Ranch life on the Link Bar is moving!!!

May 13, 2010

Thank you for following my blog.  Because it is easier (and takes a whole lot less time!)  to upload pictures on Facebook, I am moving this blog to a new location.

Please follow the adventures of life on a working cattle ranch at our new location.  Link Bar Ranch Life is now a page on Facebook!!!  You’ll get more pictures!


Want to see a calf born?

May 5, 2010

I’m having a lot of troubles getting my pictures to upload.  Don’t have a clue why.  Anyone got a suggestion.?

Calving season has been a very busy one, and yet a very productive one.  Sorry I haven’t been able to post more, time and energy have waned, and then when I do try the pictures won’t upload and boy, do I have some to share.  Want you to know I’m working on it.  Technology.  My love hate relationship.

Lots of new life

March 14, 2010

A newborn calf being licked off by his mother. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.

This newborn calf is muddy.  The amnionic fluid came out in a puddle before he was delivered.  It soaked into the ground and make a muddy receiving blanket for him.  His mother is a heifer, meaning she has never had a calf before.  Yet she instinctively knows to get up within seconds after delivering her calf and start to lick him off.  He shook his head, took his first lung full of sagebrush fragranced air and instantly tried getting up.  It took him a little longer because he had to manuever the mud which was slick.  The amnionic fluid is a good lubricant so the calf travels through the tight birth canal.  It makes for really slick mud.  However, he persevered and was nursing within minutes.

A minute old, getting his bearings in a new world. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

It always amazes me how quickly these little guys stand and go to nursing.  A calf is born with a wider “esophogeal groove” in his gut that allows the big antibodies from the colostrum (first milk from the mother)  to be absorbed, giving him extra immediate protection from all the bacteria he is born into.  It stays open about 24 hours and then closes.  After that time, he can still absorb antibodies from the mother’s milk, but not the same ones that he gets in the first day of life.





Getting up for those first steps. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

Those first steps are always a little wobbly, but they quickly get their sea legs underneath them and can put enough pressure and weight on them to nurse.  Sometimes they nuzzle the front end of the cow, but quickly find that the back end of the cow has the faucets!  Warm, delicious, nutritious milk. 

The miracle of birth

March 11, 2010

Minutes after this calf was born, he got up and nursed. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.

I’ve seen thousands of new born calves and yet the miracle of birth never grows old, gets dull, or ceases to amaze me.  I’ve never seen a parakeet, a dolphin, or anything but a calf come of out a cow at birth.  It is always a miracle that an animal can transfer from an aquatic environment to an oxygen environment within minutes, gasp a lung full of fresh sagebrush air, shake his head, and immediately attempt to stand.  Many times, even before the cow has licked all the amnionic fluid off the calf, the calf is walking around looking for that first meal.  The cow in this picture has just given birth to this calf.  Her afterbirth still hangs from her.  It will shed quickly, sometimes immediately, sometimes in a couple hours.  Then she eats it!  It used to gag me to watch that.  (I’m so glad women don’t have to lick off our kids or eat our afterbirth.)  But for the cow, eating the afterbirth does a couple things.  One, it is extremely high in protein and gives her a huge nutritional boost. Another, it gets rid of attracting smells and evidence that would draw predators.

Licking the calf stimulates the newborn circulation. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.

The red ground this pair is standing on is red cinders.  Our area had large veins of fissures, volcanic action years ago that didn’t erupt, but rather oozed out in veins.  It is red because of the high iron and mineral content.  The cinders make good gravel for roads and nice, non muddy places for a cow to give birth to her calf.

A cow licks her newborn calf.  It dries him off, stimulates the circulation (her tongue is rough) and lets them both have some common smells that tells each of them they belong together.  Because each calf has a unique smell to its mother, even when a hundred calves get all mixed up with each other, a mother cow can come into the group, smell hers, and take it out of that group!!!  If it rains or snows and you bunch up a large number of calves and they rub each other, then that smell gets comingled and then the cow can’t tell her calf apart from the rest.  So you never bunch up calves when it is wet.

Calving is in full swing

March 11, 2010

Moving the cows to the Palace. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.

We trail the cows from the meadows to the sagebrush covered hillside.  It’s been really busy since I last wrote.  I hope to be able to be more regular in this publication, now that we’re getting settled in.  

Wrangling horses to take to the Palace. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.

Even though cow camp (Cow Palace) is pretty basic stuff, it seems like it takes a while to get everything moved over to get up to speed.  The obvious– cattle–and the horses to work them with.  Then the vet supplies, then wood to keep the cabin warm, then some food for us, small bales for the barn, tractors, hay wagons……

Clearing the snow out of the corrals. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.

Besides moving animals and stuff over, we have to move snow out. Corral gates don’t swing when the snow is deep.  When we have animals in corrals, gates have to swing.  So we have a friend come with his “Bobcat” a mini scoop and bulldozer to get in tight places we can’t get with our bigger tractors.  He piles it and then my husband uses the tractor we feed hay with to scoop the piles out of the corrals.  Then I can function with the cattle and horses more easily.

Moving us in and the packrats out.

March 1, 2010

The wood cookstove in the cabin at the Palace. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

While the cows have it rather palatial, cow camps for people are rather, shall we say, rustic.  My great grandparents, grandparents, and parents have all lived modestly.  Having large homes and fancy cars has never been their priority.  Many moon ago, when I was a young child, my grandparents and parents purchased this hillside to create this maternity ward.  They disassembled an old chicken house and reused the wood to build this cabin.  My grandmother came over to inspect the project.  My grandfather was building on the cabin.  Grandma said, “You can’t swing a cat in here!”  (Meaning it was small.)  Grandpa replied, “Why Ethel, it’s a palace!”  And compared to what they had been using for accomodations during calving season, it was an improvement.   

The rest of the room. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All Rights reserved.

While the cattle have had water pumped to troughs from the pump house for over 43 years, it’s only been in the last three years that water has been plumbed into the cabin.  I am so grateful I no longer have to haul water in a bucket from the pump house into the cabin.  I don’t cook as much on the wood stove.  I bring a microwave.   

Every year I scrub the walls, ceiling and floor before we move in.  A year’s worth of dust shows in these pictures.  But it doesn’t take long to get the place gleaming.  The place may not be fancy, but it certainly will be clean.  My parents used to put a bed in this room when they did the night heifer checking .  My sisters and I stayed in our regular home and my grandmother would come over each morning and get us up so we could get ready to go to school.  My Mom would try to be home in time to kiss us goodbye as we boarded the yellow school bus.  

The addition to the first room. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.When my husband and I moved back to the ranch, we skidded a one room cabin that was elsewhere on the ranch over and attached it to the first room. We could put a bed for us and then a crib, and then a crib and twin bed, and then a crib and bunk beds as our young family grew. Then I did night heifer duty. Five of us slept in this room for two months every spring. We have some WONDERFUL memories of our times here. Seven years ago we purchased the neighbor's ranch. I was getting old enough that I no longer had the energy to work all night and then all day too, with maybe two hour snatches of sleep if I wasn't waiting on a heifer. So now I have the luxury of having Cliff do the night heifer checking duty. He likes it and does an excellent job. And I feel absolutely luxurious sleeping all night long. The fanciest outhouse in our county! Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

When the boys were young, we had an old out house that had a definite lean to it.  It was also dark inside, and cold, and the boys were afraid to use it.  One night #2 son was sick at both ends, and caring for him at the Palace was difficult.  No indoor plumbing of any kind.  Heat the water on the wood cook stove, and cleaning up the mess was more than I wanted to deal with.  So I told Old Buzzard I was taking the sick kid home to indoor plumbing, flush toilets and hot and cold running water.  So he had to do the night duty and then work all the next day.
It wasn’t long after, that a new outhouse, complete with a HEAT LAMP was built and installed!!!  Woohooo!!!!  A two holer no less!!!  I scrub the walls, ceilings, floors and seats in it too.  A broom and bucket of strong cleaning solution are a wonderful thing!! 
 Click on this photo to see a picture hidden underneath it.

The vet cabinet in the barn. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All Rights reserved.

I also clean the barn.  I bring some cats to help reduce the rodent population.  I sweep everything out and then scrub it with a broom and bucket of strong cleaning solution too.  The packrats take up residence in between our stays.  And it smells of them.   So I try to clean as thoroughly as possible.  


The intensive care unit. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

This is the ICU room.  There is a heat lamp here to warm a chilled calf, I can hang an IV bag on the wall and treat a dehydrated calf.  I paint it to lighten the room while I work in here. It also helps make the room easy to clean.  Many women have to have cold or sick calves in their houses, but I am glad we don’t have to do that.  Now that we vaccinate for scours (diarrhea) I don’t use this room for sickness as much as I do to thaw a cold little newborn. 
Put some hay on the floor, turn on the heat, and pretty soon he’s up and ready to go back to his mother.

The bonding suites. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

The bonding suites are stalls for a cow and calf to have some privacy and learn that they are a pair.  Sometimes a cow’s calf dies, for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes a cow will have twins.  Cows generally will only claim one calf and seldom have milk enough for two if she does claim them both.  So we will take a calf that doesn’t have a mom and “graft” it to a cow that doesn’t have a calf.  We sprinkle some special powder that looks like coffee grounds and smells like ammonia on the calf and the cow’s nose.  We let the calf nurse the cow while the cow is in a stantion (head catch so she has to let him nurse) and then put them in a stall so they can get accustomed to each other without any wind to blow the new scent away.  It works like a charm and makes for a happy new pair.  

Heifers hoofed it to Cow Palace

February 26, 2010

Moving the heifers out of the wet meadows and onto the drier hillside. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.

We are very fortunate to have as part of our ranch this hillside to calve on.  It gets the cattle off the meadows when we want to be irrigating them.  It creates a much nicer environment for herd health.  And it’s easier on people too.  The heifers haven’t been to the Palace before, except when they were born.  But they traveled good anyway.  Sometimes crossing the bridge is a bit touchy.  Cattle don’t like the hollow sound of crossing the wooden bridge, so some balk pretty hard.  But we cover it with hay and that makes them no so afraid.  If you have a lead cow that will go across, most of the time, the rest will follow.

Old Buzzard and his cowdog Steph getting cattle through a gate. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life. All rights reserved.Through the snow covered meadows. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.It's a short trip from the meadows to the hillside. About two miles.It's muddy, icey and wet. The cattle try to pick the best route. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

But one has to be careful riding in this kind of mud and ice.  It’s not good for you or your horse if you slide and fall.
Our horses were barefoot today.  They travel more securely without iron shoes in these conditions.  But next week I will weld borium bumps onto their shoes before the horses are shod.  It creates shoes kinda like spiked sports shoes or studded tires.  Gives more grip and safety when the horses walk on the rocks on the hill.

Around the base of the hill. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.Across the feed grounds. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photograpy. All rights reserved.

Being counted through the gate. We're there! Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

Out of the wet meadows, the view isn't too shabby either, and voila! Cow Palace! Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

Birds aren’t democrats or republicans, they just go where they like it!

February 25, 2010

Gives new meaning to the term "bird brained"! Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

I’ve talked in my early posts about the cycle of cattle and birds.  (Then I tried uploading a program to improve this blog and lost all the photos.  So I will repost the photos as time permits, because I like them and think you will too.  But it takes a long time for each photo to upload, so it won’t all happen at once.)  If you are new to this blog then do go back to the beginning and read about cattle eating hay in the winter and pooping and the bugs growing in the manure.  The bugs and manure (which is really just digested grass) create Superfood for the migrating waterfowl.  They eat a third of our hay crop as it is growing tender delicious chutes of green.  The bugs are high protein to nourish them for the last leg of their journey north, and allows them to be ready to lay eggs when they get there.  Because we are managing for the cattle and what is best for them, the birds also get what is best for the birds!

A bug can squirm a long way down this throat! Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

We get a lot of people coming to look at the birds in the Spring.  Like all situations, some are nice people and some are shall we say, a lot less than nice.  Basically, ranchers are very friendly people.  But don’t assume all our property belongs to the Refuge, or the BLM, or Forest Service.  We like meeting courteous guests.  We’re not too receptive to rude trespassers.  I’ve met some really fascinating people who drive down my lane to look at birds.  They are usually blocking the lane, so I get out and give them my “Chamber of Commerce” speel about why the birds are here.  Have maintained several friendships for years because of this meeting.  Other times I’ve had people driving in the meadows rutting them up, and then have the nerve to lie through their teeth to me about it.  Think of it this way.  If I walked into your urban back yard to look at some tweety bird in your bush, and didn’t knock on your door and ask permission, what would you do?  Call the cops!  It’s just that our backyards are a little bigger.

Flock eating on the edge of our flood irrigation. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

It’s almost calving time!

February 24, 2010

Cow Palace, our maternity ward. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

A couple inches of new wet snow this morning  is typical this time of year.  Calving season will start very soon.  This is our maternity ward for our cows and heifers.  It has sagebrush covered hills that face  a southern slope.  The sagebrush offers wonderful protection from the wind and cold for the new calves, the southern facing slopes warm up the earliest and the snow melts from them the quickest.  It also gets our cattle off the meadows so we can irrigate for hay at the same time we are calving.  It isn’t good for a calf to be born in a pond of water!  There is 80* artesian water that comes out of the ground here.  The cows like drinking this warmer water, especially on cold days.  Because this is such a nice place for a cow, we named the maternity section of our ranch, Cow Palace.

The view is spectacular from the "Table". Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

This cow has a newborn calf parked under the sagebrush.  I ride my horse through the maternity field for the cows (experienced mothers) twice a day.  There are names for various parts of this field.  The Table is a big flat place at the top of the hill that the cows really like to use to find some privacy to calve.  Then there’s Baby Alley.  This is a draw that is protected from the wind and the cows will bring their calves off the table when they are old enough to travel.  It is on the way to the Feed Grounds.  As you might expect, the Feed Grounds is where we roll out the hay. 

The heifers (females that haven’t had a calf) are in a field closer to the corrals and maternity barn.  We ride through them every two hours (day and night) to make sure all the heifers are doing fine.  If one needs our assistance, then we bring them in to help with the delivery.  In the day time the heifers are in a field we call the “day pen”.  Unique name, huh?  Then late afternnoons, we bring them into two fields that have areas lights on the perimeter.  We call these fields the “night pen”.  That way, when we get up at night to check the heifers, we can turn on these lights and see what is going on.  We breed for calving ease, especially in the heifers.  A heifer is two when she calves.  So she has some growing left to do herself.  (We keep a cow in the herd until they are ten to twelve years old, but they have to produce a good calf each year to stay in the herd.)  We feel like the extra labor pays for itself with the increased number of live calves.  Our ranch is well above industry average in the live calf department.

Calving season is long hours, hard work in all kinds of weather.  But watching the miracle of birth makes it my favorite time of year.

A two day old Angus calf. Copyright 2010 Link Bar Ranch Life Photography. All rights reserved.

Another point of view.

February 23, 2010

I briefly posted a page yesterday that presented my concerns over pulling dams in the Klamath Basin and how that relates to food production.  My purpose with this blog is to provoke people to think as well as share where their beef comes from.  We in America have the most abundant, least expensive, nutritious, delicious, readily available year round food supply in the world.  We take it for granted.  We have gotten so efficient and excellent in our ability to grow food, that less than 2% of the nation’s population is now in production agriculture.  When over 50% of the population can  trace the food chain only back to the warehouse, we are in trouble, both as agriculturalists and a nation of consumers.

What I say won’t always be politically correct, in fact it probably seldom will be!!  Sometimes you won’t agree with me.  Like my comments on Measure 67.  Lots of times something sounds good on the surface until you understand all the ramifications.  And indeed, there are many ramifications with many factions concerning the Klamath water users.  So in an effort to share more sides of this story, I refer you to the Upper Klamath Water Users Association website http://www.ukwua.com.