Away in a Manger

Away in a Manger

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Like a Lamb ... Or A Feeder Calf

March came in like a lamb yesterday. Or in the case of life on the County Line, March came in like a feeder calf. (It doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?)

It was a beautiful morning to sort calves. The sun was out. There was a vibrant blue sky dotted with wispy cotton-candy clouds. It was a sweatshirt morning instead of a coverall morning, Jake and I decided as we manned the gates. Last year, it was 21 degrees when we did this job. I liked the 40-degree weather better.

We sorted the feeder steer and heifer calves we'd weaned from the mama cows in November. They were born during the last calving season - from late January through early March 2010 - so they are about a year old.

We will sell the steers and a few heifers at the Pratt Livestock Sale on Thursday. We've hired a semi to come today to transport them to the Pratt sale barn, so we needed to separate the cattle we plan to sell and those we plan to keep.

Randy is keeping extra heifers this year as replacement heifers. They will become the cows in our cow-calf herd in the future.

This (above) is one of the 34 heifers who will stay in the County Line's cow-calf herd. Randy is keeping more heifers this year because we have several older cows which he plans to "cull" from the herd and take out of production.

And this was one of the steers I guided the other direction with the pull of a gate. We'll sell 69 head on Thursday. Most of them are steers, though there are a few heifers that Randy isn't keeping for our herd.

During the sorting job, Jake mans the first gate and I operate the second one. Randy is the one who tells us "sell" or "save." Thankfully, Jake has better eyes than I do and can read the ear tag numbers on each calf more readily. Each heifer that was calfhood vaccinated is supposed to have a separate red tag in its ear, but some of the tags have fallen out during the winter. So Randy consulted his back-up list and called out the verdict for each one.

My job is to open the gate the correct direction and then do my best fence post impersonation so the calf comes through the gate with the least balking possible.

I think I did my job well, even when I got distracted by the play of light and shadows in the corral on a beautiful morning.

So, thankfully, March came in like a lamb yesterday. I know the old saying says that it will go out like a lion to compensate. But it would be OK with me if it goes out like a lamb, too.

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