More (Mostly Animal) Updates 8/1/22

The days just never seem long enough, but simultaneously they are oh so long! We have the second half of backlogged photos to dump in this post, so cozy up with your router and load, load, load!

First up, we have photos from the Calf Branding/Castration/Vaccination event, which was such a large undertaking that not only the adult kids with all of their kids in tow, but also the Nieces and Nephews with their kids were called on to partake in this event. With so much going on, and so many people all around, we didn’t end up with many photos worth sharing, but I’ll try to visually walk you through the activities of the day with the photos below.

First, all the cattle had to be rounded up from the immense pasture that they are free to graze on day and night. This is done with horses and lassos – the old fashioned way!
They were all then herded into a large corral and the calves separated from the cows. The mothers were given a splash of fly-repellant on their backs to help them be more comfortable while out in the fly-laden pastures of this desert land.
The cows had their hooves cleaned and trimmed, their bodies inspected for injuries and assessed for health, and given a booster vaccination.
The Cows and especially the Bulls were not very happy to be in the confined space, but with the animals relatively unsupervised out in the pasture for the entire summer, it is important to have regular wellness checks to ensure their health and the safety of the herd.

Next, each of the calves had to be roped one at a time, wrangled, and laid on it’s side on the ground. This task was passed from each of Bryan and Jer’s adult children and their spouses, if they wanted, to the older grandchildren if they wanted to try their hand at lassoing. With one lasso around the calf’s front legs and another around his hind legs, it was safe to approach the calf with the necessary implements as he could not get away or kick very much. We were each given a calf to vaccinate, brand, tag, and castrate (if needed) if we wanted. A tag punch was used to safely and quickly make a hole in the calf’s ear and simultaneously apply the tag to avoid any additional trauma to the calf. The tag allows for easy numbering of the herd as there are so many and they are so free-range that there isn’t really a personal connection or name assigned to each animal. The Rocky Ridge brand, sitting in the fire nearby but safely out of the way, was administered next. This was my least favorite part and smelled really badly! If you have ever gotten some hair stuck in a hair dryer and caught a whiff of it as it burned up, you have experienced a minute fraction of the smell of burning cow fur while branding. Branding is also harder than one would imagine as the brand is so hot and the fur is so melted that the iron slips around a little before it even marks the skin. The calf that I got to try ended up with an almost three-dimensional brand as I was woefully inept at proper branding techniques. Thankfully, as long as the neighbors can vaguely recognize the brand, that’s all that matters! My calf was a female so there was no castration process necessary, and I didn’t end up getting to vaccinate either, but that was enough excitement for one day anyway, so I was glad to only have half the job to do! When all the calves were taken care of, it was time to mix the mooing mamas and the running children back together and make sure that everyone paired back off. Lastly, each of the pairs were herded back to the pastures where they could recoup, graze in the warm sun, and cool off in the irrigation pond as needed. What a busy day!!

While we are on the topic, the Mama Pig had four piglets running around, two of which were males and needed to be castrated for flavor purposes. Apparently, an in-tact male pig will not taste good if left to reach mature size and weight. So, piglets are castrated relatively early to enable them to reach maximum weight and flavor.

Jeff got the honor of catching and holding the pigs while Bryan, donning surgical implements, did the deed. Piglets are castrated while everything is still up inside them, so you actually need a scalpel to cut through their bellies and retrieve the necessary bits. Even though it is a sanitary process with iodine and gloves being used, they are pigs after all, and thankfully they somehow managed to heal up very quickly in spite of their mud-loving tendencies and were back to rooting and scavenging in very short order.

One of the animals that we have in abundance around here are hummingbirds. I used to think they were so neat – but not so much anymore. I’ve been using some brightly-colored scrunchies in my hair and these hummingbirds must have thought that the scrunchies were flowers, so they would dive-bomb right for my head. Of course, last-minute they would realize their target was not a luscious flower and dart off in another direction, but not before scaring the living daylights out of me and making me wonder if I was going to be impaled by hummingbird beak! I eventually just let the hummingbird feeders run out and they left, but I know Jer really likes them, so I guess I will refill the feeders for her… I’ll just have to keep an eye out for them!

One of the hummingbirds flew into the laundry room and Jeff caught it and brought it to me. It was so tiny and cute, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the next time I saw it, it would be tangled in my dreads!!

Continuing the animal care monologue, it was finally time to shear the alpaca! In years prior, Jer had just hired someone to come in and “professionally” shear them, but this year all three people had canceled on her last-minute. It was time to take matters into our own hands (quite literally) and buy a set of shears to do it ourselves. These animals are hard to catch, but for the most part are relatively easy to work on once down.

So much alpaca everywhere!
Caption Aztec’s facial expression in this one!

I didn’t end up getting an “after” picture, but I’ll try to get that in a future post… they look ridiculous!!! We left their fluffy heads and a little fluff at the tip of their tail. They look like the strangest thing you would ever hope to see… but they are much cooler now! We are just hoping they don’t get sun burned!!

As requested, I did go and get some pictures of our garden. But I took these at least two weeks ago (probably three!) and so everything is much taller now. These little plants are just so cute I couldn’t help but post them!

While we didn’t grow the gigantic beet pictured above, we did pick it at the Forbes Family Farm during one of our Harvest Thursdays. We have really enjoyed partnering with them and gleaning both veggies and information on ways to properly grow, harvest, and prepare so many delicious and healthy vegetables! They have about 27 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members who are delivered an overflowing bag of goodness every Thursday evening, and we are so fortunate to be able to help them with all that preparing for that entails – minus the planning, planting, and actual growing of the veggies, that is! Harvesting each vegetable properly, gathering them into appropriately-sized bunches, washing either with a spray-down or water bath, and arranging each portion into the reusable bags to be delivered is a lot of work, but we have a routine now and it doesn’t take more than four hours. Braydon enjoys playing with Steve and Emily’s three children and their tangle of barnyard kittens each week in between munching on carrots pulled right from the ground and asking everyone of they would like to eat earthworms dug up during weeding.

Occasionally, while cleaning cabins, we will receive a tip from the guests. While we try to not splurge with our paycheck money, we have really been enjoying having a fun treat with our tip money! Boot Hill Farms in Vernal, UT is where we try to voyage to every 10 days or so to restock our tiny freezer with a variety of cuts from organically raised, grass-fed animals. They have a nice little farm store with all sorts of nice treats! One week we each got a home-made chocolate chip cookie and we shared a mulberry kombucha. Last week, however, we had an extra special treat:

Homemade raw milk icecream! It was delicious!!

We will wrap up this lengthy post with yet another tasty treat that we enjoyed, but this one we made all ourselves! Working at the Flaming Gorge Market in Manila has many upsides, but the ever-present downside is that we can’t eat most of the deliciously-tempting offerings. From the hand-dipped icecream to the sweet-treat baked goods, some days it’s just downright depressing to be around all that goodness and not be able to join in! So we took a day and made home-made sourdough doughnuts! Emily Forbes kindly shared her sourdough starter with me after mine died in the arid climate of Phoenix over the winter. With it being too hot to run the oven (let alone be motivated to fix it when its 87* inside the bus without adding another heat source), we have been creative in what we make with the sourdough starter and so doughnuts are the perfect thing, in my opinion! I wanted strawberry iced doughnuts with sprinkles. So I took the gorgeously-fried doughnuts and dipped them in some pink icing I had whipped up with a bit of strawberry jam and some powdered sugar. But the sprinkles were necessary, too; so I made a batch of royal icing, split it into two smaller batches, and colored them each with varying amounts of the Blue Spirulina powder I had left over from Braydon’s birthday party. Shmoo’ed into sandwich baggies, the makeshift piping bags were used to make thin lines of icing on parchment paper. After letting it dry, the icing sticks crumbled nicely into adorable blue sprinkles! Now, we had a proper strawberry-iced doughnut!

Not realizing the gravity of my offer, I texted Bryan and Jer asking them if they wanted to join us for mid-afternoon doughnuts (they took about 6 hours to make from start to finish) of which they were very excided to partake. But after I explained that I had used strawberry jam to make the pink icing, Jer said, “Oh no!”. I was unaware that Bryan is deathly allergic to strawberries and that if he had eaten them his throat would have closed up so fast and tightly that he would have been unable to breathe! After the necessary jokes about what Bryan could have ever done to make me want to kill him, Jer ended up getting to enjoy both of their doughnuts and all was saved!

Stop by next time for pictures of adorable baby bunnies and a detailed explanation of Chicken Butchering Day! Also to be included… farm quotes from 5-year-old boys! See you then!

8 thoughts on “More (Mostly Animal) Updates 8/1/22

  1. oh my…. that’s just way too much to take in.. lol… I never realized so much went into farming!! especially cows! those poor things☹️ I assume they weren’t anesthetized 😳 and didn’t know why pigs taste good..πŸ˜‰lol
    never saw a hummingbird up close, so I’m really shocked at the size of their beak!! I’d get light colored hair ribbons 😱can’t imagine being “impelled” lol
    so I assume you can use the fur from the alpaca, didn’t you and your mom do that?
    getting all those veggies is great!
    the donuts look yummy!! what a chore tho! ..have to ask why can’t you eat the food at the market?? it all sounds fresh and good! the ice cream looked good too!
    that’s scary about Bryan!! glad he didn’t eat the donuts! never heard of that before…
    I assume since you have chickens you get tons of eggs! πŸ‘πŸ» then eat the chickens?
    what more can you ask for!!! such fresh food!! that’s awesome!!
    I guess Jeff is still catching rodents? makes a nice fur rug .lolπŸ˜„
    I can’t wait to hear about the bunnies!! toobad you couldn’t take yours, he would of had new friends… 😁
    as usual I enjoyed the post!!! Bray is getting one heck of an education!! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ» sound like an awesome time!! hugs to all, stay safe and take care!! πŸ’•πŸ€—πŸ’•
    I’ll show gram this as soon as I can, I know she’ll love it too .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you could see the hummingbird! They have super long beaks! They’re really neat!
      Sure, one could use the alpaca wool, but it is a lot of work and takes a lot of time to make a little bit of yarn let alone make something with the yarn. So I’m not volunteering anytime soon lol!
      We have been eating Organic the past 6 years and the market doesn’t have much to any organic offerings. Every now and then they have grape tomatoes! I buy them to go with my cheese and cracker dinner when they do!
      There are at least two kinds of chickens: laying hens and broilers. The chickens you keep for eggs don’t usually get eaten because they are smaller and really good for just laying eggs. Broilers aren’t kept for laying eggs, they are fed to be big and then butchered. So, two different sets of chickens, but yes, lots of eggs and chicken!
      Jeff goes out off and on. He got most of the shoot-able rodents at this point. Many of the others are near the house and with so many guests here now, there isn’t a lot of time to shoot.
      Thanks for showing Gram!


  2. Yeehaw..!! Get along little dohggie..!
    Alright, now that I got that out of my system…..
    FASCINATING is the word that comes to mind; that and WOWWHATATONOFWORK..!
    Great pics and Great narrative; what an incredible experience. You all certainly look at home on the range..!
    You can send any unwanted hummingbirds back here as your mom has two feeders out….lol. And if that alpaca fibre is not being used, she’ll take that, too…LOL..!
    Oh, Aztec’s caption –
    “Wait, I thought they said a day at the beach; this doesn’t feel like sand..!”
    Sounds like you’re doing great on food…. Donuts, ice cream, fresh veggies, yak steaks….. Yak Steaks..!!??!! How were they..?? (I know that’s from a previous post, but I forgot to ask….)
    Love you all, and keep up the good work..!!
    Braydon, you’re being a Great Helper, good job; and we love the picture of you hugging that beet..!!
    Jeff, you looked like a natural holding all those animals…..way to go..!
    Can’t wait for the next post..!!


    1. Haha! Great Aztec quote!
      The yak steaks were great! Very much like a good t-bone steak, just maybe a little fattier. Very delicious!
      There’s always lots of food around here! Being so busy keeps us very hungry lol!


  3. Forgot to mention those Mouth Watering Doughnuts..!! We’ll take three, please. They look better than store bought, and the sprinkles are Amazing..!


  4. wow… well there is tons a good looking food there! glad you’re eating well!! and I too like those donuts! πŸ‘πŸ» great job all around!!


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