Friday, September 30, 2022

Chute Fire

When you're ranching on a fixed income you have to take advantage of good deals when they come your way. Such was the case on Wednesday morning's Big Iron sale. I'd been keeping my eye out for a good old squeeze chute. And, as providence would have it, one came up in Manderson, just 30 miles up the road. Not only was the price right, but we got ourselves a real nice chute for the corrals back home.

This Ranch Hand chute from Redford NE has much going for it. For starters, she's well older than I am. She's also a 7'er which is necessary for today's bigger cattle.

Dad was eager to lend a hand, especially when I told him what we were dealing with.

I could tell by the look on his face that he approved. 

These old chutes combine wood and steel into a great work of art. Here the top board folds down to allow for milking or whatever a guy might have to do on the underside of a cow. 

The bars all around it fold down so you can brand, vaccinate, or whatever. Chute, they aren't even froze up. 

Kind of an interesting doohickey here. Since the head catch has free vertical motion, this guy can be installed to keep a cow's head in place if need be. 

Looks like the back gate works too. 

But the real selling point on this Ranch Hand was the head catch. I like this style. They are self catching if set right. 

You can also turn a cow loose forward or backward. 

Sideways is even an option if things get too western. 

I think it has potential. She'll take a little welding here and there. But what fun would it be if it didn't. Budget ranching keeps life exciting. I've seen hydraulic chutes and even used them. They're nice, but I prefer rope burns and facial scars from the old manual chutes. They give a cowboy character. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Fall Fun

It was time for Dick Williams and my annual trip up the Middle Fork of the Powder River to see the fall colors. This year I took the Slip road up from Kaycee and met him there. Beautiful country. 

I'll admit that the Slip Road alluded me for a while. But after flagging down a rancher and backtracking 15 miles, we found it. 

I've never been up the Big Horns from this side. Steep and pretty. 

The colors on the Middle Fork were outstanding. 

This'll be next to the last hurrah at the Williams' cabin. This weekend they will winterize it. 

Dick grilled up lamb chops this year. Not bad, my friend. 

Tough to beat Quakies in late September. 

Soon they'll all be changed. 


Once a month priests get to take a day of prayer. How they use it is up to them. Driving up and down the Big Horns in early fall sounds like a good way to tune in to the voice of the Lord to me. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Chopping Corn

September is corn harvest season in the Big Horn Basin. After 20 years or so of farming, my brother Luke has this system down pat. I'd say 75% of the corn raised around Worland is chopped into silage for feeding cattle.

Dad has been lending a hand at Luke's ever since he retired in 2015. From planting to harvesting and everything in between, Dad's ready to help. 

You can hardly keep enough trucks under this self-propelled New Holland chopper. She chews corn up and spits it out. 

Once the truck is full, they run it to the pile near the feed lot. 

The packer tractor pushes it up the pile...

... and then drives back and forth on it packing it tight which preserves it for the winter. 

Looks good to me.

Corn harvest is a fun time of year. The temperature is usually pleasant and you really get to see the fruits of your labor. Corn silage is an amazing feed, you get your protein and roughage all wrapped into one. God bless the farmer.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Horsin' Around

With the horses running low on grass, we were keeping our eyes out for new pasture. Thankfully, I didn't even have to knock on any doors. Pat Hladky came to me one day and said he had about 5 acres by the Camplex that wasn't being used if I needed some. I said, I'll be out in the morning. Thanks Pat. 

I've heard of horses that you could walk up to and catch in the pasture, but I've never had one. I don't mess around with my horses. If I want to catch them, I oat them into a corral and give them no other option than to go to work. It makes it easier on us all. Anyway, Pat's place didn't have a catch pen, so we had to build one. There was a shed already there that we winched closer and then closed it in. 

Pat had some panels near by that we could use as well.

Once the shed was in place we connected it to the fence with the panels and closed the water inside it. The horses seem to dig it. 

We'll just leave the gate open and let the kids come and go. Then when its time to go to work this'll be a safe space. So they think. 

God always provides. And He usually does so through other people. I'm thankful for grass to get us through the fall. I'm also thankful to do a little winching. It'd be no fun if everything was readymade. We got to get creative and sweat a little. That's what man was made for. 

Faith Is

Faith is a decision, but also a disposition.