Saturday, January 1, 2011

Buying Replacement Heifers

Happy New Year to all of my blog friends!  We brought in the New Year with some major events and a huge winter storm! Here's the scoop on what's been happening around these parts.

Every year we make a trip to the Arizona National Livestock Show to enjoy all of the festivities, and this year we also wanted to buy a pen of fancy replacement heifers.  On December 29th, we headed off of the mountain, just as a massive winter storm was taking it's grip on the area.  We left just before the snow started to stick, and several hours into our travels, it was still snowing...even in the low elevations.  Here's what it looked like on our way down to the valley.
On the day we arrived, Phoenix was getting a half an inch of rainfall.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you how unusual this amount of precipitation is in the desert. 

The next morning we loaded up the truck, and went to the Livestock Show. It was unseasonably cold and windy that day.

Shortly after we arrived, we looked over all of the heifers available before the auction started.  They were all soaked and muddy from the rain the previous day, and they looked like drowned rats.

I had to laugh, because less than 10 minutes before the sale started, we had 7, yes 7, of our family and close friends join us to chat and ask questions about the auction. Some were folks we hadn't seen in years!  And they arrived at the most stressful part of our day.  I felt so bad because I'm sure we were not as chatty as usual.  Here's why:

This was our strategy time....our time to decide which heifers would be best suited for our herd, and which ones would add the genetic material we were looking to add.  We also had to take into consideration the varying ages of the heifers.  Some were younger calves, some were of breeding age, and some were due to calve within months. This is also when we make our mental calculations as to how much we were willing to spend on each pen.  These types of auctions can be a bit confusing to the outsider because you bid on the price per animal, but you are buying the entire pen.  Therefore, you must mentally calculate how many animals are in the pen, and multiply the bid by the number of cattle in the pen.  Are you following me?  OK.

Anyway, we were about to spend a large sum of money and we had 10 minutes to make a decision as to what to bid on. I hate doing this!  Before we make a large purchase, we like to sleep on it, and pray about it, and talk it over from every angle.  At auctions, you don't have time to do this, and when you're reacquainting yourself with people you haven't seen in YEARS during the precious few minutes you have to make your selections, it's even more stressful.

It must have been obvious, because my poor father-in-law kept asking me if everything was OK. :)  It all went very well in the end, and we were excited with our purchase.  We had our little crowd of spectators cheering us on in the background, and they started whooping it up when they announced that we got the winning bid.  Our cheering section even filmed it for my mother-in-law back home. It was so funny! 

My husband just turned to me and said, "What just happened there?" 

I said, "I believe they were cheering for us." 

We've been going to auctions for over a decade, and we've never had a cheering section before.  This was a first.

After we wrote the check, and signed the livestock inspection papers, my husband just started busting up laughing at the whole situation.

Good times, Good times.

Above is a picture of my husband (in the black vest) talking over things with my father-in-law just before the sale.

Here are the heifer calves we bought! They are Angus x Maine Anjou x Limousine crossbreeds.

Here's the family checking out the new herd members.

Now that the business end was complete, we could go and enjoy the rest of the show!

Here's my baby warming up in the western art exhibit.  Did I mention how cold and windy it was outside???

Here's my brother taking a minute to stop and contemplate the meaning of life with his new buddy.

Here's a cheesy picture of the family.

After watching several classes of livestock being judged, we made our way back out of the cattle barns and into the freezing cold wind.

Here they are, some of the die-hard ranch rodeo watchers! Give them a bag of Kettle Corn, and they'll be happy anywhere.

Here's the mud hole of an arena that the cowboys were performing in.

We were getting ready to load up the heifers, when we found out the roads were all closed going back home, so we had to stay another night down in the valley.

On the morning of the 31st, we loaded up the stock trailer, and made the absolutely treacherous drive back up the mountain.  There was only one route open, and it's my least favorite.  We had to go through Salt River Canyon.  It's miles of switchbacks going 35 miles per hour down to the bottom of the canyon, and then miles and miles of switchbacks to get up to the top of the other side.  There is a sheer rock wall on one side, and the only thing keeping you from falling off the side of a steep cliff is an itsy bitsy guard rail.

To make matters was snowing in the canyon.  I was a ball of nerves, but thankfully, the snow didn't start to stick until we had gotten through the canyon.  Here's what it looked like from the top:

After that point, we had hours of snowy, icy, roads with another rogue storm that settled in on us.  It's tough to drive up the mountain in this kind of stuff, but pulling a load of cattle makes it even more treacherous.  I was so relieved when we made it home safely that evening.

At home, we got about 18" of snow in that storm.  Here's our front yard. Poor Mary and Joseph must have been distraught to know that baby Jesus was covered in snow.

Here's the snow level.  Right up to the top wire on the fence.
When we woke up this morning, it was -13 degrees Fahrenheit!!! That is UNBELIEVABLY cold!  I was relieved to see that our chickens made it through the storm unscathed....although their eggs froze into solid rocks within an hour of being laid.

Our chickens won't leave the coop unless we shovel the snow down to the brown dirt.  They're such babies.

Tomorrow I'll post pics of the heifers, and some of our other stock.  I prayed so much for their safety in this wicked cold weather. I can't imagine sleeping outside in -13degrees. BRRRRR.  We spent much of the day today feeding hay, hauling water, chipping ice, and shoveling snow.

'Tis the season for lots of work when you raise livestock.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on filling your herd up. I know you have been waiting a long time for this :-) This cold is crazy!!!! I thought last year was cold :-) I don't think it went negative last year though!