Coyote Soup

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

The Cake Truck October 25, 2012

Filed under: ranching — Piper Long @ 6:31 am
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Cattle guards are a wonderful invention.

They are typically used in place of gates where the fence meets the roadway to keep cattle from wandering over into the wrong pasture. They save hurried ranch wives oodles of time that would otherwise be spent parking the car, getting out of the car, opening the gate, getting back in the car, driving through the open gate, parking the car, getting out of the car and closing the gate.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Up until recently our cattle guards have done an outstanding job guarding the gate area.

But recently, the cattle have been jumping the cattle guards.

Some are even tippy-toeing across and gathering at a green patch of grass near the house.

“Why do they keep jumping the cattle guard?” Drover asked, looking out the kitchen window. “The gate was open when I came in and the cows were nowhere in sight. It’s not like they don’t have plenty of food in their pasture.”

“You wanna know why?” I asked, drying my hands on the kitchen towel. “It’s because you drive all over this ranch, handin out that cake grain from your truck. Sure they’ve got food lyin around, but you’ve got cake. You’re like the ice cream truck, only with cake. Heifers will do anything for cake.”

Drover looked at me and I could see the corners of his mouth turn up ever so slightly. And with that he headed out the door to resume his cake truck route.

As soon as the cows heard the sounds of the cake truck in the distance, their ears perked up.
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And they began to follow.
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Until they noticed the fresh, healthy greens on the opposite side of the road.

Oh the dilemmas of life.

Healthy greens… or cake?
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Cake!

Definitely cake!

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Cattle Drive September 24, 2012

Filed under: ranching — Piper Long @ 11:37 am
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cattle drive

Yesterday, Drover and I loaded up our horses and our three little braves and headed up to Kansas to drive our cattle out of their summer pastures down to the corrals to be sorted, sold or relocated for the winter. You’d think I’d be excited about this sort of thing, most real cowgirls are. The thing is, I’m not a real cowgirl. I’ve been a cowgirl against my will for about 14 years now and I STILL get nervous about working with large groups of cows.

Yesterday was no exception.

The cattle drive was to take place on my brother-in-law’s Kansas ranch. Since my brother-in-law and his family don’t live on this ranch, I’m not very familiar with it. I’d never been to the parts of the ranch we would be driving the cattle through. Nor had the cattle.

Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a problem… only I was the leader. It was going to be like the blind leading the blind…. A whole herd of blind.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

About 5 minutes before arriving, I was given the following instructions from Drover.

“You’re going to drive the truck and hopefully, the cows will follow. Just take the county road to the pasture. Go through the gate, past the pond, up the hill and find the cows. Once you get all the cows gathered, lead them back down the hill past the pond, through the gate and down the road. Don’t let them get in the neighbor’s pasture. Then just take them to the corral.”

“Which pasture belongs to the neighbor? And where is the corral?” I asked.

“Well.. the pasture is… you’ll see it. The corrals are up near the house,” he replied, “You’ll figure it out, don’t worry.”

When we got there I was relieved to see my brother-in-law and his son, who is currently in medical school, both armed with glorious ATV’s.

“Are they going to help us?!” I asked Drover, trying to contain my excitement that we might actually have enough hands to pull this off.

“I think so,” Drover replied.

At that point Drover and children waved me off as they disappeared into the field while I took the county road to the meadow where the cows were grazing.

When I got to the pasture, I found 6 head of cows and thought my luck couldn’t have been any better today! Surely the other cows were nearby. This was gonna be easy peasy. I’ll just wait for everyone to mosey on over to me.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

No more cows.

This meant I was going to have to drive across the ravine to retrieve the rest of the herd.

I dreaded driving across the ravine. It was steep, narrow and full of sharp rocks.

With my hands gripping the steering wheel and my foot glued to the brake, I eased my way down the rocky ravine without incidence. Making it up out of the ravine was another story. About 10 yards up the ravine, I slid sideways.

Crap.

I certainly didn’t want to slide off into the deep part of the ravine.

I immediately stopped and frantically started looking for the 4-wheel-drive button, but it wasn’t there. Where the heck is the 4-wheel-drive?! My panic was intensifying. I know how to shift this truck in 4-wheel-drive, I’ve done it before, but my mind won’t stop fretting over the position I’m in long enough to tell my hands what to do.

That’s when my brother-in-law pulls up in his ATV with my 5-year-old wrapped around his waist.

“Can you get it in 4 wheel drive?” he asks.

“Where is the 4-wheel-drive?” I asked, mortified that these words were even coming out of my mouth.

“To your right, by the center console,” he kindly replied.

My right side was cluttered with cowboy hats, shirts, styrofoam cups, keys, papers and fishing supplies. I shoved everything aside. Of course! Ugh. I shifted it in 4WD and crawled up the ravine to find the cows grazing about, unconcerned with my problems.

While we waited on the rest of the gang, I decided to confirm the directions with my brother-in-law to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

“So… we’re just taking them down the way I came in, right? Down the county road?” I asked.

“Yup,” he replied.

“Okay, just wanted to make sure we weren’t cutting through any pastures,” I said.

“Oh, yeah, when you get on the county road, go about 500 yards then you’re going to cut through the pasture, follow the creek around the edge of the pasture, then when you cross the rocky creek bottom, go about 50 yards and turn through the gate, go down the lane and through the gate across another pasture to the green gate. Then you’ll see the house, then just drive on through the pastures there toward the house.”

Uh. Ok.

I hopped in the truck and hollered for the cows to gather round so I can relay the game plan.

Soon Drover and our oldest 2 boys showed up on horseback along with yet another cowboy who I later learned used to cowboy at the Mullendore Ranch.

God loves me.

cattle drive

I led the cows back through the ravine, across the top pasture, down the hill, past the pond, out the gate – careful to keep them away from the openings to the neighbor’s pasture – leading them 300 yards out on the county road. Then Drover steers his horse up ahead of me another 200 yards and waits for me at the gate.

cattle drive

I turned in the gate, followed the tree line, that I assumed was the creek line, crossed over the rocky creek bed and happened upon the Mullendore cowboy.

“Hello there!” he greeted me from atop his horse.

“Hi!” I hollered over the diesel engine of the truck.

“Do you know where you’re going?” he asked.

Great. I’ve gone the wrong way. Now I’m lost. And I’ve taken a whole herd of cows with me.

“Not really, I think there’s supposed to be a gate up here I’m supposed to go through,” I replied.

“Yes ma’am! It’s the one on your left, leading down the lane. I’ll block the entrance to the other gate for you. After that, just kinda head in that general direction. If I see you’re going in the wrong direction, I’ll try to get up there to help you.”

When we come out of the lane, I can see a homestead that I’m hoping is the homestead we started at this morning. From this angle, it’s hard to tell. There’s silage, hay galore, lots of big red barns I hadn’t noticed before and cows that didn’t belong to us. I look back at Drover and see him motion toward the corner of the pasture. Somehow I make it up to the corrals and find Drover’s nephew, the medical student, ready to catch the cattle in the corral.

Miraculously, we not only got the cows in the corral, but we also got them sorted and sold without any major mishaps.

 

The Longhorn October 14, 2011

Filed under: ranching — Piper Long @ 9:03 am
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We have one longhorn on the ranch and she happens to be one of the only ones I can consistently identify. We’ve had her for quite some time now and she has won our hearts. Because of this, she has also been given eternal immunity in any and all eliminations.

Speaking of immunity, I’m not sure she has ever been immunized.

In fact, she rarely comes near the corral.

And she has taught her offspring to do the same. That’s her daughter and nursing granddaughter there on the right.

The Hereford-looking cow off to herself is one of her granddaughters.

But her Hereford-looks are just that. Looks. I don’t think there are any Herefords in her family tree. And who would guess her grandmother was a longhorn?

What I find so interesting is that they usually stay together. I will see them in pastures off to themselves having lunch together. They go to water together. They chew cud together. And they sit back and watch as we herd the rest of the herd into the corral… together.

I love a close-knit family.

 

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.

Translation:
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.

Amen.

 

Herefords and Branding June 12, 2011

Filed under: ranching,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 10:32 pm
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It’s June… time to bring in the bulls. This year the ladies will enjoy the company of Hereford bulls.

As of today, I’ve decided that I LOVE Herefords. I’ve had the privilege of working with Ayrshires, Holsteins, Jerseys, Guernseys, Crosses, Angus, Black Baldies and Herefords.

Herefords are my favorites. Especially this Hereford.

He is as gentle as a good dairy cow, but tuffer. We bought two more just like him from Lotsee at Flying G Ranch… which may have something to do with their temperament. And their beauty.

If I want them to load up in the trailer, all I have to do is ask and they mosey on inside. All the other breeds fire manure out their back ends in protest to loading in a trailer while using every split second to plot their escape, even if it means ending my life in the process.

And when it comes time for branding… they’re tuff as nails.

It took me a while to understand why cows needed branding. Now I understand completely.

Ear tags fall off.

Brands don’t.


Fences break.

Cows escape.

Typically if a cow or bull escapes, they go looking for another herd. If they find that other herd and get mixed up with said herd, you’ll want to be able to rightfully claim your cow. Especially if it’s a nice, cuddly Hereford bull like this.

 

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.

Then…

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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