Things that don’t belong on the V6

It’s easy for me to think of all the things I need for the V6, but it dawned on the other day that it might be more effective to first determine what things I don’t need.

Asking myself the question of what don’t I need, gives me permission to not only see what Dead Wood is slowly disintegrating before my eyes. This backward look at the things we do at the ranch has allowed me to call into question some practices that I might have kept going, but when exposed to the light of reality made no sense.
Why would I continue to dry farm (means to plant a hay or grain crop depending solely on the amount of rain that might fall during the rainy season), when most years I can buy the hay the ranch needs cheaper than I can raise it? Gone now are all the clanking, groaning, humming Hay Bailers, Swathers, Harrow Beds, tractors and disks, ECT. ECT. ECT. AND ALL THOSE HATEFUL TRIPS TO TOWN TO BUY PARTS TO KEEP ALL THIS MACHINERY CLANKING ALL TOOK STAGE LEFT IN THE YEAR 2000.

All because I asked myself,

With my Holistic Management training does Dry Land Farming work anymore?

The testing and monitoring said emphatically, NO.
I discovered that this is a grass ranch first and livestock ranch second. If I don’t raise grass first, then I’m shortchanging the grazers something to eat. And this effects the well being of all the predators, and in turn the scavengers to complete the health of the grazing whole.  I can’t forget that paying the bills is the most important part of another whole that allows me to work at stopping erosion, providing feed and cover for all the domestic and wild critters. Keeping the welcome mat out to all our hunt club members and cattle driving guest that always enjoy a very unique experience.

Nothing can live very long without water so I’ve developed 3 sources. We have spring water, pond water and well water, and a very elaborate distribution system.

What I don’t need for the ranch. The list to follow has no rhyme or reason it is presented just as thoughts pop into my mind. Minimize the need for straight lines. Roads are the biggest culprits, Mother Nature abhors them. Zee and I spent last Saturday afternoon watching the Cutting Horse finals in Paso Robles. I spent part of the day looking at what the vendors had for sale. Two items caught my eye. Both sparkled in the sun and both won’t find a home on the V6.

All ranches in my view need a pickup truck or two, but not the one with a $65,000 sticker in the window. Start its engine and at least $20,000 will disappear in a flash from your bank account.  For traveling the countryside I guess I’ll do without a $606,000 Motor Home and settle for a nights stay at Motel 6. The ranch needs the tiniest amount of paint as Mother Nature’s colors are much prettier and she will maintain them for you at no cost. That makes Rust my favorite color.

Every bit of new tech knowledge that is touted to solve whatever problem might be staring you in the face at this moment most likely is not the answer. The land dances to Mother Nature’s music. Not to a super computer you just need to observe, look and then listen to the songs that her orchestra is playing.

We don’t need people that live, work, or play here that see this land only as a thing to be exploited for their own gratification. And we certainly don’t have to follow the Pied Piper anymore that taught us how to send unfathomable amounts of topsoil down our streams and rivers to graveyards in our oceans. I think I’d better quit before I rant on about all the pesticides, herbicides, germicides that are only Band-Aids for our man made problems not solutions.

See ya,


Finding the sick one

My position in the cattle industry is called a Stocker Operator. Which means that in the autumn of each year I buy all the cattle the V6 will carry for the upcoming grass season. The stockers that I usually buy come from the high desert of Northern Nevada and Southern Oregon, and normally they arrive in good health. But that doesn’t mean that none of them wont get sick.

Pneumonia is the disease that usually strikes when a Stocker is stressed from being shipped; thus its slang name: SHIPPING FEVER. If not cared for, it will almost always end in death. Putting a big dent in a cattleman’s pocket book. So what is the proper course of action?

First you have to locate the sick ones. Because they are not like us, who can be physically sick, but most calls to the doctors office your doctor will politely tell you that you’re only sick in the head. My cattle are either sick or they are not makes things much easier.

I start the hunt for a possible sick one when they first arrive. My horse is saddled ready to move through the cattle, as the cattle are more relaxed around a person on a horse than one that is looking from his perch upon his 2 feet.

For me, the best time to look is when the cattle have just been fed. Many times a sick one will not come up to eat but will be found lying by its self. Two people are better than one when driving a sick one to the Hospital Pen.

I’ve picked out the obvious ones, now it’s time to start looking for the next one who is exhibiting the typical SHIPPING FEVER symptoms:

  • Soft Cough
  • Standing with Head hanging low,
  • Mucus running from the nose,
  • Hair on the back of the tail is flat,
  • Hollow in the flank
  • Slow walk

And if you find one gasping for breath, your probably too late, you should have found him the previous day!!

Last, the really good PEN RIDERS have a sixth sense that allows them to pick out a sick one almost before the Bullock (wiener calf) knows that he’s ill. THE QUICKER YOU FIND THE SICK ONES THE FEWER DEAD ONES WILL BE A FEAST FOR ALL THE  SCAVENGERS THAT NEED MEAT TO SURVIVE.

I practice Socialized Medicine; this means all the cattle that go through my doctoring chute first get their temperature taken. Then depending on how high above normal (normal is 101.5) the temperature is, and how much they weigh, determines the treatment that will be administered in a therapeutic dose. I don’t practice low level feeding of antibiotics to keep my cattle in good health as you just develop drug resistant bacteria.

So with diligence and using the latest protocol for the correct antibiotic to use, and careful monitoring for 2-3 weeks of all the cattle, they should be feeling Hail and Hardy and ready to feast on some V6 grass.

See Ya,


What Lights Your Fire?

Well my fire is just now beginning to die down as my son Greg, grandson Zack, and my right hand man Juan have just spent the last five days loading and hauling with ranch pickups and trailers 18 loads of every kind of imaginable stuff. Of late I’ve had an uneasy feeling as to the health of my Salvage Yard and I think those that live there were probably having worried thoughts that maybe the salvage yard had lost ‘it’s one of my favorite places to hang out’ status.


To some a salvage yard, to me a treasure chest.
To some a salvage yard, to me a treasure chest.

It was that coming up empty handed more and more often  trying to find that special thing that you can’t explain to someone what it is, but you know it when you see it.

This was becoming a common occurrence . You could see the signs of neglect. There were swaths of bare ground showing. Even a Rattle Snake was having a hard time finding a place to hide while waiting for Mr. Mouse to happen by.

The Cottontail Rabbit that likes to eat dinner after dark, because during the daylight hours he’s  a very desirable target for the Red tail Hawk. But with many of his favorite dinning spots now just bare ground he too had to venture out when the sun was shining instead of when the moon was shining, just to eke out a meal.

I had to take action by moving the ‘museum’ ,as some people like to call it, up the priority scale so I could regain the respect of the many critters that live in this wonderful little village. I had to do something… But replacement stuff has been difficult to find.

I should have been looking during our recent ‘recession’ that caused pre-owned stuff to flood into the market. Now with better times at hand, lots of folks don’t have to part with their treasures.
Just when I thought I would have to look ‘farther a field’,  the phone rang.

An old friend was on the other end with news that a local contractor had passed away and his estate was selling a very large accumulation of my kind of goods. I could hardly wait to give the party that was in charge of dispersing the ‘goods’ a call.

A man’s voice answered. I asked if I had the right person that would be in charge of selling the used portion of the estate and he said, “Yes”. I was to meet him at 9 am the next morning to look at what this now deceased gentleman had accumulated in his lifetime, or part there of.

Well, the beginning paragraph aptly describes how to spend five days of bliss. I believe I could hear an “Atta boy!” cheer go up from all the residents of Treasure Town when the first load was dumped and feelings of social security were felt by all when the 18th load of treasure found its proper place on the bare ground of a sparser time.

See Ya,