Diary 2001

January-February 2001

 January is usually pretty slow. We feed the stock once in the morning, and again just before dark. The stock includes the Angus cattle, our Fjord Ponies, and the flock of Emus. We also have a couple pens of Chinese Ringneck Pheasants that we feed once a day. Between feedings, we either do maintenance on equipment or fix whatever else comes up, and there's always something!

 This year, our feed supply has come up short of demand. With drought shortening our grazing season, and snow coming almost two months early (Nov. 7th!) we were forced to buy and put up more hay this month. So, on Superbowl Sunday (of all days!) we put up an additional 10 tons of purchased alfalfa, and an oat/barley/pea, grass mixture, (all before game time!) and we're planning on another 5 -10 tons in the next month, to help get us through this very cold and snowy winter ! Hopefully, our overseeding program that gets underway this spring, will improve our pastures enough to significantly reduce future hay costs.

Feb. brings us to a very exciting time of year, calving season! We prefer to have our calves in March & April but we have a few cattle we purchased last year that we had no control over when they were bred. As many as five should be on the ground by March. Hopefully most of this snow (2+ ft.!) will be gone by then. This is also the time of year when we decide which of the remaining Pheasants are gonna be released and which ones are kept for breeding.

Calving season is our favorite time of year! Not only do the cows start earning their keep, but we start to see all the winter feedings and long hours of research on mating decisions start to pay off!

Since we're feeding out our calves, (and finishing our steers) at home this year, along with a very good Emu chick crop (18 from 2 breeding pairs!) we are going through a lot of grain this winter. Fortunately, we have very reliable sources of grain like Barley, peas, and cracked corn that provide us with all we need at very reasonable prices.

February 14, 2001

 Happy Valentines Day! Our first calf was born today. He's a healthy (97 lbs!) bull out of one of our pathfinder cows. This is the second year in a row she has calved on Valentines Day! It's a good thing we started closing her in at night 'cause while she was calving it was about 2 above and blustery outside! It's also nice to have the calves indoors to handle the first time (giving vac's and tagging) rather than chasing them around the pasture!

It looks like winter is never going to leave, we've received 3or 4 inches of new snow in the last week and they say more is coming. Our roads have to be plowed out almost everyday due to drifting, what a pain!

February 18, 2001

What great timing! My sisters' kids came to visit this week, and their first day here we found two new calves! One was in our calving pen of expecting mothers, where we try to have all our calves born in a safe, clean, and somewhat snow-free environment. The cows that don't look ready however, are still in our winter pasture that is approximately 40 acres of rugged terrain, over half in sagebrush, and stretches a 1/2 mile from the barn and corrals! When we went to feed the cows in the pasture, we came up one short. After about an hour long search in deep snow and heavy fog, we finally found our missing cow and her very cold newborn calf! With a little coaxing we got them both back to the comfort and safety of our barn, and after seeing several sets of coyote tracks around the area where she calved, we decided to name our newest addition the "Lil' Miracle" !

February 23, 2001

What lousy timing! The kids went home yesterday, and this morning we had two more calves, and again one was born out in the snow! Needless to say, we now have ALL the expecting mothers in a pen close to the barn. It's a little crowded, but much safer and more comfortable for the little ones.

February 28, 2001

We attended the Rathbun Angus Sale in Moses Lake today. Had a great time, we were in route when the big Seattle earthquake hit, so we didn't feel a thing! We did however, manage to purchase a couple terrific Pathfinder cows and thier calves, from the heart of one of the top programs in the state! Both cows had heifer calves (one tied for high selling open heifer). One of the cows was bred (A-I'd to Dateline, then pasture exposed to Rathbun Foundation) and is due in Sept. The other cow is open, so we're flushing her in April to Rito 2RT2. This will give us a chance to get a few extra calves out of her in the next year.

March 14, 2001

Pulled calf and momma doin’ fine

It finally happened. We had to pull our first calf today. They told us if we were in the business long enough eventually it would happen. One of the largest cows we have, had been struggling all morning to have a calf that was about a week late. We watched her while we fed everyone else, and it was clear she was having problems. With every contraction you could see a hoof come out a little, and go back in. The problem was, it was only ONE hoof! So, we got her in a stall in the barn where we could tie her down, and I reached in to see what the problem was. Well, the other leg was back a little, and so was the head, the only problem was, this calf was huge! So, after a little maneuvering, I got both legs coming at the same time, then the head started to follow. With a little help from my Dad and some rope, we managed to get him out after some serious pulling!

Boy, was that cow glad to have him out! And no wonder, he weighed nearly 120 lbs.! Not at all what you'd expect from an Angus cow bred by a low birth wt. Bull (EXT). And to think, I worried all winter about whether these cows were getting enough to eat!

Tonight momma and baby are doing fine, baby's sucking and momma's recuperating, although it took her all day to get up!

March 25, 2001

 Is this winter ever gonna end? After a week in the 60's and getting a sunburn, what did we get today? Snow! It started about 3 pm. and by 5:30, we had over 2 inches! It was the hardest snow fall we've seen all winter and it's almost April! We put up another 10 tons of hay last week, and we promised our supplier that was all we'd need. But at this rate our pasture won't be up till June!

April 11, 2001

Our calving season is finally over! The last two of our expecting mothers had their calves yesterday. With one heifer and one bull, our calf crop finished 2-1 bulls to heifers, which is nice, cause we'll have a good number of bulls to sell this fall and next spring. And, we still managed to get a few real nice replacement heifers.

I attended the Treasure Test Center Angus Bull Sale in Great Falls Mt. last wknd. Not only was the trip a lot of fun, I met some really nice people, and saw some really great Bulls! The high seller was a Sitz Alliance son from Majic Valley CC in Mesa Wa. . Marv and Judy Bell have provided us with some of our very best foundation cattle, as well as some much needed advice, and we couldn't be happier for them and their program!


We finally have all our cows at home. Last week we had two of our Pathfinder Cows flushed at the Four Cross Ranch in Soap Lake, one of which produced 10 - #1 Embryos.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “flushing” it is an amazing process whereby using fertility enhancement drugs to create multiple fertile eggs that are harvested from a donor cow. They are then sorted, graded, and frozen separately in straws and later implanted into a recipient cow. This process enables us to produce multiple offspring from a particular mating, using semen from the top herd sires in the breed. Recip cows are usually really good milkers that are of commercial stock, and can even be different breeds. Although we only flush our donors once before AI’ing or natural service during our regular breeding season, some prolific donors are flushed three or four times a year, producing as many as fifteen to twenty grade #1 embryos per flush! With the average flush producing 8 to 10 embryos, the number of calves you can now get from a single cow per year is staggering!

We currently have several donor “prospects” in our herd that we hope to flush in the future, helping to build a good foundation for a herd of top quality genetics, as well as generating an income from the sale of Embryos or pregnancies (recipient cow successfully impregnated with fertile Embryo). Prices can vary from $200-$300, up to several thousand dollars, depending on the genetics.


June is such a busy time of year! The month starts out with the breeding of our replacement Heifers (yearlings). We have five really nice Heifers this year. They’re 14 – 15 mo. old, about 700 – 900 lbs., and really doing great!

We AI everybody to start with. The synchronization drugs help kick-start anybody who isn’t cycling yet, and gets them all cycling closer together. We then run them with young clean-up Bulls for about 6 wks. to get anybody who doesn’t take. After that, the Bulls will be sold as breeders, and the Heifers go to pasture.

About a week after breeding the Heifers, we do the Cows. Everybody gets AI’d, then Max (our herd bull) is put in with them for about a month. Right after AI’ing, all the Cows and Max are moved to our leased land north of our ranch. It’s rough sagebrush and sub-irrigated meadows. We supplement their diet with protein licktubs and occasional grain, but only when the grass either runs thin or, like last year, dries up.


July is harvest month for any grass around our places that we can put up as supplemental feed. We usually get five to ten tons between our ground and what our neighbors provide. This year one neighbor (Dave West) let us cut an old CRP pasture of his, and we got about five tons of wheatgrass. His Uncle, Larry Tanneberg, lets us swath and bale his wheat stubble, which provides not only a feed supplement, but also some much-needed bedding. Without the generosity of these wonderful people, we would be hard pressed to afford the costs of feeding all our animals through the types of winters we have here, and we can’t thank them all enough!

Just as important to us, is the help of our summer crew. My sister and her family come over each summer and spend some quality time helping out with daily chores like running heavy machinery, helping out with the hay harvest, and those really tuff jobs like, shade testing and removing those pesky fish from nearby lakes!

Late July

We removed our Bulls a little sooner than normal this year. Hopefully our calves will come a little closer together next spring (less than 6 wks apart instead of 8+) I just hope we don’t have too many Cows come back open (not bred) If we do, we’ll get’em in our fall breeding program. That will have them calving next fall instead of spring. We already have a few that we purchased from fall breeding programs so, it’ll just mean more for our Bulls to do this winter!


August in Eastern WA. means only one thing…FIRE SEASON! And this summer seems worse than most. We had a terrible one break out last month up north around Twisp that killed four firefighters. And in the last week, we’ve had five new fires start between Leavenworth, Lake Chelan, Brewster, and the Colville Indian Res. None are less than 30 – 40 miles away but, it reminds us all that we are in the middle of a serious drought, and a fire can start anywhere, anytime.

One of our lakes is lower than I’ve ever seen it, but it has given us about ten new acres of grazing around it!

The heat is also becoming a concern. We’ve heard of several ranches that have lost livestock to the stresses of heat. We’ve moved our Cows back down to our land closer to the barn and better water sources. We’ll be weaning our calves in a couple weeks so, I think we’re gonna keep them close by till then. There’s good grass and lots of water in our other lake for them to get into. And they seem to play in it as much as drink from it!


We’ve been real busy the last couple weeks. Our spring calves were weaned off their mommas’ around the 10th, they hardly bawled at all. As long as there was food in front of them, they were happy! Everybody got weighed and vacs’, and after comparing weights, we selected the top gainers and best dispositions to keep in the program and culled the low end. It was very hard cutting a couple bulls that did real well, but we only keep the top 3rd of our calf crop (including most of the heifers) for registering. I did decide to keep those two for locker beef, so that buys them about a year here instead of going to market right away.

I attended one of the better sales in the Northwest on the 23rd. The “Ladies of the Cacsades” Angus female sale in Powell Butte, Ore. Put on by several central Ore. breeders, it was a very good offering of some quality cattle! It was held at the Sunrise Ranch in Powell Butte, other consigners included Fessler Angus, (Rod and Sherri ) the Flying U Angus Ranch,( Mike and Diane Umbarger) and the Bonnieview Ranch ( Tim O’Neil, owner). Everybody involved was very helpful and friendly. After purchasing two lots of Bonnieview cows ( one was an EXT daughter, AI’d to BCC Bushwacker, the other was a yearling heifer out of B/R New Design-036, from a GAR 6807 Trav. Dam) Mike Umbarger took me down to Bend Ore. to see his spring heifers. After looking over his herd I decided to purchase one of his “036” daughters out of an Emul.N Bar 5522 Dam. Mike then made arrangements with Tim to have all three cows delivered FREE to our place in Coulee City, WA. (only about 350 mi.!) These cows, along with the Rathbuns’ we purchased last spring, are gonna add a tremendous amount of quality Genetics to our herd in the very near future! We can’t thank these wonderful people enough!


Well, the warm weather of summer is slowly fading into the chill of fall, and that means its time to start supplementing grazed grass with stored feed.

The grass begins to dry up in Aug. around here, and we start supplementing a little grain and Protein lic-tubs to help cows keep their condition, and help weaned calves get a good shot of growth before winter.

This is also the time of year we begin putting up hay for the long feeding season ahead ( last winter we fed for over 6 mo.!) We already have about 30+ tons, from quality Alfalfa and Triticale, to Oat hay and Bluegrass, and we’ll be getting another 8-10 tons this week. We also have a good supply of grain,(Oats,Cracked Corn, and Wheat) to help us through these next few mo. of cold and snow!


Nov. brings us to our Fall Breeding program. Some of the people we purchase cows from are fall breeders, so we decided to split our herd and do some Fall breeding ourselves. This way we can compare first hand the pros and cons of each breeding philosophy (Spring vs. Fall calving). Both have good and bad qualities. Fall calves are generally born between Aug. and Oct., in warm, dry conditions. They get a couple months to develop before winter sets in, and when it does, they’re fed pretty well. Between mommas’ milk, and the stored feed and grain their mother’s are fed, they eat good. However, they do have to endure the ENTIRE winter. Where our Spring calves are usually born in March and April, when the worst part of winter is past. But, this time of year can be brutal here, and these calves start out in it with no time to adapt! Usually the grass hasn’t started yet so the cows are still receiving stored feed and supplements and the calves do real well.

Another plus to having two programs is getting another shot at any cow that didn’t breed back before (as long as they have no history of breeding problems like late calves, or abortions etc.) and the reason for not breeding back was due to mismanagement ( like pulling bulls too soon!) then we’ll give them another chance…but only one!

Late November

We finished AI’ing our Fall calvers last week, and our bulls are wondering what they’re doing in with cows this time of year! Although I don’t think they mind! They’ll stay with the cows until the first of the year, I’m not gonna let them miss anyone this time! (we had two Spring cows cycle back last summer because I pulled the bulls a week early to shorten our calving season next spring).

It looks like only one or two didn’t take to the AI, that’s a big improvement from the Spring breeding when just over half bred safe to the AI.

I’m really looking forward to our calf crop next year, we’ve used some of the best bulls the Angus breed has to offer in our breeding programs with great success! With the help of some great organizations like All West/Select Sires, and their rep. Alan Yost, and Angus Semen Services, we’ve made great strides in developing the quality herd we set out to build! And we think this is just the beginning, we’re already ordering semen for next spring, and researching who will be bred by what sire, and what kind of a calf that mating will produce. It’s all really a lot of fun! Stay tuned!


Dec. is a beautiful time of year here! As usual, we got snow around Thanksgiving, and it snows a couple times a week now. The cows love it cause it means being fed twice a day! They can still graze a little, but there’s nothing like nice green Alfalfa, Oat hay, or some grain, to help you through the short but sunny days, and the long cold nights!

Well, this is the end of our first year of keeping a Diary on the happenings around the Ranch. I hope it hasn’t been too boring, we’re looking forward to starting on the actual construction of the new house in the spring, this last year was a lot of getting permits, putting in underground wire, water lines, and a half mile of underground phone line! The septic is in, and the hole is dug for the foundation. Now we wait for spring weather and we promise to bring as many regular updates and photos as possible to the Diary as this project gets under way.

At this time, we here at St. Andrews Farms, and our entire family, would like to wish everyone we know, and everyone who stops by who we haven’t met yet, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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