Category Archives: Cattle

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

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

New Feature: A Year in the Life…

Happy National Agriculture Day!
Today I’d like to introduce you to a couple of young ladies I’m going to feature throughout the next year or so. My hope is to give an inside look into the first year of heifer calves on our operation. I chose a crossbred and a purebred to highlight some of the differences and similarities in how we manage those different groups.
This is 411. She was born on February 26th, and came into this world backwards, thus requiring a little human assistance!


Her mom is 919, a 5-year-old cow who is ¾ Red Angus and ¼ Hereford. 411’s sire is a Hereford bull we called Dozer (he’s the bull I’m scratching in this blog’s profile picture). This combination means that 411 is 5/8 Hereford and 3/8 Red Angus. 411 was conceived via artificial insemination, or AI – and I was the technician.
We use orange tags to signify Hereford-sired calves, and the “D” tells us Dozer is her daddy. We use (or start with) 3-digit numbers for our crossbred calves and the first number signifies the year. So, 411 was the 11th crossbred calf born in 2014.
This is 4005. She’s got quite a little sass.
She was born on March 3rd to 6017, an 8-year-old Hereford cow. Her sire is a Hereford bull we call Cowboy, and she was also conceived via AI – and I was the technician (there’s a theme here).
We use green tags for Cowboy-sired calves and use 4-digit numbers for our Hereford calves. So 4005 was the 5th Hereford calf born in 2014.
I’m excited to bring you updates through the year as these heifers grow up!
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

Miracle Baby

Do you know someone who is a miracle baby? There are several human miracle babies that I know, but today’s story is about a bovine miracle baby. Her name is Little Widget.

She was born around 4 weeks early, on February 10, 2012. Bull turnout date the previous spring was May 29. Based on a 283-day gestation length, the expected due date would be March 7. It’s not uncommon for calves to be born before their due date, but this was extremely early. The second calf that year wasn’t born until February 28!

 Mom had been keeping an eye on the cow and knew she was going to calve off the top, albeit not that early. When the cow wasn’t on the feed ground that morning, Mom went on a search and rescue mission. The cow had calved in a patch of willows and taken very good care of the calf. Mom says that she had never seen a live calf born that early, and she was worried that Little Widget might not have “cooked” long enough. She was scared to even make her a tag for quite awhile. But Little Widget wasn’t worried about any of that.

It was a long reach for her to get any breakfast for quite some time – she had some growing to do. 

Little Widget’s miracle baby story continued at weaning time, as she made the cut to be kept as a replacement heifer. She is now 2 years old and is expecting her first calf later this spring. She was a friendly baby, but acts a little standoffish these days – she was giving me the eye when I was tracking her down for a photo.

We’re keeping a close watch on her just in case that short gestation trait got passed along! 

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

Time Flies

Well, now. It appears I haven’t written a blog post since mid-January. Turns out the work load increases when the roster of beef cattle specialists decreases from two to one…and the one is me.

Here’s a brief pictorial update on some things that have happened since that long-ago post last winter.

I organized our local Academic Quadrathlon in February. It’s a 4-part animal science contest where teams of 4 students compete in a written exam, oral presentation, hands-on lab practicum, and a double-elimination quiz bowl tournament. Here is the farm cat “helping” these young ladies with a lab practicum station.

I am a member of the Western Extension Leadership Development program committee. This year’s WELD seminar was held in San Diego. An alright place to be when it’s late February in Montana.

After the San Diego trip, I had a few days before I needed to be in Reno, NV for the Western Beef Resource Committee meeting, so I visited some dear friends in California. And I met their zebra.

And then I went to Santa Anita. It. Was. Awesome. Best track I’ve ever been to.

Then it was calving time again. It’s a rough life to be a calf at our place.

Went back to my old stomping grounds of Miles City for the World Famous Bucking Horse Sale the third weekend in May. Here’s a shot of the start to the craziest wild horse race I’ve ever witnessed.

In late June, MSU hosted the Western Section, American Society of Animal Science meetings, a part of which is the Western Section Academic Quadrathlon contest. Our MSU team (Russell, Lane, Katy, and Drew) won the regional contest, competing against 8 other teams from all over the western United States. I was – and still am – soooooo proud!!! They got to compete at the national contest in conjunction with the American Society of Animal Science/American Dairy Science Association meetings in Indianapolis. They got 3rd place, and took 2nd place in the lab practicum.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…Callie had her first batch of kittens. She had them under a potentilla bush, then moved them into a hole in a tree 8 feet off the ground. We finally got her talked into bringing them back down to earth, and the kittens have been a major source of entertainment this summer. Here the family is eating their “milk and cookies”. The kittens are named Coley (the calico), Ringo, Rango, and Geronimo.

Living 3 hours closer to the ranch means I get to do this way more often.

Somehow, it’s now late July…no idea how that happened. It’s fair season in Montana, and I graded 97 hogs yesterday. Did you know pork fat is less saturated than beef fat? I was reminded 97 times yesterday…pork fat is gross, just sayin’. And I tried to cut off two fingers, but no worries, they’re on my left hand. I hope this finds you all well, readers. If I still have readers!

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

Kids Say The Darnedest Things

Every other year, the Madison Valley CattleWomen and the Madison Conservation District sponsor an Ag Day for area second- and third graders. It’s held at the Fan Mountain Arena south of Ennis.  Ennis is my hometown. My mom is involved in both sponsoring organizations. Therefore, The Asphalt Cowgirl participates in Ag Day as a station leader. Don’t I look excited?

This year we had nearly 100 kids. They arrived at lunchtime, got to eat a tasty roast beef sandwich for lunch, and then watched a stock dog demonstration. After that, the students split into nine groups and rotated around the stations.

We brought a 3-year-old cow and her calf for the beef cattle station, where I gave nine, 10-minute presentations.
You might think that giving nine, 10-minute presentations would result in a polished, memorized speech by the end of the day. And you’d be wrong. While the basics were always the same, the conversation veered off in random directions for each group, based on the questions the students would ask. Here are some of my favorites:

·         What’s her tail made of?

·         How do people get fat from eating beef?

·         What’s that upside down “2” on his side?

·         How does she make the milk?

·         So chewing a cud is like throwing up and eating it?

Needless to say, I was on my toes for the entire afternoon. But what a great opportunity to advocate for my industry!

Last week, I attended the second Western Extension Leadership Development seminar in Jackson, WY. You can read about some of our Las Vegas adventures duirng the first WELD seminar here and here. It was a phenomenal meeting and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you in a future blog post.

I’m in Miles City for nearly two weeks in a row…this weekend is the World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale…life is good!

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