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Showing posts from June, 2012

Getting Older

Last night, we helped with the 20th annual UC Davis Horse Auction.  Samia and I have been at 19 of the 20 - we missed the auction two years ago when my folks took us all to Hawaii.  I'm having a hard time comprehending the fact that I'm old enough to have done anything in my adult life (after college, that is) twenty times!  I was 25 years old the first year that I served as the auctioneer for the sale.  I was working for the California Cattlemen's Association; Sami was recently out of vet school.  I still had hair! Dan Sehnert, who has worked in the Animal Science Department at UC Davis since I was in college, is the only person who has been to more of the auctions than we have.

Looking around last night, I found myself measuring my participation in the event against the changes in the facilities and people associated with the horse program at UCD.  The first year of the auction, the redwood trees on the west side of the arena where we've held the auction were less th…

Turning Another Corner

Last weekend, we started the process of weaning the lambs from their mothers.  The oldest lambs are now about 100 days old - and weighing 70 pounds or more.  By separating them from the ewes, we can put the lambs on our highest quality irrigated pasture.  The ewes can spend 45-60 days on rougher feed - yellow starthistle and other invasive weeds, for example.  When we wean the lambs, we give them a permanent (hopefully) ear tag, vaccinate them for the most common diseases in our area, and deworm them.

The sheep year begins with breeding season.  About 45 days prior to turning the rams in with the ewes (mid August), we'll evaluate the ewes for health and body condition.  Those that are a bit thin will be separated out and fed higher quality feed (irrigated pasture or supplemental hay).  On September 1, we'll put all the ewes on higher quality feed and turn in our "teaser" rams - vasectomized rams that help synchronize the estrous cycles of the ewes.  On October 1, we…


Since early March, I've been managing a number of targeted grazing projects for Prescriptive Livestock Services - a company from eastern Oregon.  These contracts have all been in the Lincoln and Auburn area, and we've used a combination of sheep and goats - at one point this spring, we had nearly 2,000 sheep and more than 2,200 goats within the Lincoln city limits!  While I've been overseeing the projects, much of the day-to-day work has been handled by a handful of herders from Peru.  These men come here under a special visa program that allows specialized workers to enter the U.S. legally.  I've worked most closely with three herders - Didi, Yan and Jhonny (especially Didi) - and I've been incredibly impressed with their dedication to their work, their knowledge of livestock and their ability to work hard.

Working with Spanish-speaking colleagues has made me think about the complexity of communication.  First, I'm constantly amazed by the capacity of the huma…

More Baseball - the Cow Palace

Perhaps it's the success of the Giants over the last week, but I seem to be on a baseball kick!  In response to my last post, a family friend and fellow auctioneer Steve Scofield (a Red Sox fan who lives in New Hampshire) wrote this:

"We could probably write a book called 'Everything You Ever Wanted to Know You Learned Playing Baseball.' As meaningless as the game is, playing with the other kids only taught us negotiation, teamwork, friendship, sharing, winning, losing, you're not perfect, you make mistakes, so does everyone else, you are responsible for your decisions. If only we knew enough to go for beers afterwards."

I've been thinking about my own baseball "career" lately.  I played "organized" baseball from the age of 6 through my sophomore year in high school.  I decided not to play varsity ball because the varsity coach at Sonora High School while I was there let the seniors vote as to which juniors to keep on the team.  E…

Baseball Gloves

This will not seem like a farming-related post, but please bear with me.  My friend Dave Pratt, who teaches Ranching for Profit schools throughout North America puts it best - everyone should care deeply about something that's absolutely meaningless in the larger scheme of things.  For me (and for Dave), baseball is one of those things.  Baseball gloves, however, do perhaps have a deeper meaning!

I listened to parts of the San Francisco Giants game this afternoon.  The team held it's "Junior Giants Glove Drive" today - it was an effort to raise money and take donated gloves for disadvantaged kids in the Bay Area.  Former Giants infielder, current broadcaster and Glove Drive chairman Duane Kuiper talked about how a baseball glove is something you keep for a long time.  Gloves have stories that go with them!  The Giants collected $27,500 and more than 500 donated ball gloves today!

Hearing about the Glove Drive on the radio, I reflected on my own experience playing bas…