Monday, June 24, 2013

A "Birds and Bees" Session

This weekend we were up before the sun to artificially inseminate the cows.  I have a love/hate relationship with breeding season.  It's labor intensive, the cows have to be brought up close for monitoring, and everyone has to be put through the chute 3 times over the course of two weeks in order to complete the process.

On Friday, we sat quietly in the pasture during the cool of the evening and observed which cows were coming into heat.  I thought it would be a relaxing break to sit in the grass and write down ear tag numbers for an hour.


The minute we sat down, my kids started asking me questions about the birds and the bees and I wanted to run far, far away. Nothing perks a child's interest like cows mounting each other in the evening. Breeding season and calving season are guaranteed educational opportunities about the one subject that makes me squirm.

When I became a mom, I was prepared to handle vomit, pee, and boogers. I had no fear of potty training, teaching long division, and cursive. But the thought of answering questions about reproduction has always made me cringe.

Of course, I would NEVER let my kids know that. Don't ever let your kids see you sweat.... or blush. Remain calm and collected even if you are perishing internally from total embarrassment.  I once read that you should approach your children's questions with only the bare minimum answers, and if they ask more questions after that, then keep giving them a little more knowledge until they are satisfied.  That way, you don't share too much too soon, and they don't feel uncomfortable.

This approach is working for us, although the questions get more complex every year.

I think kids who are raised around livestock have a more natural understanding of reproduction, and probably put the pieces together a little sooner than most.

None the less, I. die. every. time. they ask me.

OK, moving on.

The one good thing about the kids getting older is that they are a tremendous help to us. The moment they get out of the truck, they know what to do without saying a word.  They set gates in the alleyway, and gather cows without a second thought.  Years of the same routine have made them top hands in the corrals.

My kids grabbed the camera and started shooting pictures since I was busy sorting out cows. Extreme close-up of artificial insemination, anyone?

Some of the semen we picked out this year is from an Angus bull named "Hoover Dam". HA! I can't wait to see what his calves will look like next spring.  Hopefully they are solid.  We also used a calving ease bull that we were impressed with last year named Brilliance. Don't you wish you could pick out future son-in-laws from a catalog the way we pick out bulls?

The ole' antiquated squeeze chute made it through another breeding season without any incidents. We came incredibly close to buying a brand-spanking new Powder River Squeeze Chute this spring when the new CAL Ranch supply opened, but we decided to look for one at an auction instead. For some reason, a new chute always gets sifted to the bottom of the budget.


After the breeding was complete, and fly tags were inserted into all ears, we decided to ditch the work clothes and go for a hike and picnic lunch.  We are preparing the kids (mostly our 7 year old) for our big Grand Canyon hike in the fall.

The kids hiked 6 miles easily, although they weren't carrying heavy packs.

We took the South Fork trail up the canyon. It was burned pretty badly in the Wallow Fire 2 years ago, and we were literally covered in black soot by the time we were through.  There are signs of new growth among the burned toothpicks that used to be beautiful pine trees.

Of course, along the creek, things are green and growing.

It's hard to see the trail like this after knowing what it used to look like, but it was a relaxing end to the day, and a great distraction from all of the stress.

Thanks for all of your encouragement last week! I appreciated it so much!




  1. Do you know what those purple flower-y things are called?

    We used to gather those flower heads and dry them and make tea to drink when ever we had a sore throat, but I have no idea what they're called.

  2. Great photos. Looks like things are recovering from the fire.
    Had to chuckle about the birds and bees. I about hit the floor when my son asked one day about circumsicion. OMG! He wanted to know if the doctor knew how much to cut off, and what happened if they cut too much off. Outta the mouths of babes. Gotta love it. :)

  3. J had to pull a calf awhile back, and the oldest asked if God put the calf in there. I just yes, because basically, He did. ;) I do think ranch kids figure it out... I know I had the general idea. Never had the birds and bees talk with my folks. Ha!

  4. Fun!!! We are in town now we need to get together. If you guys ever need help let us know we would love to come out! Looks like you got great help though!
    We should plan a hike sometime too, so much fun!