Coyote Soup

Bringing life back to the family ranch with three young free range braves and lots of organic elbow grease.

Hands December 13, 2011

Filed under: cows,Family,ranching — Piper Long @ 10:49 am

Over the weekend, the ear tags arrived, the fences got completed and the cows were gathered up and coaxed into the pens to be vaccinated, wormed, branded and tagged.

An hour after the branding irons had been heated, it seemed as though we hadn’t even made a noticeable dent in the south farm pasture herd of 80+ cattle that needed to be worked and I began to fear that we would be working throughout the day and well into the night at this rate. I needed more hands. I needed three hands for vaccinating, two for handing out the branding irons, two for tagging, two for documenting, two for worming, five for controlling the chute, the hot shot and our two youngest children.

And then I saw the hands of my oldest son arrive…. followed by the bear paw hands of my dear ol’ Dad.

And the angels sang.

I’m truly shocked that my Dad still comes to visit me.


But he never fails. He may find me cooking dinner, working in the garden, milking cows, putting out hay, scrubbing the barn, chasing stray cows, cleaning the house or working cows. He may leave smelling of roast beef, dirt, manure, dinner rolls, milk, oil, singed hair or chocolate cake.

It’s a toss up every time.

I’m just grateful he is up for whatever life throws his way.

This past July, he suffered a massive heart attack that damaged much of his heart. He’s been remarkable healthy his entire life, so to say it came as a shock is an understatement. It took a co-worker’s relentlessness combined with my husband’s certainty that his symptoms were that of a heart attack just to get him to the hospital. By the time I got to the hospital, he was already in surgery to clear the 100% blockage.

Having him around means the world to me… in more ways than one.


Sundays, continued September 12, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,cows,Musings,ranching — Piper Long @ 9:15 am
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Speaking of Sunday mornings, yesterday I helped my husband sort out a few cows that needed to be taken to the Monday sale at the Tulsa Stockyards. It all went quite smooth. In fact, we got the cows to the sale and ended up moving an Angus bull to another pasture without any problems. None whatsoever.

It was actually a bit dull.

So upon returning from the Tulsa Stockyards, we decide to move the creep feeder (which is a self feeder for young calves) into another pen. Without disassembling it.

To make things more exciting, I attempted to load this feeder onto the flatbed trailer with nothing but my chin.

My gargantuan biceps had an uncharacteristic moment of inadequacy, forcing my chin to take over. It didn’t go so well. Blood immediately began spewing.

My boys were horrified, the cows unconcerned, me in shock.

Once I got the bleeding under control, I found it was only a minor cut. Nevertheless, I think I will start carrying a first aid kit in a fanny pack around my waist at all times. But first, I’ll need to find a fanny pack.

Do they even still make fanny packs?

On second thought, I’ll just start taking my purse with me to work cows.

Once my biceps recovered from their moment of fatigue, we were able to get the feeder to its intended location. After topping off the creep feeder with some fresh grain, we sat back to admire our accomplishments.

And that’s when we realized the bull we had moved earlier was no longer contained in his new pasture.

It feels so much better to have a normal Sunday.


Sundays September 11, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,cows,Musings,ranching — Piper Long @ 9:56 pm
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Sometimes I don’t make it around to church on Sundays. And while I used to feel guilty about it, I have come to realize that I actually do much more praying on the Sundays that I do miss church as opposed to the Sundays I’m in church.

You see, on the Sundays I miss church, I am usually helping my husband work cattle.

And I always pray when I am helping my husband work cattle.

I pray the cattle will surrender themselves to our every command.

I pray they go into our shotty holding pens. And stay there until we are finished with them.

I pray that the ice cream truck will make a round in our neighborhood and give us an excuse to take a break.

I pray that I will live to see the ice cream truck again.

I pray that I am fast enough to close the sorting gates without being tossed 422.3 feet into the air when a wild cow decides to make a run for it.

I pray that my tremendous upper body strength will perform beyond its intended strength while I operate the headgate.



The Lone Calf April 15, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,cows,Musings,ranching — Piper Long @ 5:29 am
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So I was returning home from a trip to town, childless and husbandless, enjoying the beautiful day, admiring the blooms of the blackberry bushes along the road and enthusiastically looking forward to a few hours of peace and quite at the house.

That’s when I turned the corner, crossed the cattle guard and saw her. Just standing there on the side of the road. All alone.


She was much too far from the rest of her domesticated family to simply have been bedded down for a nap, awaiting her mother’s return. Her mother couldn’t even get to this pasture. There were too many fences and cattle guards in the way. This calf had obviously been scared, causing her to run for miles until she was lost.

I know enough to know the possible scenarios that could play out in this situation.

I had many options.

1. Get out of the truck, walk up to the calf, calmly talk to her to ease her anxiety about being away from her mother, convincing her to get into the truck so I could take her back to her mother.
It typically never works with calves this young. They typically get spooked and run. And run. And run. Until they are even more lost than they were when I found them, thus being vulnerable to predators such as coyotes.
2. Get out of the truck and rope her.
I’ve never actually tried this, why start now?
3. Get out of the truck, grab a stick and gently herd the calf slowly back to the pasture with the rest of the herd.
See #1.
4. Drive on and act like I never saw her.
Then she would probably continue to wander and may never find her mother. Which means she will likely die. Which means I would have to live with this for the rest of my life.
5. Stay in the truck, call my husband and tell him I will be following the lost calf in the truck, possibly having to get out and follow on foot into the woods and likely getting lost myself. In which case, he will organize a search and rescue crew early enough that I can get back home before the coyotes come out and get both me and the calf.
Which is what I opted to do.

Fortunately, the calf wasn’t too alarmed by the presence of the truck and moseyed on down the road, stopping regularly to call out to her mom, while I tracked her from the truck.

Miraculously, she turned onto the road leading to the pasture where the cows were. But she still had a very long way to travel.

Feeling quite confident that the calf would find her way to her mother, I decided to get out my portable laptop and plug into the internet to get some work done while puttering along at a snail’s pace behind the calf. That’s about the time she decided to take a wrong turn into the woods.

Meaning I had to disconnect from the internet, pack my water, phone, snacks and flashlight and take out on foot. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be lost in the woods with the calf. Or how anyone would find me.

I could picture it clearly… My husband calling to ask where I am… Me telling him I’m somewhere in a 500 mile radius of my truck near some kind of tree… My tender epidermis would be scratched up and mangled from the relentless, wild blackberry bushes and brush littering the pastures and wooded openings… I would send him a picture of my location from my cell phone…. He would probably be able to figure out where I was…. He knows every tree, rock and leaf on the ranch.

Or maybe I wouldn’t be able to get phone service. Maybe I’d be lost so long my cell phone would die. Then I would die. Then the calf would wind up finding it’s mother.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about any of that.

The calf didn’t wander too far off when my husband showed up, rope in hand.

He had the calf roped and loaded onto my lap in the truck before I even realized he was there. My mind was still playing out the horrific scenarios of what could have been.


Pickin’ up bones April 1, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,cows,Musings — Piper Long @ 12:19 am
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Today I started packing my belongings into liquor boxes.

Not because I have an excess of liquor boxes hanging around… these were laying outside of my office in town. Which happens to be next door to a liquor store. Apparently the store got a new shipment of products.

Consequently, the boxes were there.

Free for the taking.

So I took them.

And for the first part of the morning, I packed up the items I knew we wouldn’t need for a while.


The sun came out…. kinda.

I haven’t seen an inkling of the sun in like forever and 3 days. At least that’s what it felt like. Realizing the low quantities of vitamin D in my system, my bones made their way to the outdoors. And that’s when I realized the severity of the mess that has been created around the farm during the forever and 3 days of cloudy raininess.

My yard was littered with random items such as feed sacks, baling twine, bones, 5 gallon buckets, toys, feeding buckets, cows, protein tubs, infinity.

Knowing full well that if the sun comes out and the temperatures warm, my mower will likely break at the sight of my yard… I decided to clean up.

I started with the bones.

Which made me think of Randy Travis.

Which made me sing this song:

I’m pickin’ up bones,
I’m pickin’ up bones.
Doin’ things I’d rather leave alone.
I’m resurrecting memories of a life before this dog,
But for now I’m sittin’ alone pickin’ up bones.

You will likely hear this catchy tune on the radio soon. I hope you think of me. And pray for my sanity.

Because not only am I picking up bones, but I’m working around cow patties.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Understandably so I might add. The current pasture is overpopulated. But it was ideal for winter. And now that spring is here, the cows will go to great lengths to find the tender grass, which is much more palatable than hay. Therefore, we need to distribute cows to our other pastures that have remained vacant over the winter.

Our only problem is fencing.

We’ve been so busy with the remodel, that we haven’t been able to fix fences on the farm, the ranch or the leased properties. If we don’t get to it quick, the cows will take matters into their own hands.

Like these cows on our farm….

And like our neighbor’s cows did just last night.

They saw my husband’s truck drive by after dark and thought the coast was clear. But what they didn’t anticipate was my tardy arrival.

Three cows and a calf had managed to bust out of the gate just as I was driving by. I was able to get all but the one calf back into the pasture single-handedly. I wish someone could have been there to witness it.


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