Miles City Mania

Whew! It’s been crazy around here lately…here’s a recap of some of the latest happenings in Miles City.

The Miles City Mosquito Festival was on June 18 – yes, we will celebrate anything in this town.  There were a million things going on that day – a car show, a ranch rodeo, the Montana-North Dakota all-star football game, and of course a street dance.  I helped AI some heifers that morning, then took tickets at the ranch rodeo and settled in for a fantastic afternoon of great watching.  Congratulations to the crew who put together such a fun event – can’t wait for next year!

Two different wedding parties made an appearance downtown that night during the street dance.  I will describe my favorite group.  The bride was wearing a lovely strapless gown, with the train dragging in the beer-y street.  Her attendants tried to bustle it up, but eventually gave up and tucked it into the top of her dress in the back.  The groom was wearing a white shirt, black jeans that had seen the washing machine many times, and brown shoes.  Another man whose relationship to the bride and groom was not immediately clear was wearing a black leather vest whose buttons didn’t meet.  No big deal, except he wasn’t wearing a shirt, either.  The bride’s garter adorned his left bicep, and he was wearing a Jack Nicklaus-esque straw hat with a Hawaiian floral hatband.  Great fodder for people watching, for sure.

The Western Section, American Society of Animal Science meetings last week were just as busy and fun as I thought they’d be – what a great time!  I think some folks in the section were skeptical that we would be able to put on a quality academic quadrathlon contest because we weren’t a teaching facility.  But thanks to a bunch of help from many unselfish individuals, we had a good contest and a fantastic time.  And I got to torture some undergrads, which I haven’t gotten to do in quite a few years!  Congratulations to the University of Wyoming, New Mexico State University, and Colorado State University, who placed first, second, and third, respectively!  Oregon State University and BYU-Idaho also had teams competing in the contest.

The graduate student competition papers were the best I can remember in recent history, and the winner was Fernanda Abreu, who did her research at Fort Keogh.  My grad school alma mater, New Mexico State University, continues to have well-prepared students in the competition, and they brought home second and third place, as well as the institution award.  Congratulations to all, it was a great group of papers and presentations!

Around 100 folks attended the beef symposium tour of Fort Keogh, and it was fun to take a few minutes out from the lab practicum portion of the AQ contest to visit with them about some research about feedlot performance and carcass characteristics of cattle developed on different levels of feed post-weaning.  I also gave a paper about that research project later in the week and had a nice turnout with lots of good questions and discussion.
The New Mexico State University beer drinking team was out in full force.  As a former member and team captain, I was so proud.

I think I need a nap.  Hope you all have a great 4th of July 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

Random Thoughts from the Asphalt Cowgirl

Greetings loyal readers!  Or disloyal readers.  Or any reader(s) at all.

Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers out there – I hope your day has been great and you ate some beef to celebrate!

In today’s post, I’m just going to throw some random things I’ve been wanting to write about out there.

·         The Mid-Year meeting of the Montana Stockgrowers Association was a smashing success, thanks to the hard work of the great staff.  Way to go, guys and gals!  We had a great fundraiser for the Research, Education and Endowment Foundation which entailed a stickhorse race.  Bad news:  my horse, Miles City Mayhem, and I lost by a nose in our race.  Good news:  the Young Stockgrower Syndicate, of which I was a member, bought the winning horse and jockey in the calcutta of the third race.  If you’d like to see still photographs and video of the whole extravaganza, check out the Montana Stockgrowers Association page on Facebook.

·         The Young Stockgrowers now have a vote on the MSGA board, which is very exciting!  I salute the YSG group for their past and current hard work and involvement in the industry.

·         Things are fixing to get wild in Miles City this week, as we’re hosting the annual Western Section, American Society of Animal Science meetings.  This year’s meeting will feature the regional academic quadrathlon (an undergraduate contest), a beef symposium featuring Fort Keogh scientists and research, a graduate student paper competition, plus scientific sessions about current research in the region.  Somehow (just kidding, I know exactly how), I am in charge of organizing the quadrathlon, a speaker during the symposium, a member of the committee that judges the graduate student papers, and I’m giving a paper about some of my research.  No rest for the wicked and the righteous don’t need it.  Your choice on whether I’m wicked or righteous.  Or wicked righteous?

·         Even though it will be crazy-busy, I’m so looking forward to seeing my friends and colleagues from around the West.  It’s nice to get together and learn what everyone has been working on in their research programs.

·         Speaking of honing skills, my friend Ariel and I ended up talking about leadership the other day.  She was telling me about a leadership book by Rudy Giuliani that she had read.  In the preface, he talked about how he’d been working on the book right before the 9-11 tragedy.  He credited the research he’d been doing with his ability to respond effectively as a leader after those horrible events.  Just a reminder that we can always learn more, no matter what level of leadership we have in a particular situation.  Don’t pass up those opportunities to hone your skills, leadership or otherwise, when you get the chance!

Have a great week, 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

Yay, Genetics.

Recently I attended the Beef Improvement Federation meetings in Bozeman. This group’s 3-leaf clover logo signifies Research, Industry, and Extension, and this describes the attendees well – a mix of and partnership among scientists, breed associations, bull studs, seedstock and commercial producers, and others in the beef cattle industry.  Folks from all over the United States and Canada were there, as well as Australia, South Africa, Ireland and other overseas locales.  Beef cattle genetics are the broad focus of the meeting and we learned about the latest cutting edge techniques in beef cattle genetic evaluation.

My favorite part of the conference was a panel about whether or not these new techniques would yield a profit for the industry.  Darrell Wilkes, US Beef Supply Systems Manager with ABS, was the first panelist.  In his opening remarks, he told us we already had the tools available to improve fertility, longevity, survivability, growth and health in beef cattle.  What are these magic tools?  Actually there’s just one: crossbreeding.  Darrell flat-out said (and I agree) that crossbreeding is under-utilized in the commercial cattle business in the Unites States.

On Saturday of the conference, I was a tour guide for one of the buses that went to Sitz Angus Ranch, Virginia City, 5L Red Angus, and Cooper Herefords.  Those poor people will probably never recover from that experience.  Can you imagine?  An entire day with me where I have the power of the bus microphone!  I knew it was going to be a great day when our driver ripped the bottom step of the bus off on some curbing in the parking lot of the hotel on the way to pick everyone up.  Then, before we even got to the first stop, a blackbird met his fatal end on our windshield, which of course prompted me to announce, “For those of you keeping score, that is now one step and one blackbird.”  It only got better from there, folks.

This week will be a busy one, spent preparing for the Western Section American Society of Animal Science meetings that Miles City will host June 20-23.  I’m looking forward to seeing many friends and colleagues and showing them all some good ol’ fashioned Miles City hospitality!

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

What a Drag…Or, A Harrowing Experience

Each spring, one of the tasks on our ranch is to spread the cow manure and it’s associated nutrients that have accumulated over the winter feeding period on our pastures.  This is called “dragging” or “harrowing”.  Hence the clever title of this blog post.  Bwah-ha-ha.  There’s a reason they call me one badass nerd.

Here is my mom, Janet, in her trusty tractor, dragging one of our fields.

When you’re harrowing (and some would say I’m harrowing all the time – sorry, couldn’t resist!), you feel like you’re driving around in circles, getting nowhere.  But there is a nice sense of accomplishment that goes along with the process.  Here’s what the neighboring pasture looked like when Mom was finished.

Even Moxie was impressed!

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


Greetings, loyal readers.  June has started out with continued sunshine, and you can practically watch the grass grow.  I spent last week in Bozeman, MT at the Beef Improvement Federation meetings.  It was fun to catch up with old friends and maybe learn a little something, too.  More on that in a post later this week.

I thought I’d share some of the unique face markings that some of our crossbred calves ended up with this year.  The variety of facepaint they have never ceases to amaze me.
Here we have a simple spot on the forehead, with one red eye.

This guy’s markings make him look a little lopsided.

The white on his face resembles the number 7.

It was sure nice of these two to hang out together and show off their complementarity!

And finally – like sand through an hourglass, so go the days of our lives…

Now for a bit of shameless self-promotion.  If you’d like to see more photos of life on our ranch taken by someone with skill vastly superior to mine, you can check out Lauren Chase’s work on the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Facebook page, in the album “Goggins-Endecott Ranch”.

Speaking of the Montana Stockgrowers, I’ll be attending their Mid-Year meeting in Bozeman later this week!

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

June? How is it already June tomorrow?

May has flown by, and I have been a pretty sorry blogger this month.  To save myself from only having one post for the month, I thought I would share a few thoughts this evening.

First of all, Happy (belated) Memorial Day. Thanks to all of those who have served and continue to serve.  The holiday weekend wouldn’t be the holiday weekend in Montana without snow, rain, or both, and this one was no exception.  I spent the weekend at the ranch, AI-ing cows.  Saturday morning I woke up to falling snow, and the steady rain Sunday turned our corrals into a bog hole.  But we persevered and now all the cattle are out on grass for the summer!

Today, there was this orange globe in the sky…it gave off heat and hurt your eyes if you looked at it.  I heard it was called “the sun”.  Quite a change and a very welcome one at that!

Miles City survived the 2011 edition of the World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.  It was soggy, but as the song says…the road goes on forever and the party never ends.  It was great to catch up with old friends and the rain didn’t curtail the amount of fodder for social commentary.  My particular favorite was the young ladies running out of the Olive into the deluge wearing plastic sacks on their heads to preserve their hair-dos.  No rain coats, in fact no coats at all, but by God, SAVE YOUR HAIR-DO!

Have a great first day of June!

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