Monday, May 4, 2009

Tackling Spring Round Up

Normally Tackles are something that I've done on my own. Some home improvement, craft or home-keeping task that I need to get done. This week however, I'm posting about something that my entire family, and many of our dearest friends do together two times a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall, we all come together at my father's ranch and work cattle for two days. It's called "Round Up".

I had decided last week to write about round up for this week's tackle. I usually take pictures anyway and since it's an extremely labor intensive project, it fits the bill. However, I wasn't able to take pictures of this year's event, my son had an accident early on Saturday (I had only taken four pictures so far) and I spent most of Saturday in the Emergency Room. Sunday I spent taking care of him, so I didn't get enough pictures to write the article, so I've decided to substitute in shots from last year to describe what this Round Up weekend is all about. Because even though there was an injury and I wasn't really as involved this year (except for meals and LOTS of muddy cowboy laundry) the work still went on and the job got done. So I still want to tell you about it as I've received many comments wondering how it all works and people who were excited to see the post about it this week.

Round up is quite the production. Weeks before the event my father is getting ready purchasing vaccine and vaccination supplies, getting the house ready for the many workers from out of town who will be spending the weekend, getting each of the corrals prepared for the work. One of my aunts and I usually handle the menu's. We plan out the lunches for the two days and try to figure out who will be coming and how many we will be feeding. These cowboys and cowgirls are working for the food and the company, so we can't disappoint!

Round up is a two day event occurring in two different locations. My father runs cattle on both his own ranch and more recently my grandmother's place. When my grandfather passed away, he purchased the land around my grandmother's house and yard and so now his ranch is expanded. I jokingly call it his b-ranch location! On Saturday all the work is done at the ranch at my Grandmother's and on Sunday all the work is done on the place where my dad lives (a few miles away). The process is the same for both days, just one day at one location and the other day is at the other location.

The morning of roundup a handful of cowboys, usually my dad and brother, my husband and oldest son and a couple of friends of ours will go out and gather the cows from the pastures where they stay. When they are all "rounded up", they are moved into the corrals where we will be working.

And sorted into pens according to what needs to be done. Bulls are segregated, heifers, big calves that can fit into the chute and then finally the smaller calves are sorted.

First we work the heifers and big calves. They are given vaccinations, wormed, tagged and sometimes when needed, gyno exams are given to the heifers who are pregnant. Occasionally there will be a cow that needs to be dehorned or an older calf that hasn't yet been castrated. Most castrations though are done on the smaller calves.

These cattle are moved from the pen they were sorted into and moved up the alley and into the chute.

Then each is worked simultaneously given the proper attention when they are in the chute. There is an "assembly line" of people each handling a different chore. My father is the leader and gives instructions for each animal as it comes through, as some will be treated differently than others and he knows each one individually and can identify their needs.

Ideally this is a quick process, though sometimes (like Saturday) there can be moments of excitement and it can take a little longer than we planned.

The last step is working the smaller calves. These calves need to be roped and thrown since they won't fit in the chute to be worked as the larger ones were.

First the roper gets into the pen with the smaller calves and each one is roped...

We try to have more than one roper, to make this part go faster (as there are usually many calves to be worked). With more than one roper, then we can process several calves at a time. We try to have several teams for each position (roper, thrower, needles, cutting and tagging)

The roped calf is then pulled into the lot where it can be worked...

The cowboy who throws will pick a good location in the work lot, and then throw the calf...
When the calf is down and held, others will come in to process the calf as needed. In this picture you can see how many jobs are done at once so the calf doesn't have to be held still for long. The calf isn't hurt by any of the process, as it's skin is thicker than ours and it's tolerance for pain is too. It does, however, HATE to be held still. We try to get the necessary procedures done without causing too much stress to the animals.
This is an enormous tackle, much bigger than any tackle that I normally post about that I do by myself. It is a great expression of how family can work together out of love to help a family member. It is a wonderful lesson for the children

If you'd like to see what projects others in the blogosphere are working on, please visit Tackle It Tuesday @ 5 Minutes for Mom


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