Sort of watched the eclipse in Billings, Montana. Didn’t have glasses, but stopped at Buckaroo Business and they had some that we saw the first part. It was not as big a deal as everyone was expecting, but it was a nice experience . I flew to Denver and the rental car centers were out of cars and the traffic coming back to Denver as I was going out was incredible. It’s good to to be going against the flow at times! My room in North Platte was three times more costly the night of the eclipse than the following night. I would have slept in my car if I would have known. People came from all over the world to see the 2 minutes of total eclipse.
Traffic jam lined up in the middle of Nebraska.
I visited with some guys from a feed yard in Nebraska that were in the total eclipse area and the cattle all bedded down and the birds went in sheds and the crickets chirped. It only lasted a couple of minutes and they were back to normal life.
I spent two days in Nebraska with Stockmanship and Stewardship. I like the people of Nebraska. Rob Eirich is a great presenter for “Beef quality Assurance” and the people that I visit with understand the importance of good stock handling. The people in attendance at North Platte were a mix of feedlot and cow calf. They were a very diverse group from Hispanic pen riders, cowboys, farmers and one young African American news anchor that was real happy to get a nice steak dinner. Good people one and all. I feel real comfortable when in Nebraska.
Next morning we travelled northwest through the very green sand hills and went out in the middle of nowhere to a very nice ranch. The Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory hosted their annual open house. Most were cow/calf, but a big diversity of type and size of operations. Family operations to organizations that employed folks to manage resources. Lots of questions on moving pairs properly when young.
When done I drove the four hours back to Denver airport and saw hardly any traffic, but lots of evidence of the thousands of people that had been watching the eclipse just two days before.
I got on an airplane and headed to Winnipeg. Late night and an early morning with Dave Keeley that reps for the Zoetis brand in Manitoba. We always have lots to talk about, lots to do and manage to eat sushi. We usually have the Zoetis lead veterinarian and sushi expert Melodie Chan keeping us on the strait and narrow, but this time we were on our own, so we didn’t eat as well and strayed off the track a little.
The first day we went to a feedyard. Lots of people and lots of ideas. We talked and they worked some cattle, then we shared some ideas on a new facility they we putting in. Then we got in a pick-up truck to check on some cows for just a few minutes. We got back about two hours later and I saw some real nice cattle, some real nice country, heard some real nice stories(I believed some of them), laughed a lot, rolled my eyes a few times, and just really enjoyed myself. I think we were in the hillbilly part of Manatoba, and I really had fun and learned a lot.
Next morning we stopped at ArrowQuips new facility. I think they build real nice livestock handling equipment, and they are always trying to improve life for humans and animals. We visited for a short time and had to get to the Dairy/heifer development yard. This was a very interesting operation as they had interns from several country’s, and were real interested in learning how to work and teach working with cattle better. We started out the day sorting bigger calves out of a pen to go with more calves and finished up the day in the milking parlor, and worked on or visited about everything in between. It was one of the best teaching and handling days, as far as satisfying to me and what I want to do, as I can remember having. I really enjoy working with young Dairy type animals.
As you can see, much diversity in the people that I came in contact with to produce the bovine protein we provide to consumers. I think the extremes in our lifestyles
make us very different than most our customers and sometimes people in the same business, and that makes it hard to relate at times.
My animal relationships for the week were quite varied as well. I rode two real nice horses in Nebraska. As I analyze my horsemanship skills I think I used real good pressure that fit both horses for what I was trying to do. I don’t know if they were any better when I tied them up after I was done, but I am pretty sure they were not worse from me riding them. I feel that is the most important thing to remember in any kind of animal handling. Every time you interact, the goal should be to get better results. I feel this needs to become a way of life.
The cattle the first night were very good to work. We had a big arena to work outside. I really like it when you can show handling cattle in a big area. Then we put them in a set of pens used for the roping chute and they worked real well to demonstrate pen work on foot, then loaded them horseback in the trailer to finish. Real good place to demonstrate. The cattle were not effected by the crowd of 50 or so people. I could pressure the cattle, and they could move away from my pressure to get out of it. They learned that by responding to my pressure, the pressure came off.
The next day we had a set of steers that maybe weighed eight hundred pounds. The crowd was real big on three sides of the two pens. This caused a lot of pressure on the cattle from the crowd. I had to apply lots of pressure to get them to move toward the pressure of the crowd. It was taking more pressure than the cattle could handle, so I had to change my demonstration to fit the situation and used the pressure of the crowd to help sort the cattle by me and teach them to stop their feet from my pressure overcoming the crowds pressure. I felt I did pretty good at giving the crowd what they needed in the demo without causing the steers to much stress. When I finished I stepped off my horse, one of the steers wanted to hunt me a little. He was okay with horseback, but when I stepped off, I was to much pressure and he couldn’t take it off so he was going to take it out. I didn’t challenge him but stepped back just a little a couple of times and he went back to the bunch.
So two very good examples of same person working with two different crowd pressures and the difference it makes. These are very important things to understand.
Cattle are way more sensitive than we give them credit for. The different crowd pressures were very easy to see, but I think we need to see the subtle pressures that effect the way animals and humans interact.
The eclipse of the sun last week is a great example. Humans were willing to put lots of pressure on themselves, other humans and the environment to experience it. If they didn’t have to much negative pressure (traffic, delayed flights, expensive travel) it was good. Cattle just accepted it as it was and lay down and enjoyed the moment, if some human wasn’t putting to much pressure on them. Might be a lesson in that somewhere.