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Dealing with drought

Agriculture.com Staff 06/14/2006 @ 11:00pm

As calving season slowed down for another year this spring, branding season began. All weekends in May were filled with area brandings. I decided to put our branding off until June 3rd, which made the calves a little larger and the weather a little warmer.

We have a lot of welcome visitors stopping through to see Dad, as his health continues to slip. Several neighbors are regular visitors, and then we have had several distant relatives stop through as well. Remember, in our neighborhood, we define neighbors as people who live in rural Western SD and are within 50 to 60 miles from the house.

The drought in our area continues to persist. Dad and Mom had me proceed with putting in additional water lines. That gives us water in every pasture but one, which does have some water holes in it anyway. With the help of Arlie and Jason Radway, I set one tank in the south pasture. Jason uses this pasture often and this year has bred heifers in there and Radways are the family that dug that artesian that gave water to the rest of our immediate community. I still need to settle up with Arlie on the water tank, as it was one they had pulled out and were not using. They truly are the best kind of neighbors people could have.

Dad had me sell off a load of horses this month. Mostly due to the drought, however, we are well stocked on horses, so trimming down does not really impact the good horses we have to utilize for the ranch. In fact, I have one good old horse that I use at brandings that just loves to drag calves. Then I have one that I use to sort cattle for bulls. Harry is my branding horse, who is a pain to ride in the pasture because he likes to work cattle, not pleasure ride.

"My real job", as Dad says, working for AgInfoLink, has been busy as well. We have begun pushing our Process Verified Program (PVP), which is for age and/or source verified cattle. Through AgInfoLink's contract, I work with SD Animal Industry Board on implementation projects throughout SD. This month I was asked to work buffalo at the 777 Ranch in Southwestern SD. Being my first time around buffalo it was pretty interesting, and I hope to get invited back for their annual round-up in the fall.

I traded off my JD 3155 tractor that I recently purchased. It was a complete lemon that I only used for nine hours. I worked with a different dealer and got a JD 4250 for a little more money. The first dealer said that everything worked because it was checked on the check list in the shop, but the second dealer found more issues that were not working properly before I bought the 3155.

I have decided to AI my replacement heifers by using seeders and then time breeding them by putting an AI straw in all of them at the same time. My neighbor, Earl Thompson, will be doing the AI for us, so neither Heidi nor I have to learn how to do that.

We gave our breed shots to the cows, plus a pour-on for lice and fly control. Since it is required several weeks prior to turning the bulls out, I could not wait until we branded, so my buddies, Cody Weyer and Beau Bendigo came over and helped, as well as, Paul and Shanna. This also saves on effort on branding day as well.

Heidi and I continue to discuss our future, but there are so many uncertainties that we just continue to hope and pray that things will work out for us to continue the family operation into the future. So many reasons to believe we will be granted an opportunity to continue Dad's cattle passion on this land.

As calving season slowed down for another year this spring, branding season began. All weekends in May were filled with area brandings. I decided to put our branding off until June 3rd, which made the calves a little larger and the weather a little warmer.

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