Wednesday, April 11, 2007

British White Cattle and Early Spring in East Texas

Well, it is time I got back to blogging and sharing what's happening here at the ranch with my herd. (and to Taylor and Alana, all the photos can be clicked on and enlarged. . . and of course you both are so up on things, you no doubt realize that!) It's Springtime, and it is looking to be a beautiful Spring here in East Texas. We did have a quite odd Easter, with Easter morning requiring one to hide Easter eggs beneath a thick layer of sleet from the night before, we even had lots of snowflakes the evening before! Butt, Taylor's Mom, Catheryne, hid some candy filled eggs for Taylor and Alana in the house late morning and they had quite a hunt.

My niece, Taylor, and her friend, Alana, were thrilled with the change in the weather and the snow and sleet, having nothing on their minds but the uniqueness of the experience -- which we all should, how boring if the days and months of the seasons of the year were always the same. I realize it creates difficulties for many, these odd turns in the weather, but all the same it is our life, and without these seasonal changes and oddities . . . I don't know, I think I would miss them. I spent most of the winter indoors on essentially numbers and book work, and felt like I'd missed the winter;this last bit of winter suddenly appearing in the Spring made me happy, and certainly ready to let it go and get on with the Spring. Taylor and her good friend, Alana, really enjoyed the weekend 'joy-riding' as they termed it in my new Ranger, but judging from the quite apparent track through the center of my best back pasture that ends with a few berms that lead down to a ravine, (no doubt quite fun to roar through) they will not be having free reign with the Ranger in the coming seasons until they realize the damage they can do.

Besides buzzing around in the Ranger, the girls took turns trying to blow an old horn made from a cow's horn, or maybe a bull, who really knows! The photo above is of Alana giving it one last try on the Eve of Easter with the weather turning very windy and cold. The cows were coming up for a look and a listen, not accustomed to hearing the quite odd sounds Alana managed to make with the old horn. The next picture is of Taylor, suited up in my coveralls again (and yes, I'd dearly love to find some feminine coveralls from someone manufacturers please listen!) We newby cowgirls would like to have a more ....feminine and better fitting coverall for cold days working the cows! And even some very light weight ones for the summer....

Note how Taylor is able to approach this two day old calf without it's dam, who is just to the right in the photo, having not any problem with Taylor's approach and touching of the newborn, beyond being . . .watchful. That's what is so wonderful about this breed, their trusting and docile nature. This particular cow is actually a British White half blood, her dam was an excellent registered black Angus cow who would have done much more than appear to glare a bit at Taylor's approach or touching of her calf -- her Angus dam would have knocked you down.

My newborn calves weathered the cold sleet quite well and all were fine on Easter morning, with one cow, J.West's Madison, calving late that morning just in time for Taylor and Alana to see the newborn bull's birth before they left to spend the rest of that special day with their families. We didn't have the camera going, one of those moments when running back to the house seemed the wrong thing to do, we might all miss the big event, but the girls were able to watch from a close distance, and were quite enthralled to witness their first complete birthing of a calf, and Madison the cow was quite fine with her audience.

The following photo is of J.West's Wanda Mae, an outstanding heifer, who found herself a cozy spot in native clover and wasn't much interested in moving with the rest of the herd, including her mama, through this pasture to the next pasture this past week. I think the heavy native clover growth must surely be due to all the rain this area has had the past several months, and perhaps as well to my haying of the cattle on this once red muddy hilltop these past few years, adding much needed organic matter to the soil -- as well as scraping top soil from other areas and spreading it somewhat thinly across the surface a few years back. The combination of those efforts and this very wet Spring seems to have paid off.

If I could post a video or photo that allowed you to smell the sweet scent of this pasture of clover I would. It has been quite a beautiful early Spring pasture, buzzing with the hum of bees and smelling like Spring. It's all the more amazing to me knowing that it was nothing more than a barren red hill top a short 4 years ago. The prior owner had scraped this hilltop completely down deep into the clay soil that lies beneath the sandy layers of usually about 3 to 4 feet. It has taken much time to bring this pasture back to productivity, and this Spring has seen it at it's best for certain.