Feeding Our Cattle & 4B's Cream of Tomato Soup

Stone and I are home alone this morning on the ranch. My mom is in Arizona visiting her sister and the guys (Shane & my dad) are hauling hay. So, we are the feeding crew today!

Back before I had Stone I was outside all the time....I wasn't much of a domesticated gal back then. Don't get me wrong....I loved to cook, but I wasn't passionate about it like I am now. After I had Stone, I was pretty much housebound for quite a few years. I'm not trying to make it sound like I was isolated....I wasn't.....I was where I needed to be....keeping the home fire burning. :) I didn't quite know how to take the first year in stride, but eventually as Stone grew older and was able to do more I developed a true love of my kitchen and the things I could create there. I like to do a lot of things in there that involve my son. I like to think that I am preparing him to be self-sufficient later in life.....he is good help and he loves to "cook". :)

Anyway, Stone is 5.....so I've had 5 years of not being out doing chores all day every day like I used to. I still water the horses, feed the chickens, tend to our dogs and barn cats....that kind of stuff, but as far as going out feeding and chopping water....it doesn't happen as often as it used to.....and us being on our own doing it is almost unheard of.

I certainly wasn't apprehensive about doing it.....I was raised a ranch girl so these kinds of things don't daunt me.....except for when it comes to my folks' white Dodge hydra bed pickup.

Insert some scary music.....maybe the Jaws theme is appropriate here! :)

The problem is that it pops out of first gear all the time (my folks have tried to have it fixed, but I think it's past that). So, when carrying a 1,000 lb+ bale, it's hard to start out in anything but first gear! The seat doesn't move closer to the petals and the seat also squishes down so short people like me can barely see over the dash. I'm sure I am quite a sight driving it! However, many cuss words and a sore hand later.....I had it mastered. We grabbed the bale we needed and headed off to feed my folks' heifers. It really went much smoother than I anticipated! *Why not sell the pickup or get rid of it.....well, it's paid for....and if you are a rancher you know the value of inching by when you can!*

We feed cake (cylinder compressed feed that looks kind of like a vegetative hotdog if you will), hay, and lick tubs (plastic tubs full of a hard-almost-like molasses/syrup kind of stuff full of protein, fat, and vitamins/minerals) to our cattle.

Here are some heifers bellied up to one of the lick tubs:

We started our day off by feeding our heifers with our caking pickup. Feeding this way is so convenient and easy (the feeder dumps out however much feed you set it to dump out - from 2-8 lbs. mostly). The most important thing to know is how many pounds you need to feed to each critter. Counting (to figure out how many "dumps" to put out) is critical as overfeeding can lead to all sorts of bad problems. Stone is a great help with counting.....plus, it helps him to learn math and to see how useful it is in every day life (we'll save the algebra discussion for future years)! Here is my co-pilot for the day:

Every good rancher needs a good cow dog....or three! That's what we have.....3 great girls who are part of our family. Meet Sky, Tee, and Remi......they make our lives complete!

Once we finished feeding our heifers and breaking open the pit (our water supply for the heifers), it was time to feed my folks' heifers with the hydra bed. My job with it was to unroll one bale of hay for the heifers. They heard me coming and boy, were they eager!

In case you are wondering, here is what a bale of hay looks like: