Winter Gets Rough Here

Here is Ray Williams loading hay

Ray and his three legged cow dog “Rags” have been busy loading our ranch pickup with 70-60 pound bales of hay. This is not hot work since the air temperature is around zero degrees on the average mid-winter morning. But it is heavy work. Winter is rough out here with high winds and snow covering the forage. We have to constantly watch the water holes and wells to keep them from freezing over. Food supplement is necessary to help our cows forage with 250 pound tubs of vitamin licks, pellets and hay. There just is not enough grass on the ground to last the winter. The average cow drinks up to 30 gallons of water a day and a herd of 200 cattle will eat a ton of hay a day. The colder it gets, the more they eat to stay warm. They can starve during a long blizzard without help from the ranchers. All the cows that winter over are pregnant with calves which makes it even harder on them. After all they are eating for two.

Breakfast time!

At the end of the day…

The cattle line up to feed.As you can see, everyone is hungry this time of year. Most of the time is spent eating or keeping warm. You will often find the herd down in a gully for shelter. We have to feed every day even if the weather is bad or we have to go some where. The cattle have to eat first. They tend to be friendlier to trucks in the winter and will heard around the hay truck to be first in line. In the summer, they could care less about trucks.This way of life in the west is gradually disappearing. Various forces act to pull ranching families off the farm. Environmental zealots are making it harder to keep cattle on the open range even though a grazed range is more diverse. High inheritance taxes and rising land values make it difficult for farms to stay with the original families. Please fight to keep rangeland open for the cattle and our way of life from forever disappearing from America. The best way to do that is to educate yourself to the issues then get out and vote.

The picture of the sunset outline the Bighorn Mountains over 100 miles away. This is big sky country.

Sharp Tailed Grouse hang out around the ranch all year but in the winter they have been known to hang out in a cedar tree right outside my offices window. I am not sure what the attraction is but I thought this would be a good way to finish the web site.