Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Madness

The daffodils and tulips are showing their heads and I may forego the long underwear tomorrow. It must be spring.  

We had our seventh set of twins on the ranch, only these were born to Jesse, our loyal employee. They came a few weeks early, so he’s splitting his time between the ranch and the neonatal unit in Idaho Falls. The twins are doing great and other than sleep deprivation, Jesse is loving fatherhood. I know he’ll make a good Dad because I’ve seen his gentle, patient work in the calving barn.

I noticed with Mark and now with Jesse, that ranchers think they’re extra funny when they become fathers. Jesse, who is good at suckling calves that need a little extra help, jokes about using his “lactation consultant” skills on his wife! And because the mother, Milee, is oriental, he claims the twins are doing especially good because of hybrid vigor. Somehow these jokes are less funny to the mother!

We had our GAP audit this week. GAP is the acronym for Global Animal Partnership, a group dedicated to “improving the lives of farm animals.” We require this certification as members of Country Natural Beef. The auditor, who ranches in Colorado, was very thorough, looking at Mark’s detailed records and quizzing us on handling techniques, health treatments, and animal care in general. We don’t mind the questions and generally believe the more animal welfare advocates and ranchers communicate, the better off we’ll all be. With this crazy cattle market, however, we’ve yet to see a real payoff for our efforts.

Anna took off for the Oregon and Montana state FFA conferences yesterday. It’s been fun having her home. She and I have been feeding the herd by ourselves. We trade off driving and kicking off feed. It goes fine until we get bushwhacked by an unruly oat bale that collapses despite our great effort. Then it takes two of us to get the thing back in shape.   

I’m certainly more than just a rancher, but you wouldn’t know it from the photo assignments I’ve been taking to my photography class. I think the instructor is a little puzzled at my cow fetish. 


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