Posts Tagged ‘vaccinate’

At our house, we LOVE football! I love the Huskers, Matt & Emmet greatly prefer K-State & love whoever is playing against the Huskers (traitors!), and Kaydee is somewhat neutral. We are all new fans of the Lions since our hero, Suh, is playing there & we have been long time fans of the Colts. However, being Nebraskan’s, we have to show a little love to the Patiriots & Danny Woodhead as well.  We don’t always get to watch the games we want to see if we’re busy working, but we try to listen on the radio. Plus, we’ve been getting to watch Emmet in his first year of high school football.  The most serious injury has been a sprained ankle (not bad) & he has made his way to starting defense on JV – I’d say that’s a comfortable spot for a freshman who gets WAY outsized by some, no, make that most of the competition.

We recently weaned calves. We always try to wean by October 1, so as to give the cows a good break before having their next calf in March or April. Weaning isn’t as simple as just putting the cows and calves in separate pens where the calves can no longer nurse their moms.

For the first six or seven months on a calf’s life, they get to nurse their mom plus eat grass, mineral, and supplements. They have had plenty of nutrients to grow and develop. Now, we have to help them with immunity and nutrition since they will no long have their mom’s milk.

Here is how weaning day works:

First, everyone has their respective job, which must be done correctly in order for the day to go well. Teamwork. When we bring the herd in from the pasture, someone (usually Matt) is in charge of leading the pack and the rest follow behind. Sometimes I ride with Matt & sometimes I help follow up (I’m usually the one that will jump off the 4-wheeler and run in the road ditches to boost the stragglers) – depends if he waited at the gate for me to jump in the Mule with him.

Next, we sort. Teamwork! This is where, when I was a kid, I NEVER wanted the gate because I didn’t like getting yelled at. When cows are getting sorted out & you are the gate person, you are somehow supposed to hold several animals, way bigger than you, back because there is a calf in the mix. Trust me, it can’t be done easily! Our team seems to work very well together and make fast work of the sorting. Now, I have broad enough shoulders to take the gate. I just remind everyone, if they are mean to me, I’m not going to have as good of food when we get done. Their choice! 🙂

Then, cows are taken back to their respective pastures to graze and achieve optimum body condition prior to having their next calf, which is due in March/April.

Calves – well, TEAMWORK!!! We catch each calf in the squeeze chute to weigh it, give it vaccinations, and put in an “Age & Source Verification” ear tag. There are a number of individual tasks that have to be done well to make all of this go smoothly for the cattle and for the people doing the work.

The Team

You can see most of the team in that picture. Matt runs the headgate, Kaydee is on the squeeze, and Emmet, with his sprained ankle & avoiding much walking, is on the opposite side reading the scale. In the background are Jason, Frank, and Gavin, who bring the calves up to the chute. Where am I in all this you are asking? Oh, not to worry, I have my tasks as well. I was busy keeping the tagger ready, recording tag #’s and weights, and keeping the syringe full of vaccine. Kaydee gave the shots and Matt or I poured on the dewormer. I usually put the tags in the calves ears.

When everyone in on task and cheerful, working cattle goes really well & it is a lot of fun! There is plenty of joking around,  but everyone is alert to everything at all times, so nothing gets missed and no one gets injured – cattle or people.

After the processing (giving shots, deworming, etc.) we put feed in the bunks and herd all of the calves toward the bunks to learn how to eat dry feed which is full of all of the nutrients they need.

Then, the team likes to get some nutrients for themselves – this year I get pizza for everyone & we hung out in the barn and listened to the Huskers…

Waiting for pizza….

Story Tellers....


The full day of hard work is done. Now – it’s feeding every day and checking every animal to make sure they are feeling food and eating well. Football to watch and a pen of calves to feed – I really love fall!


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Saturday was the day of one of my favorite events of the year (after Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and the 4th of July).  Saturday was the day my folks and my brother who farms there with them held their branding.   Emmet and I were the only ones from our family who made it to help.  Matt got held up in Kansas doing our chores and helping a neighbor there.  And you’ll remember from the last post, Kaydee was busy with prom and still sad she had to miss branding.  Oh, but no worries…she had a great time!

Here they are bringing in the cows and calves to get sorted.  The cows were all given shots and dewormed earlier in the week.

This is only half the herd.  The other half is at a different place (where my grandparents lived) and the crew had them done already.  We had somewhere between 15 and 20 people to work the nearly 90 head of calves at this pasture.  My folks and brother like to do this “the old fashioned way.”  Which means, the calves are roped around a hind leg and pulled to the handlers.  The handlers restrain the calf while others give shots, brand, and castrate the bulls.  The entire process takes less than 2 minutes per calf.  This process, when done correctly, causes very little stress on the calf and is safe for the people doing the work.

It is important to vaccinate the calves so they don’t get sick.  I can’t imagine not having my kids immunized.  This is no different – the calves are immunized against respiratory diseases.

We had just a little mud to work in, and everyone ended up with a wet tushie, but it was great to not have dust flying!

Here is what the brand looks like.

Here is a poem about branding that I loved and have framed in our house:

Wearin’ The Brand
by Georgann Sheets

“Did it hurt much?” asked his buddy.
“Naw, it just stung a little bit.
It’s over in a matter of seconds,
Before you know it, they’ve done quit.

It was nothing compared to other times,
When I thought I’d nearly die.
Like when my mama had me,
On that cold and stormy night.

I came a little early,
And laid in the wind and snow.
I just knew I’d freeze to death,
I was shivering from the cold.

But right away the cowboy found me.
You know, the one that feeds us every day?
He picked me up so gently,
And put me inside in warm, dry hay.

He brought my mama, too.
And made sure I was alright.
I never was so thankful,
To see a cowboy than on that night!

Of course there was that time in spring,
When we started eating sweet, green grass.
My ears were drooping low,
And I sure got sick real fast.

That cowboy came a ridin’,
On a big, long-legged beast.
He saw that I was feelin’ bad,
And rode over to doctor me.

Of course, he had to rope me.
Which my mama didn’t like too much.
But I started feelin’ better,
After he gave me those pills and stuff.

And do you remember a couple of weeks ago.
When they moved us a real, long way?
We all got sort of jumbled up,
As we walked along that day.

I lost track of my dear mama.
Boy was I one scared pup!
But that cowboy helped me find her,
And made sure we were all paired up.

So you can see, I’ve had many trials,
In my first few months of life.
But that cowboy’s always been there,
To help me in my strife.

I feel I’ve earned this on my side,
Given to me by a special man.
And I am darned sure proud to wear,
This cowboy’s mark he calls a brand!”

After the work is all done, my Mom serves an amazing meal!  I offered to bring something, but she really takes pride in “feeding the crew.”  We had steak sandwiches, salads, roasted potatoes, baked beans, fresh fruit, and of course, dessert.  And, plenty of beverages!

A great time was had by all, and I’m sure the whole crew will be at someone else’s place doing the same thing in the next week or two, and then the next place, and then the next place, until everyone has their spring cattle work done.

Well, ’til tomorrow…..here are a couple of really great cowboy pics I got:

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