Preparation for vaccinating cattle is a big job too!

This weekend we have BIG plans--we'll be vaccinating all the cattle on our ranch. First, tomorrow we'll be up before sunrise, ready to gather 265 heifers. The veterinarian will arrive at the pasture around 7:30 and we'll pregnancy check and vaccinate all those heifers. We won't be done by lunch, so today I'm making a picnic lunch to take with us to feed the crew.  Each morning this weekend, we will get up early again and gather cows and calves, sort them off so we can work the calves through the chute first to give them their vaccinations, weigh them and check them for overall health. Then we'll work the cows through the chute to pregnancy check and vaccinate them. At the same time we weigh the cows and body condition score them. 

I promise to write a follow-up blog about the actual work of vaccinating and explain all the terminology with pictures next week! But for today, my biggest job is getting everything ready to work cattle! This includes ordering and picking up the vaccine for 510 cows and 250 calves, finding the vaccine cooler to keep the medicine at the right temperature while working, locating and checking all the syringes to make sure they are ready to use, buying more than 1,000 needles for all the various shots, charging up the battery operated scale head, and (not the least important) cooking the lunches for each day!

My husband and I work together as partners on the ranch. During the week, he works in town at a desk job, so I am in charge of daily jobs for the ranch, including feeding cattle, checking and managing pastures, and treating injuries or illness in cattle in the summer. The weekends and evenings are not relaxing times, as when he is home, we are often scheduling the big jobs that take more people than just me! We also have five teenaged kids who are the best working crew I've ever seen. That is our entire crew in the summer.

So much of the work on a ranch is physical, difficult work and we do it with our family. That can encourage grouchiness and short tempers. So we try to make the jobs as fun as possible, by turning on a radio in the background and providing a good picnic meal to enjoy. Today I'm cooking up about 8 pounds of ground beef to make sloppy joes, two pies: one strawberry and one peach, pasta salad and packing home grown tomatoes for our lunch tomorrow. We'll spread out our picnic in the pasture grass and take our time relaxing with a good meal, with the local vet (who is a friend), before going back to work to finish the job.

The pictures on this blog post are of my kids doing their part to help work cattle a number of years ago. I will take my camera with me each day this weekend and will hopefully have lots of good pictures to post next week!

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