This week at Perry Cattle Company, I am finally starting to get into the swing of things…. sort of! I still make plenty of mistakes, but I am getting a better handle on some of the basic tasks that happen on a ranch. It was a very exciting week and provided lots of chances to learn.
I started doing more with the side rolls. I am now able to move them and their hoses without as much instruction. I am getting better at straightening the pipe so they will not get twisted when we move them. I can hook the side rolls to the pump by myself. I learned how to start the pump that brings the water from the ditch to the side rolls. I still sometimes forget one or two things- mostly to open the pump so water can actually flow through the pipes and irrigate the pasture- but in time, I will be an expert….hopefully! I am determined to get the hang of it.
We had an exciting day on Wednesday! We did a small scale branding for about 28 calves, and we put fly spray on about 15 cows. I was in charge of giving the cattle their shots. We were vaccinating for black leg and Bovine Viral Diarrhea. The one other time I helped with a branding, we ran all the cattle through the shoot. Here though, we had somebody heel the calf, and then we (the ground crew) would use a Nord Fork. The Nord Fork is a device that catches and holds a calf’s head to the ground. This prevents the calf from thrashing and possibly hurting somebody. I thought it was going to take extra time, but when you are able to castrate, brand, vaccinate and ear tag a calf all in one fail swoop, you find that you saved a lot of time and the calf was able to go back out and be reunited with it’s mother quicker.
This week I have spent a lot of time in the saddle. Sam, the horse I have been using, was trying to get away with some bad manners. He would not do what I asked, so Jeff and Amy helped me by showing me how to get horse to listen to me. After making Sam go in circles, where he had to listen to my commands, and chasing a cow out of a pasture, I have not been having the problems that I had prior.
Finally, week three wrapped up with more irrigation, some fence building, and my first ranch meeting. I want to see the business side of what makes a farm operate, it is exciting to be on the ground floor of how a cattle ranch operates.