogeton glomeratus) has turned bright red.
A prairie plant that grows low to the ground on alkaline soil.
Old Pete and I rode together on the first day of the week, but the second and third days of our riding, I took Red. He's quite a bit younger than Pete and has more spark to him which really makes a difference when I was just one of four riders gathering up 340 cows and calves. A girl has to be able to giddy-up and go when she needs to.
Back at the barn there was sorting and re-sorting to do. All the cows had to be sorted away from their calves so we could have the vet perform the ultrasound scans. I didn't take any pictures of the barn work, but I'll tell you that the ultrasounds were not done externally as we do on human bellies, but rather they were done internally -- rectally, to be exact. The vet can figure out nearly exactly how many days pregnant each cow is so we can put an accurate due date on her. This info comes in very handy when the weather turns bad during calving season. We know which cows to have in close to the barns and which ones we can leave out in the pasture awhile longer. Those cows who do not turn up pregnant are called "dry or empty" and are culled along with other cows that have physical problems or are non-maternal or
crazy ill tempered-- traits that we don't want to battle for another year.
This is what it looks like when you're standing in a corral full of cows and calves, trying to sort them through a gate. See the open space in the wall below? That's the gate where the big cows will go through so we can separate the cows away from their calves while they get their ultrasound scan.
Hot days require a stop at the stock pond to let the cows drink.
Tomorrow is sale day at the livestock yards, and there will be about 30 head of cows that will be hauled out in the morning. The calves will be weaned from the cull cows and put on feed. The rest of the cows and calves have been turned out to the fall range to graze until it is weaning time in late October or November, depending on the weather.