Back in September we started our hunting season. Just seems like a blur though considering with the odd weather we've had we are still haying ended up baling freezed dried hay, not able to combine the grain to wet, and when it did warm up, the first week of rifle season, it was all hands on deck to get everything done while we could. In the midst of all the work madness is still that fact we have two active boys. When not working they in school and playing sports again. People told me as I was preparing last year to have a senior that we would be busy but I had no idea it would be quiet like this! It's an emotional time, we kind of like our kids, so it's hard to think about next year when he's not around. He's up to good things, so you try to think of all the positive but it is draining. Bill ended up being voted the 6th best 6-man player in the state of Montana this year, quite an accomplishment and probably the best way to end a his last season. The picture that show the four seniors walking off the field for the last time is very emotional for two reasons, the first one obvious, but the second these boys have played together for six year, that's a long time! They are brothers and our families have been together since 1st grade, just makes the statement that family isn't always blood true. Then the youngest is busy too, just an 8th grader, but still has plenty to do! We also add a new addition to the crew, Scarlet joined us in October. Back to hunting season, cause that's why we are all here...right? It's been a pretty good season so far, and we expect with some snow and cold moving in that it's going to continue to be good. As I mentioned before our first week of rifle was a bit rough, even though we were successful the guys had to work for it! I have to put in a plug for Lon though, thank you hon for the new bino's, I love them! Here is a few behind the scenes so far from September till now to show you what we've been up too. Remember the most recent stuff you can see from our Facebook page!
The pigs are here! Tyson will take 4-H hogs again this year. Lon and Tyson arrived home with a couple more than I expected, but that's okay. Guess what you guys get to eat when you come this fall? :) Tyson will not only show them at the fair but he has to keep daily feed records, feed them, work with them, and just all around take care of them and learn how to raise them. After getting home he went up to the grainery and ground barley and corn. He ground up about 700 pounds of feed which then he mixes into a ration that has bags of protein he gets from the Coop in it. Swine have a relatively simple digestive system, similar to humans. Therefore, pig rations are made up primarily of farm-grown grains, plus a protein supplement that includes vitamins and minerals. When Tyson gets done with the mix he then hauls it to the feeder where he will show them how to eat out of it. Pigs are really smart so he really only needs to show them a couple times before they get it. So he also needs to keep track how much he puts in the feeder and his ration and analyze it so he knows how much his pigs will gain, or should gain per day until fair time.
Tyson is my helper of the day as we try to make room for more mud. We've had quiet a winter so far, yes I do believe it isn't over yet even though it's "spring". So the pen that I am in however is not all mud... But some how and some way Tyson and I are going to try to make some sense of this mess and put this in a pile so the cows and us can at least walk to where we need to be. We knew at some point the snow drifts would have to go, and yes we knew it would be a mucky mess too! So wish us luck in accomplishing this task so we can move more again later!
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!
Well it’s been a long busy run this year. If you don’t know us I’ll let you in on a secret, not really everyone knows, our boys are very involved in sports, especially football and basketball. Not as much as some families I would like to think, but we do put on some miles just because we have a long way to travel from point A to point B around here. Being very involved with sports also brings the fact that it’s not if you get an injury, it’s when, if your putting forth your best effort somethings bound to happen. Bill started football 190 days ago. If you subtract 27 Sunday’s, which usually was taken up by 4-6 hours of homework and some sleep-in days, also minus 6 days of no practice football and basketball, (with the boys making it so far in football season they went basically right into basketball season and they got a couple days off at Christmas time) that would equal 157 days with no break. So here we are on a Sunday morning (cause mom finally made me) finally putting our toughness and pride aside (after seasons is over of course) to get a wrist checked out that’s been bothering him since football (he’s right handed and it’s the right wrist) and a shoulder he hurt over the weekend at district tournaments. The result...well the shoulder is okay he could benefit with some PT, however the wrist needs to be looked at by a specialist there’s a possible fracture he’s been playing with all this time. Tough or stubborn take your pick it is what it is at this point, now we will just get him healed up and get ready for the next thing...oh the adventure of raising boys!!!
It's funny how you can meet people by fluke and then all the sudden go from just acquaintances to friends. That's kind of how we met Brandon, by fluke...He came to White Sulphur to give a presentation to the students, the students really liked him and asked if he could come back and be their graduation speaker. After visiting with him, he had never killed a bear, it being spring time when he would come back to do the graduation we could try to get him a bear then. Perfect we'll help the kids out, Brandon gets to go bear hunting everyone wins. Sometimes when you do these types of things you don't really expect to hear from the person again and that's ok too, but not in this case. Brandon did kill his first bear with us, yes, but we really enjoyed visiting with him, these are the cool things that happen when you become an outfitter. You get to met all kinds of people. So a few months pass, our football team was doing really good. So I thought I'd let Brandon know and maybe I could Skype with him and he could drop a good word to them. (By the way Brandon not only likes the outdoors and hunting, he really likes football!! ;)) What are the odds that he just happen to be within the vicinity and could drop by. Ok, so something was meant to be here! He came in, talked to the boys during their playoff run, and it was cool! So come to find out Brandon is also starting up his own line of gear and hopes to get that taking off pretty soon. So one day I get an email, yep here it is got his new line of gear going. Congrats Brandon your hard work paid off! Owning your own business isn't easy, it's a 24/7, no breaks/vacations/holidays, feel like your broke sometimes venture, but worth it. You almost feel like your a farmer or rancher...almost! So if you want to check out his new gear here it is: Rokman Gear.
PS. Sounds like he might be coming back to White Sulphur again very soon to do some more football stuff ;), well you know your welcome to stay out here at the ranch with us and good luck with you business!
Little disappointed today in the ole' postal service. Makes me a little worried about some of you guys that are sending me deposits! Please double check to make sure I get it or send it certified just to be safe! So today, I stop to get our mail on the way home out of our new mailbox (see prior story about what happens when semi's cut corners too close). Anyway, I get home and just like everyone else I sit down and go through the mail. Bill. Bill. Junk. Junk. Oh what's this, a card? So I open it. It's a Christmas card, so then I flip the envelope back over to see the postage stamp on it. Oh boy, over 40 days late... Come on! Not only did they have to switch horses to get it here, since it was also from someone in town here, but they had to go by a horse from where Spain and ship it here. Where in the world has this thing been? Back to my first concern and note to our hunters, please please make sure I get everything that you are mailing me! Drop me an email when you send off your deposits or give me a call when you think I should have it. You just never know and I'm not a big complainer but gosh! For now I'll keep it local and just go into town and talk with the gals here. I hope I won't have to take this issue any further. I'm sure this is not a first for some, but it's first for us!
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.