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Flying T Salers
So here I am in the middle of the night sitting on the side of a hill in a drafty old pickup waiting for a heifer to calve. I've been doing this sort of thing for a month now and have two more months to go before calving season is over. After twenty years I wonder why I am still doing this. I know if I am not here tc shoot at the glowing eyes that sometimes appear in my spotlight that neither the heifer nor her calf will see the light of day. That's happened before. I also know that if I find a dead calf with a placental sack over its head in the morning, I'd feel guilty for not being here now.
I wish there was something on the radio besides the wild-eyed liberal talk show out of San Francisco. For the past twenty years that's the only station I have been able to receive out here at night. Why can't they hire a "normal" host. Maybe "normal" people are in bed this time of day. I guess I won't pursue that thought.
Well, the heifer's been at it for an hour now and those front feet don't seem to be sticking out any farther. It seems like I see a tongue there too, so it looks like an elbow lock. A while ago I opened the gate to the portable calving pen we set up along the fence line, but the spotlight reveals that it's full of cows, no doubt attracted by the flake of hay I had in there. Oh well, I've done this routine before too. So aim the 400,000 candle power spotlight at the eyes of the prostrate heifer and quietly approach from down wind. I'm in luck because this time the breeze allows me to come up from her rear. At 20 feet it's onto my belly in the cow manure, snow, and rocks. I've sometimes wondered what it would be like to sell the cows and the ranch and invest in a yacht. I fancy myself sailing the south seas, stopping at tropical isles, basking on warm beaches........ For now it's creep and crawl until I can reach a calf foot and get a strap on it. So far mama is busy pushing and I don't exist in her life. The second strap is on and I know that with a little luck I'll have both feet straight in a few seconds. Now I'm looking at a little pink nose twitching in the cold night air. What the heck, I might as well finish the job. Mama doesn't care about me so I pull him out to the hind legs. He's shaking his head and his mother has quit pushing so I guess it's time for me to go. I'll take one more look through 250 cows and hope no one needs me. Maybe I can get a couple of hours sleep before dawn.
So why am I doing this? Sure the poor dumb animals need me once in a while and I don't know who else would do it, but there's those blue seas and warm sandy beaches. Still I hope to see my children grow up here. I want to see them lead their first heifer into a show ring. Maybe one of them might even spend twenty calving seasons in the dark on the side of a hill and still look forward to twenty more. Hell! I'd probably get seasick five minutes after boarding my new yacht anyway.
So, other than having to cope with the onset of senility, how are things at the Flying T?When we left you last year we were joined in mortal battle with our new computers. Arwen, our intern student turned family member, and I finally managed to subdue our respective computers sometime in the early spring. Things were pretty rosey after that. We could put information in and get it back out again. We could even bump and grind and -crunch a bunch of data and learn all kinds of wonderful things.
Then one fateful day last month our glorious blue screen suddenly erupted in a rhapsody of colors flashing and darting all over the tube. Without warning my technological marvel had experienced a complete nervous breakdown. Its brain could no longer communicate with its extremities and it became a babbling idiot. I rushed it to the computer doctor where a diagnosis indicated a minor defect in a big expensive part. That's simple, just replace the big expensive part. It seems there are no mechanics in this field just parts exchange experts. After two weeks of the wrong pieces going from Portland to here and back our tin genius was again in business and life looked good.
Then we learned about the virus. It seems these electric wonders have more diseases than the cull pen at the auction yard. Mostly they get infected from sharing contaminated floppies with other computers. These viruses are evil programs created by misbegotten dregs of humanity that thrive on the misfortune of the rest of us. They manage to insert their viruses into the legitimate pool of programs that all computers rely on. At some time in the future they are set to strike the brains of the infected computer and destroy all the data stored there. Rumor has it that on March 6 a particularly lethal virus is set to strike. After much concern we located an anti-virus program (sounds like a vaccine to me) that should protect our computers in case they are in fact infected. Now I have learned of a "worm" that can find its way into the innards of our super brain and slowly eat away its memory. I wonder if a good dose of Ivomec is in order?
Our big project this past year has been the construction of our new working corral-barn complex. It looks like it will also be our big project for this next year too. The barn has hot and cold water, a bathroom, refrigerator, sink, electric heat, and lots of insulation. By next year the days of side hill calving will be only a memory. The new technique will feature clean pens cushioned in straw, bathed in the glow of a dozen quartz lights, and warmed by suspended radiant heaters. At least that's the plan. At the moment I need to fall a bunch of trees so we can mill the lumber for the walls and corral boards.
Because of the extra work on the ranch last year we didn't plan on showing any cattle. The reality is that Arwen and our French exchange student were both anxious to have a show string and several fairs twisted our arms as well. Consequently, we ended up attending three fairs and brought home our share of the purple ribbons.
We are most proud of the job the 4-Hers did with our steers this year. Holly Gion, an eleven year old from Klamath Falls, showed a Flying T steer to Supreme Champion in a class of 91 steers. This was a special achievement since it was the first steer she had ever raised. Another junior. Wade Small, won the weight of gain competition with another of our Salers steers. Both of these juniors demonstrated the ability of our cattle to out perform all comers in large competitions.
BST Enterprise continues to sire calves that exceed our greatest expectations. The Salers Association recently sent us his EPD's and they are among the top of the breed. I hasten to add that I feel this is a tool of limited value and one that can be subject to widespread abuse. It is reassuring, though, that the data sent in from around the country on this bull's offspring adds up to very respectable numbers. Enterprize's popularity indicates that his influence will find its way into most leading Salers breeding programs. Not only is he black and homozygous polled but he produces calves that have extra length, thickness, and docile temperaments. I guess our biggest problem now is to locate a sire to use on his daughters that is not a step backward. So far we have not found one and any input would be appreciated.
The family has survived another year in pretty good shape. Brandan is a coming 6 and mostly enjoys picking on Susie. She's a coming 4 and mostly enjoys complaining about Brandan. They sure seem to grow up fast and both of them are actually useful once in a while. Brandan keeps busy hauling firewood for the house and is an expert at washing out the gooseneck stock trailer. Susie is an animal person and has appointed herself the job of keeping the 8 cats on the ranch all petted and happy. For the grownups in the family, we're just older and probably long past ever getting any wiser.
Our winter this year was more like summer. This is the first time our temperature was never below zero all winter. Our precipitation has been negligible and there is no snow pack. If something doesn't happen in the next two months this country will be a desert. We are fortunate to have good wells on our own ranch and the other ranches we lease. Our grass will grow in spite of a drought, but most farmers and ranchers in our area are not so fortunate.
I guess I'd better wind this up before you're bored stiff. If you're ever in our area give us a call. We like to give the 4-bit tour to people who appreciate quality cattle raised under natural conditions. If you have need for high performance calving ease bulls, we can help you out. There is no excuse for putting up with calving problems next year as we have 50 breeding age virgin, light birth weight bulls available now. These critters are the cream of the crop since we sell a lot more steers around here than bulls. We adhere to the old adage of spare the knife and spoil the reputation. That's one reason our steers win lots of shows; many of them could have made pretty good bulls. But we are not satisfied producing just good bulls: we want to sell superior sires. Consequently, we eat a lot of calf fries around here and at the same time further the reputation of the Flying T bulls. We insist that our bulls are raised under the same type of conditions they will experience on our customers' ranches. That means our calves are not creep fed and our weaners don't get grain. While this approach does not produce over fat show bulls, it does insure that Flying T bulls should stay sound and be able to perform under range conditions. It also means that a big weaning weight reflects a strong milking mama and good yearling gains indicate the ability to utilize roughage.
We always have semen availatle on a variety of our herdsires. We also have a selection of embryos from our top donor cows. Females from percentage to fullbloods, both polled and horned, red or black, are always available too. I guess we are your one stop Saiers store. We do in fact believe we can fill just about any need in Saiers seedstock.
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