OT Interesting Christmas Day

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2011: OT Interesting Christmas Day
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 02:52 pm:

This has nothing to do with T's but for those of you around the world who have never been to someplace like Montana, here is a little perspective on this place.

I'm an old bachelor so there is no Christmas at my house if I can help it, this year some fans/friends of mine invited me to dinner at their ranch house about 250 miles from here. I left at 8 am, got there about 1 after stopping for breakfast in Great Falls, 100 miles away. After a fine Christmas dinner, Joe asked me if I'd like to take a ride and see some cows. I said "You Bet!" so we headed outside. He said it would take a week or more to see it on horseback so we took a Chevy 4 x 4. We started in the Heifer pasture, which is only about a section since he likes to keep the first calf heifers close to the house and feeds them a little. Then we went across the road to the 2nd calf heifers (3 year olds) That pasture was about 3 x 4 miles -- 12 sections-8,000 acres -- starting at some bottom ground then up to the base of the mountains. After looking over the cows there, I would guess 4-450 head, we went back across the highway to the 3rd calf cows, the 4 year olds,(5-600 head) that were in a pasture that ran down along the highway for about 4 miles and back over the hill "Three or four miles" for another 15 or so sections. Then we went up another road to see the old cows, the 5 year olds who are in their own pasture, another 8 or 10 sections and who he said, "Can calve on their own, they've already had three calves, if they can't have one without somebody there watching, them, Hell, let em die, they aren't going to raise a good calf anyway." We then went by the bull pasture at another ranch where there is a hired man living and there are 100 head of bulls eating and thinking about this summer. There is not a cow on the place over 5 years old and no bulls over 3. Later, back at the house for another piece of pie, he showed me pictures of their "North ranch" which is 28,000 acres about 65 miles north of the home ranch. They trail about 1200 head of cows and calves there for summer pasture. We also looked at some pics of a couple other small places, only 10,000 acres or so each. Those are "hay places" where they grow hay for feed and to sell. He told me he has 1,000 tons of excess hay this year to sell as he feeds his cows very little, with that much land they can graze all winter. He only feeds the heifers and bulls full ration and the other cows just as a supplement when the weather gets bad.

Two things I learned, I've not much of a cowman but have piddled with cows all my life so know a litle, were these: One, if cows eat pine needles, which they will do when they are hungry or just like the taste, it can cause them to "sling" or abort their calf. Two, there is not a dog on the place. He says he wants his cows to be afraid of dogs and other canines so they will run them off if they show up around the cows. He said his cows will kill any coyote that shows up around their calves and will put the run on any dog. He said he has never lost a calf to a coyote but the explosion in wolves has not reached that area yet, it remains to be seen what will happen with wolves when they get there, which they will. (Wolves in Montana is another story.)

Montana people are tough. His mother was there, 80 and still running her own ranch, 30 miles of gravel from the nearest town, about 45 from this son's place. When I said something about being snowed in she said, "If you are snowed in it only bothers you if you want to go somewhere, if I'm home I don't want to go anywhere." "If people would learn to stay home they wouldn't worry about it." He and his wife pretty much run this entire operation by themselves with one hired man and maybe a couple guys on a haying crew for the summer. They move those cows to supper pasture with 3 or 4 neighbors and back with a couple neighbors and the daughters who come home to ride a couple hundred miles in three or four days. I noted that they don't trailer the horses to the summer pasture and then ride back following the cows, they ride the 65 miles to the pasture, gather cows for 3 or 4 days on horseback and then trail them home 65 miles. It takes 4 or five days of easy trailing so they are in the saddle for over a week by the time they get them back to the home ranch.

So now that the turkey is gone from Christmas, go out and eat a good, big steak. There is no shortage of beef. Buy a chunk of good grass fed beef from Montana, it is as good as it gets.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks_-_Surf_City on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 04:02 pm:

I'm waiting for Billy Key's take on this. He has a spread in NM, where they just went 9 months or so without rain, and had to feed the cattle in the summer. He had the same summer as Texas, even a fire.



Except for the burn, I took these pix 4 years ago, when there had been at least a little rain.

rdr


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Anthonie Boer on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 04:11 pm:

Stan ; As I am a farmer , but only on a garden in proportion to your frinds Ranch . this story is wonderful . Thank you !!!
Toon


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 04:40 pm:

That's the way I am, Toon, I'm almost embarrassed to say I own a couple little ranches when I see a spread like his. But, I like mine. I wouldn't want to do this full time for a living but was sure interesting to see. This is an old time horse and cow operation. No four wheelers on the place. It's a saddle up and ride place.

Ralph, this is a whole different country than New Mexico. This is where the original cattle ranches in Montana were founded in the 1870's and 80's because of all the good grass and abundant water. This is foothills country and rolling hills, not many trees but in the old western books where they talked about the grass being belly deep on a horse this is where it was. In a good year the grass is still belly deep. A lot of people would have twice the cattle on this amount of land but my friend believes in leaving some for the elk and deer and next year. There was no place where it was eaten down to short grass and the cattle were fat and happy. They don't get a lot of snow up there and what they do get changes locations every few days with the wind blowing it around so there is always good grass being uncovered for fresh pasture. That keeps the cattle moving so there is no disease or scours in the calves like there is where people feed on the same ground every day and where calves are contained in pens. Just about the worst thing you can do is to calve in a barn early in the spring where there are dozens of other calves being born. (scours is the cattle word for diarrea) You end up putting lots of antibiotics in them and trying to get them healthy for turnout into the cold weather outside. Guys like Joe figure if a calf will survive being born outside and get a little mama milk in him he'll make it. If he isn't that tough when he's born then he probably wouldn't have lived and thrived anyway. When you keep back your own heifers to breed to your own bulls you have the heifers that survived being born outside so their calves should be tougher, too. Must work, by my count yesterday he had about 2,000 to 2,400 mother cows that will calve in April and early May. He said he had only lost one cow so far this winter, she fell down a bank into the creek and must have broken her neck. Makes my little cow herd look like back yard pets. I don't have any right now but have had some over the years.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 04:43 pm:

Went to church first.Then two sons and their wives plus one set of son's inlaws. Eight persons in all, all adults went to the indian Casino (Barona Valley Ranch for those who were on the 2004 National Tour) to the buffet brunch. They have anything and everything you could possibly want to eat, and all very well prepared. (All the grandchildren and great grandchildren live many miles from us). I had salad, Lamb chops, Maccaroni, baked beans. Then went back for Crab and Oysters. Then I splurged and had one cherry pie and one apple pie ala-mode. Everyone had anything they desired to eat. There was Mexican, Italian, Barbecue, Mongolian, Chinese, Omelete Station, Ham, Prime Rib, Turkey etc. We all had whatever we wanted to eat, and no one had to clean up the house in advance, or cook, or clean up afterward. This is one of the few restaurants open on Christmas day. It holds several hundred customers, and on Christmas the line is not long. Took about 15 minutes to be seated.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 04:54 pm:

West of here we have rice fields. Story was told that one of the rice farmers was working in his front yard when a car with Texas plates pulled up, and the driver asked, "are all these rice fields yours?"
Farmer said, "Yep" and after some conversation, the farmer asked, "what do you do at home?"
"I've got a ranch."
"Oh, how big?"
"Well, last time I drove clean across the place it took me a day and half."
The Rice Farmer then said, "Yep, I know how that is--I used to own a pickup like that too!"


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Langevin , Grants Pass , Ore on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 07:12 pm:

I know how you feel , Stan , I`ve got the `ole " 2 acres and a pony " bit , only , no pony , just Model T `s .


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Langevin , Grants Pass , Ore on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 08:02 pm:

Gee , I guess that would be " 2 acres and a Flivver " , Huh ...??


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Harold Schwendeman on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 08:18 pm:

Stan Howe - This might bore everybody else, but to support your thread concerning Montana ranches, I have to say, you reminded me of a sort of embarrassing situation I had one winter in Montana back in the '70's:

Before my 22 years as a UPRR Special Agent, I was a lieutenant on the Milwaukee RR Police Dept. Started out in Chicago, but after my first 4 years there, I transferred to Deer Lodge, Montana. Spent a solid week in November one year, protecting a derailment site near Lombard. You'll know where that is Stan, but nobody else will; for everybody else, it's in the area of Manhattan, MT. (Come to think of it, probably nobody else will know where THAT is either!)

Anyway, after the first couple days, a guy came out thru' the snow in a 4-wheel drive rig early one very cold morning and identified himself as Harry Brainard (sp?). He owned and operated the ranch that our railroad ran through and upon which we had a couple dozen or so busted open boxcar loads of merchandise scattered all over the right-of-way. Told me I was welcome to sleep in his near-by fully stocked line shack as long as I replaced any groceries that I was welcome to use. Told him, "thanks, but I'm doing ok in my fully stocked pickup truck camper." After a few more minutes of "chit-chat", Harry said, "you know, you could sure do me a favor if you wouldn't mind; if you wouldn't mind busting up some of the ice on that pond over there each morning while you're around so that my cattle can get water, I wouldn't have to send one of my hands out here to do it every day". Of course I told him, "heck, that's no problem; be glad to do that for you"!

Of course, being the quick-thinking big-city guy that I was, I told him,......"hey, I'll tell ya' what! How 'bout as long as deer/elk season just opened and I had sense enough to bring my rifle along, maybe I could do a bit of hunting here on your property".

"No problem", says Harry. "You're more than welcome to hunt all you like".

So I replied, "gee, that's great Harry; I'm gonna' be out here at least several more days protecting this stuff before they get a crew out here to clean this mess up, and I can hunt a bit and still keep an eye on things here as long as I don't go too far and keep the derailment site within sight. Say, I want to be sure to stay on your property where I have permission to hunt though, so how far can I go from here Harry?

His reply,........."Well, see those mountains over there? Don't go past 'em!"

(Boy,......did I feel stupid!!!)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks_-_Surf_City on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 08:35 pm:

Can't remember what program it was; maybe Bloomberg, but I saw a news item on tv recently. Russia consumes twice as much beef as it raises, so they paid a Montana rancher to move his hands and his cattle and horses to central Russia where the grass is tall. Quite a story. Some went by ship, some by air.

rdr


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Verne Shirk on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 08:35 pm:

Stan,
Sounds like a fun time! My father-in-law was a farmer/rancher but also was a "ranch realtor" to make ends meet. I think one of the biggest ranches he sold was the San Christobal in NM. He said it was 84,000 acres (roughly 10 x 14 miles) had a "ponderosa ranch house" on it plus the film set from the John Wayne movie, "The Cowboys". He rented a helicopter and a film crew to make a film of it to show clients. He was "connected" to lots of people and knew who could afford it and who couldn't. One of his proudest accomplishments was when he worked the local Kansas Flint Hills ranchers (who didn't want it) and the government to make the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Cottonwood Falls, KS a reality. It is a chance to save a part of what the Kansas Prairie really looked like in its natural state. My father-in-law passed away in 2009. Last year, they broke ground for a new visitors center at the Tallgrass Prairie and invited Doug's family (my wife & her brothers) to participate in the ground breaking. The KS Gov. & the U.S. Sec. of the Interior (Salazar) & U.S. Sec. of Health & Human Svcs (Sebelius) were present for the event. I miss the drives we had around my father-in-laws land. He knew when every blade of grass was out-of-place and what caused it. I really liked listening to his stories. I bet you had a good time on your trip too!
Verne


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Orlando Ortega Jr. Portales, New Mexico on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 02:08 am:

Stan,

Thanks for sharing your Montana experience. I've never been to Montana but hope to visit sometime.

As Ralph and Verne say, New Mexico also has big ranches with big skies. I've had the opportunity to meet some ranchers as you describe in your story.

I once produced a TV documentary on Pioneer Women of New Mexico. One pioneer was of a woman and her daughter who owned and operated a big spread much like you describe. The area was up in the north eastern part of the state where the land is rolling hills, beautiful grass and big skies. I would say it's probably some of the best grazing land in the state. Our crew spent several days on that beautiful ranch attempting to keep up with the two women ranchers.

I remember the last day there, they prepared us a wonderful sit down meal. It was great, and their hospitality was from the heart. It was a great experience for me. One that I'll never forget.

Going back to ranches and ranching in New Mexico. This past year was hard on ranchers and farmers as we endured quite a drought. One for the record books(since records have been kept.)

We all hope next year to be better.

Orlando


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks_-_Surf_City on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 02:35 am:

Orlando, Billy is writing a history on the ranches in his area, which isn't far from you. You ought to pay him a visit at Wirelake.

rdr


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 06:05 am:

Stan, you really write a great article. Fascinating.

Round here, I am considered to have a fairly large plot of land - it's all of 300ft deep and 80ft road frontage, and my wife runs 5 hens on it! So, this gives us a great perspective on another lifestyle.

Great to hear of properly raised beef. Even after the BSE/CJD scandal, we are still raising animals in close quarters, feeding them rubbish and relying on antibiotics to solve diseases that wouldn't occur if they were reared naturally. If I can only afford grass-fed beef once a week and have to eat lentils otherwise, I'd rather that than have a daily burger of doubtful origin.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 06:25 am:

Stan, you really write a great article. Fascinating.

Round here, I am considered to have a fairly large plot of land - it's all of 300ft deep and 80ft road frontage, and my wife runs 5 hens on it! So, this gives us a great perspective on another lifestyle.

Great to hear of properly raised beef. Even after the BSE/CJD scandal, we are still raising animals in close quarters, feeding them rubbish and relying on antibiotics to solve diseases that wouldn't occur if they were reared naturally. If I can only afford grass-fed beef once a week and have to eat lentils otherwise, I'd rather that than have a daily burger of doubtful origin.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 06:49 am:

Ever wonder why so many people double-post? You hit the post button, it takes you back to the post mesage screen, the phone goes, 5 mins later you look at the screen 'Oh, did I not hit the button?' - hey presto double-post.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 06:53 am:

Correction, you get there if you decide to use the Back browser button to get to the Forum again and the phone goes. You can tell I'm bored, sitting here with a broken ankle.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Langevin , Grants Pass , Ore on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 06:54 am:

Oh , is that how it`s done ??


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Langevin , Grants Pass , Ore on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 06:55 am:

Oh ,is that how it`s done ??


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks_-_Surf_City on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 08:23 am:

Stan, it's heartening how your friend handles the predator problem and natural selection. Good show. As for wolves, my personal prejudice now is that they should be left to run on public land, including leased public land. Private land is another matter. Yeh, I know the wolves and cattle don't know the difference, but the rancher does, and the public does.

When gardening, my wife won't use manufactured chemicals. She believes in tithing 10% to nature. We use Orange Guard in and out. It's made from orange peels, and is food quality. Kills insects on the spot, but does not persist.



Our local wildlife: a jogger and a coyote.

Neighbor and I were on our dawn hike, hence the fuzzy pic, and the coyote had crossed the sidewalk just as the woman appeared. She didn't even notice the coyote, and neither did my neighbor until I pointed it out.

rdr


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 10:54 am:

Not to get in to the whole wolf controversy but there are now thousands of wolves in Montana and they are a completly different animal than a coyote. It takes a lot of elk, deer, cows and sheep to feed a thousand wolves every day. They have a hard time killing Buffalo but they will kill anything else that moves. I applaud the Montana Fish and Game for having the courage to implement a Wolf hunting season. The quota this year was, I think, 250. I bought a tag to show support but have never seen a wolf in the wild. They have killed off the coyotes and Red Fox anywhere they move in. Personally, I don't know what the answer is but I know they have practically broke some ranchers due to livestock losses. This is mostly down by Yellowstone Park. We are also overun with mountain lions, grizzy bears and tourists but like the wolves, there is some good to them and I don't propose killing them all, just keeping them under control.

The big concern here is where they are spreading out. This is a huge state and if every pack produces a new pack every two years, think what the wolf population will be in a few years and where they will move into for territory to hunt and live. They started with just a few in Yellowstone and now they are all over western Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The experts say they will move out to the prairies next. I dunno but that seems likely to me. They are a magnificent animal but think of the biggest dog you have ever seen and a wolf is at least half again bigger, as much as 6 foot long and close to 3 feet high at the shoulder. It takes a lot of meat to grow and support that size animal.

Time will tell what is going to happen but I do know that ten years ago ten percent of the calls to Fish and Wildlife about predation was about wolves and now it is well over 50% of the calls. They have government hunters and trappers working again to try to control them and as I said, every state in the northwest now has a hunting season on them.

Jem, a friend of mine died last year from Jacobs/ Crutchfeld -- which is basically BSE in humans. Pretty gruesome way to die. They don't know where he got it but possibly from an infected Elk where it is called Chronic Wasting Disease.

I, like you, would like to know more about where my cheeseburger comes from.


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