Straight to Curved Horns – How?

Where has January gone? It is already the middle of February and the cows are starting to calve.  I have been quiet on the blog in January, but I hope to keep you updated through calving. Watch for a blog post on “Day in the Life” for February, which will be posted soon!

Today, I wanted to tell you how we get the curved shape on our bulls’ horns.  You may wonder how that is possible or maybe you assume the horns naturally curve. Well, the answer is horn weights!

The horn weights that we use weigh between 0.5 lb. to 1 lb and they are tightened onto the horns so that the horns slowly curve downwards.  We check the bulls each time we feed to ensure that the weight is still on and to watch to see how much the horns are curving. Once the top of the horn has turned enough that the tip of the horn is parallel with the middle of the ear, we will take the weight off. Sometimes, one side will need to be taken off before the other so it sometimes involves two trips through the cattle squeeze.  The time going through the cattle squeeze is good as it helps the bulls get more familiar with us.  We halter break all of our bulls so when they go through the squeeze we usually lead them as they come out.

It takes the bulls a little bit of time to get used to the extra weight on their horns, but it definitely doesn’t appear to hurt them.  There are two tiny little points on the inside of the weight to help keep the horn weight on, but those are quite small.

Why do we want to curve the horns? Curved horns are safer for other cattle and for those who are working with the cattle.

My best childhood memory of horn weights is when my grandpa and grandma would pay us if we found horn weights in the corrals.  At that time, we were putting horn weights on 30-40 bulls so we definitely had some fall off and get lost.  When we found them in the dirt, we would get $1 for a horn weight with 2 points inside or $0.50 if there was only one or no points!  It was a great way to keep us entertained in the barn yard!  I definitely made a few dollars over the years!

Project Life Summary Dec 5th to 11th

It has been a busy week with getting ready for Christmas and having company arrive. Therefore, I only worked on a couple pages to summarize our December 5th week. I still have to catch up from November, hopefully I can spend some time during Christmas holidays relaxing and catching up on pages.

Using the Hello December 2015 edition of Project Life cards, I created the first page for the week.

Using the Picturesque Edition of cards, I quickly prepared the next layout from photos of us feeding calves one morning.   I love how the colours all blend together so well.

It is so easy to document our life using the Project Life App!  Check back later for another Project Life summary!

Day in the Life – December

Every month for the next year I will give you some insight into my day as a homeschool mom, rancher and blogger.  Ranch life changes every month based on the seasons; therefore, one of the best things about ranching is that there is a lot of variety in our monthly tasks.

December is a slower month on the ranch so this gives us time to catch up on other tasks and get ready for Christmas.  I love our evenings in the house during December but by the time spring arrives, I am ready to be outside more!

I am fortunate as I am not the only one who does the daily feeding tasks on the ranch.  My parents and I share the tasks depending on our schedules each day. Today, I was responsible for feeding the calves and bulls.

Here is an overview of my day today.

6am – We woke up, I made the beds and dressed the boys.  We then did the Elf on the Shelf activity for the day – snowflake making!!  I started breakfast while the boys played.

Elf on the Shelf
Elf on the Shelf

7am – We had breakfast and then I cleaned up while the boys played again.  The boys play quite well together in the morning prior to going outside to feed.

8am – We headed outside to do the feeding.  My youngest was in the backpack and the other helped me move the calves to the feed troughs to feed the grain. The calves have been recently started on grain, so for the first couple weeks we must move them to the troughs to make sure they all come.  After a couple weeks, they will usually meet us at the grain bin.  The feeding of grain usually takes me about an hour with the boys.  We also checked water, salt and minerals and hay for the calves.up close

9am – My youngest was still sleeping in the backpack so I had a quick shower and did some laundry.

9:30 – We made homemade popsicles together, as suggested by my boys.

10:00 – We got ready to go to town for a children’s Christmas party at our local Prairie Coast Equipment dealership , made a quick lunch and tidied up around the house. The boys also did some colouring.

11:00 – Drove to town, went to the Christmas party and then stopped at a couple stores to pick up groceries.

2:30 – Arrived back at home, put the ingredients in the bread machine for buns, played with the boys.

3:30 – The boys and I got ready to go back outside to do the evening chores.  We spent some extra time petting my son’s show heifer.

Grain 4:45 – Back in the house, and I started to get supper ready. We had leftovers, so I had some more time to play with the boys and tidy up before supper.  My husband got home so we all have a visit around the table while waiting for supper.

5:30 – Supper and then we all watched a Christmas movie together.

7:00 – Boys fell asleep. I spent the rest of the evening cleaning house, getting the Elf on the Shelf ready for tomorrow, working on my blog, organizing my photos on the computer, getting a craft ready for us to do tomorrow and doing some laundry.

11:00 – Bedtime!

Check back in January for a new Day in the Life post!

 

 

 

Winter Approaches

When the first snowfall arrives, life of our ranch begins to change for the winter season.  After looking at the forecast this morning as the snow was falling, we decided to bring home our bred heifers. One of the best parts of our job is that each day’s tasks are not only determined by the animals but also by the weather.

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The bred heifers will be 2 years old in the spring, and they will be having their first calf at that time. It is important that they get the sufficient nutrition over the winter to continue growing and develop a calf inside them. Therefore, we feed the bred heifers separate from our cow herd so we can monitor their condition more closely.  We have had them on a grass pasture close to home, so when the snow arrived today we wanted to bring them home so that they can also be fed hay to keep their body condition up.

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We just had to push them a short distance down the road and into a corral to load them.

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The snow was falling heavy and it made for a gorgeous walk.

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We work our cattle on foot and sometimes with horses, depending on the location and situation.  Our lead cow, AKTU 19R, led the way for the heifers. We put an older cow with our heifers on pasture as the older cow is more “sensible” to work with and keeps the heifers calm. Sometimes, we call the bred heifers our “teenagers” as they haven’t matured into motherhood yet!

AKTU 19R