Is it time for a vacation yet?

This week has been a little out of control. I think I say that about every week and one of these days, things are going to slow down a bit, right?

Who am I fooling? I was speedreading an article online last week when I was hauling bales and it was talking about if COVID continues how we need to use the time for self-improvement, working out more, learning a new language, spending time meditating. Um, sure. I’m all over it.

On Saturday, it was a quick trip down to one of our processors to pick up another load of beef. There is nothing quick about it, as the 16-hour jaunt takes up a solid part of the day, but at least the views over the mountain make it worthwhile.

For once I actually stopped and ate lunch at a restaurant. That’s kind of comical because I’ve made this trip multiple times over the last couple months, and the only place I’ve ever stopped in town was at the gas station to refuel and grab a protein bar.

It was another week of moving the trailer between partners and delivering beef when we were able to. I can’t wait to get a little more organized on that part of the business, but at least we are moving product and figuring out a little better what does and does not work.

This week was mostly focused on breeding. It has literally kept me up at night. I’ll be sound asleep and then dreaming about ranch stuff and next thing I know it’s 3 in the morning and I’m trying to figure out pasture rotations and AI timelines.

There have been some pretty significant changes this year. I’m just grateful that the Boss Man realizes that if I have any ideas, I’m going to think about them in detail, figure out all the pros and the cons, and then give him my arguments to see what his thoughts are. The important thing that I’ve learned is to not be so set with an idea that you aren’t willing to change if someone else has a better plan that might make it a little more efficient or a little easier on beast and person.

The biggest change is that we are not AI’ing our replacement heifers. We have AI’d them for as long as I can remember and the last couple of years have done a timed AI followed by a 28-day breeding season. What I’ve found out is that with that length of a breeding season on heifers with a timed program, one will hardly have any heifers that will cycle back within the window to get bull bred. I like the efficiency of a timed program compared to riding heats, and with the heifers being on lease ground north of the Home Place, it seemed to be a little wiser to lengthen the breeding season to around 35 days and use bulls.

There were some other aspects that played into that. With lease ground and set pasture rotation, we have been next to the neighbors’ bulls. And what is more enticing than a little cute red heifer? If I would have AI’d them, I would have ended up aborting anything, which would mean there would not have been enough time for the heifer to cycle back in the breeding window and the poor girl would have been culled for her bad decisions. Now I may be cussing those black bulls when I’m getting calves the end of March to April when they aren’t supposed to start calving until May 1, but a calf is a calf in this economy.

With the heifer situation figured out, I wanted to try a timed AI deal on a select group of cows. Historically we have put bulls in, followed by a PG shot and then AI’d for a week before putting bulls back in. With both the uncle and us using some of the same equipment for AI’ing, it was a little bit of planning to work around everyone’s schedules. Then with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association summer conference right in the middle, we fenagled things to put CIDRS in on a Sunday, let the uncle AI for the week, then pull CIDRS on the following Sunday. I’m really excited about our bull battery choices this year, and will admit that I’m already looking forward to calving next May.

With everything that’s going on, I’m heading to Denver for a couple of days for NCBA’s summer conference. After much deliberation, it was decided to still hold the conference, though I’m sure it’s going to be interesting to see a bunch of ranchers social distancing and wearing masks. Though who am I kidding — we are the reason that social distancing even became a word.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.   

Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.