Wednesday, April 23, 2014

'Tis the season.

Hi friends!

Sorry I've been away for a bit....we've been busy breeding cattle and doing a lot of synchronization work to set cows & heifers up to breed over this last week.

'Tis the season.

Last Thursday evening, Clint, Morgan and I made an "AI Train" and headed to a customer's ranch outside of Pendleton to set up the portable alleyway, chute and breeding box. 



The next morning, Morgan and I headed back out to put in CIDR's and give a shot of GnRH.  I'll head back out to this ranch on Friday after work to pull CIDR's and give a shot of Estrumate, and then Clint will breed the cattle early next week.



The rest of the weekend was spent at the ranch AI'ing Double M cows, and a set of replacement heifers.  In between breeding, we turned pairs out to grass (such a great feeling!), doctored sick calves and fed. 

Easter morning was spent time breeding a set of Double M cows, and the sunrise was glorious.  While the way we celebrated was a bit non-traditional, we also savored the meaning of Easter in our own way.




After time breeding Easter morning, we got a quick hour nap (which was GLORIOUS!), picked up lunch at Dickey's drive-thru (easiest Easter lunch ever!) and then headed out to Pilot Rock to help Ryan & Amy patch and give shots to their Rollin' Rock Angus replacement heifers for breeding this week.



After we were done with the Angus heifers, Amy, Colter and I hopped in the Gator to go check out their Longhorn herd.  They weren't close to the road, but it was fun to see them!



Then Sunday night we came home to breed our own heifers.  Monday we woke up bright an early at 3:15 am to do the same, before heading to work.  We're not time breeding this set, so Clint is heat detecting every 4-6 hours, and we're breeding 12 hours later, which means sometimes we're breeding in the middle of the night.  We've been trying to get a few hours of sleep before we breed at midnight, but between delivering semen to customers and setting up additional group of heifers for other customers, sleep has been a rare commodity lately.

If you know me - I get grumpy when I'm tired, or hungry.

Don't we all?

But even in my grumpiness, Clint has been so patient with me, and has made me feel like an amazing wife who is loved.

He is such a blessing and I am so thankful for him.

--------------

I don't want to preach - but a piece of advice I was given awhile ago is that marriage isn't a 50/50 proposition.

It's a
"I have to work to give 100% to my spouse and they have to work to give me 100%"
kind of a thing.

It's a
"I will love you forever & ever, and no matter what"
kind of a thing.



This week when I've needed his 100% - he's been there.
 
With thank you's, and I love you's, and hugs, and moments to let me walk away and rest a bit. 
 
I don't take that for granted....

And while I'm tired,

I'm not tired of this lifestyle.

And I'm certainly not tired of the blessings that I've been given.

So if you don't hear from me for a few days - it's probably because we're either breeding cows, or trying to catch a quick nap in our easy chairs. 

I'll try to post a few times a week - because this blog is something I love. 

But I love my husband more, and right now is a time when I can help him and give my 100% through being there for him. 

So thank you for grace.

----------


 
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter, and that you're out there living the dream!

Friday, April 18, 2014

5 on Friday.



1. It's an AI Train!

We're headed out the door here this morning in just a bit to put CIDR's in a group of cows.  We headed out to this customer's ranch last night and set up the portable alleyway, chute & AI barn and ran out of daylight so we're headed back out there this morning.  Then we'll be breeding cows at the ranch here this weekend.

2. Diet Pepsi is the Breakfast of Champions.

It's been a busy week - so the Diet Pepsi has been flowing!  But we're living the dream, and so thankful that Morgan has been able to stay with us this week to help with the breeding projects that are going right now at the ranch, and at other customer's ranches.  We're looking forward to a busy spring and early summer filled with Genex Chuteside Breeding Projects.




3. I'm a proud aunt!

Our niece & nephew, Jacobi & Jace, are doing awesome things!  Jacobi has been running track, so her mom (Clint's sister) sent me a few pictures and she is quite the track star....just look at those arm muscles!  I'm jealous!

And Jace - or Jacer, or Jace Robert Roy Rex Ralph Stumpff, as we like to call him - got his market goat for fair, and I think they have quite the partnership going on!  It's his first year with a goat (he's shown sheep and cattle in the past) and we know he'll do really well with this new venture!

4. Easter.

We won't get to spend Easter with family since we're breeding cows, but ranch life is kind of like that - holidays come and go, but the cows still have to be fed and work needs to be done.  But even though we'll be at home, the spirit of Easter will not be lost on us and we are so thankful for the sacrifice that was made on the cross.

5.  And the winner is.....

Tess!  Congratulations!  I'll be dropping off your copy of Ann's One Thousand Gifts Devotional early next week....can't wait to start counting with you! 

-------

Happy Friday friends!

I hope weekend is filled with all things good!

He is Risen!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's in our AI kit.

Consistency.

Breeding cows and heifers the same way, every time, is really one of the keys to a successful breeding project. Consistency means less variables, and that's important for when you review a project to see what could be improved upon or what went well.  If everything was done consistently, then you have a starting point for change.

When we breed cattle, my job is to thaw the bull semen.  I think it surprises some people when they find out that I don't breed.  I could if I needed to in a pinch, but the guys are much more proficient at it than I am.  My job is to thaw and keep track of paperwork and flow.  Records are really important when you're AI'ing, because it's important to know what semen was put in what cow on what date and by what technician.  

Since we're out breeding a large group of heifers today (hooray for vacation days off of work!) I thought I'd tell you about what I keep in my AI kit.


A well stocked AI kit is helpful to have going into the breeding season.  Since we breed in the fall, winter & spring our kit stays stocked year-round.  Right now, if you were to open our kit, you'd find:

CITO Thaw Unit
Thermometers
AI Guns
Sheaths
Paper Towels
Digital Timer
Pens & Sharpies
Syringes & Needles
Scissors
CITO Cutter
Small Bottle of Lube
Ziploc Bags
70% Alcohol & Pipe Cleaners
Plastic Breeding Gloves & Latex Gloves

I thought I'd touch on just a few preferences I have regarding the above - brands, types, why we use things, etc.

CITO Thaw Units - These units come in both 12 volt and 110 volt models.  We have two of each, and use them according to what power source is available at a project.  If 110 volt power is available, we prefer to use it because we think the power is more consistent, which creates a more consistent water temperature.  Our AI barn has both 110 and 12 volt power, so we can plug either thaw unit into the barn, and when I thaw out of my pickup I have to use a 12 volt. 

If I'm thawing for a more than 2 breeders, I will use two thaw units to help maintain temperature consistency.  The more frequently you drop straws into a thaw unit, the more it has to work to keep the temperature up.  So if I'm thawing three units at once over and over in the same unit, more often than not the unit will drop below ideal temperature.  If I use two thaw units, I can either thaw two straws in one, and a single straw in the other (what I prefer) or thaw three straws at once, and then thaw the next three straws in the other unit the next time to give my first unit a chance to warm back up.  This all goes back to our theory of maintaining consistency throughout the entire project.

*Whatever type of thaw unit you use, make sure that you don't ever allow the water in the unit to freeze.  For example, when you leave the AI kit in your pickup over night in December because you forgot to bring it in after breeding fall heifers in sub-freezing temperatures and the water freezes into a solid block, it's kind of an expensive mistake to make.   Don't ask me how I know this.  ;)

AI Guns - We prefer to use the Continental Plastics All-2-Mate Barb Style guns.  I've loaded a lot of straws of semen over the past few years, and this is by far my favorite AI gun.  The guys like to use them in the cow too, since they're sturdy (like an O-Ring gun) but lightweight (like a Combi-Gun).  They are just a really well made AI gun.  They're also fast to load, hold the sheath securely in place (without fiddling with an O-ring) and load either a 1/4 or 1/2 cc straw.

*If you use the guns above, you'll order the unslit sheaths with the blue inserts.

Thermometers - I use two types of thermometers.  One is the plastic card type thermometer that usually comes with the thaw unit.  These are good for knowing the general water temperature, however I do not rely on this type of thermometer to know my exact water temperature.  I mainly use this to "divide" the thaw unit area into two parts to help keep track when I'm thawing different straws of semen. 
Every year I buy a new, digital thermometer to guage water temperature.  I figure $10 to know exactly how warm your water is to the tenth of a degree, is money well spent.  I buy mine from Wal-Mart, in the kitchen supply aisle.  I don't keep this thermometer in the water the entire time I'm thawing, but I will check the water before I start and then periodically throughout the project to make sure my thaw unit is running correctly.

Digital Timer - I thaw my units of semen for 45 seconds, and use a digital timer to keep track of that.  There's enough going on when we're breeding that if I can take my focus off of one area (counting to myself in my head to 45), then that frees up some mental capacity to focus on other items like keeping records, or making sure the right unit of semen gets into the right cow.  Our friend Mike actually gave me my first timer, and it's been one of best gifts I've ever received.  I had to buy a new one this year, and I bought it from our local Cash & Carry restaurant supply store - a good timer will cost you about $15 and they're worth every penny.

Paper Towels - Costco half sheets are the best paper towel on the market.  Period.  Trust me, we've tried them all.  I use 2 half sheets folded together to dry the straws off after they come out of the water bath, and the guys like to use a single half sheet to wipe the cow before they insert the AI gun.  The first year we AI'ed cows, everyone had a different paper towel preference, but now we all use the same one and it makes stocking the AI barn a lot easier.

CITO Cutter vs. Scissors - Everyone that thaws semen has a personal preference here - and depending on the type of AI gun you use, that can dictate which method of cutting works best.  I prefer to use a CITO cutter, and I don't find any seating issues when we use the barb style AI guns.  I also think a CITO cutter is faster, and when they're cleaned regularly (that's what the alcohol & pipe cleaners are for, along with cleaning the AI guns) I think they're just as sanitary as a pair of scissors.  I also buy a few new CITO cutters every breeding season, and keep them sealed in a Ziploc sack when I'm not using them and I think that helps keep them clean as well.  We do keep a pair of scissors in the AI kit though, just in case.

Ziplocs - This past year I started keeping Ziploc sacks (both sandwich size and one gallon) size in the AI kit.  I use the small ones to keep a few spent straws from each breeding project.  That way if there's ever a question of semen quality, we have some of the straws saved.  I label these bags with a Sharpie.  I use one big Ziploc to store my timer, CITO cutter, pens and small AI book - that way if my thaw unit tips over, the water spilled won't get on these items.

Pens & Sharpies - If you don't have a Sharpie in your AI kit, you should get one.  I bet you'll be amazed by how often you use it.  I always make sure I have one, and have a back up one in my pickup and in my purse.

Gloves - The guys prefer to use latex gloves on both hands, and then put a breeding glove up on their left arm.  Yes, their hands get sweaty, but if a cow craps on them while they're breeding, it's a lot easier to just pull the glove off and put a new one on, versus trying to find somewhere to wash their hands.

Needles & Syringes - Usually when we're giving GnRH shots, we use an automatic syringe, but I keep a small 3cc syringe and clean needles in the AI kit just in case.  We keep bigger boxes of needles & the automatic syringes in a big tote that stays in the breeding barn.

Lube - We buy gallons of AI lube by the case, and keep those in our basement or in the AI barn (there's a special holder for the gallons) but we also keep a small squeeze bottle filled with lube just in case.  It always comes in handy when you're breeding just a handful of cows, and don't want to bring out the lube.  Lube, just like the water in your CITO thaw, shouldn't ever be frozen.  It really changes the consistency.

Tweezers - You'll notice that I don't have tweezers on my list, and that's because I don't use them.  I think I can pull straws faster with my fingers (which means that the canes of semen are exposed for less time) and find that in the instances I did use tweezers (like when my fingers were raw from multiple days of pulling straws) I was more likely to drop a unit.  Now, I just make sure I have bandaids and if my fingers are raw, I just deal with it.  If you use tweezers, and it works for you - that's great.

AI Gun Warmer - This isn't necessarily something we keep inside the AI kit, but it is something that we use every time we breed a cow.  Even if we're just breeding one, we'll still use a gun warmer.  These are kind of spendy, but again it all comes back to consistency - if we can maintain the temperature as consistently as we can from the time the unit of semen is pulled from the tank until it gets inside the cow - all the better. 

And the last - most IMPORTANT - thing to have in your AI Kit is.....

Diet Pepsi!

Lol.  Or is that just me.....?

So that's what is in our AI kit!

Is there anything I'm missing?  If so, please leave your thoughts in the comments - I'd love to hear what you do differently, or a brand that works well for you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Amazing Grace.














The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

--------

A {good life} is hard to define, and probably looks different to everyone.

Ten years ago, if you'd have asked me where I would be today, I probably wouldn't have said that I'd be living this blessed little life here in Eastern Oregon.

God's funny like that.

--------
Amazing Grace.

How sweet the sound...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Trying to live life in the slow lane.

Lately I've been finding myself rushing through conversations (to the point where I'm not enunciating and I know better than that), hustling everywhere and just making things work. That's ok for a little while, but not long term.

So I'm going to try to slow down.


I know - all of you that know me are shaking your heads.  Part of me wants to defend "going fast" as being a part of me.  I'm Darcy - I talk fast, I think fast and I act fast.  But sometimes any of those things done fast isn't necessarily best. 

So I'm going to try slowing down.
Because I think I need to try.
 How?
I'm going to start counting.

I've had this devotional sitting in my pickup since the beginning of January.  It's totally blank but today I'm going to start using it. 

The first line might be filled with this;
I'm thankful for this life.

Or it might be filled with;
I am thankful for my husband who loves me more each day.

Clint is a very private man, especially when it comes to public displays of affection, but every day he makes sure that I know that I am loved.  We lead a busy, hectic, full life.  But it's one that we're living together, and for each other.  And we know that, and tell each other that.  We're a team, and we're running this race for each other and to make our life better.  And when I think of things I am thankful for, he is at the top of the list.

And whatever that first sentence is, after it's penned I'm going to challenge myself to keep writing more.

999 more, to be specific.  Over the next 264 days.

At the end of 2014, I hope that I have slowed down, stopped rushing and will remember a year, experiences & friendships savored.

-----------

I'd love to be able to gift a copy of this book to you too.

Join me in the slow lane?

To be entered to win a copy of Ann's book, simply leave a comment with one thing (or more!) that you are thankful for.  I'll leave comments open for a week, and choose a winner next Friday, April 18th.

***Congratulations to Tess!***

Because rushing through life and all that it gives us just isn't worth it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 on Friday.



1. If you need us, we'll be at the White Corrals.

I was at a training for work this week in Redmond, so I haven't been home much to take pictures but I did drive through the heifers and check heats last night when I got home. Clint synchronized a big group of ranch heifers for breeding this weekend, and if they all come into heat like they should I think we'll have our hands full!  I'll try to capture a few shots in between thawing straws.  :)


2. Sweet surprises that make you smile.

My cousin Alicia sent me the cutest notecards in the mail that I had won on her blog!  I love getting "fun" mail, and these are super fun!  Alicia let me know that these notecards are made by a friend of hers (who is also a former Ms. Minnesota - impressive!) and you can check out her Etsy store here.

3. This weather.

Spring is my absolute favorite time of year, weather-wise.  If I could live somewhere where it was 65-72 degrees year round, with cool evenings - I think I would!  The weather this week at home has been gorgeous, and I am so thankful for it!



4. Photo contests.

I love taking pictures.  It's just something that brings me a lot of joy and I love being able to document different seasons in our life.  Last week I shared a picture of the crew at Double M branding spring calves.  You can see it here on NCBA's Facebook page or click here to see the entire gallery of photos.  Feel free to "like" your favorite! 


Speaking of photo contests, the Beef Daily blog is still accepting pictures for their current photo contest that features working dogs.  If you have a picture to share, be sure to email it in to Amanda by next Friday, April 18!   I sent in the one above of Austin, our {Power Dog}, so we'll see if she makes the cut.

5.  I don't want to live through each day, I want to live for each day.

Too often I find myself wishing my way through the day. 

"I wish it was 4:30 and I could be headed home."
"I wish I was done doing chores and house work."
"I wish I could just go to bed."

But I want to count my blessings, not count my days. 

If you're in the same boat, come back tomorrow for a giveaway that just might help you and I do that.

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Happy Friday friends! 

I hope we all get to make the most of our weekend!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Terry is 60!

Our good friend Terry turns 60 today!
 
Happy birthday!
 
We celebrated his birthday this weekend as a group at Fujiyama's in Tri-Cities and it was SUCH a fun evening! 

Fujiyama's is a Japanese steakhouse, and our server Yippee Kay Yay was h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s! 
 

 
 
 


Dinner was so good, and we may have had a pretty darn good time....and maybe told a few jokes.

Sesame seeds & answering the door will never have the same meaning again.






 


And you can't have a birthday celebration without the drums, singing & cake!

 


Happy birthday Terry!