Summer’s End Feature Heifer Update

It’s been a lovely Labor Day weekend – I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have. One of my projects over the weekend was to change my blog over to self-hosted and I was successful…I think. Bear with me while I figure out the new system! But you can now access my block at www.escapadesofanasphaltcowgirl.com. Also, I created a Facebook page for my blog, so please give it a like if you are so inclined.

It’s been awhile since I wrote an update on the feature heifers. They are both very cool heifers. I am excited to continue to watch them grow up and join the cow herd!

Here’s 4005 and her dam.

4005pair

And here’s 411 – she was being rather antisocial, but I have a long lens. You can run, but you can’t hide!

411

 

I’ll be heading to Ronan, MT for the annual Range Tour to give a cow body condition scoring workshop this week. Have a wonderful September!

Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

 

 

Canine Oblivion

Well, it’s darn near mid-August already – how did that happen?!

I’ve been looking back through photos from this spring and had to write about this little (non)incident – consider it a Throwback Tuesday, if you will.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed Moxie the ranchdog. You may recall that she considers calves – of any size and age, really – non-targets of her aggression toward bovines. Here are a few photos to illustrate that point. These were taken in early May.

Oh hey. How’s it going?

No reaction, even to bucking and kicking.

Nope. Nothing.

Still nothing.



Since my last post, we did sort cow/calf pairs into 3 bunches: replacement heifers and bulls, sale calves, and first-calf heifer pairs. As expected, there were quite a few agonizing decisions on who to keep and who to sell. But the good thing is we can change our minds and do some switcheroos if the calves change between now and shipping!

I’m also happy to report that the Montana State University Academic Quadrathlon team tied for second in the nation at the national contest in Kansas City! Pretty slick deal for little ol’ us to be able to compete with schools like Ohio State, Texas A&M, and Penn State. Congratulations to Anna, Preston, Jessie, and Ben – I’m so proud of you guys!

Classes start on August 25 – better pack a lot of summer into the next two weeks!

Yours in travel,
The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

A Year in the Life of a Heifer: July Installment

The feature heifers are growing…these photos were taken in early July. They are both in quite good shape. Mother’s milk and green grass are agreeing with them! Next weekend we will be sorting pairs and making the hard decisions about which calves to keep and which to sell.


Yours in travel,
The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Asphalt Cowgirl June

Last month was an extreme example in travel. Here’s a brief recap of all that happened!
The first week of June I was on Maui for a work conference. Tough gig, I know. I think I would like Hawaii better when it is February in Montana, though. It’s awfully hard to beat a Montana June! Here’s the view from my room.

While others had beach and pool plans, I was a true ag nerd and went to the sugar museum, where I learned a bunch about sugarcane farming – here’s a nice field of it.

We went to Iao Valley State Park and hiked around their loop, where we saw the Needle in all its elevated glory.

The second week of June I attended the Montana Stockgrowers Association midyear meeting in Miles City. A fine parade was held on Saturday morning, including this set of steers near the lead.

The third week of June I was at Ag Lenders Range School hosted by the Voldseth family near Martinsdale. It was beautiful after the rain quit, and we got to tour a wind farm. I stepped down as the Extension representative on the range school board, and those wonderful folks were kind enough to get me a plaque as a parting gift. 


The last week of June I was…is this starting to sound like a strange summer version of the Twelve Days of Christmas?
Anyways, the last week of June I was in San Angelo, TX, advising my academic quadrathlon team for the regional contest. The academic quadrathlon is a 4-part animal science contest for undergraduates, consisting of a comprehensive written exam, an impromptu oral presentation, a hands-on lab practicum, and a double elimination quiz bowl tournament. And MSU won!! Second year in a row!! Back-to-back champions!! Here is our team photo, plus a few action shots from the lab practicum section. The students and I will be traveling to the national contest in Kansas City in July.


While in San Angelo, we got to tour the Rocking Chair Ranch and take in the scenery around the area. 


You may have seen painted ponies in other downtown areas? They ain’t got nothing on the San Angelo sheep.


I hope you all had a fabulous Independence Day holiday weekend!

Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Feature Heifers: Then And Now

The feature heifers have grown so much since I first introduced them to you! We moved the AI bunch down closer to the house and this weekend we’ll be busy AIing!

411 was very hungry the day I was out shooting photos. Her mother was not terribly accommodating, however. 


4005 is – you guessed it – still sassy. She’s a pretty cool heifer; I sure like her a lot.

And finally, here are “then and now” collages of the girls.

I hope to have a few spare minutes this weekend to jot down some notes and take some photos for a post about AIing. Come June I will definitely be living up to the “asphalt cowgirl” moniker – stay tuned for updates!

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Cow Families

I’ve had some great cows over the years. Actually, my entire cow herd – past and present – comes from a heifer my folks gave me when I was 8 years old. Here’s what I looked like then…

Now, I have a pretty cool 11-year-old cow who is the matriarch of the bunch these days. Her number is 3064.
I’ve kept every heifer she’s ever had for a replacement. I bred her to Red Angus bulls the first few years – this is 742, her 7-year-old daughter.
Then I started breeding her to Hereford bulls, hoping for some heifers just like her! Here’s 0217, her 4-year-old daughter.
And 1031, her 3-year-old daughter.
And 2004, her 2-year-old daughter, who is a full sister (same sire, too) to 1031. 2004 and her dam calved on the same day this year, so 3064 became a mom and a grandma (again) all in the same day!
What do you think? See any family resemblance? I do, but I know them pretty well!

Stay tuned for another post this week updating you on this year’s feature heifers!

Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Oh, Farm Fair…

The past three days, I helped with the Gallatin Farm Fair, which is organized by the Gallatin Valley Ag Committee. Over 1,000 fourth graders attended over the three days, rotating between 16 different stations, going on a horse-drawn hay ride, and having a tasty lunch. My job was to present at the beef cattle station. A rancher in the valley brought a cow and calf for me to use.
I promise they aren’t the devil; it was dark in the back of the barn when I was taking photos. Of course I heartily approved that they were red cattle!
The same general script was used for each group. We talked about the cow and the calf and how much baby calves and baby humans weigh when they’re born. Then we talked about what cows eat, and how their digestive system is different than ours. My trusty 4-compartment stomach diagram poster helps me with this part. 


As you can see, it’s traveled quite a few miles with me. No one made any comments about the cow standing on top of the other one this week, though.
One of my favorite parts is to tell the students about how cows chew their cud. There are looks of disgust and wonder in the audience when they learn that cows regurgitate feed they didn’t chew very well the first time and chew it again.
In addition to learning about different cuts of beef, we also talked about the products we get from beef cattle that we don’t eat. The hide is often the first non-edible part that students identify. I use a fun little guessing game about sports equipment made from leather. Did you know 144 baseballs can be made from one cowhide?
We also talk about other byproducts that might not be top-of-mind. I have a handy tote that lives in my office that helps me with this part of the presentation. More looks of disgust and wonder ensue when they learn about gelatin… 


Although the script exists, the questions that the students ask really shapes the discussion. There are always some great questions that send us off on strange tangents. Here are some examples:
  • Is it true that Kobe beef drink root beer and get massages?
  • Which stomach compartment does the baby calf grow in?
    • Two groups of 4thgraders learned the word “uterus” this week.
  • Why does her tail come off of her body there?
    • Um…
  • Shouldn’t there be a buck with that cow?
    • Maybe a bull, but probably never a buck…
  • Are you going to kill a cow?
    • Not today.
  • Why does pineapple juice make tough meat tender?
    • Good one. How the crap does a 4th grader know that?!
  • What is the strongest bone or muscle in a cow’s body?
  • Are all bulls mean like the ones in the rodeo?
  • Bulls are the ones with horns, right?

 And last, but certainly not least, this exchange:
  • What would happen if you left a bull with the cows all the time?
    • You would have calves at all different times during the year.
  • Why?
    • Because the bull would breed the cows at all different times of the year.
  • *dazed and confused*
    • OK. If you had intact male and female dogs who were together all the time, you would have puppies at all different times during the year, right?
  • Yes. But I have four dogs, 2 boys and 2 girls, and they’re fixed.
    • We can do that with cattle, too. When we neuter a bull, then they’re called a steer. We can also spay heifers.
  • Cool.

At every program I do involving small humans, I reaffirm that I made the appropriate career choice by not majoring in elementary education. God bless you, teachers!!!

Yours in travel,
The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Little Widget Update

Little Widget, the Miracle Baby, is looking great after having her first calf.


Her calf’s number is 488. At our place, all calves born to first-calf heifers get a white tag, and this one was the 88th crossbred calf born in 2014 (hence starting with a 4).

Little 488 has grown a bit since she was born.


This week I am presenting about beef cattle at the Gallatin Farm Fair for 3 days. By the end of the 3rd day, I will have given the same (or pretty much the same) talk 48 times to over 1,000 4th graders from around the Gallatin Valley! It’s a great event full of learning about agriculture!!
Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl


“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

The Better to Hear You With, My Dear

I’ve always loved that line in Little Red Riding Hood. It’s come to mind quite a lot this spring (and every spring) when I’m out looking at the pairs. My, what big ears they have…





We are officially finished with branding and pre-breeding vaccinations. I successfully sprained my ankle for the second year in a row on this very same weekend. This time it was even bad enough I went to the clinic in Ennis to get it checked. Not broken, so that’s something. How I did it involves cutting off a bull’s broken horn that had gotten infected. It’s a dandy of a story.

It’s finals week here at Montana State University. Good luck to all and best wishes to this semester’s graduates!!
Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Feature Heifers and Springtime

About a month ago, I introduced you to the “feature heifers”, 4005 and 411. Since the last post, they’ve been branded and have moved to a new pasture with 78 of their closest friends and their dams. These pairs make up our “AI bunch” and will be artificially inseminated in late May. We AI about 80 mature cows each year; the earliest 80 head to calve who are 4 years old and older end up in this bunch.
The girls have grown quite a bit. 4005 continues to be pretty sassy. 


Photobombed by Chancy! The ranch brand is a “7 hanging V”. The green in her ears is tattoo ink. She has “4005” tattooed in both ears.
Even pretty heifers can take a bad picture.
411 thinks she’s pretty cool, too. My uncle plans to keep her as a replacement heifer, and so she wears his brand, “P hanging X”.
She found a handy place to scratch her head. 


Pretty nonchalant about life.


I’m glad to report we’re done calving, which is always a major milestone of spring. Now we’re looking forward to green grass!

This week is a busy one, with the Montana Nutrition Conference and Livestock Forum, meat science class alliance presentations, calving class presentations, Collegiate Stockgrowers end-of-year shindig, Ag Day in Ennis, College of Ag Student Council end-of-year shindig, and Madison-Ruby Conservation Districts Banquet. Whew.
Yours in travel,
The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux