Our first and second snow have already visited us here on the ranch. Dana threw all the gates open on our mountain permits last week to allow any animals seeking lower-elevation refuge in these storms. As the snow comes in, it’s crucial that any cattle that may still be on the mountains have a way down to a lower elevation.
While we thought we had gathered and trailed most of our cattle to the valley, we have still answered a few reports from hunters of cattle on the mountains. And whether they ended up being our cattle or a neighbors, we went and loaded them up and brought them to the valley because cattle won’t survive the long, harsh mountain winter... nd because it's the right thing to do. This is followed by a neighborly cattle exchange, as cattle can drift to all different parts of Wyoming by way of the Bighorn Mountains.
In the valley below, it’s weaning and shipping season!
For the past few weeks, the family has been busy gathering and sorting cattle in preparation for weaning and shipping.
Gather, sort, vaccinate. Gather, sort, rotate pastures. Repeat.
The first group began the weaning process on Monday: the Wagyu calves.
We do have some Wagyu on our ranch! Did you know that? We cross our heifers with wagyu bulls because the wagyu typically produce smaller calves than our regular bulls. This helps with birthing ease for these first-time mamas.
These calves, born earlier in the year and closer to home than the rest of our herd, are the first to be born and the first to wean. They will go to market later in November to help with cash flow on the ranch, but we will wait to wean and sell the rest of the calves until after the 1st of the year. This is partially because we see an uptick in the cattle market after January 1, but also partially because we calve later than most, we wean later than most.
All calves will be weaned by January 1 and most will go to market. Our nicest heifer calves will stay in our herd as replacement heifers for our breeding program. The nicest steers will stay, as well, for another year before they become a part of our beef program.
It doesn’t seem to slow down after cattle drive season, although there is a lull between shipping in November and Christmas before we start feeding cows. Yet, as I write this, I'm thinking about how we are already prepping for Christmas orders and shipments for Truly Beef... But the rhythm does change to a steady hum of feeding, health checking, rotating pastures. Repeat. Then we calve again in the spring and cattle drive season begins again in the summer.
In some other exciting news… We got sheep! No-sheer sheep! Because let’s be real, when would we have time to sheer them? Lol.
Mallory and Trent purchased a large handful of Katahdin hair sheep... because a new baby and a new ranch don’t keep them busy enough! It’s actually a clever diversification and holistic form of weed control for the ranch. Sheep will eat a lot of plants that cattle won’t. We can use them to manage obnoxious noxious weeds with methods like high stock density grazing and it won’t affect our cattle stocking rates. They also provide different fertilizers and feed different microbes in the soil. I’m excited to see how Trent and Mallory use them to improve the depleted soils on our new ranch.
These sheep are also a breed of meat sheep… Do I see Truly Ewe in our future? Lol.
But even newer to the ranch than the sheep is a product we have never offered before:
A special request for grass-finished beef was such a hit that we have decided to open up orders to the public. I’ve enjoyed learning about the subtle differences between grass-finished and grain-finished beef, but more importantly, I’ve enjoyed the flavor of our grass-finished beef!
I’m excited to say that we have opened up pre-orders for our grass-finished bulk beef harvest with the deadline of November 15th!
With having just come off the biodiverse and lush native grasses of the Bighorn mountains, these beeves are going to be full of good omega fats and stellar!
So tell your friends and go in together on a whole, half or quarter beef. It’s going to be amazing!