Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Cows Are Back

The cows are back for the grazing season.

Or calves. Or cattle.

This is our second conservation grazing season at the Dipper Ranch. Anywhere from 50 to 100 head of beef cattle are generally here from January to June, depending on the grass crop. We lease the 240 acres of ranchland to a grazing operator. He brings them in little and they go out big. It's amazing what grass can do.

Most of the calves are black, but there are white ones and red ones too. Our rangeland manager tells me, "We'll bring in one white calf for every 49 black calves to make it easy for you to count."

It's been a very dry winter so far. Today I saw the circling vultures, a coyote, and then a line of calves heading to the water trough at different times of the day. If we don't get good winter rain, the grass will brown up sooner and the cattle will come off the Dipper Ranch earlier. Seasonal grazing makes it possible to adapt to temporal weather conditions.

Last February, I peered out the bedroom window to see the deer browsing in their usual morning meadow. It was foggy and the deer were dark and looked soaked. I thought, "Heck, those deer are as big as bison." Last year, that's when I realized, "The cows are here."

Or calves. Or cattle.

Bovine terminology.
Cattle - if there is more than one.
Cow - an adult female who has had calves.
Calves - young cattle of either sex.
In some regions, the term "cows" is commonly used interchangeably with "cattle" especially if the gender mix of the herd is unknown.

So excuse me if I keep saying "cows" and keep counting just the white ones.

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