Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer has Arrived...Just ask the cows. They know.

Friday was our last day of homeschooling for the school year! Finishing that glorious day makes me feel like a pile of rocks was lifted off of me. Those last few weeks made me itch with anticipation for summer. I couldn't wait to be free to explore with the kids.  I firmly believe they learn as much in the summer months as they do in the school year.  Books are wonderful, but there's no substitute for hands-on learning.

Our mountain is a summer vacation destination, and it's the time of year that we stick close to home, soaking up that fragrant mountain air, and enjoying the weather that makes the rest of Arizona envious.  With baseball, 4-H, and lots of horse riding, we have all of the excitement we can handle in our own back yard.  There are many big changes ahead with the first of two moves happening in two weeks.  We found a local house that we can rent month-to-month until we find land to purchase.  We have been surprisingly calm with all of the chaos that has ensued around us this month.  We're trying to keep the transition as smooth as possible until the summer is over.

Yesterday, we spent the day irrigating pasture.  We are entering our driest part of the year, and if it weren't for that regular flow of water down the ditch, all of the grass would be dead and brown. The kids love to work when it means playing in the water all day.

The cows don't seem to mind the water, either. They are thankful for the greener pastures and warmer weather. Summer makes them sassy.

June will usher in breeding season for the cows.  We've been studying up the EPD's in the sire books to make this year's semen selections.  We heat synchronize and artificially inseminate our cows, and it allows us to have superior genetics without the cost of really expensive bulls. We are fortunate to have a set-up that allows us to easily go through the process with a really high pregnancy rate the first time we breed the cows, which means that we have a much tighter calving season.  I know this doesn't make sense to do in every operation, but it works really well for us.

Here are some of this year's steer calves at 5 weeks old.  The steer that is closest in the picture below is the current favorite for next year's 4-H project. He's full blooded Angus and the kids are calling him Hercules. The others in the picture are a mix of Angus, Maine Anjou, and Limousine. They have finer faces and will be more moderate framed when grown.

The cattle show world tends to breed for hairier calves that they can clip up easily. You can hide a lot of flaws with hair, but I don't like that one bit. In fact, the hair gene found in some club calves is actually a defect that the show world stumbled upon. Some of the things that go on in the show ring make no sense in the commercial cattle industry, and I refuse to breed cows for "hair quality".  Our kids will show the best calves of our commercial herd. Period.

 *Stepping down off my soapbox for the moment.*

Alright, enough cattle talk. You know I could do that all day long, but I don't want to bore you to death.

I promise my next post will NOT involve pictures of cows, or talk of breeding.

Thanks for hanging with me during this season of spotty blogging. I still have a million things to write about and can't wait until this move is over so I can type the computer keys more frequently.

Let the summer fun begin!



  1. I never get tired of talking about cows! I enjoy hearing how other people run their ranches. You get a lot of good ideas. We also flood irrigate our meadows. The cows love it! So do the horses. Your calves look great....

    Most good cow dogs are smarter then some people! :) It's hard getting a new puppy. I always feel bad for the old dog. Although they then feel like they can slow down a little. Just went threw that transition about a year ago with old pops dog.

  2. Had no idea about the hair genes! That's interesting! Those sure are some pretty calves.

  3. I didn't know about the hair genes either.. of course, we were never into the showing thing. Good for you though, sticking with what it really SHOULD be about!
    And those are nice looking calves! Are ya'lls cattle registered?
    My dad just bought a registered brangus bull, he is SO proud of him! We're excited too, cause it will benefit us. as our two heifers should have calves by him next year!

    1. All of the bulls we use are registered, but we don't generally register our commercial cows. It's a hassle, and we really don't have the market for papered cattle around here so it doesn't make sense economically. If we started to raise and sell bulls, we would use registered dams.

      Our neighbors to the east raise Brangus cattle, and they're beautiful. Not many other folks up here raise them, but growing up in the desert, they were everywhere. We had a gorgeous Brangus herd at the University of Arizona when I was in school. We sold the bulls in the spring for a pretty penny, too.

  4. Wow, I didn't know the hair gene thing, but I did know that they like a hairy one so they can clip him to hide stuff, which is soooo not fair. Grr. Glad you stick to the right way. :)

    The calves look great! Love all that green grass!

  5. This is very interesting to me since we've always been on ranches and don't do inseminating. The kiddos are too cute. What a blessing to home school them. Hope yall have a great summer!!

  6. I love your pictures! :) I am so ready for summer too!