Ranch Life

March Madness

March 30, 2014

herefords

bulls

Per usual, the month of March roared in like a lion bringing snow, wind and a week of freezing temperatures. Followed by several days of unseasonably warm weather which resulted in mass amounts of runoff from the surrounding hills and mountains. Because most of the ditches remained laden with packed snow, they were unable to accommodate the influx of water and flooding resulted throughout the state. Of course this crazy weather presented itself just days before our annual bull sale and so we were scrambling about, frantically, attempting to divert the water from the sale barn and lots. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the words from dad and mom “Never put off for tomorrow what can be done today”. And thankfully, we ran our operation in accordance. If we had not spent the month of February moving snow and cleaning barns and pens it would have taken a tremendous effort to have the ranch in order for our sale following the crazy weather. Our crew was amazing, working around the clock digging trenches, hauling snow and mud, and moving cattle to any found dry ground. All and all, considering the circumstances we did a darn good job and had the grounds looking “presentable” for our guest on sale day.

For those of you not accustomed to a bull sale, it is an event many Seedstock Producers (aka. Purebred Breeders) hold each year. This year marked the 48th annual sale held at the Cooper Hereford Ranch. Cattlemen from across the country travel to Willow Creek, MT on the second Tuesday of March each year in hopes of purchasing a bull (or two, or three, or eight….) of their liking to use for their respective breeding program. The bulls we sell are yearling bulls, which mean they are basically a year of age. So this year, 2014, we were selling calves born last January and February of 2013.

We had a wonderful crowd present which translated into one of the best sales we’ve had to date. Bulls sold to over 20 states. Buyers throughout the country and as far away as Australia and Uruguay watched the sale live over the internet and on TV.

Click here to view the entire album showing photos from the flood and sale. READ MORE

Winter Wonderland

March 5, 2014

When I left you at the start of February, I recall informing you about the “unseasonably warm” winter we were in the midst of. As so, it’s only natural that February proved to be quite cold and very wintery.

hereford-buddies READ MORE

Retracing January’s Footsteps

February 6, 2014

I have received multiple requests to share more ranching and farming on the site. This makes me excited to hear that people are genuinely interested in agriculture. So I have teamed with my sister, Kelsy, who will be writing a monthly feed on ranch life at the Cooper Hereford Ranch. And, if you have any other requests I would love to hear them.

momma

calf
Cold, grey skies. Chilling north winds. Icy, treacherous roads.
This is January in Montana. Typically, at least.
Cloudless blue skies. Moderate temperatures. No wind.
This was January of 2014!
mineral-block
Aside from a horribly frigid cold snap in the beginning of December we Montanans have experienced an unseasonably warm January. And when I say horribly frigid I mean temperatures in the -20s for close to a week. Yes that’s finger freezing cold.
So this year’s mild month of January was great for many reasons, namely because January is the beginning of calving season. And calving is one of the most grueling and mundane times of the year. The mornings are dark and usually very frigid. The sun sets early and the work days are long and exhausting. Men work around the clock to ensure the cows are fed, calves are tended to, and barns are cleaned and strawed. Snowfall and winter weather can make for a tremendous amount of work, so decent weather is key for an uneventful calving season. So in one sense we are thankful for the mild days shared in January.
But forty degree days invoke a bit of worry in the minds of most cattlemen and farmers. Warm winters often result in dry springs and hot summers. So, although we often times become irritated when Mother Nature sends us white-outs and blizzards in January, we scowl in April when we have no moisture in the ground and our spring crops fail to sprout.
I guess we all need something to complain about, might as well be the weather! READ MORE

Farming with a View

October 24, 2013

The winter wheat is seeded and the Fall farming is almost done.
It seems like it is always a race.

winter-wheat

seed

herefords

A shot of the Tobacco Root Mountains and Hollowtop after Mother Nature finished dusting. Hollowtop is the highest peak at 10,604 feet.

Harvest

August 25, 2013

The days are long. The wheat fields are golden. And the county roads are bustling with grain trucks.

grain-truck

Typically, I watch old grain trucks drive up and down the wash-boarded road in front of my parent’s house for almost 2 weeks. This year, however, harvest season was shortened significantly due to a damaging hailstorm that whipped through Gallatin County a couple weeks ago. The damage to area crops was estimated to be close to $50 million, and that’s not including crops such as potatoes, and any damage done to buildings and equipment. The farmland near Manhattan, MT is well known as the “seed potato capital”. Which means all those Idaho spuds you indulge in sprout from seeds grown just up the road from me. Many of those fields were destroyed. The damage was significant, and it came just a week before most farmers and ranchers would typically begin harvesting their crops and knocking down their second cutting of hay.  A neighboring rancher who has lived in the area for over 80 years said he had never witnessed a storm quite like it in his lifetime. It busted 14 windows in his house.

combine

wheat

Needless to say, it damaged close to 70 percent of our grain crops. So what would normally take us 2 weeks to cut, haul, and bin, took about 4-5 days. Lucky for us, dad had purchased crop insurance on much of our fields. Our second cutting of hay, although not great, turned out better than anticipated (following the storm) and the cattle will be turned out to the remaining fields too peppered to harvest.

dad-and-leroy

It takes a unique person to be a steward of the land. To nurture it day and night and then watch silently as Mother Nature rips through it with the passing of a storm cloud. I get discouraged when the coons find a way to my sweet corn. How does a rancher cope with acres and acres of lost money, sweat, and time?

My heart goes out to all the farmers and ranchers that nurture the land from sunrise to sunset to feed our nation.

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