Moving Newborn Calves

On our ranch, we take usually take each cow with their newborn calf to the barn when there is snow on the ground so the calf can dry off and get a good start on nursing. Therefore, we must move them from the calving field to the barn, which can be up to ¼ mile. With our newborn calves weighing an average of 80 to 100lbs, how do we move them?

We use two different methods depending on the cow, what time of day and/or the weather. Our first choice is our Polaris Ranger with our calf trailer as long as there isn’t too much snow.  Once the calf is in the trailer, he/she is secure and the cow can follow while watching and smelling the calf.

Sometimes, a young cow may not follow as well as the older cows, especially during the middle of the night so we will then use our calf sleigh! Yes, our calves get to go sledding as a newborn!  The sleigh works well as the cow can follow along side.

There are a few times each calving season when these two methods won’t work.  Sometimes a young cow won’t follow either method, so we will take the calf to the barn and go back to get the cow in separately.

A Day in the Life – March 2017

A day in the life, and quite the day it was today!  The morning started by having a quiet breakfast with the boys while doing some laundry, making beds and updating the ranch calf book.   My calf book goes everywhere with me this time of year!

We all got dressed and headed outside in the windy weather and arrived at the barn to my mom and dad putting a cow (7-47) in the cattle squeeze.  She had been calving since 5am and it was now 8am and she was not progressing.  Everything felt normal with 2 front feet and a head coming, so we let her out to give her some more time.  The boys, my mom and I cleaned the barn and I processed the calf from yesterday, as we do each morning.  This involves tagging, dehorning, giving 2 needles (selenium and vitamin A & D) and if it is a bull calf, sometimes castrating him.  We then walked out to the field with all the cow/calf pairs and checked each calf to make sure he/she was healthy and checked each cow’s udder to make sure her teats are all getting nursed.  Sometimes a cow may not allow her calf to nurse one or more teats as they may be sore and if that is the case, we will bring her in closer to the barn to monitor.

Next, we waited in our supply room to watch if 7-47 would start progressing further and finally decided that we must help her as she obviously was not “getting down to business”.  Back into the squeeze and we assisted with the delivery  a small bull calf.  My first comment was “small… this cow never has a small calf”! We let 7-47 lick her calf for a few minutes and then decided to take them into the barn as the wind was very chilly.  That was when things got interesting!! We had previously let a cow and calf into the barnyard who we are having to watch closely as the cow over the past couple years has been getting very protective of her calves.  Needless to say we were trying to get the 7-47 and her calf into the barn while watching our backs! Both of my boys were sitting in the Chariot watching us from outside the barnyard pen.  Our cows are usually very quiet, so this isn’t something we experience often! But suddenly we see more feet coming out of 7-47! Twins!  So, back into the pen she goes.  We put a halter on her while she is licking the bull calf and assisted with the delivery of the next calf, a heifer! Both calves were doing well but we decided to give them a bit of colostrum. The colostrum will help them get going faster in the cold, windy weather and then we can check them again when we get home from delivering beef. Even though 7-47 is 10 year old, she appeared mystified by the fact that she had 2 calves and not 1.  After some difficulty, we give one calf colostrum and the other calf is starting to get up so he should be able to nurse on his own soon.

The boys, my mom and I quickly went home to change our clothes and pack the truck as we had to deliver some beef packages and ground beef to local customers in town at 2pm.  I answered some emails and Facebook messages about Usborne books on our way out the door as I am an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books. We delivered the beef and went to get our side-by-side tire fixed while my dad stayed home to “babysit” the cow herd.  Once we got home, it was time to check the twins again, make supper and put the boys to bed. I was lucky enough to stay in the house while my parents checked the cow herd and the twins.   After supper, it started to snow so my parents quickly went back outside to put 7-47 into the barn.  By the time 11pm rolled around, we had over 6 inches of snow on the ground.

Late nights have been catching up with me so I had a quick nap with the boys and then I worked on entering the daily ranch records into our Cattlemax program.  Cattlemax is an online herd management software program that we use for our cattle records. I wrote this post, scheduled some Facebook posts for the next day and prepared my son’s homeschool curriculum ready for tomorrow.  Hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly so we can get some school done! Time for some sleep so I can be ready for another adventure filled day tomorrow.

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!

How I Keep Up with Project Life

I will be honest, I don’t always keep up with Project Life but I do my best to complete my layouts by the week.   I have developed a routine that helps me to stay on schedule.  This routine usually works, until calving season! I usually have to spend the month of May catching up from calving season!

I try to download the photos from my camera each night so that I can review them.  If I want to edit a few, I will open them in a photo editing program and do a quick edit.  I usually don’t do too much editing as that is usually when I start to get behind.

 

I then rename each photo that I want to use and copy them to a weekly folder in Dropbox.  Throughout the week and/or next week, I will put these photos into a template in Project Life and journal along the way.  My best pages seem to be the ones that have been put together throughout the entire week, rather than in one evening.  My goal is that by the following Sunday, my page from the week before is done.  This gives me a bit of time to organize, edit and prepare my page from the following week without putting too much pressure on me.

 

When going back through old photos, it has made me realize that I have kept so many photos over the years, many of which are duplicates of one or two good photos.  As of 2017, I am starting to delete photos that I don’t use to free up space and make it easier to look through on a cd or computer. Therefore, after I have renamed the good photos and copied them to Dropbox, I delete all the others.

Once my weekly page is prepared and saved, I delete the weely Dropbox folder of photos. Any weekly folders in my Dropbox account are weeks that need to be worked on.

If I get behind, I will try to spend a couple extra hours throughout the week working on the weeks that aren’t complete.  I have a one page yearly calendar next to my computer so that I can cross off the weeks that are done and easily see which ones need doing.   I use the Day One app to journal about my day so that if I get behind, I have notes on what happened throughout the week.  Check back later for a more detailed post about the Day One app.  It is an amazing tool and memory documenting tool.

If you are looking for Project Life supplies, click here to shop!

2017 Project Life App Creative Team Member for Becky Higgins LLC

I am extremely excited to announce that I have been selected as a 2017 Project Life App Creative Team member for Becky Higgins LLC.  I started using the physical Project Life system in 2012 and then switched to using the Project Life App in 2015. For those that are not familiar with Project Life, Becky Higgins has developed an amazing and very simple scrapbook system by using a physical version, a digital version and/or the Project Life App. You can find out more at www.beckyhiggins.com.

I love how easy it is to document our daily life using the Project Life App.  It is special to watch my husband and children enjoy the albums. I have always wanted to find and keep up with a scrapbook system that could fit into our busy schedule. I can even document our life while in the hayfield or waiting for a cow to calf in the barn.

I document our year by the week and have done so since 2012. This allows me the opportunity to include the little moments in each week.  I have also made childhood albums for my brother and a friend as wedding gifts. This year I plan to continue documenting by the week while working on an album to document my children’s arts and crafts and an album for each child that documents by the month so that they can take with them when they graduate.

I plan to blog as often as possible about my page layouts and the techniques and strategies that I use. Please feel free to leave a comment below on what you would like to know or to ask any questions that you have.

You can find out more about me and the other 2017 Creative Team members here.  If you would like to shop for supplies, click here!

I would love for you to follow me on this journey in 2017!

On the Go – Project Life App

One of my favourite aspects of using the Project Life App is that you don’t require anything other than a tablet with internet, and possibly a camera if you don’t use your tablet camera exclusively.  Therefore, you can scrapbook on the go while waiting for your children at 4-H meeting, while on vacation or when watching television in the evening.

What could be better than documenting your special moments for years to come without taking time away from the countless other tasks you have to do at home!

Here are a few pages that I have worked on over the past year while on the go! 

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!

3 Quick and Easy Christmas Crafts for Preschoolers 

My oldest son and I always enjoy doing a few Christmas crafts together. He usually gives out his crafts with his homemade Christmas cards to friends and family each year.  This week we made a few quick and easy crafts that take minimal prep!

Candy Cane Circles

candy-cane-circlesI traced and cut out about 6-7 circles on red and white cardstock, approximately 1 inch in diameter. I also cut a piece of 8.5 X 11 inch green cardstock in half using my paper cutter.  I then put some glue in the shape of a candy cane on the green cardstock and my son placed the circles on the glue. This activity is great for 3-4 years olds as they are learning about patterns!

Afterwards, my son wanted to make more so I used my Cricut Expression to cut more circles quickly!

Candy Cane Thumb Printing

candy-cane-thumb-printI cut a piece of 8.5 X 11 inch green cardstock in half and put some red and white Crayola washable paint on a plastic plate. My son then used his thumb to make each print for the candy cane. I had baby wipes close by so that we could clean his hand each time.  For younger children, it may be beneficial to draw the shape of a candy cane on the paper with a pencil to make it easier for them to where to place their thumb.

 

Christmas Gift Tags

christmas-tags-copyI used my Cricut Expression to cut a gift in the shape that I wanted on a piece of cardstock. You could also just draw and cut out the shape to make the stencil.  Next, we traced the gift tag onto the Christmas cards that we received last year, being careful to place the stencil in the most appropriate spot on the card. My son then used a small round hole punch to make the hole for the ribbon.  This makes a quick and easy gift tag, while reusing old cards!

The Elf on the Shelf – Weekly Review

When I started doing the Elf on the Shelf, I tried to keep it low key and fun! Our elf’s name is “Red” and on most days he brings along a card with an idea for a Christmas activity.  On days when I am feeling rushed (or exhausted), he just gets into something! The Elf on the Shelf tradition is a great way to get ready for Christmas by decorating the tree, making cards, baking cookies and so forth as it spreads the activities over the month. Since I would normally be doing those types of things with the boys, it doesn’t add a lot of extra work.

I usually prep the boys on November 30th with the, watching the Elf on the Shelf DVD so that they remember that Red is coming soon.  When Red arrives on December 1st, he usually brings donuts for breakfast and then each day after December 1st he moves around the house.  For the first week, he did some colouring, made snow flakes, brought balloons for us to play with and brought supplies for us to write a letter to Santa. 

Last week Red brought supplies for cookies, played Christmas songs, hung off the blinds, went Christmas tree hunting, hid in the Christmas tree, and wrapped himself!

My children look forward to being surprised with a Christmas activity/tradition each morning. It is so neat to watch them get out of bed and run through the house looking for Red.

For our yearly Project Life photo album, I make a page per week that summaries what Red brought for us or what he did. My oldest son loves going back over the past couple years to remind him of our past visits from Red.

Click here if you are interested in purchasing The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.

Check back later this month for a free printable of the activity cards and more weekly Elf on the Shelf summaries.

I would love to hear of your ideas and photos for The Elf on the Shelf!

This post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!

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!