RAPELJE, Mont. – The headquarters for 406 Rooney Ranch lays tucked in the folded foothills of the iconic Crazy Mountains. The ranch is isolated and a little off of the beaten path, but that is just the way Tyler and Cali Rooney like it. The country is beautiful and rugged all at the same time and weather can be to the extremes any time of the year.
As the mid-August sun pushed temperatures into the low triple digits, the Rooneys have to plan out their days a little more efficiently. Outside jobs and any tasks that involve cattle need to be done before the heat of the day, leaving the scorching afternoons for more shaded jobs.
“Tyler was getting up super early, like before daylight, to go stack. He has worked hard and we finally finished all the stacking,” Cali said during a phone update on Aug. 18.
For Cali, August marks the beginning of school and her first year as a full-time teacher in Rapelje. Aug. 17-18 found Cali at the school for PIR days as she and her fellow teachers worked hard to prep for what has come to be a rather unprecedented year.
Despite the uncertainty looming around this upcoming school year, Cali received a pleasant surprise in her school mailbox.
“I found out I was awarded the Montana Association of Agricultural Educators Rookie of the Year for 2020,” Cali humbly said.
Cali is very deserving of the award, which signifies her absolute passion for agriculture and agriculture education. Fall is a busy time of year for both school and the ranch, but somehow, Cali finds the time to be both a teacher and a rancher.
“For some reason I have a lot of energy in the fall, I just love it. Oftentimes I will get home from school and then I can help Tyler with stuff on the ranch for a few hours before dark,” Cali said.
Both Cali and Tyler are going to need all the energy they can muster because there is a list of things to be done on the ranch. First on the docket will be to pull bulls. Cali says the heifer bulls will be pulled first, around the first part of September, and the older herd bulls will come out of the cows towards the end of September.
“By that time the bulls are pretty much done doing their job, so they are more chill. We just go out on 4-wheelers and get around each one and take them out of the pasture. Once we have all the bulls pulled, we will move them all to their fall and winter pasture,” Cali explained.
After the bulls are all pulled it will be time for preg-checking. The Rooney’s steer calves will be brought in for their pre-conditioning shots in between all of this, as well. As of now, the Rooneys plan to retain all of their heifer calves, but the steers have been contracted and sold. They will be weaned on Oct. 5, Cali says.
There will be a couple of months where the mad rush of fall works will certainly keep Cali and Tyler busy. The couple will finish up the cow work just in time to start their fall seeding.
“This year we are going to be planting some winter triticale and some winter wheat,” she said.
The last few weeks of August, albeit excruciatingly hot, are at least a little slower for the young ranching couple. With a busy upcoming schedule, Tyler and Cali may just round out August by sitting back and taking a moment to enjoy the air conditioning.