Seasons on the ranch go by so fast. One minute we are calving and trying to keep babies warm and alive and then before you know it, we are selling them. And then you sell them, and you forget to put it on your blog to say “HAPPY DAY!”. It may not seem like a big day, but those few hours on that frosty November morning are what we work for all year long.
So I am taking the opportunity now to celebrate selling and shipping calves. Hooray! It was such a s muddy, messy day because it had been raining and raining. The downside to the rain and subsequent mud- sloshing and sliding around it poop and goop up to your eyeballs! The upside- probably a few extra wet and dirty pounds on the calves!
Shipping cows isn’t all that hard, but sort of time consuming. When you have hundreds of calve to weigh, you can see how that will take some time. Let me walk you how that day goes…
First, it starts before that day. A week or so before, we sort the steers from the heifers and pull out any of the sick, lame, or small calves (hopefully not too many of these!). Up to this point we just keep them together to feed them. While we are sorting the heifers, we pull off the ones that we want to keep for replacements somewhere around 100 depending on the year.
So on shipping morning, we start with the steers. We bring the herd into the corral and move them back to the scales. We weigh them 10 at a time to get an average weight. Can you imagine if we had to weigh them one by one? We would be there all day. After we weigh all the steers we look at the herd average and see what that compares to what we contracted them at. Obviously, we want to hit the weight we contracted at because too light means a smaller check. Too big usually isn’t a problem.
After the steers are done, we do the same with all the heifers.
Once everything is weighed, counted to the number we contracted at (we have more calves than what we contract…), and the broker is happy with what we have, we load them up. It takes someone with a masters degree in math to figure out the loading. Not really, but it does take some time to figure out how many calves at what weight can fit in each section depending on which truck they are loading. Glad that’s not my job. Once all five (or sometimes six!) trucks are loaded they head out.
And then we stand there and listen to the silence.
And then heave a sigh of relief for having the calves gone.
And then shout HOORAY!
And then we check the mail…
Then we go back to work because the job is never done. Every year we have the same day of shipping calves with the same guys, the same routine, and then same cinnamon rolls. And its a great day. The day we work all year for and the day that lets us keep working for the next year.
Happy (belated) Sale Day, friends!