I’m a big fan of chaos. I love trying to make sense of things that are halfway out of control. It is the engine that propels life forward, and the best example of chaos in ranching are our brandings.
Calves are hitting the ground like no body’s business. Yesterday evening as I was checking heifers, a very attentive mother stood looking very concerned over her calf just born, still wet calf and I realized why when I saw a coyote sitting not 100 feet from her. Coyotes are blamed for high calf attrition rates by most, but in fact are scavengers. Naturally, they will take advantage of an opportunity to chew on a live calf, but normally they are after scraps of afterbirth, a calf that did not make it, cake left over from the feeding ground. He didn’t seem to be concerned about me as I scooted off to check the rest of the pasture.
Nick Baefsky started an apprenticeship on Chico Basin Ranch six years ago, in the fall of 2012. Today he and his wife Amy, another Ranchlands apprenticeship graduate, manage a ranch in New Mexico with the help of three young interns and apprentices. They fix old generators, prop up fences, uncover and splice lines of ancient poly pipe. They gather big brushy pastures by waiting until late in the day when the cows come into water. They keep lists of the vehicles, generators and equipment that needs to be repaired, the pastures that need to be prepared for cattle, the pipeline leaks that need to be fixed. They keep precipitation records and grazing charts that they use to estimate how they’ll move the cattle herds across the ranch through the year.
This spring feels like it’s pregnant. As if it is about to burst out unchecked as a living being.