Genuine Montana working cattle "RanchLife" as experienced by an absentee landlord.

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Name: Kenneth W. Duncan
Location: United States

I am a technology entrepreneur who was lucky enough to purchase a Montana working cattle ranch in 1995. I still work in technology in Utah but love to help our ranch manager manage the ranch and love to work at the ranch (www.ranchlife.com). I started this BLOG to give readers a glimpse of Montana ranching through the eyes of an absentee owner.

Monday, March 06, 2006

First 2006 Calves at the HPR

RanchLife comes alive when calving season begins. Urs called me this morning to report that we had our first two Calves born this morning. This is the same day on which last year's first Calves were born! We breed our Cows to calve starting on 15 March of each spring but, invariably, some of those doggies just come early. Each year when Urs reports to me the first Calves of the season I feel like I just became a grandpa again! Urs and Elias will catch the baby Calves, hopefully without interference from Mom, tag them, band the baby Bulls, and vaccinate them with a "natural" vaccine. The next time Urs and Elias will see these little guys will be at the end of a rope during branding, later in the spring after all the Calves have been born. It's amazing how those baby Calves can get up and to their mother's teats within minutes. Then they even begin to forage around the hay that is put down in the pastures. These little guys need to not only learn to walk, eat, and grow, they also need to now protect themselves from packs of Wolves in the area. We have had sightings of Wolves on our ranch and several of our neighbors have lost numerous Calves. Urs told me the other day of a baby elk that appeared to have been killed by a pack of Wolves. We will raise these Calves, naturally, and the Heifers will become good breeding stock and the Steers (those former Bulls) will eventually become natural beef.

We also participated this weekend in the GoldenLink (http://microsite.braunvieh.com/goldenlink/) Braunvieh Bull sale, held annually in Firth, NE. We had a friend bid for and purchase 8 really nice replacement Braunvieh Bulls. Harlan Doeschot, Sr. and Jr. run a great operation and breed the finest Braunvieh Bulls in the Nation. Harlan, Sr. imported these "Brown Swiss", dual purpose (milk and beef) Bulls more than 15 years ago from Switzerland. How appropriate that our Bulls are like our manager --- from Switzerland! We always try to invest in quality Bulls so that we can have quality beef and replacement Heifers for the market.