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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

Adoptions in the Bovine World

Hello readers! I hope your Saint Patrick’s Day treated you well! Mine was spent back in the office after a week at the ranch for my annual spring break calving vacation. The cows obliged by keeping me very busy, and about two-thirds of them have calved already!
We’ve had two sets of twins so far. At our outfit, twins are always named. You can check out some of the names from past years here and here.
The first set was born to a 3-year-old cow we call Nancy, because her mother was called Fancy. Of course, the calves – both heifers – needed names in this vein, so they are Chancy and Francie.

The second set was born to a 4-year-old cow, number 0212. These calves, also heifers, were sired by a bull we call Duke, so I christened them with the duchess names of Kate and Fergie.
Two other cows had calves that were born dead, so we set about the task of assisting with some bovine adoptions…probably more commonly known as grafting. It can be done a variety of ways, but here’s how we do it. The more aggressive twin is selected to be the adopted calf and penned away from their dam for a couple hours to get a little hungry. Meanwhile, the pelt of the dead calf is skinned and will be put on the adopted calf like a coat. The most critical part of this process is for the rear end of the calf to be covered with the pelt. We help the calf nurse their new mom in the chute to keep us all safe. Then the cow and calf are put in a small pen together and the magic (hopefully) happens!
Ideally, while the calf is nursing the new mom, she turns her head to smell the pelt and is convinced that this is her calf. Usually the pelt can be removed in a day or less. Using the dead calf’s pelt may seem like a strange practice, but I think it’s kind of similar to organ donation in a way.
I’m pleased to report that both grafts were successful! Here is Fergie with her new mom, number 1105.
And here is Chancy with her new mom, number 02.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the bovine adoption process on our ranch. In the coming weeks, I’m going to start a new series that will follow two different heifer calves throughout the year!
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 Has Calved!!

The much-anticipated event has occurred. Little Widget has calved! She had a heifer calf today and both mom and baby are doing very well.



You can read more about the history of this little cow here.

I’m in the middle of my annual spring break calving vacation – more to come in the next 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

Educated, Informed, and Involved

I’m writing this post in the Seattle airport on my way to Portland, where I’ll be attending the 2014 AgChat Foundation regional conference. I first learned about this organization in 2011, and attended their national conference in Nashville. In agriculture, we often hear that we need to tell our story. Well, if you have a desire to do just that, the folks at AgChat Foundation can hook you up. All sorts of workshop topics about blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and other ways to engage the general public about agriculture are featured at their conferences.

A wide age range of Ennis High School graduates know exactly where I’m going with this post based on its title and who the post will honor. Mr. Bob Cleverley made a huge impact on who I am today. He taught me world history, US history, government, and first aid/CPR. He was a hall-of-fame football coach and a heck of a fly fisherman. I TA’d for him my junior and senior years, where a large part of my job was to help him organize details for the Class C (6- and 8-man) All Star football game, which now is named in his honor. 
Clev wanted us to be educated, informed, and involved. He was a firm believer that the world is run by those who show up and speak up, armed with facts to back them up. He taught us that rights and privileges come with responsibilities and obligations. I wish more folks lived by those principles today.

Hard work was expected, especially in first aid/CPR, a required class for seniors to graduate. Each student needed an 85% or better to pass the class because “do you really want someone with a C or lower level of understanding of this material taking care of you in an emergency?!”

We lost him to cancer in 2007. I’m thankful every day for the life lessons I learned from this great man. As I head out to a conference to get more educated, informed, and involved, I hope he’s smiling down. I’m still working hard to make you proud, Clev. You are greatly missed.

Yours in travel,
The Asphalt Cowgirl

Never Is Heard A Discouraging Word?

We live in a hyper-critical world. Every move is under scrutiny. And I’ll admit…I’m watching ALL of you for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. I can be found expressing my dismay over writing quality on my Facebook page fairly often. I don’t tend to call people out when they make those mistakes; I just collect examples of the mistakes to write blog posts about.
Way more butt chewings are handed out these days than “atta girls” or “atta boys”. The somewhat anonymous world of social media seems to encourage this critical approach to our fellow humans. I often wonder how those intense conversations  that take place in the comment sections of blogs, news articles, or Facebook statuses would play out if they were attempted face-to-face.
Rather than focusing on all the “wrong”, what would happen if we acknowledged and celebrated people who do a good job? Get good service at a restaurant? Tell your server how much you appreciate how they took care of you and leave an appropriate tip. Someone holds a door for you? Thank them! Read something online or on paper that touched you? Tell the author about what a good read it was and why! Admire how a friend tackled a difficult issue? Tell them!
Who knows? Your acknowledgment of that individual’s job well done might be the only bright spot that brings them a smile in their day. And if you’re doing it right, it’ll make you smile, too. And who couldn’t use more of that?
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 Heifer In Town

Recently, I’ve been entertained by a series of Facebook posts about a missing pig named Porky, who’s been the star of the McCone County Sheriff’s office page. It sounds like he’s still on the lam, by the way.

This made me think of a recent occurrence at the ranch, that although I did not witness it, I feel the second (or third) hand version is still worth telling.

On a Saturday afternoon in November, shortly after a foot-plus of snow had fallen, phone calls started arriving at my grandparents’ house, reporting a red cow wandering behind the drugstore in the town of Ennis . My grandpa and aunt went to investigate, and found that a cattleguard had drifted under, and the Houdini heifer had simply walked over the drift and went to explore the greater metropolis.

They located her and had her heading back down the appropriate street with a gate and a pasture at the end of it, when all of a sudden she came running back the wrong way, with a young man and woman in pursuit on foot. Reportedly, the young man had a catch rope with a loop built, ready to swing. I’ll give you a minute to absorb that image…

When I first heard the story, I was pretty sure that “heifer” referred to a weaned heifer calf, born in 2012. After asking for confirmation, I learned that this “heifer” was a bred heifer who will turn 2 in March. While this is not the escapee, this is how big they are…yes, around 1100 pounds.

 

What exactly do you think the gunsel with the rope would have done had he latched on to her?

With a little more running around, and the “assistance” of the unknown young man and woman, the heifer was returned to her pasture. I’m sure she had a great story to tell.

Upon the conclusion of this escapade, the unknown young woman reportedly said, “That was so fun, I’ve never been on a cow chase before!”

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 Triumphant Return to Blogging

Hello, readers. Do I even have readers anymore?! I don’t think I’d read me anymore after I abandoned the blogging field for 6 months.

But I feel compelled to blog again. At least once, anyway.

So, since May when I last blogged…I’ve transferred from Miles City to the MSU campus in Bozeman. Same job, new location. It took three months for me to get wireless internet in the apparently remote Belgrade valley where I now live. I’ve also inherited teaching a course. A course that I took as an undergrad. Does this mean I’m a grown up now?!

This past weekend I went to the ranch. Oh by the way, it only takes me an hour to get there from my new home in Belgrade. That will probably be a common theme in future blog posts. It sure has been on my Facebook updates.

One of the reasons I went to the ranch was to participate in the family celebration of my grandparents’ 66th wedding anniversary. Yes, 66th. Bob and Cora Goggins are amazing.

Here they are on their wedding day.
 

 

And here they are recently. In a year when the lilacs didn’t freeze before they got to bloom.

 

People like to ask me when I’m going to ever get married. My smart answer lately has been, “When I get tired of being happy”, which I don’t really mean but it’s sure fun to watch people’s faces. But seriously, let’s be real. I haven’t met anyone who I want to spend 66 years with…not to mention no one wants to spend 66 years with me! And we won’t talk about old I’ll be in 66 years, but I think you understand my sentiment.

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 Cold Day, Cow Vaccine, and Common Household Items

A few weeks ago, we vaccinated our cows with their pre-calving shots. The antibodies they produce to the vaccine will go into their colostrum (the first milk given by a cow) and provide immunity protection to their calves. To learn more about how colostrum works, check out this blog post from last January (Colostrum: Breakfast of Champions).

On this particular day, the weather was a bit crisp. As you can see, it was 7 degrees at quarter to nine that morning…with a low of zero and a high of 11 since midnight.

It was a beautiful morning, though – no wind and bright sunshine.

We gathered the 2- and 3-year-old cows…

Then the mature cows….

Then we went to the house to get the vaccine ready. It’s important that the vaccine be kept within the temperature range described on the packaging. On this day, we were using a cooler for insulation to keep the vaccine from freezing– definitely no ice pack needed!!

We also knew we might have trouble with the vaccine freezing in the vaccine gun and needle, so in another cooler we put a hot pack from a Pyrex portable potluck dish…

…and a corn pillow, both warmed in the microwave. On a ranch, there are often odd alternative uses for common household items…

The result was a warm – but not too warm – place for the vaccine gun during our work day!

The cows have started calving, and I’ll be taking next week off for my annual calving vacation. Stay tuned for more details!

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

Warning: Ranching Conversations Can Result in Uncomfortable Eavesdroppers

Well, then. I figured I had better write a blog post just to prove I still have a blog! Apologies for the lapse, I will attempt to do better.

I’ve had a couple of conversations lately that, when overheard by others, caused some raised eyebrows. Here’s how they went:

Conversation #1 took place in my friend Whisper’s office at work.  She was talking about some cows she was going to purchase that were being culled from Fort Keogh.  I asked why they were being culled, and she replied, “Well, one has a bad foot, and one has a bad teat (this is – of course – pronounced “tit”).”  Meanwhile, our friend Travis was walking down the hallway and said, “I sure hope you’re talking about cows in there!”

Conversation #2 took place at the Northern International Livestock Exposition trade show one afternoon in Billings.  My friend Lauren and I left some other friends at the Montana Stockgrowers Association booth to go visit our friend Luke, who was at the Select Sires booth. He was actually conducting business, so we chatted for a few minutes and headed back.  Michelle said, “You’re back already? That didn’t take long.”  To which I replied, “Well, he was trying to sell some semen.”  Then there was a long pause in the conversation for some reason…

I know these moments happen every day across American agriculture – what a fun opportunity to break the ice and have a nice discussion about what the heck you’re really talking about!  Have you had one of these moments?  Or have you overheard one of these conversations? I’d love to hear about them, so feel free to leave a comment! 

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

An Asphalt Cowgirl in the Land of Enchantment

Wow…time flies when you’re having fun.  It’s been some time since I had a new post!  I spent a great few days in southern New Mexico on my Labor Day vacation, where I got caught up with graduate school friends, was so far south the Mexican border was to my east, watched the richest Quarter Horse race in America, gave a guest seminar as an alumnus of the NMSU Animal and Range Sciences Department, spent an evening at Chope’s with great friends old and new, and saw how much all the little kids had grown since last year. 

Here’s Breylin – he grew a lot since last year, and has mastered the art of scanning the horizon with his binoculars.  He sees bears, mostly.

New Mexico isn’t Big Sky Country, but here’s an example of their version.

Here comes the post parade for the All-American Futurity.

This is Ochoa – he won the race.  Did I win money, you ask?  No. I got a sunburn and lost money, so I continued my many-year Labor Day tradition in Ruidoso.

But do you know the best part of my trip?  Picking up with friends I hadn’t seen for years like we’d never missed a day.

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