Colorado Trip - 2015: Ranching It In Kansas

When we planned this Colorado trip, we wanted to stop in Kansas and visit with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew.  We only planned to stay with them for a couple days, because we get to see them more often (still not often enough), but almost every year, and the current plan is that we'll all be together at the beach for a week in June.  

But after figuring out the exact dates that we'd be coming through KS, it turned out that they weren't going to be home when we came through, because their spring break was a week earlier than our CO cousins.  

And then...a few days later Jeff texted me and said something to the effect of, "For the kids' spring break, we're going to spend the week at the ranch....so instead of meeting at our house, how about y'all come to meet us at Mandi's parents' ranch?"  

We had to think about that for about, ummmm....2 seconds flat.  SURE!

So, after driving straight through the night, we arrived at the ranch 24.5 hours after we pulled out of our driveway....and hit the ground running.

Or...hit the hay bales running...whichever:

"The Ranch" is a 4,500 acre specimen of God's beauty.

Driving across a field where they grow hay for the cattle

Mandi's parents now live "in town", so we got the ranch house all to our selves.

The ranch is a Cow/Calf Operation...and they currently have 141 head. (I'm trying to get all of these details right...but who knows.)

They had just received some new calves a few days previous, and about 25 of them needed to be "worked." OH HAPPY DAY!  I have been reading The Pioneer Woman's blog for several years and this was something straight out of one of her posts about their work on their ranch, which is also a Cow/Calf operation.  (I love her husband Marlboro Man's guest posts - so interesting!)

This was the first little cutie that got "worked":

Just kidding!

So after the men herded the cows down the road (using four-wheelers) and into pens...

The cattle are some red angus, but mostly black angus

...and then somehow got the calves separated from their mamas and into a new paddock.  I didn't see how they accomplished that, but they did it pretty quickly.  

But, OH, those mamas were NOT happy to be separated from their babies!

This mama is in the act of registering her displeasure with a very loud MOOO!!

It was SO loud with all the mamas lowing!

And then Mr. Phil (Mandi's daddy) and all the children herded the calves..... 

...into the "hallway":

And then it was Mr. Phil's job to coax one calf at a time...

...into the chute:

Jeff was the one in charge of closing the gate around the calf's neck to hold it in place.  I was super impressed!  He did it just right every time.  You can't do it a millisecond too soon, or too late.  

And the children had the job (with Aunt Mandi's help) of closing the gate down behind the calf, so they couldn't back out of the chute:

And then...the fun began.

While in the chute, each calf got three shots in the neck from Jas, while Jeff tagged their ear and inserted an implant into their ear....

And then, if the calf was a bull, the chute got turned on its side....

....and Jeff and Trevor (Mandi's brother) held the bull's legs and (ahem), while Jas had the pleasure of "banding" the bull:

And then they'd open the chute, the cute little calf would hop out....

... and go stand at the fence as near to its mama as it could get:

The guys worked super fast, knowing this was the first time these calves had been "worked" and trying to make it as non-traumatic for them as possible.  Each calf was in the chute for less than a minute...probably much less (I am so bad at estimating).  

My brother got his degree in Environmental Studies and works in the field at spill clean-ups and such.  All this ranching is not something he grew up doing...but he loves it!  He has learned so much by watching and studying on his own, and "asking lots of questions."  It was fascinating to watch him at work!

During the afternoon of the second day, the four of us adults and all our kiddos headed out for a hike in a different part of the ranch.

G got to hike in style:

We hiked for a couple of hours and had such fun.  It was so pretty out there.

Don't ask Sissy how pretty it was...she slept through almost the whole hike.

 Later that afternoon, Mr. Phil gave all of us a little lesson and hands-on experience.

After being out on the ranch for 40+ years, he has become very adept at spotting Indian arrowheads and "scrapers" and he has quite a collection.

It was fascinating! 

G and Davis were big buds...and I think they might could get in quite a bit of trouble together.

They decided that instead of "working" calves, they'd rather roll a wheel on a poop-covered floor

Gabriel followed him around calling, "Daybis!!!" and Davis was so sweet with G.

Reese and Davis spent the night with us that second night...

...and no one was acting too chipper the next morning.

Elisabeth took these next 6 pictures the morning we left:

We had such a good time with our KS cousins, and we were sorry to say good-bye...

...and we can't wait to see them again in a few months!



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