October 16, 2012

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Ranchlands' founder Duke Phillips is a third generation cattle rancher who believes in economic diversification, high conservation ethics, and public education as critical to the future of ranching.

This herd has just arrived from a long drive over several miles, thirsty and tired.  The next day, we gathered it from the holding trap around the corrals, and moved it into the corrals where the calves were sorted off, and the cows turned back out.  In the next several days, the calves were shipped off the ranch to a grow yard where they are cared for during the stressful time of weaning.  What we will do with the calves next, i don’t know.  It depends on the market and how the calves health is.

Normally, this whole process falls in January, but with the shortage of grass – due to the drought, we are shipping the calves about 150-200 pounds lighter.  The conception rates are 5-15 points lower than usual.  So not only are we running a much lesser number of cows, the production rates across the board are significantly less than normal, cost much much more.

Ranching has always endured.  We choose this way of life knowing that these challenges were ahead.  Sometimes I am discouraged, but mostly I am happy to be here trying to figure the puzzle out, day by day, and working alongside others who keep smiling and working, knowing we will one way or another get through it. The only thing that that I know for sure is that it will be different than what we expect, and much better.  It always is.