Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where the buffalo roam!

The tribe's buffalo pasture borders our west pasture. It's always fun to be out riding and see them in the next pasture. What is not so much fun is that they're getting out on a regular basis now. The snow storm back in November buried a lot of fence in our country. Most of us actually had to put fence over snow drifts in some spots because it was to hard by the time we could get to it to even dig it out right away. The buffalo fence hasn't been fixed yet unfortunately.

We put it up the best we can in the spots that we've found but there's 6000 acres of buffalo pasture and it gets pretty rough in spots. We talked to the tribal parks department and there supposed to be sending a crew out to get it up again. We're hopeful.

When Mike and I were first married he would go help the tribe gather and ship buffalo fairly often. It was always exciting but I hate to admit I'm pretty darn intimidated by them. They're SO much faster than cattle and don't take being pressured well at all. One year, a teenage girl decided to help. She had been told that with buffalo you just kind of hang back and try not to put to much pressure on them. Make the right way real easy and the wrong direction a little less inviting. She rode way to close to one bull and he turned on her and had her horse down before she even know what hit her. Thankfully there was someone close enough to distract the buffalo long enough she could crawl up a tree. I tend to remember that story every time we need to move them anywhere!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Processing calves


We take in calves for another cattleman to feed for the winter. They go to our cousin for summer grass in May. As the order buyer gets the steers bought they're shipped to our house. We process (brand, vaccinate and pour) them as they come in. Usually 50 - 100+ at a time. We work around the boys' school work so that the four of us can take care of it without any extra help. We introduce the dogs to the calves as we're moving them in the corral and up into the tub and alley. We don't use the dogs once they're in the alley as it's solid. We've been doing this long enough now that my family runs calves through pretty quickly. I do think there's some sort of murphy's law that says when we get the bigger loads in it has to be cold, snowy or windy. Sometimes all of the above!
(Jag watching a bunch that's been worked already.)

Anyway, the dogs will bring a bunch of about 14-15 up the return alley and into the tub. We are there to open and close gates for them. I like to spread the work out between all of my dogs from time to time but I do have a few favorites when it comes to this work. Jag and Zac know the job so well that it would be easy to just take them all the time but Zac is retired and I don't want to shorten Jag's career by over using him. Dustin takes Kat and she really excels at this work. Well, as long as Dustin is there. It doesn't even do me any good to take Kat out if he's not there as she wants nothing to do with working for me anymore.

(Kat bringing another bunch to the tub.)

Cash has just started helping with it this year. He turned 2 in January. He can be a bit gung ho at times and wants to go after every steer that comes of of the chute but he's taking less reminders to lay still until needed now. He's also dealing with working with several different dogs at the same time and getting better about only taking his commands. He's proving to be a very useful dog. He's also figured out that he likes be next to the chute just in case one of the calves hasn't been castrated yet!

(Cash working with Jag as backup)

It can take several hours to get it all done and move the calves to pasture but we all really enjoy the time spent together. Even the boys really seem to enjoy it. They both would like to brand every calf but we make them trade off between that and bringing calves up the alleyway. When it's cold the fight is ON because both of them would like to be close to the branding stove! :-)

(Jag turning one back)

We need to get our own fall calves run through tomorrow. We'll have to gather and move them to the corrals first. Should be enough work to spread it out to a few dogs anyway. Nell and Jag will probably do the pasture work and we'll let Kat and Cash work the pens. It's supposed to be nice tomorrow. Not sure if we'll really know how to handle that.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Black Hills Stock Show

The winter is pretty slow for us on the trial front. We're so thankful to have the opportunity to run at the Black Hills Stock Show. It's a great chance to get together with other dog people and catch up. It's also a really good venue to get working dogs in front of the public. There are a lot of spectators there who become genuinely interested in working dogs and how they can help their operations. It's a nice thing to see.

It's not a sanctioned trial and there is one class. It's a figure 8 pattern around two barrels, Y chute and then a pen. It's a timed trial and as such is very easy for the crowd to understand. I'm not a huge fan of timed trials but have to admit they are an adrenaline rush.

This was Dustin's first year to compete there. He and Kat have come so far together it's really great to see. I ran Kat until she was 3 years old and fully trained. Dustin helped with everything dog related for 6 months to prove to us he was serious about owning a dog. When he had done that, Kat became his dog. He still helps with anything related to the dogs.

It's really fun for me to see the bond and the partnership these two have together. It reminds me quite a bit of the team Zac and I have always been. She always did well for me but she never really gave her heart over to me. She has more than done that with Dustin. She will do anything for him.

So, back to the Stock Show. Dustin and Kat didn't advance past the preliminary round but their run was something to be proud of. When Dustin started running her he would pretty much "default" to her judgement on everything. He wasn't truly running her but letting her run it all. In the last year that has completely changed and he is now a partner with her but has stepped up to be the handler. It took her awhile to trust that he really knew what he was doing and give the "reins" back to him but she has now. His timing, judgement, stock sense and attitude have really come a LONG ways as well. I'm SO proud of him!!

I had a good time getting together with friends as well as running my dogs. Jag is fighting a really nasty infection right now and it was clearly obvious to me that he wasn't himself out there. I really shouldn't have run him. Zac had wisdom and experience on his side and did a great job. He's so much fun to run at these kind of events. He LOVES crowds and it really gets him pumped up. He's very level headed though and handles whatever is thrown at him. He made it through the first two rounds to end up 4th in the finals. Good job Zac!

Looking forward to next year.