The Ranch Tour

Hi, I’m Mike and today I get a chance to
do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, take you for a tour of the ranch, on
Our Wyoming Life. If you’ve been watching us for a while,
you have been all over the ranch, from the barn to the chicken house to the greenhouse.
If this is your first time watching, you will get a bit of an advantage, I think, because
I can tell you when we first came to the ranch, I was lost as could be. Of course back then
there was just a barn a shop and the cows. When we first came here there was only a couple
of rental houses on the ranch, no one that was responsible for the day to day operation
actually lived here. Someone had to come out every day, check the cows, feed and do whatever
else might have needed done. With the coming of Erin and I all that changed.
We decided to live on the ranch, the rental trailer house became our home, and eventually
as our family grew we had the opportunity to build our own house, just across the way.
It is a modular so technically we didn’t build anything but a big crane did come and
drop it in place and then we moved in. So we begin the tour at our house, only a
few feet away from the shop, where most everything starts and stops on the ranch. My day tends
to start there, and end there. It’s a good place to gather your thoughts for the day
and come up with a plan of attack. Attached to the shop is what we call the sales
barn, back in the day and I’m talking 30 years ago, they used to have cattle sales
in this barn. It was full of bleachers and people would sit and watch as cows and bulls
were brought up, showed and sold. Now the sales barn is pretty much just vehicle storage,
the tractors live in here, four wheelers and sometimes the bobcat. It’s also used to
store feed and during hunting season it’s used as an area for hunters to gather, and
process their game. On the back side of the sales barn is the
actual barn, right now the bottle calves are living here, but during calving we have cows
and calves in each of these corrals, some waiting to give birth, and some bonding after
birth. Outside the barn leads you into our corral
system. What can look like just a bunch of fences and corrals is actually a well thought
out and designed tool to help us sort and work with cattle. I rebuilt our corral system
in 2012 with the help of the University of Saskatchewan who designed this system, and
I have to say it works really well. Larger corrals lead to alleys for sorting and then
into smaller corrals, which then in turn lead into tubs to move cows, bulls or calves into
the squeeze chutes or onto waiting trailers. A good corral system is invaluable, and with
this system I can sort, load or work on cattle by myself, although having a couple of extra
people on hand is always an added bonus. As we move out of the corrals we head toward
a pretty innocent looking shed but if you listen you can hear the squeals and oinks
of little pigs. This is where they live, at least as long as it doesn’t get too cold.
Outside pigs are easier to manage and they seem happier but if the weather gets too cold
for them, then we move them into a corral in the barn where we can control the environment
a little better. Moving them is a giant pain and I’m sure at some point you will see
me chasing a pig around at some point, hopefully not today.
This shed, once the pigs move out will become a place to get more vehicles out of the weather
during the winter, the firetruck and usually the smaller international tractor will fit
right in here. Turning our heads to the right and a little
behind us, next to the corrals is the chicken house. This chicken house was also build by
me after we moved out here. Erin wanted chickens and although there was an old chicken house,
which has now been torn down, we decided to build a new one. Mostly because the old one
was ready to come down anyway. So we built this new chicken house, which some of the
neighbors call the chicken Taj mahal in 2009. It does work great, expect one day when I
came out and it was on fire. It was early spring and one of the chickens had knocked
down a heating light bulb that we used to keep it a little warmer in there. That light
bulb sat against the wood until it burst into flames. Luckily, we didn’t lose the chicken
house and after the fire was under control I was able to replace any burnt or charred
wood the chicken had their old digs back, although it did smell a little like roasted
chicken. Not far from the chicken house is the beginning
of Erin’s gardening empire. Her three gardens collectively making up about ¼ of an acre
or 11 thousand square feet of veggie goodness. We keep track of them by name. This is the
small garden, where Erin is growing pumpkins, cauliflower, and some corn and this is the
big garden, where Erin is out harvesting now. In here are too many veggies to name but from
fennel to kohlrabi you can find it in here. Erin looks like she is headed to harvest lettuce,
say hi Erin, or just wave, that works too. On the other side of the big garden is the
high tunnel, which houses tomatoes and peppers and used to have all the cucumbers as well
before Erin got annoyed and pulled them all out. This fall we will be building a new high
tunnel, we received a grant to pay for it and should have the new one up and going by
spring. This tunnel will become our winter growing tunnel, where Erin will raise crops
all winter long, including lettuce, spinach and carrots.
You may have noticed a two lane highway running right by the ranch, and in fact it actually
runs through the ranch. We have a land on the other side of that road where our bulls
live during the winter; the horse pasture is also over there along with our dump and
our heifer barns and calving areas. Having a highway run through is a bit of pain, especially
in the winter time, when visibility can be low and you are trying to drive a tractor
across the highway to feed bulls or horses over there and someone is driving a white
pickup with no headlights on, well you can imagine the rest. Luckily nothing bad has
happened but it can be nerve racking. So with all the buildings, gardens, chicken
houses, pigpens under our belt it’s time to talk about what makes a ranch a ranch.
And that’s land, and out here we have plenty of it. In fact, I did some math. If the ranch
had the same population density of Manhattan, then there would be almost 500 thousand people
living on the ranch. There are 5 of us. In fact if you flipped it the other way, and
took our population density and applied it to Manhattan there would be 14 people in Manhattan.
Probably make it a lot easier to get a cab. Just like the corrals the smaller pastures
are closer to the main part of the ranch. Behind the corrals is a 3 acre pasture we
call the lot, it can be used to hold cows before sorting or to hold cows that are close
to calving that need a close eye on them, beyond that is the triangle pasture, 7 acres
used mainly for the same reason but giving the cows a bit more room and outside the triangle
pasture is the home pasture. 400 acres that is the home of the cows all winter long, they
get fed here and they will calve here. Keeping them close to home with enough room to get
out and roam. Next up are a couple of hay fields then into
the heifer pasture, named mostly because that’s where heifers spend their summer. A heifer
is a cow that has never had a calf before, these heifers are hopefully pregnant but we
won’t know for sure until we ultrasound them in a couple of weeks.
Then it’s into the one legged windmill pasture, named after this windmill that stands and
supplies water for cows when they are in here. Cows will usually spend time in this pasture
as we had our next area, a wide open expanse. Thousands of acres with very few fences but
a lot of hay ground that we harvest in early summer. After we hay it and move the hay off
this is where the cows spend their entire summer, they will live here until October
when we bring them back to sort the cows from the calves in preparation to send the calves
to auction. Then depending on how much grass is left the cows might be moved back here
for they may just stay in the home pasture and we start winter feeding.
The entire ranch is roughly a mile wide and continues for almost 6 miles before widening
out in the cows summer pasture, I drive down a couple times a day to check on or to cake
the cows and you wouldn’t think that a 6 mile drive could be tedious, but trust me
it can. That’s the ranch, most of it anyway and
if I missed something I’m sure we will get to it eventually. Like I said every day starts
and stops here at the shop and we are back. I’m sorry I didn’t give you the tour earlier
but as you know, there was a ton of work to be done and we got right to it.
If this is your first time here, thanks for joining us and I hope you subscribe as we
take you on a journey through life in Wyoming. From ranching to gardening, to our family,
projects and basically how we live our life. Let us show you were food really comes from
and how hard work can truly be its own reward. If you have already subscribed, thanks for
hanging with us. Lots more work on the way as farmers market continues; soon we will
bringing cows in to start preg checking, and sorting and a whole lot more.
As always, comment if you’d like, even if it’s just to say hi, we love hearing from
you. Have a great week and thanks for joining us
in Our Wyoming Life.


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