This Little Calf Goes to From Ranch to  Market

This Little Calf Goes to From Ranch to Market

November 9, 2019 100 By Luis Garrison

Hi I’m Mike, all year long on the ranch
works toward this one day, today. When calves get brought in, sorted from their
moms, loaded on trailers and sold at auction. It’s the ranches one pay day of the year,
today on our Wyoming life. Its early, I’m waiting for the sun to rise
a bit so I can see anything out there. I’m also waiting for help to arrive. Ive got a few neighbors coming in this morning
to help sort calves, Erin will also be out to help after her mom gets here to hang out
with kids. But its ok that we have a few minutes cause
it gives me a chance to hang out with you. Today is going to be a busy day, well its
been a busy week, getting ready to ship calves off to auction. Fixing fence, mending corrals and moving cows. We had an unexpected visitor this week when
when blake from the youtube channel guy in Wy. Popped into the ranch. We had talked in the past about doing something
together but he was in town and gave me a call. We got to hang out for a bit, get to know
each other and he even took a look at a leaking fuel line on a tractor of ours. If you haven’t had a chance to check him
out yet please do so, hes right here in Wyoming also, in fact hes the only other Wyoming youtuber
I have met. He ranches down by Cheyenne and is definitely
worth checking out. I’ll add a link to his channel in the description. After our visit from Blake it was right back
to work though as I had to get all the calves moved up from about 5 miles back on the ranch
were they have been spending their summer with their moms. Before we even got to the project at hand
today, the sorting of calves and loading in the trucks for auction we have to get the
cows and their calves home to the corrals and loading chutes. This process starts a few days before sale
day. The cows and calves currently live on a huge
expanse of land, roughly 2 miles wide and 2 miles deep. The goal here is to gather up all the cows
and the calves, and start them moving toward home. The problem is that they are widely spread
out. The solution to the problem consists of finding
the cows and their calves that are farthest from home and start there, with only a few
cows and start them moving toward the gates, which are miles away. Its up and down hills, looking in valleys
and ravines, searching for any hidden animals. If a calf gets left behind it will not only
be missing when its time to load trucks and trailers which could and would cost the ranch
revenue but a lone calf left down here could possibly become a target for coyotes and even
if we did go back and find it, moving a single calf is a huge pain as they don’t have the
herd mentality of the cows. So in the end its better to take the extra
time and make sure they are all together, where the calves will follow the cows and
the cows kinda know where they are going. It’s a long process gathering all the hidden
cows and calves but once they are all located and moving toward one specific gate things
get a bit easier. Most of the cows have been through this many
times and know where they are going and in order to help them along we will use a tractor
and a bale of hay to entice them to move where we want them to go. Food, as it is for me, is a huge motivator
for cows and after a few hours of gathering, grouping and moving the herd we eventually
end up back at what we call our home pasture. About 400 acres that leads directly into the
lot, a 3 acre area that will keep the cows and calves together until we get to sorting
them off. Getting them into the lot, is a bit more of
a trick and one that I cant quite do myself. Even with food put down to lure them into
the area, they don’t want to go through the gate. Most are happy to just hang out and eat grass,
and the calves who haven’t been moved too much just don’t understand where we want
them to go or what we want them to do. Luckily Erin sees my plight from the house
and hops on a four wheeler to come out and give me a hand, and within a few minutes we
have most of the cows and calves pushed through the gate, into the new pasture we want them
to hang out in overnight. Tomorrow is the big day and we feed them and
make sure they are calmed down before we get to work. As the sun begins to rise on sale day, our
help arrives and our first job is to sort the bottle calves. Sunshine is the only bottle calf that will
be staying on the ranch, the rest, yes including Gunther, will be sold at auction. This is goodbye to Gunther but it’s the
way things go around here. Next year there will be another Gunther and
we will go through the whole process again. It can be sad, selling calves is very bittersweet
for me. I put a lot of work into making sure these
calves are healthy and well. Many of these calves I held in my arms after
they were born, bringing them into the shop or barn for medical attention. The kids name quite a few and even they have
to learn that every calf that is born here on the ranch means the money to pay a power
bill, buy fuel, or fix a tractor. It’s a business and as much as I would love
to keep every calf that I grow close to, its not a realistic idea. Each calf that we do keep, costs us money
and every one has to be worth it. After the bottle calves are sorted off and
loaded in the corral, ready to get on the truck its time to bring in the rest of the
cows and the calves. Moving them into progressively pastures, into
holding corrals where they will be sorted. Coordination between everyone helping is key
here, we are keeping back about 13 calves, some to complete the kids herds, each of our
kids, Mackenzie, Grace and Lincoln have a herd of 5 cows, whos calves are sold in their
names and the money put toward their college education, other calves are kept to finish
and butcher for farmers market sales of beef next year. Every one helping needs to know which calves
we are going to keep and a list is spread around so everyone can keep an eye out for
those calves and we can sort them into a separate corral and make sure they don’t get on the
truck. The rest of the calves are marked to go to
auction and are sorted off of their moms in the alleys. Narrow but long strips of corrals, that enable
us to push the calves back and hold them while their moms move past us and to the other end. Allowing us to then move the calves into a
separate corral before moving their moms back out the other end and back into a holding
corral. Our help working on the back end of the herd
in the larger corrals keeps the cows and calves moving up toward the sorting corrals and the
process repeats itself over and over with loads of 10 to 20 animals until they are all
sorted off and the corrals are full of calves. Just in time as a the trucks arrive and back
up to the loading chutes. We have two semi trucks to load today, each
can hold up to about 100 calves. The trailers themselves are a labyrinth of
compartments and a maze of gates, ramps and holding areas. Katchina and Shawn are hauling calves for
us today. I’m Katchina, I drive for Fowler Trucking Based on weight and number it depends. we load from front to back we load Down first, then we pull this, then I’ll open this here and we can load the nose deck we can load about 106 calves this is the doghouse for the extra, you can fit 5 or 6 calves up here We’re standing on what they call the top deck ERIN: And this is the belly? This is the big long belly ERIN: How many calves go down in the belly? 32 and 32 are top and bottom deck in the nose deck will hold 10 12 and 10 in the nose and then 15 to 17 on the back depending on the size When Katchina is ready, we had a little conference
about the number of calves that we are going to load in each compartment then we start
loading calves, and I try to remember each group she needs, was it 25 then 25 then 32,
then 5? Well she will yell at me if I’m wrong. Luckily loading the calves goes smoother than
my memory and with the help of our crew, who has all done this before all the calves are
loaded on the two separate trucks and they head down the road toward South Dakota to
our closest sales barn and auction house about 2 hours away. While the trucks are enroute, we take some
time to push the cows out of the corrals and back out onto to pasture, where they will
bawl for their calves until their milk dries up and they settle down. We also move our calves we are keeping on
the ranch, the steers and the heifers to another corral where they have food and water. For the first time in years, Erin and I head
over to the auction with, kids in tow, mostly to take you along with us. Our auctions are also done on the internet,
so we usually stay at home to watch from there. Another reason we stay home is because the
moms who have just lost their calves are going to be looking for them for the next few days
and its better to stay close in case they take out a fence or something trying to find
their babies. But down the road we go, and into south Dakota
and arrive at the sales barn and auction. Where 9000 calves will be sold today and trucks
are everywhere, unloading calves from 3 different states where they have been raised for this
very day. The sales barn and area its spans over many
acres, with hundreds of pens to keep calves separated by seller on one side of the barn
to buyers on the other. Even as more and more trucks arrive outside,
the auction is going on inside and calves are brought in one side and sold to buyers
from all over the area. It all happens very quickly and after a sale
is made, they are moved out the other side of the barn and into waiting pens where the
buyers will pick them up over the next few days and take them to feedlots where they
will be fattened over the next year and eventually end up in your supermarket. This whole day brings another season to an
end on the ranch, the calves are gone but the ranch still exists and goes on, which
I learned when my phone rang in the middle of the sale and I found out from one of our
hunters that is on the ranch now that a bunch of cows have broken down fence and gotten
into the yard, right up to the shop, our house and Erins gardens. Not a good thing and actually could be very
bad as cows could do a lot of damage if they wanted to. Luckily for us, I was able to call my neighbor
Gary to come and help move the cows out of where they were and back out into the pasture
where they were supposed to be. We decided to leave the auction early and
get back to survey the damage where the cows had broken about 20 feet of fence and needed
to be pushed back out and fence needed fixed to keep them as far as possible from our house,
where we are expected to sleep tonight, with the sound of 160 bellowing moms in the background,
needless to say, we will be sleeping with the tv on tonight, probably pretty loud. I’ve heard a lot of ranchers say that today
is the day they work all year for, the one paycheck for the ranch and I can understand
that, but I also like to think that today is the day that allows the ranch to work for
all the other incredible experiences that we get to be a part of. Feeding cows all winter long, calving in the
spring, and cutting hay in the summer. Living life out here in the rolling hills
and tall wheat grass, meeting people and making friends, just like you. It’s a cycle and the cycle continues, coming
up on our Wyoming life we will be getting ready for winter, finishing steers, working
with our remaining calves, fixing water lines, and apparently mending more fence as well. Erin has some really cool stuff coming up
as we get ready to build a new high tunnel, she takes a stab at winter growing and a whole
lot more. We’ve had a few people ask us about getting
their very own Our Wyoming Life t-shirt and I’m proud to announce that just this week
we have partnered with amazon to offer Our Wyoming life t-shirts for sale right on Head to amazon and search our Wyoming life
and you will find them, there. We are also allowed to submit some of our
own designs, so if you have an idea for an our Wyoming life t-shirt, tell us about it
in the comments and we can see if we can make it happen. Subscribe and check us out of facebook. Also make sure you go check out Guy in WY,
hes got some really stuff going on as well. Thanks for being here and thanks for joining
us in Our Wyoming Life.