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11/5/2004

Weanin' Time

The past couple of weeks we’ve been weaning calves from their mothers. Throughout the summer cows and calves have lived the “good life” out in the pastures. This particular year has been a good grass year so our cattle enjoyed a “feast” of sorts with plenty of what they like to eat available. 
 
Fall is traditionally a harvest for cattlemen. Some will keep their calves through the winter. For Gray’s Ranch it is the time to market at least a part of those calves that were born last spring. The steer calves that weighed maybe 65-80 pounds at birth will be coming off the grass at 550+ pounds.  
 
The calves are taken to a set of pens where they learn to eat a little grain, but really chow down on prairie hay. Within a few days they stop missing their mothers and gentle down considerably. It is always fun to play with the calves as they loose their fear of man and become more and more friendly. Seems like there is always one or two that are naturally spirited and I have one this year. He throws his head in the air and prances off to the far side of the lot every time he sees me. A few minutes later he relaxes and moves back into the herd but he never ever quite gets used to my presence.  
 
Then there are the curious ones that cautiously approach, sniffing the air and looking me over. They WANT to be friends, but just don’t know for sure. In a little while I’ll be scratching their backs and pushing them away.  
 
All the while I know that they will be going to the sale. I learned a long time ago that life can be bittersweet. I just try to squeeze as much of the sweet out that I can… 
So Long, 
The Cowboy  

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