Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rare Snow

My entry this week into two challenges. I loved Sketch 119 for Pencil Lines. The designers did a great job with their takes on the sketch. "Rare Snow" is my take. I also entered this LO into Mothers and Daughters Creations Challenge Blog.

Rare Snow, if I'm counting right I've seen snow in the five places I've lived in Texas I've seen snow a total of 7 times since 1970. I can ad an eighth time in Dec. of 2008. A front moved through the ranch in the morning and it had cleared off. I was standing outside the house, Lynn called and was all excited it was snowing in College Station at 1:30pm. At 3:30pm James calls and tells me it's snowing in Angleton, at 5:00pm Larry calls and tells me it's snowing in Angleton, and at 6:00 Mom calls and tells me it's snowing in Seabrook. I'm like my gosh folks it's only snow. One can see the excitement snow gives in our part of Texas. This snow event took the weather forcasters by surprise as a Low Pressure System developed on the front after it passed through Limestone County. That evening Lynn and Natasha built a snow cow in their front yard in College Station. Only two Agriculture majors attending Texas A&M would build a snow cow. Gig'em Aggies. If only they understood what an Aggie Moment that sounds like. Lynn has promised me a copy of the pic.

I remember how excited my brothers and I were over the snow. Doug and I taught Ken how to build a snowman. Mom came out with her father's Top Hat and Dad's scarf and that's the picture of the first snow I'd seen in three years and my first snow in Texas. Sweet Memories.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mother's and Daughter's Creations Weekly Scrapbooking Challenge

This week Julie had a sponsor for her weekly drawing. Mother's and Daughter's Creations Store. There is also a great Blog associated with the Store. Check out their Blog by clicking on the Post Title (It's the link to the Blog).

I decided to participate in their challenge as it would be a good way to thank them for their kind support of my favorite Sketch Challenge Blog or now I should say Community.

The challenge was to choose any sketch over the last 55 weeks and put together a LO never entered in Julie's Challenge. There were a host of sketches I had not found time to do a LO for so I picked 2008 Week 52. Here's the entry and results.

You'll notice no journaling....sniff. I'm drawing a total blank. As I thought about starting my "About Me" Album I had a desire to tell the world about me. I want everything I wrote about to be profound. I'm not good with words. With the very first LO, I realized how do I possibly write about my maternal grandmother, Dee-Dee. Only one LO is planned for the album of her. I still am at a loss of what to write, the LO is done.

I've had the very same block with other LO's I've done for the album. Sometimes in the strangest place and at the strangest time the thought jumps in my head....and I put down what I'm doing and write what I want on the page. I want something profound for this LO of one of the two breeds of rabbits we show. So I wait through the block.

The American Sable, some consider it to be the first American breed of rabbit, others consider it to be the Chinchilla. I guess I will pick the Sable. A breed developed to meet the fur trade in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Sable pelts where expensive. Rabbit pelts less expensive. Breeders of rabbits wanted to provide to the general population a pelt that resembled in color and feel of the Sable. The result was the American Sable rabbit. A secondary characteristic around the same time period was the need for the rabbit to also be a size that could provide meat. As a country we ate much more rabbit prior to the invention of the Easter Bunny. By the way rabbit is healthier then chicken.

I love the texture and feel of the Sable coat. To stroke one in prime condition is a wonder! Soft and velvet feel to your hands after stroking a Sable Rabbit is incredible. There sweet gentle dispositions as a breed make for handling this 8 lb rabbit a joy. They have an incredible sense of humor at times, too.

Enjoy the picture of the American Sable Rabbit in this picture. Lynn took a series of photos of this Sable to use in a presentation she would be giving on conformation in rabbits and an example of a prime coat in an American Sable. When judging the American Sable 45 points is given to the coat alone, 50 points to conformation and 5 points to conditioning. Coat is so important and that wonderful prime coat very difficult to achieve. You have about two weeks out of every six months to have that unbelievable coat.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OLW - Word Up "EMBRACE" & Pencil Lines #118 Sketch

As I've stated I love OLW (one little word) challenge. These words are great titles for my inner being and my "About Me" album. I teamed the Pencil Lines Sketch 118 for this week with One Little Word. I loved working on this LO!

I chose a self portrait of my young adult son who will finally be transfering to a four year university at the end of this semester or next. As a young adult he has come into his own in the last year. It's been great to finally what my son bloom. Yes, he would hate that description I've given, "Mom, Bloom!" He has though, he's become himself, embraced his passions, knows finally he is accepted by others for who he is, and has become a very self confidient individual. From the time he was in grade school he felt out of place and misunderstood by all around him including his parents. He was a receipe for a troubled teen. Yet he never acted out, did drugs, or looked to get into trouble. For that I was blessed. I used to try and reach him, to tell him things would not always be the way he saw the world. No he didn't finish school, dropped out Feb of his senior year with parental blessings. When I spent time talking with James, almost begging him to leave school in tears I told him how horrible high school was for me. I promised him he would love the learning environment of college as I did. That summer he went straight into Junior College. Apples don't fall far from the tree....From 5th grade on I had the same feelings about myself as James did. I found myself into some things I shouldn't have. I found myself in college just as James would do.

It has truly been a joy to see James begin to "Embrace Life!" The picture is a self portrait of James just before he began to bloom into the wonderful young man he is today. He took this picture about 5 months after his 18th birthday. Now at 20 he embraces who he is, where he's going and keeps his family and friends close in his heart. I'm so proud of him!

Meet my wonderful son!

, James!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Our First Calf of 2009, Flying J&L 11

Last Wednesday we finally were going to have a new calf. We had waited so long for this calf. Cow is 652. In mid-September she started to develop an udder. And she developed a big udder. By the beginning of November it was gone. Had she lost the calf? To me she had, Larry insisted not. Larry's schedule didn't provide time to get her palpated. We brought 652 up to the pens after the cows went through ET on December 2nd. On the 9th when we flushed the Lowline cows and transfered we had our embryologist palpate her. She was in her last trimester and the calf was alive. Then along came Christmas, and there was something a little different in her. By the first of January it was obvious it would be soon, yet not the bag yet she'd had before. Then on the 9th her hip dropped out, normal for calving within 24-48 hours. 72 hours passed and still no calf. The night of the 13th she had separated herself from the other two heifers. She wouldn't come up for her ration. The morning of the 14th I raced out to check on her. She stood up, turned where I could see two little feet. See ya in about an hour. Well an hour later she was down and didn't get up when I drove right up to her. Two little feet and a tongue that wasn't looking so good. Partially blue in fact. I realized this was a Santa Gertrudis calf. She was exposed to Nova then to Charlie. Went to get Lynn, and told her we were pulling a calf. Off we went with rope in hand. I just knew I would be calling the vet. Well right there in the pasture I made the decision to pull the baby there. We tied the big cotton rope around his legs and I pulled. Five minutes later this one huge calf lay at my feet with 652 jumping to hers to look after her son.

I was so surprised he was alive. His tongue partially blue and swollen wasn't good. The meager amount of grain I'd given her over 10 days wasn't enough for this size of calf. This guy was just enourmous. We waited until he began to struggle to raise himself and then went to the house. After we got through feeding we went back to the back to check on 652 and calf (tagged #11). She was in the very same spot where she'd given birth. Not good, means he didn't stand. We went up to him and tried to raise him. That was a chore so heavy. Front fetlocks buckled and it took about five minutes of supporting him for him to stand. Even more not good. We load him in the back of the mule and move 652 and 11 to the pens. While with him in the back of the mule my fears were concerned he had not nursed. Mom and son now in the pen I quick call the feed store for a bottle and colustrum replacer. We run to town, return and mix the replacer up. He's having a hard time nursing the bottle, he relaxes if we have him standing and falls asleep if he was laying down. We manage in an hour to get 2/3rds of the replacer in him.

I feel hopeless at this point. I have a dental appointment the next morning, I have to leave. Lynn is taking me home and Larry and I are returning the next day.

When we return, I quick change and we both head for the barn. There is 11 just laying in the warm sun. I get in the pen, touch his nose, check his hydration levels. Everything is fair. He gets up, fetlocks are still buckling but not as bad. That 90 lbs is so hard to raise and get everything to work when gravity is pulling at you. I decide to watch while feeding. Larry is unloading a load of pipe and when he's done he walks up to see the new calf. I hear, 'My God, he's huge!' He watches as I keep working on getting the show cattle fed. Then I hear, 'Claude and I are putting 652 in the squeeze chute.' I reply, thank you! We had both seen 652 kick her son off when trying to nurse. After trying for about 10 minutes to get him to nurse Larry is frustrated. I went to the mule and got the bottle. Here put a little in and give it to him, then try again. It worked, 11 got really motivated about nursing. His second meal in 24 hours last 45 minutes with patience from the humans to help him out. Poor 652, it hurt at times. I felt for her.

Next morning I'm rushing to get to the barn. I again head straight to 652 and 11. I check him as I did the night before....whew better. He gets up and toddles off like a six hour calf, he's just under 48 hours old. I leave the pen to watch mother and son. He lays down again. Larry arrives and decides to put 652 in the chute again. 11 has no desire to nurse. Larry checks her udder. Right back quarter, no milk. He's nursed we think. Out she goes. 20 minutes we finally know for sure he is nursing without being kicked off. Whew.

That evening I took a of photo of him. He's beginning to act like a day old calf. See how everything works when it comes to trying out the legs. When I took the picture it was late in the day and cloudy.

From this picture until today, he has finally caught up. Like his mother he is as gentle as a lamb. 11 loves to jump and play. Will stay only a short while for a scratch, then runs across the pen hoping I will follow I guess. I'm not a cow.....

Here is what our little guy looked like last night. Big change when I look at the two pictures.

Tomorrow 652 and 11 go back out to pasture where he will have lots of room to run and play. Soon he will be joined by our 2nd and 3rd Santa Gertrudis calves. Angelica 03 and Jillian 02 are due to calve by March. Angelica 02 will calve by the first week in February, sometimes I think sooner. They prove me wrong all the time.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Start - Week Two of 52 Sketches...52 Weeks

It feels so good to be back at my favorite hobby, well maybe my second the animals come first. I've gotten Week #2 done for 52 Sketches...52 Weeks. Just click on the blinkie to the right to check out the great sketches from Julie Bonner.

I love Julie's Sketches yet this one is the kind I really like. It allowed me to use scraps, which is such a neurotic obsession of mine. This was my take on a great sketch.

The picture is hard to see....sorry! Headed for my "About Me" Scrapbook. This LO incorporates two challenge blogs. OLW for the title. Start. Then 52 Sketches for the sketch I used to do the LO. I use OLW to describe me and who I am. As a child I loved summers and swimming every morning. If you weren't on the neighborhood swim team you were nothing.... All other sports I tried I was horrible, no eye hand coordination. It was frustrating, but I didn't need eye hand coordination to swim. So I loved it. I eventually moved from just swimming summers to an AAU team (now called USA Swimming). It was a natural to put Lynn and James on the Timber Cove Dolphins. The first of the 2nd generation swimmers for the Dolphins. Lynn loved it and swam until 12 and like me swam the off season for a USA team. Then she wanted to move to Softball. Then it was animals like me. As my grandmother would say, "Apples don't fall far from the tree." James, well he never really liked sports. His thing has always been technology. Even when he was little.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EPA's Emission Tax on Cattle & Pigs

....Emission Tax on Cattle & Pigs. As Larry says, "If they tax cow crap, they'll tax anything!" LOL, I happen to agree with the stupidity of the individuals who run the EPA.

The EPA has collected data on cattle and pigs to justify this tax in order to meet emission requirements per law. The EPA has declared cows alone produce more emissions then the total number of cars in the US in the form of methane. My response is, "SO WHAT IS THE POINT!" If your going to tax ruminants lets tax sheep, goats, prong horn antelope, big horn sheep, elk, and deer. Lets tax the states based on their wildlife populations. If your going to tax pigs which are mono gastric animals lets tax horses, humans, dogs and cats. Well in some states like North Carolina you already pay a pet tax on your State Income Tax.

So what does this really mean to Dairy, Beef and Pork producers? Then finally what does this mean to the consumer of these products? Lower prices to the producer and higher prices to the consumer. For those of you who do not understand Agriculture Economics, I'll explain why this tax is so
detrimental to both the consumer and producer.

We'll start with the producer. I am a seed stock producer of cattle. This means I produce cattle that will eventually be sold to the producer who produces calves which will eventually go to someone who eats beef. So there is the two tier system in the beef industry. One who produces registered cattle or F1 cross (two breeds bred for first cross giving hybrid vigor) is the first tier. Second tier is the commerical producer, one who produces calves to sell to a specified market. There are a lot of options to this second tier. Some direct market their cattle and others sell their calves via the local sale barn. There are various other types of cattle operations that fit within both tiers, but that is another story. Now I move on to the final product, the beef you find in the grocery store. If you choose to buy ribeye steaks today at the store do you know the color of the calf or the breed of the calf that steak came from. No! Even in the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) Program you don't know the true breeds represented of the steak your eating. See the CAB website for the definition of CAB.

Specifications of Certified Angus Beef

What I'm trying to explain is every Agriculture product you buy is a homozygous product. Every steak in the grocery store looks the same as the next store and the same in every store across the US. Every ear of corn grown in my state looks the same as every ear of corn grown in every other state, etc. As such this causes a standard pricing for the end product to the consumer. Of course you just said, "But, I pay more for Certified Angus Beef!" Yes, you do, you have bought into the best marketing program in the US by the American Angus Association. If you really want a superior steak, ask your butcher for "Elite Tender Beef." These programs are considered "Branded Programs," an attempt to bring higher prices to the producers and they have succeeded. Through DNA testing we now have markers which allow producers to select for Tenderness and Marbling giving the consumer a higher quality product.

Yet, after all this cattle prices to the producers are less today then in 1980 based on inflation. Remember I produce a homozygous product. Unless I develop a market directly to the consumer and many producers have, providing quality grain fed, grass fed, natural, or organic beef directly to the consumer. Of course these four areas can be a combination. These producers by pass the middle man. Yeah, I got to the middle man. In the beef industry there can be more then one middle man. The list may or may not include the local sale barn, the feedlot, the slaughter house, then the grocery store. They all want to make a profit. No one wants to be in business and not make a profit. I'm included.

So what happens if the EPA enacts this tax. Well I get taxed and the feedlot gets taxed. It is the middle man who knows just how much the consumer will stand on a price hike before they stop buying beef and choose chicken over beef or pork simply because of cost. So who suffers, the producer. The middle man will offer less to the producer for their product. Why? It's a homozygous product. An example in point.... As grain prices went up last year on the Future's Market the amount offered to beef producers went down. This caused a huge number of producers to dump cattle on the market. These production cows and bulls were sold to make hamburger meat. The prices haven't risen even though a large number of production animals were sold. Today on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange the price of cattle is 84.00 cwt. It will be slightly higher depending on how close you live to Chicago. The reason is a whole new discussion which I won't go into. In Texas cattle are running 87.00 per cwt.

Let's look at what 87.00 per cwt brings to the producer. If I have 100 cows I will produce 95 calves based on the average of 95% conception rate. I'll sell these calves at an average of 500 lbs at sale time at the local sale barn. This equates to 95 x 5 cwt x $87 = $41,325 gross income. It takes about $250.00-350.00 for each mama beef cow. I'm down to $11,325 dollars profit. Now the EPA wants me to pay $87.50 for each beef cow I own. Now I've just made a profit of $2,575.00. Why in the world would I now want to raise cattle.

Let's look at the AVERAGE PRODUCER! The average cattle herd in this country is 30-50 head and the EPA very intelligently decided this tax is only for the producer with 50 head or more. Still stupid. What makes me with just under 100 head on my farm any different then two producers with the same number I have. Their cattle have the same emissions as me. Most producers have cattle to supplement income from their other job. I promise no one can live on the current $11,325 per year. The amount of labor the producer puts in doesn't even pay minimum wage. The small producer raises cattle for one simple reason....THEY LIKE CATTLE. As I said not only will the producer have to pay this tax, so will the feedlots. Double taxing by the government. They will offer less to the producer for their calves so they can absorb the tax and keep the price of beef the same to you. Remember I said the feedlots know exactly what you as the consumer will pay for beef before you switch to chicken or pork. Eventually with this type of tax, the rise in pork and beef will go up to you the consumer.

Let's look briefly at dairy cattle. I'm going to use California Dairies. You like the California Cheese Cows on TV. I can't help but laugh each time I see those cows on TV. The marketing for California Cheese is have this picture of happy cows in the pasture. This so far from the truth it is mind boggling. The large dairies in Southern California keep their dairy cows in a huge feedlot situation. They are milked three times a day. The dairy operates around the clock. These dairies can have 10,000 and some more cows in them. The EPA's wise decision is to tax dairies above 50 head at a rate of $179.00 per head. So those large dairies milking 10,000 head a day equates to $1,790,000 dollars a year. What do you think will happen to the price of milk. Yep, you got it...GO UP!

Are you willing to pay this tax, while producers make less.....think! You need to eat, tell your senators and representatives in Washington the EPA is STUPID!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Winter Out My Front Door

I love winter out my front door....well maybe! When visited by this cow, chewing on my round bales of hay in the yard, not. As she munches, it makes it really difficult to move the Hay. This gal has figured out how to go through the fence of our neighbors across the street. She is so tired of being chased out I couldn't get the picture taken in time before she decided the best choice is to leave. So I'm watching her back end as she mossies out the gate. She really has a nice profile and is an excellent example of a great commerical production cow. She leaves her three month old behind in the pasture and returns the same way as she got out. Calf never comes with her. I really think she just likes to visit at this point because she isn't hungry. She's in better shape then some of our cows.

Why did I call it Winter out my Front Door? Well on those rare occasions I buy Creating Keepsakes. Want to join 365? That's 365 pictures in a year. There was an article in Creating Keepsakes this month on ideas for a picture a day. They listed 365 ideas to take pictures. One was "Winter out your front door." So here is my Winter Out the Front Door picture, Visiting Charlois Cow in the "GOTTA GO NOW SO I'M NOT CHASED OUT!"

My daily routine in Winter of 2009. LOL!!!!