One would think I would know if it was a weekend or not… so what do you call it when you arrive Saturday afternoon and leave Tuesday morning?

Evia came up July 25th with the cat, dog, and 2 kids for an extended stay.  I came up Saturday.  This is unusual for us, we normally travel together, but I had day-job type work to do and this was the last chance before school starts for her to spend a chunk of time up here.

I surveyed previous work on Sunday, and we mixed up and sprayed another 14 gallons of PastureGard on patches of Oak sprouts.  That product is having the best control to date – thanks to John Murphy, MDC, for getting me some samples to try (technically part of our grassland reserve woody plant control program, so MDC has a vested interest).  Many of the sprouts I sprayed a couple of weeks ago died completely, however most are just seriously burned down.  Apparently the product doesn’t translocate much – similar to 2-4D – in that sprayed foliage died, missed was still green.  Also mixed up 30 gallons of 2-4D and made another pass on the thistle plants.  Suspect we have 90+% control now in our fields of that particular weed.  The 2-4D works well on locust sprouts and multi-flora rose too.

Per the suggestion of Farm and Leisure in Columbia, where we bought our Kubota RTV 900 – I used my air compression to blow out the radiator.  Got some dust, but nothing major.  Followed up with a deep cleaning using a power nozzle on the hose.  I’m VERY HAPPY to report this solved the overheating problem.  Apparently junk built up in the fins, not just on the surface that I routinely wash.  Anyhow, several hours of use and there were no signs of overheating.  Have to remember to refill with anti-freeze before winter – we boiled out most of it during the last trip.

Sunday night was spent working the boys.  We got everyone who still needed it vacinated, dewormed, and tagged.  Actually pretty happy with my Powder River Herdmaster head catch and squeeze.  It takes two of us to catch a cow in it – me on the head gate, Evia on the squeeze lever, but once done its hands free – unlike most catches where someone has to hold the head gate closed.  With practice we will get better – it was even showing a bit by the end of the evening.  The Herdmaster is pretty unique in that the default position of the head gate is closed – one has to hold it open.  So once the cows head is through, you let loose, and the head gate will ratchet itself down.  With luck, the cow backs up once, and the job is done.  Problem is getting it closed enough to keep the cows shoulders from going through – tricky when dealing with horned animals.  The young cattle with foot or less horns are pretty easy – its just the adults that go through with a turned head, and forward facing shoulder, that are a challenge. 

Anyhow, all the boys were weighed except Duncan.  It was dark by the time his turn came up, and we just couldn’t convince him to walk through the setup.  This is the downside of having tame animals – those that don’t let you pet them are easier to work in the corral – you simply have to get behind them (even from the other side of the fence) – and they tend to walk forward to get away from you.  That at least worked well with the steers.

Monday morning was slaughtering day for Chuck.  Butcher shop called at 7:30am to confirm, was at the farm at 8:30, and left about 45 minutes later.  Chuck weighed in last night at 1270 pounds, but had a VERY full stomach of grass – enough that it took both men a bit of grunting to remove it – several hundred pounds worth right there.  I need to call around noon to place our cutting order – will probably go mostly with roast and steaks – just using the trim for burger.  Maybe they will give me a hanging weight then too.  Should be something like 700-760lbs. With luck, should get a 65% or so yield on that.  For the record, each side of the cow should provide 14 various roast, plus steaks, plus hamburger (which is where all the scraps go).

Need to go see if the tractor related things are done.  That’s next on the agenda after a bit of a late breakfast/early lunch.

2pm update:  Tucker Butcher called… carcass weighed in at 730lbs, smack dab down the middle and makes it coming in at 57.5% (typical range is 55-60%).  We should get about 475lbs of boxed meat (well, bagged around here, but “boxed meat” is the industry term.  That is after 14 days of dry aging, which will reduce the “wet meat” weight by about 20%.  The difference, beyond water loss, is pretty much excess fat (shouldn’t be a lot since Chuck was grass finished) and bone waste.  I haven’t checked on Tucker’s prices, but suspect its about $0.35/lb, plus a couple of fixed charges ($35 for coming out, $40 for waste disposal – or something similar).  Presuming those numbers, the math should work out as:  $750 purchase price for the steer.  $0.35*730lbs basic processing ($255.50), $75 in fixed fees (guesstimate) – total price of $1080.50 for 475lbs of meat = $2.27/lb for everything from hamburger to roast to T-Bones.  Will weight the actual results and post in about 3 weeks.