Hawaii day 11

Jason Van Tassel and I headed up to Wakii to “prowl” on the calves we turned out yesterday.  That’s a term Ron Gill uses for checking cattle and Jason mentioned how he liked that term, and I Agee.  My old boss at Sieben Ranch, Clark Atkinson used the same term.

I was worried the heifers would be walking the fences, as we didn’t get them out and settled as good as I would have liked the day before.  We rode up where we could see them, and they were all bedded down or grazing and looking real content.  We rode to them and they weren’t concerned at all.  We did just the opposite of what I thought we were going to do.  We got them up and drifted them up to water.  Jason thought it would be good to prepare them for the gather for shipping in a month, by teaching them to move.  Good thinking.


We just happened to be in the same pasture that started this whole process three years ago, when rode over a hill, the cattle saw us and ran like a heard of antelope, and we had a hard time getting them stopped.  That day started this whole process.

We rode to the steers and same thing.  They were real content and the grass was better in this pasture and they were all in the lush spots grazing or laying down.  We picked them up and drifted them towards water.


We talked cattle and ranch and family and religion and morals and people and how it all tied together.  It was a very relaxed and enjoyable few hours spent enjoying the results of what we set out to do three years ago.

We rode back to the pens and one of the “what nots”, small calves that don’t fit the bunch, that were still in the corral bawled and we thought he was needing attention, so we got our ropes down.

About the time we got one necked it started raining really hard, and two grown men, that had just been discussing how smart and what good stockman we were, were getting soaked, roping cattle that didn’t need to be roped, for no real reason but that we enjoyed it(even though I was not roping very good).

We were actually doing some good.  The young horse I was riding needed it.  He was got real good after holding a few calves.  Jason and I got better at settling a calf on the end a rope by the proper release of pressure.  Jason needed to do something he does not get to do much, as this style of roping is not very popular here.  I got to rope with my “skin rope” which is the  poniolo name for a reata, on my Hawaii tree saddle.  When we were done we were soaked, muddy, and satisfied.  A good hour spent.

I got a nice surprise when I got home.  One of my favorite people in the world to be around was coming over for supper with his family.  Bill Ferreira lived with us in Montana for several years.  He has a life philosophy that I really enjoy.

He also happened to be the one that created the skin rope I used earlier.  He brought some reins he is working on to show us.  He is creating usable art out of the hides of the very animals that they will be used to help manage.  It is to good of quality to hang on a wall.

Bill and his wife Ali, have twins that are 4 years old, and we really are proud to have them as friends.  Bill was a great influence on our kids, and it is great to see him so happy.  Ali lights up the room with happy!

Today was a much more relaxed and laid back day then the past ten.  It was just what I needed.

Hawaii day 10

Livestock meeting at headquarters started day.  We watched the drone video of gathering and sorting Mannys herd on Tuesday.  It was an amazing way to see it and really showed what position did when gathering and showed how effective different styles of sorting worked.  We had some real lively discussion, and Keoki Wood and I had the most lively.  I really admire how passionate he is about the ranch and getting the most out of the crew.  I even named a gate in the lead up at Wakii pens for him.  It is always there to help, sometimes gets in the way and is a pain in the behind, but it would not work if it wasn’t there.

It was a good meeting and it did what Keoki, Jason, and I wanted in engaging everyone in talking and working on what will improve cattle handling.  Manny Souza whose herd we worked really thought it out before work day, and set it up for the crew to learn from the drone video and work his cattle effectively.

After the meeting we were surprised with a breakfast at “Hawaii Style Cafe”.  Great place to eat and we all laughed and had fun.  I had “loco moco” which is a bed of rice ,brown gravy, two hamburger patties, two eggs covered in rich brown gravy.  A real stick to your ribs breakfast.  Brian and Isaak had Oxtail soup, and I am having it next time.  If you are ever in Waimea, you need to go to Hawaii Style Cafe, but bring cash because they don’t take credit cards.

Time to get to work.  Saddled our horses and Jason picked us up and. We met Brandon and Neal and we went and got some big finishing steers out of the neighbors.  The grass is greener on the other side of the fence in Hawaii too.

Jason is in charge of the Grass finishing enterprise that Parker Ranch.  This is a big reason they have us come over and spend time.  They need these cattle gentle and handling proper to get the kind of performance they are looking for.  The biggest challenge the Hawaii cattle industry has is marketing.  They have to ship cattle to the mainland, and that is very expensive, or they can finish and sell on the island.  The problem with that is harvest capacity.  They have lots of demand, lots of cattle, but very limited harvest capacity.  Even paradise has challenges, but Jason keeps working at it.

Went back to breaking pens, switched horses and headed to Isaak’s to turn calves out to pasture.  I having been riding a horse for DeeDee Burtleman, who from what I can see is the one thing that keeps the whole livestock department at Parker Ranch together and working as a team, came up to help us, and see how her  Munstah was doing.

I made a  mistake putting the heifers out the gate into the pasture and the ended up going the wrong direction.  I got that stopped, but then it put me out of position to get to the lead and they got movement and I couldn’t get them shut downs so they walked instead of grazed.

We then went and took the steers out.  They had to be trailed for about a half mile to the gate through a pasture. I took them out of the pen and Tammy, Isaak and DeeDee toook the lead.  They got them to the corner and held up without much trouble, and some things were learned about checking up movement before it gets started.

Just as I got there with the back of the steers, the heifers were coming around to the corner of the pasture so I went and got them stopped and held the up and got some of the movement out.  They started grazing and stayed pretty good, but as soon as I left, they were on the move again.  This is why it is so important to keep that movement checked up.


The steers we’re grazing happily and some were bedding down, so Isaak and I went and opens the gate and as the started through checked them up and stopped movement before it started the whole bunch grazed their way into the pasture and we stayed in front and kept the minds on grazing and not walking.  That’s the key.  If they pick their head up and start walking the whole bunch wants to walk and the forget about grazing and it is very difficult to change there mind back to grazing.  This is why working with them to get them to hook on and slow the feet down and stop is so important when working with calves.


It was also nice that right where we placed them was some real nice grass and water was just in front of them.

It was real rewarding to look back as we rode over the hill and to see every calf with is head down grazing and a content as could be.  Four days ago their world had been turned upside down.  Every thing changed for them.  The cow is gone, their diet is changed, they went from wide open space to confined in a pen, and intensive interaction with humans than ever before.  We owe it to these wonderful creatures to do the best we can.  This is why we do what we do.  For these calves to go through this change in there life, and to expect them to stay healthy and content, we owe it to them and ourselves to get better at everything we do with them.  As I looked at those calves and thought about how we helped them through the last four days, I feel good about what I do, the great people I get to work with, and the great industry we call Ranching.

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Hawaii day 9

Today we finished processing for the week.  I worked right behind chute.  It was tough getting the calves to want to step up into that pressure.  They have been installing Silencer chutes and the louvers (rubber flaps to hide movement)seem to really help.  Isaak is set to get one next.  They have them made with galvanized metal or they won’t last. After we finished we had, you guessed it, Bento box from Earls.  I really enjoy them, and today we had some great conversation to go with.  We laughed and told story’s about horse clinicians, and I told some about Craig Cameron and the fun we have had.  We discussed dogs, pigs, cattle behavior as well as human behavior, and we spent a lot of time talking about M and R and it’s value on the ranch. It was a great time and I think we all agree that we believe in good Stockmanship and getting better, so it wasn’t all laughs and giggles

We decided the calves were ready to go to pasture tomorrow, so Wife Tammy and I took them out of pen to a training pen and worked on getting them to slow down and stop. I’d like to have them handling a little better, but we will make it work.

I am not as satisfied to day because of the pressure I had to use to get the calves in the chute.  I don’t like it.

I think it would be best to work calves through chute with it open while settling calves.  They would learn to go through without the pressure and then when it was time to process they would flow to the pressure better.  I don’t know if it’s feasible, but it would be the right thing to do.

There are a couple videos on here but you might have to go to website to see.

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Hawaii day 8

Processed and settled steers we weaned yesterday.  Then worked with heifers by moving them from pen to pen and put them through lead up to chute to help prepare for processing tomorrow.

We had a great visit with the guys while eating our Bento Box lunch.  These calves are very different in temperament than they we last year.  These calves had lots of movement, but it wasn’t panic movement like last year.  They wouldn’t say it, but it is because of them and the way they are changing the way they pressure these cattle.

A good example is the counting video.  Last year the calves were bouncing off the fences and really scared when they went by the counter.  This is a completely different movement.

It is a team effort that is doing it.  The bosses, Jason and Keoki for making it a priority, and the guys for trying to do it.  They all have different personalities and skill levels, but everyone is trying and it is making a big change.

I worked horseback in the back with Tyler Cox.  He is one of those young people that gives me a lot of confidence in the future of Stockmanship.  He has no idea how good  his timing and pressure are, (when he’s not showing off) and I really enjoyed working with him.  I am real sure he will just keep getting better and refine his skills.     Being a stockman is in his genetics, like most everybody that works for Parker.

I was pretty physically tired when we got our horses taken care of, and took a little time to relax and think.  I thought abought some of the things I have done this week handling livestock.  I really feel like I understand how to pressure cattle and horses in such a higher skill level than I could a few years ago.  The reason is I learn things, then get out and do them.  I am not trying to be someone else, but simply to see things and get better.  You can’t perfect these skills from reading  or watching videos.  You have to get in the middle of it and do it.  The other things can help you speed up the learning, but you have to do it and stay committed to it until you see the improvement and keep building it.  The crew here gets plenty of opportunity to try to figure it out, and they are.

This is so rewarding for us, because we are part of the teamwork to make the change, and we are getting to really test our skills at settling and preparing cattle for grazing.

Hawaii day 7

Well I am having a little challenge with getting things the way I want on this web-site.  Didn’t know where yesterday’s post went, and it just showed up.

Munstah didn’t buck me off. Cattle gathered, sorted, and loaded real nice and the crew worked as a real team. We did all that and had the 600 plus calves loaded and hauled to the weaning pens by 1:00 pm.

Klem Kaniho told me he has worked on the Ranch 28 years come this summer.  He is a real good hand that works very hard and takes a lot of pride in what he does.  I really admire him and the pride and skills he has.  He has weaned and branded a whole bunch of calves in all those years, and works with some very good stockman.  I didn’t really like being around him at first, but now I do and learn by watching him.   He even smiled a couple of times today.  I wonder what right I have in telling him how to do something?

All the guys are real good to Tammy and Me.  We have fun and try to do our work better.  I realize how difficult it is for them sometimes with my ideas, but they sure are doing some real good work.

When we finished loading we had a “Bento Box” lunch from Earls, thanked Manny who’s herd it was for the good work and effort, and the we went to settle the calves we just weaned.  They had lots of movement and it was difficult to get them checked up, but it was nice work in the rain and a good place to think about animal behavior.

Ill let you know how it went tomorrow.  We start processing first thing in the morning.

I enjoyed the day riding Munstah and working working with Wife Tammy.

We are very thankful for the opportunity to work on the Great Parker Ranch.

Hawaii day 6

Gathered “Manny’s” herd to wean calves tomorrow.  Nice big country and the cows moved pretty easy.  Worked well to have me horseback and the rest on 4 wheelers.  They are real good at turning away from the cattle, and going against the flow to create movement.

After we finished went back to breaking pens and rode some horses.  It was raining pretty good all day so it was nice to get inside.  I got a horse called “Munstah” from “Auntie DeeDee” to ride and he is a real big good looking horse.

Early start in the morning.  We need to be at pens by 6 am.  I want to ride Munstah in the pen so he doesn’t buck me off in front of crew so I will saddle him at about 4:30 so we aren’t late.   I think you will enjoy the video we get tomorrow on the weaning process here at Parker.

Really had a nice day working with a good crew, good cattle and some real nice horses.  I can’t wait to see how good tomorrow will be here in paradise.

Hawaii day 5

Loaded horse and headed to “Dairy Fence” pens to move calves that were weaned last week to grass traps.  Kaawa and I let heifers out first.  They came out of pen right into the paddock and we drew them out and then used the hooking them on I had been working on in the settling I did, and then stopped their feet and they went right to grazing before they got to much movement going making it difficult to shut down.  They grazed their way out of the pen and we stayed in front and kept them checked up.  The only setback was one stepped in a empty mineral rub and it spooked em, but we took ahold of them and they settled down and grazed pretty quick.


I took these photos after about an hour and one half after we left them to move the steers.  The grass was pretty short but they kept their heads down and grazed and did not walk the fences.

Taking the steers out was a little more challenging.  We had to go out through the different pens, cross a road and take them up an alley to a little holding lot and then take them out to paddock.  The steers really responded to the right kind of pressure and there was no panic movement.  It all worked real nice and I got some real nice opportunities to share some thoughts with Kaawa on creating movement from the back of the cattle to go up alley without pushing fence down or having calves jumping out or over.  I then drifted them out of the trap and Kaawa took ahold of them and settled them on his real nice young horse.  Everyone, calves, horse and Kaawa were all better when we finished.

This was very rewarding.  To see how little stress these calves had through the whole process of weaning, processing, and then getting them on grass is what I have been dreaming about after the first time I saw how wild the calves were 2 years ago.

I am amazed at the change in the calves and the pride in stockmanship that Kaawa and all the Parker Ranch crew are displaying.

I headed down the mountain, took care of my horse and we went to Nancy Jones place and we all went to the Manna-Lani resort, had a great brunch and then much to Wife Tammy’s pleasure went to the beach.

Even though I didn’t get to church, it was a very spiritual Easter for me.  I feel working with animals with compassion and being in, and appreciating Natures glory is getting pretty close to Jesus, and sitting on the beach with nothing to do gives you an opportunity to think and reflect.

I am very thankful I got to spend the day with the living things I shared it with.