October 6, 2014

Preparing a Pasture for Cattle

Life has been super busy for us around the ranch lately, so I was in charge of preparing a new pasture to move the cattle into. I'm not much of a fencer, but know a few things. THIS FENCE WAS A BEAST! It took me four days, and the help of the Ranch Hand before I finally felt safe putting our cows in another canyon pasture. I'm starting to learn why these canyon leases were easier to come by. No one wants to deal with the terrible fences, the deep brushy canyons, and the drop off ravines! Then there's the fact that you can't always find all of your cows when it's time to leave the pasture, but don't worry, I have a plan for that... for a later post.

This is exactly how I feel about this fence.

We had to salt and mineral some cows that first day. We have recently switched to this Purina Wind and Rain mineral. We like it better because it doesn't blow away like the other really fine stuff, and when it rains it doesn't end up in a block as solid as a rock. The cows don't eat it as well when it turns solid. They seem to really like this stuff.
 Here is their salt and mineral tub in the trees.
On to the new pasture. First we turned the windmill on to start filling up the tank for when the cows would arrive. It took over 2 days to fill it up. The wind must not have been blowing the whole time. I just love windmills.
The very first pumps of water. This pasture has been uninhabited since last fall. That's why there are so many weeds around. Can anyone identify that "weed"?
Wind was blowing good that day.

Then we started down the fence line. Mostly just missing staples to hold the wire to wooden fence posts, and missing clamps to hold wires to metal posts. They were easy fixes. I thought this was going to be easy, even though the terrain was tuff, we were moving along.

Then I came to a small ravine where a calf could just walk out without even touching the wire.
I took some clamps off and moved them a little lower, added a wire to the bottom and drug some logs over for another deterrent. 
Then we stumbled upon this: 
If you can't tell, it is a very deep ravine with drop offs on both sides. The only problem was if a cow was out in the hills and discovered the grassy ravine, she could follow it all the way out. Right into some farmer's corn field, eat too much corn and die. I went down there to evaluate. I needed at least three posts, more wire and maybe a wire panel. I didn't have those things, so we went home to call the ranch hand and let him handle it another day. Needless to say he said he wouldn't have time to fix it, and so I tried the next day to get a good look at it coming from the opposite direction. I fixed a few other things and just didn't have the determination to fix this one. It was going to take a lot of work, a lot of tools and I had a three year old to drag along. After yet another day I finally convinced the Ranch Hand to help me fix it later.
This is our fix. Three posts, wire, more wire. No cows will be escaping this ravine.
It is so much easier to fix fence with the Ranch Hand. He does it so much better than I do. He's still teaching me some skills, I just need more practice, although I don't really want it.
The best part about it is that I got a date out of the whole deal. Off in the middle of one of the canyon pastures is this cute old bench swing overlooking the canyon and a creek. We ate our PBJ's and talked about our dream of owning a big ranch some day.

Aahhh, lovely fixed fence. Pasture is ready for cattle!

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