On the day the heifers came, it started to rain. This phrase is significant in two ways:
- It needed to rain so the heifers could come.
- It needed to not rain so they could get here.
Confused? Let me try again: We were needing rain to grow grass for the heifers to eat; they couldn’t come until we had grass. Yet it was important the heifers — coming-two-year-olds imminently pregnant with their first calves — get here before the rain made the dirt road impassable.
Does that make sense? Anyhow, it all worked out. Three loads of them came in from the feedlot at PV Ranch headquarters a couple weeks ago:
And they looked like this:
These heifers are PV-raised calves and part of the “stock the VX with cattle” plan. You see, when the PV Ranch owner bought the (smaller) VX Ranch almost two years ago, thus turning the VX into a cow camp under the PV brand, cattle were not part of the sale. So when we started out here at the VX, there were no cows here. It was also a very grazed-out ranch; previous owners had overstocked the place and abused the natural grass resource. And so our managers have been stocking the VX slowly over the last months with various classes of cattle sourced from the PV. We didn’t have heifers to calve here last year, but these — born in 2014 — were retained on the ranch expressly with this year in mind. These girls are second-stringers, over and above the number of replacement heifers the PV would usually keep. Their breeding cycles were synchronized and they were artificially inseminated last summer at the feedlot, scheduled to calve at the VX… right about now!
These heifers (and all the bred coming-twos at the PV) stayed in the feedlot until the last possible date before calving because of our dry winter this year; everyone was concerned about a shortage of grass. It’s unusual that they were in the feedlot; usually PV heifers winter on pasture. But knowing there would be no grass to spare, my dad — Beau’s immediate manager — kept the heifers on silage as long as possible, then sent them out on trucks when their due dates were very near. Meanwhile, we were all hoping and praying for the rain to come to grow more grass.
Once they got here, Beau turned these heifers out into the VX horse pasture to graze on what little old grass remained, and they were kicking up dust when they left! I think they were happy to have their very own pasture to explore… far away from that stinky old feedlot:
The kids stole Beau’s horse at this juncture…
… so he had to walk with the dog:
Then, that same day the heifers came, it started to rain!
We got an inch and a half in a few rainy days, and then the sun came out, and green grass started to grow! Hallelujah!
It’s amazing how this happens almost every time… just when we think it’s hopeless and that something drastic might have to happen… it eventually rains. Even just a little tiny bit of rain can make a Montanan feel a lot better. Rain brings with it the hope that things are gonna be just fine after all.
(The kids, once again, had entirely too much fun in the resulting muddy puddles.)
Now: the heifers are calving along happily out in the horse pasture, munching on tender green shoots of grass. As heifers inevitably are, they are a little confused about what’s happening to them. See? This one’s saying: Hey! What’s this little thing behind me?
P.S.: Synchronized heifers might be bred on the same day, but they don’t necessarily all calve on the same day.
In other news, my horses are saying: Tami Jo, are you ever going to ride us again? We could be doing some real work out there like we used to do.
And I say, Not this time, boys. I am relegated to the side-by-side these days because I have three little calves that follow me everywhere, and sometimes I look behind me and say, Hey! What are these little things doing back here?
My mantra remains: In A Few Years We’ll All Be Horseback.
Also: Never Complain About Rain. Because now that it’s started, it doesn’t want to stop…
© Tami Blake