As Fairtime Approaches…

Last week, I helped put on a large animal showmanship workshop in the neighboring county.  My part of the workshop entailed teaching beef cattle showmanship.  When I was home at the ranch to pull bulls, I looked far and wide for my showstick, but it had disappeared in the eons that have passed since I sold my last  4-H steer.  Back in Miles City, I went to our local farm-and-ranch supply store to purchase a new showstick – a silver or black one would be nice, I thought. 

Boy, was I wrong. Showsticks have evolved!  My choices were three-fold: hot pink leopard print, black and white zebra print, or army camouflage.  On that particular day, hot pink leopard print seemed like the least of three evils, so I made my purchase.  Here’s a close-up of the pattern.

First up was lamb showmanship.  Even though things started out a little chaotic…
…Collin had them lined out and in pretty good shape at the end.

We didn’t have any hogs on-hand, so Eric split the kids up and had half of them be pigs, and the other half be showmen.  Like we saw during the lamb workshop, chaos reigned at first, helped along by two Border Collies herding the “pigs” around.  It’s good to learn how to show with distractions, right?

Things were a little spread out for awhile…

…but soon enough, they were seasoned professionals.  The pigs were even giving the showmen tips about making sure they watched the judge!

I had two steers for my part of the workshop, and they hadn’t seen a showstick yet this summer.  But by the time the kids had each worked with them, they were practically ready for show day!  All in all, a very successful day! 

Best of luck this fair season to all the 4-Hers, 4-H parents and leaders, and most especially – the true unsung heroes of county fairs – your local county agents!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  If there’s a fair in your area, please attend and show your support for youth in 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 Three Remaining Twinkies

Nope, not those cream-filled pastries with infinite shelf-life.  I’m talking twins!  Earlier this spring, I wrote about the uncommonly large number of twins that were born during calving season.  A couple of sets would be fairly normal, but this year, we had 6 sets.  Three of the six sets were separated and grafted onto foster cows whose calves had died – in one instance, this resulted in a grandparent raising a grandchild. 

The other three sets are still nursing their mothers and are down at my grandparents’ place in their own pasture, with their very own herd bull.  His name is Rigor, but his story probably deserves its own post, so we’ll save that for another day.

Here are Ace and Deuce and their mother.  She’s 8 years old.  They were the first set of twins born this calving season.

Here are Miney and Moe and their mother.  She’s 3 years old.  They were born about 5 calves later than the twins I named Eenie and Meenie.  I couldn’t in good conscience name them anything but Miney and Moe.

Here are Bonnie and Clyde and their mother.  She’s 5 years old.  I artificially inseminated this cow, and this was the result.  I had nothing to do with the cow fertility part of it, though.

Ace, Deuce, Miney and Moe are all steer calves.  Bonnie is a heifer born twin to Clyde, who was a bull before he became a steer.  When a heifer is born twin to a bull, she is called a “freemartin” and is generally sterile. In cattle, twins share blood vessels in the placenta, so blood from the two fetuses are mixed.  The influence of testosterone from the male twin impairs the female’s reproductive development, causing sterility.  This is not the case in other farm animals, as their placental system is different from cattle.

Speaking of freemartins, here is Olive, one-half of Otis-and-Olive. She is doing well on her foster mother, don’t you think?

This is the last week of limited travel for me – the Asphalt Cowgirl is busting back out next week, and for the next few months it will be wild!  Look for updates from the road!

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

Facepaint, Revisited

When I was home at the ranch last weekend to pull bulls, I went on a picture-taking expedition, and found a couple of the calves I featured in an earlier blog post (Facepaint). 

Remember this little guy?

Here he is now.

And who could forget “Seven”?

He’s lookin’ pretty awesome these days!

And facepaint isn’t exclusively a calf thing.  Here’s a first-calf heifer that we call “Whitenose”.  We’re pretty original.

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

Irrigating With Enthusiasm

I promised you some evidence of Moxie the dog’s penchant for irrigating….and here it is.  It’s best-suited to video, rather than still photos, but I learned how to capture some still photos from my video, so I included those, too.

The attack:

Big splash!

Now here’s the video.  You’ll notice it’s nearly two minutes long – she’s not one to give up.  And she does this every time.  Every. Single. Dam.  There is a piece of sod placed on top of the dam in the bottom of the ditch to keep it in place, and Moxie likes to pull this sod out of the ditch as the water goes by (or over) her.  For those of you subscribing via email, I still haven’t figured out how to embed video clips.  You can go to http://asphaltcowgirlescapades.blogspot.com to watch the video.

And yes, it’s windy in the Madison Valley of Montana!  We’ve talked about that before, too.  My favorite part is Moxie’s utter disregard for me when I talk to her near the end of the clip.  When there’s irrigating to be done, I don’t rate very high.

Tomorrow I’m headed for Jordan, MT to teach a beef cattle showmanship workshop.  Look for details and photos of that adventure in a later post.

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

Growing Like Weeds

This past weekend I went to the ranch to help gather bulls from breeding pastures.  A set breeding season allows us to have a more uniform calf crop and put selection pressure on the cows for fertility.  Saturday afternoon I went for a drive through the cows with my mom to take some photos, which I’ll be sharing with you in the next several blog posts.

It always amazes me how fast calves can grow!  Here are some then-and-now pictures of some calves I’ve featured in previous posts. 

Remember Wally?  Wanda’s calf, who lost his ears during a very cold spell?  This is him in early May.

Here he is now, in mid-July.

And here he is with one of my calves.  Ol’ #130 could donate some of his ear to Wally and still have plenty left over.

How about Casper, the friendly ghost?  So named because of his white markings?  Here he is in March.

And with his mom.

And now in July…left side profile.

Right side profile.

Hanging out with mom, even though it’s not very cool at this age.

Welcome to the beautiful Madison Valley of Montana in the summertime!  Red cows on green grass – can’t beat it!

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

She’s Got Moxie

Actually, she IS Moxie.  She’s a dog – not a terribly good cowdog, but she’s pretty!

Here’s some backstory – all the good stories have backstories.  One year, we had a cow with a calf that needed some extra TLC.  We were in the middle of calving, so we sent the cow and calf down to my grandparents’ place.  Later in the spring, a bull came up lame, so my grandpa put the pair and the bull together while the bull healed.  Note that this was well before our usual breeding season, which was mentioned. 

However, Grandpa was sure that (a.) the bull was too lame to breed a cow, and (b.) the cow was still too close to calving to come into estrus.  Fast forward to the following January, when the very same cow gave birth to twins.  We calve in March.  Guess option (c.) “none of the above” was the right choice!  Moxie the dog was still a pup when those twins were born, and they were her playmates.  To this day, she will not bite or chase a calf.  In fact, she’ll run right past calves in order to chase a cow, which endears her to us so very much!

But, she is very important.  Just ask her.

She is also quite intense about odd things.  Like digging.  For what, no one knows. Probably not even Moxie.

She is VERY intense about water.  Especially irrigation water.  Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of her “helping” to flood irrigate.  Maybe next time I’m at the ranch I can capture this strange phenomenon.  As you can see, even turning a water tank back on after cleaning the pump is very exciting.

Sometimes she is a just a little bit scary…”Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?!”

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

Musings on 4th of July Eve

Happy Independence Day!  I’m proud to be an American every day, but the 4th holds a special place in my heart.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a town where there’s a great amateur rodeo over the 3rd and 4th, with (of course) a parade the morning of the 4th.  My mom was the secretary of that rodeo for much of my growing-up, and I packed flag in the parade and grand entry for many years.  Here’s some proof.  And now I feel really old!

We are a fairly patriotic family, and we have a flag flying in our corral.  Here are a few pictures that feature it.  First, here’s one in December.  With a stiff north breeze.  Welcome to the Madison Valley.

Here’s one from that same December, on a little bit nicer day.  While I have recently been described as “freakishly tall”, I AM standing on the flatbed.

Here’s one from calving season in March.  South breeze this time.

Not in our corral, but speaking of wind…here’s a shot from the racetrack in Ruidoso on All-American Futurity Day.  I hear that the fires got very close to the track this summer – scary!

I’ll be spending my Independence Day just down the road in Terry, Montana at a local rodeo.  Even though I won’t be at my hometown shindig, I have to get my fix somewhere.  I hope that you have a great 4th of July – celebrate by eating BEEF!

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