As written in a previous post, if we had to wait for cooler weather in Texas to get anything done, we’d never get anything done. For our operations here on the ranch, we have four standing orders that must be accomplished everyday.
The First Order is feed the horses twice a day, once in the morning between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. and in the late afternoon between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. During the summer, I watch the shadows lengthen at five o’clock in the afternoon from the mesquite and live oak trees surrounding the corrals and barn, a signal to feed. Although the temperatures are high, the shadows present a significant measure of relief. In the open sun, the temperatures have reached 115 deg. F. this summer.
The Second Order is to fill three water troughs in the two corrals and stable. Horses consume water in large quantities. We are dependent on Barton Creek Water Cooperative for potable water at the house and at the barn. We have a large stock tank in the front pasture and in Pecan Tree Pasture, a half-mile away and across Salt Creek, there is a large circular water trough filled with Barton Creek Coop water. All water troughs must be at least one-quarter full.
The Third Order is to physically check the health of all the horses, from head to tail, hoof to withers, and apply medicine or fly spray (marigold tincture, not oily, water-based) to los caballos. Horses are bound, like toddlers, to get cuts and scrapes, sometimes worse.
Fourth Order is to check fences where the horses are turned out. This may be done on horseback, in the pickup or using binoculars.
When we run a herd of cattle, these four orders apply to their pastures and browsing areas. In addition, certain Niman Ranch protocols (c) must be followed if the cattle are certified Niman Ranch.
Feed, water, check the health of the livestock and fences dictate four chores that must be accomplished, summer or winter.
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The front pasture has been shredded of its broomweed. I leave large swatches of tall grass for the critters. Perhaps one day quail may come back. I’ve only seen one covey here at the ranch in eight years. They will nest in tall grass, dead grass. To completely shred a pasture destroys that cover.
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Several days ago I posted “Cactus Illusion,” a momentary scare that our oldest mare, Lilly, had become entangled in the fence at the area she loafs, next to the Hall place on the east side of the arena pasture. I have some photographs of that area.
As explained in the post, I was a quarter-of-a-mile away, using the binoculars to examine the fence line and check on the horses at mid-day when I thought I saw Lilly down and entangled. The sun and my crisis mode at the time played a trick on my behavior as Brenda and I sped to the area to rescue Lilly. She was just fine, loafing in the grove area underneath a live oak tree. We were terribly relieved that it was a cactus illusion.
Getting adapted to working Texas summertime heat requires thinking ahead more than usual. By and large, work should be done before 10:30 a.m. so that the work during the heat of the day can be accomplished in the shade or in a barn with good circulation. Large circular fans, 10 to 15 feet in diameter can be installed at the top of a barn or enclosed arena. We don’t have those fans, but we work on the breezy porch or in the alleyway of the stables. I use misters in the stables.
Take a lesson from livestock during the summer. Rest and loaf in the shade during the heat of the day. Browse in the early morning, evening and night.
For Lilly’s pedigree and other photos, click on Ima Lil Moore APHA 111214.
The Niman Ranch protocols may be found under the link for our ranch: Niman Ranch Beef Cattle protocol.
The Niman Ranch website. Here you may find a list of ranches specializing in the protocol as well as sources to purchase the high-quality meat.
We have not had a cattle herd since 2009. We specialize in Angus cattle.