Tuesday, October 9, 2012

End of the Grazing Season

It’s a fine line determining when to send the cattle home after the spring and summer of grazing. Too soon and the cattle miss out on some good grass and we miss out on some additional weight gain. Too late and early snows could make it hard to move them out. The last two years have been dry and without irrigation water so that adds to the challenge. 

Three weeks ago we moved the cattle to fresh pasture on the west side of our place which had not been grazed for several years. We had planned to move them sooner but discovered some heavy fence damage in the northwest corner from the windstorm last November. Two huge spruce trees had blown down, one on the fence line and the other in the opposite direction lifting the fence up out of the ground. It was impossible to get any equipment to the location so the only option was to hand carry in a chain saw and some minor fencing supplies. After several hours of work and a unique repair job, the fence was cattle tight again.

While the grass was holding up well, last week’s weather report looked concerning with temperatures dropping in the low to mid 20s. Precipitation was a possibility so we made the decision to herd them back to the corrals and call the owners. Everything went smoothly and last Thursday afternoon, the trailer pulled out loaded with the cattle. Three of the heifers are bred and will join the main cow/calf herd, two steers and one heifer are destined for the freezer and ole’ Red will be retired from calf raising. The calf on her will be her last but because she is a favorite she will remain on the owner’s ranch for the rest of her life. Not a bad deal for a cow.

I spent the rest of the afternoon pumping down stock water tanks and turning them over for the winter, coiling up hoses and electric cords and taking down temporary electric fencing we use to manage the grazing areas. I’ve never done this before because we have always had our horses remaining after the cattle had left. That changed the end of June when we put Mandy, our last horse, to sleep. Now the pasture is empty, the corrals are empty and a part of my heart is empty. 


  1. What a huge and lonely transition. But you know, nature abhors a vacuum. It will be exciting to see what shows up!