Ahh.....now October started off exciting.  Oct 3, we started shipping cattle.  For the first time, we used a helicopter to help gather and pen the cattle.  The helicopter was amazing- it was just like having a large aerial dog that never got tired and followed commands perfectly.

(Left)  Gathering started early on Monday morning.  Here's the early morning sun shining on a herd of about about 500 cattle- I'm waiting for the copter and ATV's to bring the rest from the far corner of the pasture.






(Left)  Here I'm in the feed truck starting a bunch of cattle thru the gate, across the road, and into the gate on the other side of the road.  At this point, we would typically lose 50-100 of the stragglers.




(Left)  But, ta-da!!! here comes the helicopter to push the stragglers thru. The helicopter is great because it's "tall", noisy, and very fast.  It can push the cattle just right, and it can zip around and control the entire herd pretty easily.








(Left)  Here's the helicopter pushing the strays thru the gate.  The ATV's are just hanging out, pushing in cattle trying to breakaway.  If a bunch get out of the control, the heli swings over and pushed them back.





(Left)  As you can see here, the helicopter has the cattle turned and we're all pushing them towards the pen.  We only have 4 ATV's on the ground- in the past, we'd use 5-9 and still lost breaking cattle.  Not with the helicopter.







(Left) Here's what it looks like from inside the pens.  You can see the mass of cattle in the back and the helicopter easily controlling the herd.  The ATV's are sitting back, not pressuring the cattle, and just watching the show.






(Left) With the cattle all penned, not a single stray, we head back to the house to get ready for the actual weighing and shipping part.








(Left) Toys!!!










(Left) An aerial shot of the pens with about 500 cattle penned in the rear pen.  We'll run them by 20's down the alley on the right hand side of the pens, thru the scale house (metal building in lower right corner of pens), and then into the pen where you can see 50 head already huddled. This gives us a count, tells us how many head per truck (by weight), and lets the brand inspector check them.  After they're all weighed and inspected, we run them from the lower pens into the alley just in front of the two white trucks.  Then they'll load at the chute to the left of the power pole.








(Left)  Here's me (gray coat) and my cousin Dustin bringing up the rear.  We're standing in the mud pushing the next raft of cattle up to the staging alley.












(Left) Cattle rounding the alley, heading for the staging area.













(Left) Here, the horse is pushing cattle along in the alley.  We used a horse for the first time in a long time and it was very useful, esp. since it rained and the alley got pretty muddy.  Horses and helicopters- what a mix.....









(Left) The cattle are now in the loading ramp and the horse is holding them as they load.  We loaded 8-11 trucks each day and you can see some of them waiting in the background.  The trucks park down the road and don't come in until we're actually ready to load.











(Left) ...and there goes a group of cattle into the truck.  That's the cattle owner/seller to the left in the black hat, truck drivers to both sides of truck.












(Left) My daughter got to ride in the helicopter during a gathering and said it was a lot of fun.  I only rode in it for sightseeing and final check of the pasture- the rest of the time I was on an ATV or in the feed truck.









(Left) I can see that I'm going to need to get David started on his pilot lessons pretty quick.  Check out the sticker on the helicopter's tail....












(Left)  Here's an aerial shot of the big pasture.  You can see storm clouds building on the horizon, some of the groundwater we have due to the abundant rains this year and get an idea of the size of this pasture.  The boundary fence runs between the two waters in the foreground and the other boundary is on the backside of the low rise to the left/center of the shot.  It's a big pasture (and hard to gather cattle out of.....).










And now, I just need to go around the ranch and shut down windmills, fix some fences where cattle broke thru, change the oil on the trucks, get all the trailers and such arranged in the compound (they'll act as snow fences and need to be placed correctly or we'll have huge drifts in the yard), and basically just get ready for winter.  A winter storm could hit at any time now, or it might not!!!

I spent the remainder of October shutting down windmills, but mostly I worked on guitars!  I shut customers off during shipping and after shipping, the floodgates open!!  Here....let me show you!

That's my workbench area where I keep stuff I'm actually going to work on.  Here's the storage area:

More cases!!!  And this doesn't even show the 3 cases parked over....there....awaiting boxing and shipping.  Lots and lots of work to do!  This is pretty much how I finished up October.

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