Archive for March, 2009
What exactly do you as a farmer or rancher consider equipment on your farm or ranch?
This may seem like a silly question to most but, think about it for a minute. Of course, we all use tractors and tools and, that is the first things we think of. The ATV or the mower, all the things that help us work our business is what comes to mind. Well, I have another thought.
Yesterday, while doing chores and checking the livestock, I realized that our new mama, a 3 year old heifer, had misplaced her calf. It had been born early yesterday morning and I knew that it had been up moving about and had suckled. So when she came up to eat with no baby, I figured she hid it out and would go right back to it. After she ate, she headed back to the pasture but, couldn’t seem to locate her baby. So my 3 year old niece and I started walking the pasture, looking everywhere we thought she might have left it. We had no luck and it was beginning to get dark. We called it a day. Needless to say, she finally found it.
That got me to thinking on the fact that we, ourselves, are equipment for our business, but even more our own livestock is also equipment. Given the fact that I had my niece with me, I didn’t think to take the dog along. She would have been a real help but, I didn’t want to spook the cattle or have her get them moving and we not be able to get out of the way. I don’t have a lot of control over the dog since she is a work in progress. Now, if my partner would have been home from work, he would have had more success.
The other thought was that Allen uses his horse to check the cattle. Bubby is the best we have at working the cattle and Allen will always saddle him up and ride the entire pasture. Bubby can take him just about anywhere he needs to go. My horse has been injured so he cannot be rode just yet and it was easier for us to walk.
Using your livestock to work your livestock makes a lot of sense. In these days, it saves on gas too. Not every situation can have a simple solution but, if we use what livestock equipment we have available to us, some of our days can just be as relaxing and enjoyable as we want them to be. What better way to relax than riding your horse, having your dog tag along and looking at the things you enjoy.
Today is the first day of Spring. Isn’t it wonderful?
The grass is turning green and flowers are blooming. Trees are beginning to bud and the birds are singing. The sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky, time to play in the dirt, my oh my. (Tracie Rajean, 2009)
Just a little fun there. Springtime, the time of year to plan your garden and get busy. I enjoy this time of year because I get to grow things and watch my family enjoy my harvest. I’ll plant enough to feed my family and still have enough to give to others. I’ll can tomatoes and green beans, freeze peppers, broccoli, onions, strawberries, peaches and blackberries, probably make stewed tomatoes and salsa and, who knows what else. I’ll work my business early so that I can have the remainder of the day to till the ground and create my garden layout. I’ll already have my seedlings started and when the weather warms, I’ll be ready to plant.
So, now that I have a plan, I need to make sure I have the right garden accessories. What exactly does that consist of? If you are a gardener, whether big or small, you know there are a few essentials that you need. For instance, a hoe, shovel, rake, water hose and bucket, trowel, string (for marking rows and later tying up plants), stakes ( to hold up plants) gloves, fertilizer, a knee pad ( to use when picking your harvest or pulling weeds), old newspapers, mulch, straw and etc. Well, you get the picture.
One much needed accessory is a garden tool organizer or tool caddy. This can be a wagon pulled behind your garden tractor, a bucket or basket, a professionally made organizer or anything that can take all your tools where you need to go at one time. I have even seen old mailboxes set up in the garden to keep the smaller tools handy. What a great idea! When you have everything together and in one place it saves you time from having to run back and forth to get them.
I use my lawn tractor and wagon to move my tools, haul debris and all kinds of stuff. I would sure hate to be without it.
We all know what multi-tasking and multi-purpose means. Multi-tasking means doing more than one thing or job at a time and multi-purpose means an item can be used for more than one thing. Okay, now that I have you really confused, I would like to tell you a story of My Three Legged Cow, Rusty Rose.
Rusty Rose was born in March of 2002. She was my first calf, by my Longhorn cow, Angel, and I thought she was just beautiful. By age two she gave birth to her first calf, Ruby Tuesday, and every year after she gave me a bull calf. We were always pleased with her offspring and planned to keep her around for quite a while.
Well, apparently, that wasn’t in the stars. In January of 2008, on the coldest morning of the season, she didn’t come up with the herd to eat. We found her at the hay barn upside down in the hay ring. She had apparently tried to get into the ring to get the hay in the middle and caught her left hind leg. She had to have been there for a few hours because her leg was already showing signs of frostbite. We were sure she would lose it.
Now, as I said earlier, these are Longhorn cattle and they do have horns, big ones. Allen, my partner, got her to the barn and he began working with her to get her back on her feet. She was due to deliver a calf in March and I, at least, wanted to keep her alive that long and save the calf. He done all he could do with antibiotics and lifting her up to stand everyday. She was pretty aggressive and would do her best to try to hook him so I stayed clear. He is the one with the experience. We were able to keep her going and in March she delivered a beautiful bull calf, which I named Squirt. I thought for sure that I would have to bottle feed him and she wouldn’t be able to take care of him with only three legs, her leg did fall off after two months but, to our surprise, after she gave birth she took to caring for her calf like nothing else. She was up and nursing him and very protective. It took me a little more than a week before I could get in her stall to feed her. When Squirt was about two months old, we were able to arrange an area where we could let them out of the barn and at the same time be safe from the rest of the herd. She couldn’t cope with the cows because she couldn’t move fast enough and they would pick on her. So every day they got to get out in the lot and move around and enj0y the grass.
Now, comes the good part. I had planters hanging on my fence that was next to the house. I thought I had done a pretty good job of securing them from the wind and Rusty Rose but to my surprise, I didn’t. Allen went out one morning to feed before work and turned her and the calf out into the lot. I heard him come back into the house about 30 minutes later and holler, “You need to come see this!” I didn’t know what was going on but when I walked out the door, he was standing there looking at Rusty and said, “Now what do we do?” I looked at her and she had hooked one of my plant baskets off the fence and was wearing it on her horn. It sure was a funny sight.
While trying to figure out how to get it off her horn, Allen said, “ let me try something,” and headed for the barn. He came back with a training stick with a small hook on the end for catching the halter and rope, that we use for training our horses. He reached out towards Rusty Rose and hooked the basket pulling it off her horn. Easy enough, right? Here, we thought we would have a terrible time with her but she just stood there. Needless to say, I secured my baskets better after that.
So by telling this story, I wanted to emphasize on the fact that farm tools, although each have a specific purpose, can be used for more than just one thing. This story just tells of a humorous event in which a training tool was used as a catch all or pick up stick. But, there are so many uses for other tools around the farm, you just have to think about it. It is like us country girls and our decorating. I have two big tractor tires with my strawberry plants in and I use an unused gate for my cucumbers to grow up, I use old barrells (50 gal.) cut in half for tomato and other plants so I have more room in my garden. Anything that will hold soil that is just lying around and not being used, particularly if it is to be discarded and I like it, you can bet I’ll have a plant in it before summer is over. That is just an example.
There are so many other things like the string off hay bales, use them to tie gates back, tie up tomato plants, use on closing boxes and etc. Tractors have dual purposes, as well as, livestock sorting sticks, I use them just to keep my animals at bay while feeding, and even feeders can be used as a multi-purpose tool. Use your imagination and you’ll find a lot of different uses for things you already have. With our economy as it is today, every little bit helps.
Taking care of animals is much like taking care of yourself. When we need a drink we go get one or when we are hungry we fulfill our appetites. At the beginning of the day or at the end, most of us like to bathe or take a shower to feel clean and relaxed and then we apply deodorants, perfumes, colognes and lotions to our bodies to keep our skin soft and looking good. The same goes for our animals; well, not to that extent but, we still have to help them with their physical needs once in a while.
That is where Udder Oil comes in. We really don’t consider the fact that the udders on an animal needs attention, we just assume that mama can take care of herself. Only until we notice that the baby or babies are having problems nursing or the mama won’t let them nurse, do we see they may need help.
Just like us humans, an animals skin can become dry, crack and become sore. So much that the mama can no longer stand to have her little ones suckle. Then and only then, do we begin to apply an oil or ointment on the udders to help them heal. Hey, I’ve been guilty of not paying attention and not realizing this exact issue. I didn’t even consider the fact that this was an issue until I started watching my partner with his cattle and sheep. One of the biggest issues we have had was a cow that one side of her udder would get so full of milk that she would become so sore she couldn’t stand to have her calf even touch the swollen side. She would have to be milked, and we don’t have milk cows, to relieve the pain. It might take a couple of times before we could turn her and her baby back out into the pasture.
Before that could be done, we would apply an oil or an ointment to her udder to help it heal. It soothes and heals the dry damaged skin and gets mama and baby back on the right track. This is one more tool for the farm and ranch that can be added to your livestock supply kit.
Guide cattle gently without hitting them just to follow commands. Cattle sorting paddles are designed for safe sorting of livestock. This new tool eliminates the need for electric prods which are traumatic to animals. Sorting paddles are better alternatives in livestock handling.
Paddle heads are wide enough to create a visual barrier that can stop animals in their tracks. Some paddles have BB’s inside to provide a sound to which animals respond. Paddles also have quality easy-grip handles for comfortable maneuvering.
When I was younger, I had no problem going out around the horses or livestock. I basically had “NO FEAR” when it came to working around the sows and piglets. Oh, there was the, be cautious of the Boar, attitude that we had to keep in mind but, usually we had no problems, except when a new litter was first born. We cut teeth and tails on the piglets and worked closely with the sows when cleaning their stalls. I had my own horse and was not afraid to ride at any speed or jump whatever came his way. I basically was not afraid.
Well, that was years ago. I had raised a family, been away from the farm for almost twenty years and did not realize that a person could change so much from being unafraid to fearing the things you grew up with.
So I began to gradually face my fears. My partner has a small farm and he has always had horses and cattle. The fear I faced with the horses really surprised me. I never dreamed I would be afraid of the animal that I loved the most. I was terrified to get too close, to ride, to even be around them for fear of getting hurt. It just shocked me. I realized that if I wanted to have anything to do with them, I would have to get a grip and face whatever fear had a hold on me. So, I began re-learning the basics and went to some training seminars. We went and listened to Clinton Anderson, Chris Cox, Dennis Reis and a couple other instructors and watched their techniques. We brought home DVDs and books and watched and read their training skills that had been successful for them. We then began with our own training.
I started out scared to death and very slow. I first started working with a three year old that was used to having people around him. He did well with what teaching I could do. I think I confused him more than helped at first. I couldn’t wait to have my own horse so I bought a paint mare, 6 year old, and was just thrilled. She was my worst nightmare. I couldn’t do ground work with her one day because she’d totally forget it the next and every time I would ride, she’d throw me. It became pretty dangerous. I was beginning to feel my fear grow again. It was apparent I needed to find a better suited horse for me and let her go, and I did. I now own an 8 year old gelding that is very gentle and rides nicely. I have faced my fears, or at least most of them, and am pretty proud of myself. I still have a ways to go but, now I can walk through the bull pen and feed our Longhorn bulls. I can now feed every animal on the farm, which consists of Longhorn cows and bulls, Angus, Herefords, horses, goats (which are mine) and chickens (mine also).
I have my own animals now and have come to realize that if I want this, I have to be able to function around them and FEAR has its place but you have to be able to use it to your advantage and not against yourself. An essential when it comes to farm tools, maybe not the usual when you think of it but, it has a purpose. Many are not aware of the fact that they are afraid but being a woman and animal lover I’ll admit it has nothing to do with your gender or ego, it is just human and we all have a fear of something. Learn to use it to your advantage and you’ll get far.
Here are a few tips I learned when working with animals:
1. Get over your fears by having a plan
2. Your safety first and then the animals
3. Herd animals have a Pecking Order, learn whom they trust
4. You and your animal must earn each others trust
5. They need to know where your space is and theirs
6. Don’t push them beyond their limits, mistakes will be made. Back down and let them catch up to where they are comfortable and go from there.
7. Most Important: Start slowly and gradually work up to a pace suited best for both of you.
There are a lot of shows on RFD-TV that pertain to horses. The clinics that we have been to have helped me a lot but, if I have the time, I watch Ken McNabb and the others I mentioned above for new ideas and training techniques.
There are many things today that we may consider as part of our livestock equipment on the farm or ranch. The tractor, feed grinder, feeders, buckets, sorting paddles, ropes, chains and so many other things are considered as part of our livestock supplies. These are all necessary items that are used in the business of raising horses, cattle and other livestock. We use all kinds of tools to build fences and repair buildings that we don’t often look at the one tool we really need when it comes to training our livestock.
I am speaking of Trust. This is the one must have tool that we need when working with our animals. If you watch the kids in 4-H and see how they handle their cattle, pigs and sheep, you can see how they work with them so closely. They have to trust them to not hurt them and visa – versa. It is the same on the farm working everyday with your livestock. Not to say that you shouldn’t be cautious because you should, but you learn how they react around you when you feed and they become accustomed to you being there everyday. You learn to watch for changes and be aware.
There is what is called “The Pecking Order,” among herd animals. This can be deceiving to understand, so I will try to simplify it for you. The pecking order is not just who gets to drink first or eat first as most of us believe when we first here of this. It really has to do with which one of the herd is the strongest and most likely to protect the rest of them if danger arises. The herd chooses their leader and trusts that one horse or bull to protect them.
It is the same when we work with our animals. They have to trust you to protect them. If they don’t trust you, then you more than likely will have issues. In return, you have to trust your animal as well. As both of you build that bond with each other, you will have wonderful results in accomplishing the task at hand.
This just isn’t for large animals. A good example is my Jack Russell, Bella. Something happened to her when she was little, not sure exactly what, but she became quite a terror to her owner. My son saw her one day and decided that I needed a puppy. Therefore, I became her owner. I did not know of the previous happenings in her life and just picked her up and loved her and cared for her. She is my most loyal pal. To this day, oh she has her moments, she has not ever hurt me but, she is not friendly to anyone else, except my two sons. I am the only one that can hold her to do anything with her. She trusts me. I won her trust by loving and caring for her and giving her the attention she needed.
Trust is a livestock supply that we really need to stock up on. You never know when that particular tool just might come in handy.
Meet the unique nutritional needs of your horse. Horse vitamins have a huge impact and well-being on equine animals. Vitamins can come from food but are also manufactured within the body. Vitamins have the power to promote and regulate virtually all of a horse’s normal bodily functions.
Be reminded though that vitamins are needed only in small quantities. More can do more harm than good. Actually, some experts even agree that under normal feeding programs using good quality feeds, horses do not need extra vitamins added to their food. But if a horse is under stress or feeds are of low quality, then vitamins may be needed for supplementation.