In case you were wondering, the chocolate pie I wrote about a couple days ago did, indeed, make it to the South Butte Creek corrals on Thursday, when I hauled lunch out to the preg-checking crew. (I had waaaay overfilled the pie shell with chocolate pudding and whipped cream and then wondered how I was going to deliver it safely to the corrals. In the end I laid several sheets of saran wrap on the table, placed the pie in the middle, pulled the sheets systematically up over the top, and said a prayer. When we got to the corrals, a lot of the cream that had started out on top of the pie had given in to gravity and slipped down to the underneath of the pan, but it was captured at least thanks to the saran wrap, and the pie tasted fine without it… suggesting that I had way too much cream on there in the first place!)
Anyhoo… when we showed up to the corrals, the guys had only a few more yearling heifers to preg-check, so we watched as they finished before lunchtime.
On the PV, as soon as a heifer is confirmed to be pregnant, she receives an age brand that she will carry throughout her life to aid in her identification. These girls this year received “5” brands on their shoulders, since they were born in 2015:
Also when a heifer is confirmed to be pregnant, her pink “feedlot tag” is cut out of her ear and she receives a new ear tag, color-coded to her age brand… and she receives an ear mark confirming that she’s in the cowherd here. Every outfit has a different ear mark to go with its brand, and at the PV it’s a left ear crop. That means the tip of the left ear is literally lopped off, and that’s Beau’s job. It’s a bloody job, too:
But Beau’s used to the job; he’s been the main ear-cropper around here for several years now. (As a side note of interest, through the years we’ve noticed that some days hardly any of the heifers bleed when their ears are cropped. Other days, they all spurt blood like crazy when they’re cropped. The old-timers say it all depends on the moon, that things ought to be done according to the lunar calendar because there’s an ideal time of the month to do all things agricultural… including planting corn, castrating pigs, and cropping heifers’ ears.)
Anyhoo… Asher of course wanted to be right in the thick of things, helping push up on the catwalk, and his buddy Joe was really good about including him:
Then a couple of wayward heifers kept trying to jump out of the alley…
… and we all got a little nervous about Asher getting pancaked, so Joe decided it was safest to put Asher on his shoulders:
Phew. That looks like a lot of work. I know how heavy that kid is — like a sack of rocks! Thanks, Joe!
By the way, Joe’s wife Kate was ear-tagging on the other side of the chute:
Meanwhile, Emi watched from the back of the pickup…
… and so did Grammy and Marsi.
As for the rest of the crew, Nate was pushing up horseback and Grampy was on the ground…
… and Brian was helping Nate push up…
… and Joe, the brander, was tending the almost-empty propane bottle.
When the world’s greatest vet, Dick, had preg-checked the last heifer, we all took a break for lunch:
And after lunch, while the crew trailed the bred heifers to their winter pasture…
… the kids played in the sandrocks near the corral. And, okay, I played too.
Gotta love sandrocks. I think sandrocks are God’s original jungle gyms.
And Asher took this final picture:
That’s right, four generations of us gals took lunch out on Thursday — me, my Grandma Peg, my daughters Marsi and Emi, and my mom Belva. Grandma, at 90, continues to amaze me with her vigor for life. She drove from her home and met us at our usual meeting-spot as we were on our way, about halfway to the corrals from my home, and then sat perched in the middle of the pickup the rest of the way up as we crunched over miles of gravel and slid sideways through mud puddles… her mind clear as a bell and her eyes sharp as eagles’.
And, as usual, she tried to buy Joe’s horse off of him when we got there. And, as usual, he convinced her that the horse isn’t ready to sell yet. A few more months of riding… and maybe next year they’ll make a deal.
© Tami Blake