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As we near the end of the winter that never was...

Here we are in February, calving in the dust. TMs is sure a new experience for the Flying T- We are accustomed to cold and wet and calves by the stove, but this winter we are warm and very dry and have yet to touch a calf. We could easily get used to this for calving time, but we really don't like the prospect of the dry summer which surely must follow. During all of January and February the rain gauge in our yard has received only one inch. We've always been proud of our clear blue skies out here, but for a while we'd sure welcome some soggy looking clouds. At any rate, the Flying T is watered by a 3000 gallon-per-minute well and the ranches we rent also have reliable water supplies. While our range may suffer, the meadows, pastures, and hay fields should fare about the same as usual.

LATE WEATHER UPDATE!!! Oops! We spoke too fast. March just came roaring in like a deranged lion. It has rained, snowed, and blowed. for three days and nights and our world has turned to mud and mayhem. A significant part of our house roof was last seen heading northeast at a high rate of speed. The dining room looks like a slumber party for baby calves and we have to be careful to get the tails out of the way before closing the pickup door. It looks like the good ole days are here again. Oh well, at least we had a taste of the good life for a while.

Mother Nature threw us another curve before Christmas. We had scheduled our fall embryo flush for December 20 and had 40 recipient cows and 5 donors all synchronized for that date. A few days prior to the flush it started to get cold around here and by the morning of the twentieth it was 27 below zero. We set up a temporary chute by the woodstove in the shop and kept the temperature up to around freezing. We managed to recover 20 embryos under these conditions. By afternoon the temperature was up to -10 and we opted to surgically implant our recipients outside in the corral. The thermometer only reached a high of -2 that day, but so far only one recipient has been found open. We understand that we now hold the dubious distinction for the coldest surgical transplants ever performed. It could have been worse though, because the next two days saw -40.

Anyhow, in spite of the vagaries of nature, the Flying T continues to be in the forefront of developing and producing top quality Salers seedstock. To facilitate this, we have begun using frozen embryos in our transplant program. We had been re-luctant to use this new technology due to reports of poor conception rates. Well, last May we implanted eight frozen embryos and just recently calved out seven of them. This is a better result than we usually obtain with fresh transplants. Consequently, we are freezing an an increasing number of our embryos for use at more convenient times or for sale.

Our fullblood herd continues to expand and is based primarily on Penelope and Sabrina, our top donor cows. These gentle, maternal, growthy ladies are the kind that will always have a place in practi­cal beef*herds. As a result of embryo transfer, we have multiplied their genetics to the point where their sons and daughters are now dispersed throughout the west. Since we have produced nearly 50 halves from these two cows, we have been able to select some very high quality individuals to use as our fullblood herdsires. Current­ly, Warrior is our sire of choice and many of you may remember him as our top show bull for three years. His show days are behind him now and he presently serves more happily as the chief consort to our fullblood females. His offspring will carry on his winning tradition as well as become our premier seedstock of the future.

The Flying T polled Salers program is one of the oldest and most progressive in the breed. Our polled foundation females have been selected for the practical production traits long associated with the Salers breed. Consequently, after nine years of this type of breed­ing and selection we feel that are polled cattle are second to none. Our rising star at the moment is BST Enterprize. He is the complete bull with a light birthweight, outstanding growth, long, thick, correct conformation, and docile temperment. Oh! He is also black and "100%" of his calves are polled. This is the best sire we have ever run across and his offspring are stamped with his many worthy qualities. We plan to breed most of our herd to Enterprize this year as well as continue using him as our principle embryo sire.

After having his semen marketed nationwide for over a year, Enterprize has become quite well known. He presently resides at a semen stud where our bank on him is being significantly increased. Following that tour of duty, Enterprize returns to the Flying T to serve some time in the pasture. We hope to exhibit him periodically but his official show career ended last fall when he was selected the Grand Champion of All Breeds at a District Fair in California.

We plan to take 1991 off from the show circuit. We have some projects at home that need to be completed and the time to do this will come from the 45 days usually spent with show cattle. Our biggest and most needed undertaking is our new working facility. This is basically a corral in a building. We haven't forgotten what it's like to work cattle in the mud or in snow deep enough to keep the gates from swinging. We still expect this kind of weather to return some day and we'll be ready for it. Our roof is up and we hope to have this project completed before next winter.

Last year we mentioned getting a bunch of data together on our herd to determine optimum cow size for our environment. The idea was to determine what weight cow is most efficient at producing calves. To do this we proposed using a ratio of a cow's weight to that of her calf at weaning. In this study a cow that weans a calf equal to 60% of her weight would be superior, for example, to a cow that weans a calf with a 50% ratio. Well, we managed to get all the cows and calves weighed at weaning time last fall and then we discovered we had a whole bunch of numbers to organize. So, as of Christmas Eve, the Flying T took a major, yet timid, step into the world of compu­ters. Those of you who have already done this can appreciate our "familiarization period". First off, we scrambled the brain of our fancy, buiIt-al:-over-the-world, state-of-the-art, piece of electronic wizardry. As a result, a company rep had to come out here and spend a couple of hours caressing and cajoling it before the tin genius would speak to us again. We were then informed that we would need to expand our vocabulary to properly communicate with the critter. Well that sort of comes natural to those who spend as much time with cattle as we do. And we not only increased the number but also the decibels of the words used on that darn machine. Anyhow, with the help of Arwen Douglas, our current intern from OSU, we think we are gaining the upper hand. We still don't know for sure the optimum cow size for this country but we will by next year, along with a lot of other interesting stuff.

The computer, in conjunction with our electronic scale, will not only help us more easily identify our best performing cattle but also promises to answer many practical questions in our business. It looks like we're on the right track to obtaining some useful information. But we hasten to add, the computer will never be a substitute for dealing with the herd on a *first name basis. Besides, we aren't in this business to spend our time impersonating office help. There's too much cow manure in our veins by now to turn our backs on the horses, pastures, and corrals full of bawling cows!

In spite of our always hectic schedule around here, Brandan and Susie are continuing to grow like well watered weeds in June. They are typical ranch kids and have to be involved in everything all of the time. With a two and a four year old running around, our house is not a quiet place, but can more accurately be described as resounding with the melodic bedlam of sibling rivalry.

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 70 breeding age virgin ;light birthweight bulls available. 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 always have semen for sale on a variety of our herdsires. We also have a selection of embryos from our top donor cows mated to a variety of the leading sires in the breed. Females from percentage to fullbloods, both polled and horned, red or black, are always available too. I guess we are your one stop Salers Store. We do in fact believe we can fill just about any need in Salers seedstock.

Thought for the day:
If you give a cow a name she'll be the next to die;
unless it rhymes with "witch"
and in that case she'll live to chase you forever.

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