The Year Thus Far

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write about all the happenings on the Rafter T. This is by far our busiest time of year, so my free time has been very limited. Since I’ve failed to keep up on my writing, let’s play catch up!

Cattle Sale DaySale Day- A couple weeks into February, we sold our calves; a process that happens through a local sale yard. For those of you who have been to an estate sale, or watch Storage Wars, it’s pretty much the same concept. People (cattle buyers) show up, and bid on the cattle they’re interested in purchasing. Some are buying for themselves, while others are buying for “orders.” Those orders usually come from bigger feeders, such as JBS, Simplot, etc. If quite a few buyers show up and the market is hot, you’re golden. However, if only a couple buyers are bidding, it doesn’t matter what the market is doing—they’ll only bid against one another for so long. I won’t lie, it’s a bit defeating to know that your annual pay day depends on someone else; but that’s just part of the cattle business. Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts-The week after we sold our calves, a Girl Scout troop from Glenns Ferry came to the ranch for an afternoon tour. They got a chance to see a few newborn calves, feed some soon-to-be mamas, and grain our horses. Those girls had more fun doing chores than I could ever dream of having! I love getting a chance to talk to people about where their food comes from, especially the younger generation. At the end of their adventure they received a fun coloring book and brochure, courtesy of the Idaho Beef Council.

Bottle CalvesBottle Calves-The Chinese might consider this to be the Year of the Ram, but around here it’s been the year of the bottle calf. In total I’ve had six little bundles of joy, but am currently down to four. Hallelujah! While we don’t name every cow and calf we own, bottle calves always end up with a moniker of their own. Currently, we have Nola Dakota, Jumbo, Marvin and Peanut. While it’s a bit of a pain to feed them three times a day, their personalities make up for the inconvenience. Branding

Branding-Awwww, branding. The true definition of “March Madness.” We usually have four groups to brand—two groups at home that typically occur around the 15th, and two out on the desert that happen at the end of the month. The last two take a lot of planning since they happen quite a few miles from home. One pickup is dedicated to packing all of the necessary branding supplies: propane, firewood, branding irons, vaccines, ear tags, etc., and another is dedicated specifically for bringing the food. When it’s all said and done, branding is a pretty big ordeal. Thankfully, we’re blessed with some pretty handy friends and neighbors who are always willing to lend a helping hand. Turning out cows on public lands

Turn Out-Our cows go back onto our public lands allotments April 1, which is why it’s imperative that all of our branding and sorting takes place before then. This year was an exciting year for Justin and me, as we turned out our own set of cattle. Personally this is my favorite part of the work season, since it represents the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

IrrigationIrrigation-Usually the first 10 days of April are pretty relaxing around here; all the cows are out and our irrigation water isn’t in the canal yet. We very rarely take time for vacations, but when we do, this is when we go. I honestly look forward to April 1-10 like a kid looks forward to the last day of school. Until now. This winter/spring season has been extremely dry, so the irrigation company chose to let the water in a few days early. While I’m happy to see things start to green up, I’m still a bit bent out of shape about my “down time” being almost nonexistent. For the next six months you’ll find me shoveling mud and dodging snakes in the pasture! Until next time!


Jessie has returned to her roots on her family’s commercial cattle ranch in southern Idaho after college and working on behalf of the state’s cattle producers. She’s passionate about agriculture and the western way of life. When she isn’t doing ranch work or writing, Jessie enjoys baking, golfing and drinking coffee. As a newlywed, she’s also turning a little cabin on the ranch into a home.

Categories: Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Lifestyle, Ranch Life