Occasionally, a cow loses a calf at birth or a calf loses its mother, and you need to graft the orphan or a substitute calf onto another cow to raise it. In this unfortunate circumstance this heifer lost her calf for one reason or another something wasn't quiet right. We didn't have a "bum" or extra calf available in our herd we had to go out and find someone who had one. Most of the time I don't try this hard, but this is a nice little heifer and she really wants to be a mamma, and it's Tyson's only cow. So I call a couple dozen people looking around for a calf. Talk about the typical story of I call a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy that might have a calf. That's how it went down this morning and by this afternoon I had this little sweetheart back home! Now the cow is in the head catch for a couple reasons. One we wanted to make sure that the calf sucked for the first time on this cow without her interfering at all. See sometimes they smell the calf and they immediately don't like them cause the calf is not their own, they can tell. Secondly, while I was on the road bringing the new calf home, Lon was home skinning the dead one. I know it kind of sounds morbid but it works most of the time. We will use it's hide and put it on the new calf so we can try to trick the mother cow into thinking that it's hers. In a few days, once the calf has drank her milk and she starts to realize that it's hers to take care of, we will turn her back outside in the pen. They do manufacture products that you can use to put on the calf for smell, we have worse luck with those then to just do it this way. (There is lots of reading out there on all the tips and tricks ranchers have used to graft a calf, see the link above.) We appreciate the help of a rancher down by Three Forks that had a set of twins and was willing to sell us one, so we could let her be a first time mom! So far so good, but it is only day one.
So look at this picture very closely...what can you see? You see the four-wheeler, you see Lon, and maybe he's hooking the winch up to the suburban. You might be able to tell that the four-wheeler is stuck in a ditch or a snowbank too. You notice that I'm taking the picture from the inside of the truck. This picture isn't out of the ordinary. Ya, it seems like I'm always pulling Lon out. You may ask why I'm in my suburban? Well, I was on my way up to the house when Lon called me, and it was an emergency that I get to him quick. Luckily, he was close to the house. Well then you may ask, why didn't he just walk to the house and get a truck. Sometimes it's not just what the picture shows, but what is outside of the picture that you can't see that is apart of this story. You see (or don't see) the mad mamma cow to my left outside my door on the other side of the ditch! Note to self: not a good idea to try to get away from a mad mamma cow that's trying to protect her baby and get stuck in a ditch while out running her. This made for a very awkward situation. About every other second Lon would look up and use my suburban as a wall from her. Every time she moved, stomped, snarled, mooed, or shook her head, he'd jump behind the suburban. Finally, she took her baby down the fence line and away from us, so we could get him the rest of the way pulled out. That's why I'm inside and that's why you don't know the whole story of a picture until you've heard the story to go with it!
We live on an old sheep ranch. The going joke has always been that we can grow more wire than we can grain. Back in the day, if you didn't do the loose hay piles, then you had small square bales and they were tied with baling wire. Living on an old sheep ranch that at the least ran about 11,000 head it's inevitable that you will find wire where they fed, wire where they reused it for fencing, wire where some animal drug it for awhile and then left it behind. Of course, anytime that you could really use some to actually fix something it can not be found. Lon and I use to have close to 200 at the most. We said enough a few years ago and turned the sheep business over to our oldest boy, Bill. The story along with that goes something like this. Bill was named after Bill Loney, a local rancher down the valley. Bill died just this last year in May, but was someone that Lon really looked up to. Bill also gave Lon his first two sheep that started him into the sheep business. Well Bill Loney called up one day, shortly after our Bill was born, "I have some sheep for Bill I'll bring them out tomorrow". So Lon and I were thinking probably two sheep. Nope when he backed the trailer up and opened the door, here comes ten. Of course we told him he didn't have to do this, but there was no way he was going to take no as an answer. See in the midst of all this Lon and I had just switched over to cattle, so we had just like five head just because they wouldn't fit on the trailer. We thought we were pretty much rid of the pesky things, that is until Bill showed up. If you've ever been around sheep, they are basically born to die. If one crawls into somewhere were they shouldn't be, they all follow. For example, we had a big culvert that we were going to put in one summer. They thought it would be a good place to cool down, they all got stuck in it, overheated and died, we lost 6 head. Just because they couldn't figure out to back out of it. Lambs, oh they are so cute (and stupid)! In the picture above I don't know if you can tell, but they were running, bucking and playing. Long story short, Bill now has about 10 head that we are lambing now, and finally got sheared this weekend. They are suffolks/hampshire crosses and he uses them for 4-H. It's very hard to find guys that will shear anymore. It is back breaking work! I found a really good article from Kathy Voth, How and When to Shear Sheep. She suggests DIY. My reply to that is, hell no! I'll sell them before I have to shear them. This winter has been a duzzy so because of the weather we sheared later than we would have liked, but the wool insulates the sheep and if you take that away, they can get pretty darn cold. I'm hoping since we did this spring hits soon, because here in the next few days it will be calving season. I bet you can guess my next blog post!
It's our version of "art work". There are many different pieces of "art work" that people chose to hang on the walls of their home. Posters, paintings, regular decor, cool metal designs, family photos, are probably the more common things to hang on your wall. You may find a couple paintings in our house and yes I still make room for some family photos too, but more than anything our "art work" are taxidermy mounts. And it seems they all tell a story just like a painting. Most of our mounts are European and on a plaque. Check out Outdoor Life's DIY about European mounts and how they use beetles to clean the skulls. We try to save as much space as we can, and they tend to be a bit cheaper. On that note, most of our mounts are not small, so really how much space are we saving? None really, our house is full. There are no blank walls. Every spot is taken up by something. So now that we have gotten back Lon's elk and Tyson's first elk, what do we do? So here they sit. Well, Tyson wants his in his room; fine we can find a spot there. However, I'm not exactly sure where to put the other, so there it sits in the middle of the floor or should it go to the basement and sit with all the others. Maybe we will rotate one out one day and put him up. Who knows, the next option is to build. Yes, a "trophy room", maybe some day. Oh the price we pay for our "art work".
ALS stands for Automated Licensing System. An ALS number is assigned by date of birth, followed by 1-3 digits sequentially. All applicants applying for a hunting license in Montana since 2001 will have an ALS number. If you have not applied since 2001, you will be assigned an ALS number. Once assigned then you can continue on with the license application process and purchase a license. Non-resident license that we typically work with are either the Big Game Combo tag or the Elk Combo tag. Those tag deadlines are March 15. The best and easiest way to apply for a license is through the Montana FWP website!
Julie Hanson married Lon in 1996. She is a Montana native, grew up on a ranch, lives and works on a ranch,and is a partner in Anchor P Outfitters. See more on the About Us page.