If it wasn’t tied down, it blew away. Monday was a miserable Labor Day, the wind blew so hard, there was so much dust and smoke you could not see past the cars in front of our house. Ben, Anna and Kaine went out and worked on some fence, to move the Spokane steers up on the hill, I told them we could plant a garden on their face when they came back in. Toni, Kicker, Kade and Jaxsen went to Spokane to look at a Tahoe, and got stuck up there due to the wind and road closures. Dad and mom went to Pasco and got more lag bolts. Ben, Anna, Kaine and I then weighed the Spokane steers and put the halters back on the ones that got them off and then we moved them up to the hill. We put a halter on the bull, “Clark,” too, since he was in there he might as well get halter broke. Then we cleaned up in the house until chore time. And we could actually see the corn by then, so it was a little better. We were hearing reports of friends and neighbors all around us with fires and cattle being caught in them. It was a really sad day. Sally ate some hay was and choking when we were down doing chores, I got it worked out of her and left her locked in for the night. Sheena was nice enough to text us back on her day off with instructions. Marley and Lucy spent the night with us since Toni, Kicker and the boys were stuck in Spokane. Lucy and Chester barked at coyotes all night and Marley slept with Anna and Lynn.
If anyone has extra pasture, feed, fencing materials, or anything else for those impacted by the fires, the Washington Cattlemen’s Association is putting together resources for the impacted ranchers. We can’t fix the heartbreak that they are going through, but we can help them move forward. If people would rather let us know, Toni is also keeping a list of impacted farmers and ranchers and their needs. Pasture and places to take livestock is a big one.
Tuesday morning Toni, Kicker and the boys headed home. Dad went into Pioneer for his first day of corn harvest. Ben left at 3 in the morning for his first day of corn harvest. The first responders got a lot of the fires out, there are a lot of fires still burning. Kaine and Anna had a good first day of school, they got logged on all right and saw their instructors. Kade and Jaxsen, in elementary school, it did not go as smoothly, it took most of the day to get logged on. Toni and the kids had started working on the weanling colts when I got there, then kids went to do chores then and Toni and I finished. Splinter, Burning and Hero will probably be the easiest three to halter break and wean. Burning put his head in the halter, on a volunteer basis. Hero was a touch harder, but we caught him out in the big pen and had him going well quickly. Splinter was just born halter broke. It is so nice to have such easy colts. Sally was still on the watch list, Lizzie is still being doctored, Nellie’s puncture is still being worked on. Our injured list seems to be growing.
Wednesday morning Splinter and Hero had an appt to go in and see Sheena at Sagehill Vet. Toni and Kade took them in, and they both loaded great, haltered great, and acted like pros. Toni and Kade decided that they would have an empty trailer coming home, so they got more wood posts to try to encourage us to get back to building fence. Sheena put hernia clamps on both colts and then Toni went and picked them up later. We started building continuous fence again Wednesday night. We are in the yearling pen, and they are very helpful. The injured are still being doctored on top of all the normal chores. The kids were also getting ready to haul their steers into CBJLS for the livestock sale. Also, Wed was Samee birthday.
Thursday we continued building fence, working on our injured horses, and checking on the two hernias. The fencing didn’t go well. It is very frustrating when we are at a really rocky spot and have a lot of hand digging. It makes fencing go slowly. Another reason for slow fencing is all the extra “help.” The yearlings are a pain in the butt. If there is a bucket of lag bolts, then they want to knock them over. If there is a tool out, they need to see if they can pick it up in their mouth. We are building an alley in their pen, so even though we are feeding them away from where we are building, they are so not hungry, that they just meander over to see what is going on. Kendel brought her heifers down Thursday night to preg check on Friday.
Friday Dr. Hank Wisse came out and preg checked the heifers in the morning. Anna, Kaine, Kade and I got the heifers in, Toni got there around 8, Anna had to go in the house for online school at 8. We found out Honey Buns, Anna’s bottle calf was a free martin, Anna’s May show heifer was also open, she was not out with the bull for a long time since she is young so we were not completely shocked by it, but overall, the heifers were all pretty far along. Kaine went in the house at 10 and Anna came out, so he did his online school. Kendel’s shorthorn heifer turned around in the chute and broke the outgate, so we were all impressed with her. We are not lovers of shorthorns overall, so this did not improve our opinion of them. We also had to count our retained heifers and we kept way more than we planned. It is hard to sell when you think they are all great. We had about a 90% conception rate, so we now get to market bred heifers if anyone is in the market. There are some really fancy ones. Toni went back to work in the afternoon and the kids and I got the bull calves in and switched pastures.
Saturday was the CBJLS surplus livestock auction. We took the steers in in the morning then went home and changed and were back in by 11:30. Anna’s steer was Grand Champion and Kaine’s was reserve so they were 1st and 3rd in the sale. Kade’s was third in his class so he was pretty high up too. We had great buyers, Broadmoor RV bought Annas, KC Cattle Co bought Kaines, Range View Contractors bought Kades and Jackass Mountain Ranch bought Jaxsens. They we loaded the steers and went home to continue building fence in the smoke. On a lighter note, Jaxsen got $3.00 per lb, which is really pretty good, and is quite impressed with himself. He told some people that he did the least amount of work and made the most money. This is a true statement because he had raised his steer out of his calf, so didn’t have an initial cost to buy his steer. Not a good life lesson for him, but humorous. (Toni added this part about Jaxsen)
Sunday Toni, Kade and Kicker went down to mom and dads early to build fence, and dad went out to help them. Ben and Kaine worked on the bigger run and we turned the weaned calves out there. We sorted off the show heifers and heifer bottle calves and put them in where the show steers were. Ben and Kaine hauled some more continuous fence panels down to mom and dads. Then Anna, Kaine and I went down to help with the fence. We all cemented in another gate post and then continued with the fence. We were so hopeful that we would get the south piece of the alley done on Sunday, but with the rocky ground, it just didn’t happen. At one spot the auger only went in 4 inches, we had to hand dig the rest. It was pretty much miserable. And because we were down there all day, the yearlings thought it was “their” time and would not leave us alone. We finally brought panels around and locked them out. The reality is that it is really nice to have such calm, gentle yearling fillies, but seriously, sometimes they just need to back off. On that note, we probably don’t need to keep them all, so if someone wants Lightening Bug (the grulla) we are going to market her. We probably need to market a few more, but that is in negotiations among the family members.
From an agricultural standpoint, this has been a very sad, frustrating, hard week. We have talked to friends that have lost their entire pasture, calves, cattle, fencing, their livelihood, their ambition to go on. All we can do is be there for each other. The great thing about our industry as a whole is the fact that we support each other. We are very thankful for all the calls, emails, texts, and outpouring from our friends, family, and clients that have checked on us. Luckily the impact has been our air quality, and we have not been hit worse, like our friends have. The picture below is from the WCA newsletter.