Welcome to our ranch near Canada's west coast in Beautiful British Columbia's West Chilcotin mountain region. Where calling the vet means hollering back at the house to bring your kit, new friendships are formed from the back of a horse and true fun for a five year old is getting a machete for Christmas. Where 'cutting the dinks off' has a totally different meaning than what first comes to mind, Muck Boots are a household name, a hand shake still means something and the coffee is always on.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Mothering Up

We had an amazing down pour of rain (and some hail) over the weekend, and it has sure made a beautiful difference to our range.  You can really hear the grass growing!  
We've all been riding quite a bit lately, keeping cattle moving on the range and making sure the bulls are available to do their job.  
Mum would not be kept off a horse any longer, but we did convince her to ride Rea.  Jackson said it would be okay.  She has a couple of excellent horses she usually rides, but neither have the steadiness and absolute level head of this mare.    
She went longer than she probably should have but overall it was a great day.  I think the biggest challenge is getting on and off one handed, but Rea is eternally patient and very well 'stump broke'.  (Meaning she will stand and wait for you to find something good and high to climb on to before climbing aboard.)    

Laura and I rode out early to have a look around.  Was amazingly foggy and the only thing we came across was horses (not ours).

Luckily it cleared and was a beautiful day.  Here Bree is going around to bring the herd closer together.  (She is doing amazing for such a young dog!)  Mum's dog Tuk is backing her up.  

We've reached our destination.  Wonder why it's called Rock Meadow?  
Mum on Rea and Olivia on Tinker.  

After any kind of move with the cattle, we also spend the extra time to "mother them up".  This literally means keeping them contained until all the mothers and babies find each other, however long that may be.  When they reach new grass  like this, the cows are excited about eating and seeking out their favorite spots.  The babies are more likely to be tired and just prefer to have a nap.  Cows and calves have the unique ability to navigate back to the last place that they nursed.  This allows cows to go off for the day to feed, and calves to do their calf thing, and then in the evening, everyone finds each other.  Often there are groups of calves left with a few 'babysitter cows' for the day.  Its a great trait and generally works well.  (Although it is a real pain when you are trying to round up and you can't find them to pair them up properly until evening!)    
But it also means if you don't mother them up when you get to a new place, the calves will all run back to the last place that they nursed (or try to) and the momma's will eventually follow back to that same spot and find them.  Kinda defeats the purpose of moving them.  Or even worse,  if you have taken the herd through fences, you really have a problem.  Usually the determined calf will find a way to squeak through to get back to that special place, but the cow can't.  And, if you don't get this straightened out, the baby will wean off and that is pretty much disastrous at this age.  The predators also appreciate finding lost calves and that doesn't end well either.  Unless you are the wolf with the full belly of course.
  So, in short, we just spend the time holding them together and keeping them contained until all the babies have had a good nurse.  Then "that" is the place they will return to, or wait for momma from.  It is usually pretty obvious when a calf has not found his momma ('mothering up' starts out very loud), and then the silence is deafening when everyone is paired and content.    

"Mothering up" at our Lille Lake property.  Very easy here as we just put them into one of the big pens until everyone is quiet and happy. 

Until next time, ride easy.  :)  

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