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On the go with the wind at my back

On the go with the wind at my back

I’m thinking that last week some of you may have met some of the tumbleweeds we are raising here at Wilson Ranch. Not much seems to wreak havoc more on a drought-stricken area then a couple of days of knock-you-on-your-butt wind.

The week was just crammed. We preg checked young cows on Monday. Considering the drought, they did OK. I analyzed about three hours of data that evening to see if there was anything that was really noticeable in those that were open. I went through all of the performance data, and went through the genomic data on the coming 3 year olds. There was nothing that really stuck out except that the majority of the open 3 year olds had out-performed themselves. What I mean by that is they put so much effort into their calf that they forgot an important part of the process, and that’s to get bred again.

One of the things that I really look at in maternal data is percent of body weight weaned. If a cow looks great, is tipping the scales favorably, but has a small “dinky” calf at her side, she needs to go to town.

Our open cows will be heading to Iowa to an indoor facility that runs recips. It’s a great thing for both of us. They get incredibly spoiled and the operation gets a uniform set of cows and know where they came from.

I hauled another load of steers to Colorado on Wednesday. Fortunately, I had stopped at the feedlot the day before to sort a handful off and to get them brand inspected before they headed out of the state. I was on a tight schedule with a meeting and an appointment in Denver, so I left the ranch to get to the lot before 4 to get cattle loaded.

The trip was uneventful, and I was actually about a half hour early to everything. Considering that I work a lot on “timish,” that’s pretty much unheard of. I spent the night in downtown Denver, which is always a little intimidating with a stock trailer. It’s a sad state of affairs when you check your trailer in the morning before you leave to make sure that no one has decided to catch a ride north.

The wind kept getting worse on the way back to cornstalks. The majority of the trailer was in one side mirror. Of course it was wreaking havoc on the stalks. Anything left on the ground was blowing to Mexico, and taking out quite a few electric fences with it.

I made a loop around everything and headed home to the Boss Man and crew digging out the flag pole. My first thought was “dumb wind,” but I soon found out that there was water that had been bubbling up around the pole. Right then my phone beeped and I got a text message saying that the last gust of wind had taken out a stretch of fence on one of our fields in town. I turned around and headed that direction while the rest of them figured out where the water was coming from.

Friday morning, the wind seemed even worse as I loaded up the pony, Chico, around 2:30 and headed to McCook for a two-day working ranch horse clinic. I wondered a couple times along the way if they had Dramamine for horses. The side wind was making travel a little frustrating.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times before that I took a pretty significant gap of time off from riding, so it’s been a lot of fun and somewhat relaxing to get back into it without having a lot of pain. Chico did great, meanwhile I learned a lot. Amongst the lessons, I learned that having coffee before I do any cutting or fence riding is probably not the smartest idea.

I could see how it could be addictive. The final morning Chico had a run that was pretty sweet, and I thought, “I want to try it again!” I absorbed so much though in two days’ time that it was well worth the trip and taking a couple days off of the ranch grind to try something new.

We got home late Saturday evening to get a couple of hours of sleep before we headed back to cornstalks to load out a couple groups of cows that were headed to new pivots.

I guess the lesson this week is that when there is so much on the plate, I constantly forget that maybe I need to take a little better care of myself. I can’t imagine being an individual with a job that was able to leave at 5 Friday evenings, walk away for the weekend and not have to think or worry about anything work related until the next Monday. That would be such an odd concept for me to grasp. In a way, I’m envious of those people at times, but it’s usually short lived and I change my mind as soon as the next project comes along.

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   

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

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