Team Work

I’ve wanted to get to driving my draft cross horses, Big and Little Big sometimes called Midnight and After Midnight.  I drove them quite a bit around here but never hooked them up. 

They ended up in Oklahoma and I took em over to the Tribe in Arkansas and then was headed home with them in my big van trailer.  It was really hot and I was worried about hauling them so I left them in Stockton Missouri with Riley Olson and crew.

They hooked em up and drove them some and did a great job with them.  Because they were good saddle horses it was pretty easy for them. 

They might be some of the most versatile horses around.  They have been evented on and can really jump. They also were on fox hunts, been to brandings and had a lot of young bucking bulls roped on them, so pulling a wagon was pretty easy.

These horses have been a great source of pleasure and accomplishments for our family. They are great horses.

Here’s some videos of our first feeding at our Ryegate place.

Hanging Tree puppy hangin

There are lots of ways to make a cow dog.  The thing that should determine the way you go about it is what you really need from your dog or dogs to put the kind of pressure on livestock you need to achieve your livestock handling goals.

What I am looking for is dogs that read livestock and read me either through my commands or from our working relationship and time spent together.

I am of the opinion that it doesn’t matter what method you use, that’s up to you and what your style is, but for me if your are trying to work stock with the least amount of stress and the training of cattle to work and take pressure the dog needs to have “feel”.

The best way to get dogs to have feel is to train and work them with feel.  Feel to me is having the ability to create the correct amount of pressure at the proper time, and release or change the pressure at the right time.  The more skills you have the more kinds of pressure you can use.

I’m not afraid to work with lots of dogs.  I know if the dogs are hooked on to stock I can circle the bunch and drive the dogs around to take some of the pressure off and keep the livestock in a pretty small area.

I feel for young dogs they will gain a lot more confidence when you have the pack mentality and gain lots of confidence. It’s much harder to get them off of cattle, which proves my point.  Just when you get them coming off one will go back and then they all do.  I don’t worry about it.  When I worry is when the come off to easy.

Now my bunch are ready to start working by themselves or with a dog that is more advanced.  I also want to get them to understanding a few commands, and having them on a line helps keep their minds where I need it.  

This is how I like to get them understanding the loss of freedom when you put a collar and line on them.

Pasture to plate-a tribute to a small bull with a big personality

Several years ago I purchased a small herd of cattle.  By small herd I mean small in number and small in size, as they were miniatures.  We’ve had lots of small moves on our small place with my small cattle.  They were all real gentle except 1 cow.

I got them sold when we’re at the 63 ranch a couple years ago and when we were loading them the little wild cow jumped out and was long gone and didn’t get sold.  

When we came home after our time in Park county the little cow came with us.  She had a little bull calf that was just as wild a his mother. They really helped my situation training dogs as they would quit the bunch and the dogs had something to go bring back to the herd.  They added a “little” life( I hope you are getting my small and little jokes)to my very gentle normal cattle.

The reason I have cattle around here is not so much for monetary gain but for gain in knowledge for me and the horses and dogs I am working with, and to manage the forage and gain knowledge on grazing practices.  Also I like good old time beef to eat at least twice a day and sometimes three.

I have found you can really learn to read and learn best management practices to really see the effects your decisions have with smaller numbers. (That’s not part of the joking) I’ve been part of lots of big operations and there is plenty to learn there but it’s a different learning.

The trouble with the minis is there is a very mini demand for them.   The bull calf grew up and I sure wouldn’t of wanted to take the big teasing for the little bull at the sale.

I had gone and helped Nichole Wines and her crew at Big Sky Processing with some cattle handling and facilities design and new it was a good outfit so I made an appointment to take him there.

I told Nichole I would have him there at a quarter to eight on Monday morning.  I put hay out in Mesas corrals and took the 15 head I have here over for the night and got my trailer backed in and panels set to load first thing in the morning.  I was going to take a regular bull to the Lewistown livestock auction that is not far from the slaughter facility so the little bull didn’t have to travel alone and increase the chance of the stress creating a dark cutter, as it’s about an hour drive from my place.

I headed over early and had three dogs with me.  I got the cattle in to the round pen with my dogs and sorted the two bulls off with not to much difficulty.  Then I separated them and the little bull was starting to get snuffy and missing his mamma and the other cows.  I loaded the big bull in the front compartment, and when I put the little bull in the Bud box he was snuffy. I moved him into the next spot where I had put a Priefert panel to get to the trailer.  I put him in the trailer and when I would try to shut the butterfly gates he would run back out.  I got a rope and tied on the off gate and went on the outside to put him in and he ran at me to hook me and put his head under the panel and went right out through the fence and headed for the brush with a nine in his tail.

It’s still pitch dark outside so I got the cattle out of the corral and sent them his way. I waited a while and got everything tied back together to try again if I could get him back in.  It’s so slick with ice around here and I don’t have anything sharp shod so saddling a horse was not in my plans.

I sent Line and Silver and away they went into the dark.  Pretty soon I hear cattle coming and sure enough the little bull was with them.  I got him sorted again and put him in the holding area and just put a little pressure on from a distance and he went and stood in the trailer.  I just let him get comfortable there and when he would come out I would put a little pressure on until he stood in the trailer.  I was able to get the gates shut and latched without him running out, so I felt pretty good about my stockmanship skills but now I’m running late.  I call Nichole and she said no problem they have another they can put before mine.

All the Exclusive lamb and rice dog food is a little more worth while when your dogs do good.

My son Rial is going along as he has interest in being a butcher so we head that way.

The bull was really bothered and on the fight when we got there so my plan of keeping him calm didn’t work.  I would have taken a couple calves with him but you need a brand inspection to go across county lines so that was out.

I left Rial and the bull and took the other bull to the auction market and had a nice visit with Kyle Shobe about the livestock business and a demo we are going to do in a month or so at his market.  I always enjoy visiting with sharp cattleman and Kyle is one.

I got back to Big Sky processing and went on the kill floor and they were gutting and skinning him and Rial was right there in the middle of it.  My grandfather, his great grandfather was a butcher and he would sure have been proud to see Rial with a knife in one hand and a hide with no holes in the other.

One way my grandfather showed me to see if an questionable beef was going to be hamburger or good enough for some better cuts to be used was to take the hanging tender and fry it and it gives you a quick preview of the tenderness and taste of the beef.

Well I brought it home and cleaned it up and trimmed the sinew off and had a couple butterfly steaks for breakfast.  If had excellent flavor and was not tough so I think we will get some of the better cuts made into steak.  In my time going to Mexico and seeing all the feedlots finishing only bulls I’m sure not afraid to try it with my own.

So there it is my big story about the little bull.  I got to thinking last night about the whole deal and his life on this place.  He had a good deal.  Great feed and shelter, always with other cattle and he would put the run on any bull.  He sure had a lot of try and I got lots of pleasure while he was alive, he was part of the animal-grass-soil ecosystem that is so important for the environment, and we are going to enjoy what he is going to provide for us with great tasting healthy protein.

I also kinda wish I would of just loaded him up and jumped him out up in the snowy mountains somewhere and let him run wild.  I don’t think anyone could have coughs him! He was a small bull with a big heart.

The bull and his mother