May is finally here!
Around this portion of Montana, April snow showers bring May mud, and eventually June flowers! After an uncharacteristically dry March, we have had a few fairly large, April snowstorms. The last of which was on April 29th. This is my uncle's birthday, and my aunt always makes him a birthday cake called, muddy corrals with a foot of snow on top! Without fail, we can always count on muddy corrals, with a foot of snow on top at the end of April.
We are extremely grateful for all the moisture we receive and continue to pray for more. Most of Montana has been in a pretty severe drought for the last year. However, snow at this time of year is a double-edged sword. Our ranch, among many others are very short on hay to feed our cattle because of last summer's drought. When we get snow like this, we have to feed more hay than usual to keep our cattle healthy.
By the end of April, we are done calving, save a few stragglers. Most of our days are spent feeding cattle, checking through calves, and getting ready for branding and breeding season. Herd health is extremely important this time of year. When the weather is warm, and then wet, and then cold- calves are very susceptible to sickness. To combat this, we practice prevention. Our cattle are kept in multiple, smaller herds to lessen the risk of disease. When poor weather presents, we put out sufficient amount of straw (bedding) to help keep the cattle warm and dry. During the large storms we will do this twice a day. In the event a calf becomes sick, we treat them with the appropriate medications. The most common sickness we run into is scours (diarrhea) and pneumonia. If antibiotics are required, we take a notch out of their ear tag, as well as take record of it, so that the calf will not enter our beef program.
In April, we also fertility test our bulls. To do this, a semen sample is collected, and evaluated for motility and morphology by our vet. If a bull does not test, they are removed from our program. This knowledge is extremely important, because it would be borderline catastrophic if a bull was turned out to breed and he couldn't get his job done!
Logan and I and our kids also took a mini vacation for a night to deliver beef to be processed in Sheridan, Wyoming. We make this trip once every four weeks to supply the butcher shop which sells our beef, and to supply our local and online sales. This time the kids and I tagged along to go swimming for the night and go out to eat. Our kids had a blast swimming and woke up bright and early the next morning to get one more swim in before we had to leave.
On the way home we picked up bull semen for AI'ing (artificial insemination). If you follow along on Instagram- you may learn more than you care to about artificially inseminating cattle by June! We always AI a portion of our herd- but will be doing more than normal this year. The purpose of AI is genetic selection. We can pair our cattle to specific bulls to yield the genetic results we desire. I will go into much more detail on this throughout the month, and in our next update. We are very passionate about improving our herd's genetics to produce the best cattle and beef possible.
Have a wonderful Mother's Day!
Megan and Family
P.S. I will leave you with one of our go to recipes when we have to feed a crowd. This is always on the menu at one of our brandings- an easy play on Philly cheese steaks!
Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes
Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 15 minutes Serves: 4-6
1 pound ground beef
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion diced
1 small green pepper diced
8 oz brown mushrooms
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp cornstarch (or flour)
1 cup beef broth
Provolone cheese slices
Brown ground beef in a deep pan
Add butter, onions, peppers, and mushrooms
Mix beef broth, cornstarch, and flour
Add ketchup, worchestershire, salt, pepper, and broth mixture
Simmer for a couple of minutes