Andrea had 2 MRIs on her neck and upper back to try to figure out what exactly is causing so much pain besides the grafted skin contractures that pull on her spine. We’ll hopefully get the results sometime soon.
Lynn’s birthday was May 17 but we didn’t celebrate it until this past Sunday evening when we all had dinner at Andrea’s house—a belated birthday party for Lynn and Andrea (whose birthday was May 21).
Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent photos of young Joseph (2 years old) helping pick rocks in one of the fields they are preparing for seeding.
|Joseph carrying rocks|
|Joseph gathering rocks|
|Joseph and his pile of rocks|
Emily sent us a photo that was taken of her and baby Christopher; he is now about a month and a half old.
|Em & Christopher|
It’s time to start getting our horses back in shape again after their long winter vacation and start riding them. I’ve been catching, brushing and tying Dottie for a while each day and leaving her tied while I pick weeds and poppies in front yard. The poppies have been trying to take over the yard for many years.
Thursday night the kids had their spring concert at the high school; we enjoyed listening to the Jazz Band; Charlie plays trombone and Sam plays the trumpet. Here’s a photo I took from the bleachers –with Charlie in the back row and Sam in second row.
They are both in the Legacy Choir also.
|Dani in Jr. chorus|
Later that morning we got the heifers in from their field below the lane. Andrea’s kids came down to help us vaccinate and tag them. Dani and Andrea pushed them down the alley to the chute, Charlie caught their heads, Andrea put the halter on and Charlie and Lynn stretched the rope tight (holding their heads out and up), using the tractor loader to secure the halter rope, Sam helped me vaccinate, and Andrea installed the brisket tags. These are the permanent numbers for all the heifers—ours and Michael’s.
|Andrea punching hole in brisket skin|
|Charlie helping hold the rope|
|Sam taking photos|
|tag on hasp|
|bending the ends|
Then we put the heifers back in their field and brought the 2 bulls to the chute from their back pen, and vaccinated them. It started raining hard, just as we finished, so we felt very lucky that the weather held long enough for us to get the job done.
Yesterday was cold and rainy all day. When I hiked through the cows and calves in the swamp pasture to check on them I discovered that one of our red calves had foot rot; the foot was swollen (and toes widely spread apart) and he was very lame. We didn’t have time to do anything with him until today, however.
This morning (Memorial Day) Andrea, Dani, Lynn, his sister Jenelle, and his nephew Craig Hills (visiting from Washington) went out to the cemetery. Craig stopped by here to visit briefly before he left—heading on to Billings, Montana to see his uncle who is having health problems.
After lunch Andrea and Dani helped Lynn and me move the heifers’ round bale feeder into the hold pen next to Sprout’s pen, and put a temporary electric fence across that end of the hold pen to keep them in that area so they can’t get into our haystacks. Now that we are irrigating it has become too wet and boggy to have their feeder in the field where they’ve been living, to we moved it to higher, drier ground and let them have access to that end of the hold pen.
Then we brought the lame calf and his mom in from the swamp pasture to the corral, cornered the calf behind a gate, and Andrea, Lynn and Dani held the gate tight against him while I gave him injections of antibiotic. We left him and his mom in the main corral in case we have to give him another round of antibiotics in a couple days.
Granddaughter Heather sent us photos of one of their new foals, and one of their older foals, on their farm in Canada.
JUNE 8 – This past week the weather finally warmed up. On Wednesday Andrea helped us capture the lame calf behind the gate to the chute corral again, and I gave him more injections of long-acting oxytetracycline. He was putting more weight on the foot and walking better, and we were sure that would be enough antibiotic to clear up the infection completely, so we let him and his mama back out with the herd.
Andrea and I loaded up a bunch of step-in posts, a few steel posts, and several rolls of electric poly wire into the little cart we pull behind a 4-wheeler, and took these fencing materials up to the field by her house. Every year we fence off the portion below the ditch and let the cows graze it and the ditch banks, to help stretch their pasture. Lynn drove his 4-wheeler in a straight line above the ditch to mash down the grass where we needed to put the fence and I put in all the step-in posts while Andrea set a few steel posts for the corners. We got part of the wire up before she had to go to town to take Sam for a doctor’s appointment (to have a referral from her doctor here to a surgeon in Montana who will be taking her tonsils out).
The next day it got up to 78 degrees. I checked the cows and calves after morning chores, and later that morning Andrea helped me finish hooking up the hot wire around the new ditch pasture. Lynn took fence stretchers and fixed the hole in the fence at the upper end where we took the swamp pasture fence apart last winter for the cows to go into that pasture and go to the creek to drink. When we got the hot wire working we let the cows and calves up into the long piece of pasture we’d just created, to graze the ditch bank and narrow section of field between the ditch and the fence. Their summer pasture is a series of rotations, grazing pieces here and there that we can’t cut for hay. Each piece lasts 4 to 8 days or so, then we move them to another piece and let the grazed pieces regrow to graze again later.
That afternoon I put the heifers into the 2nd day pens by the barn and sorted ours back out again. Michael and Carolyn brought their stock trailer and hauled their 5 heifers to the upper place to put on the road pasture with their cows and calves. Their cattle will be grazing that hillside for a few weeks. They were able to get their cows vaccinated and calves branded a few days before they turned them out on the road pasture.
Granddaughter Heather sent photos of Joseph and Gregory planting garden, and Joseph swinging in their back yard.
|Joseph & Gregory|
Andrea took Dani to town to sign her up for Driver’s Ed classes this summer, and Lynn went to town to get some more blocks of salt for the cattle and some for the horses. That evening we watched an old doe in our back yard eating grass, weeds and vines. She was very raggedy, with long, shaggy hair that hasn’t shed out yet (it was a hard winter for the deer, with the deep snow), and was also heavily pregnant. She comes nearly every evening to spend time eating in our back yard. I took photos of her through the window.
|old doe in back yard|
Monday we moved the feeder in bull pen and Lynn brought another big round bale with the tractor to feed them. Water has been subbing in there from irrigating the fields above, and even though we moved the feeder to a higher, drying spot Lynn nearly got the tractor stuck trying to take the big bale into the corral.
Later that day we moved the cows from the ditch pasture and took them to the pasture we created in the field below the lane, but we sorted out Panda and her calf on the way through the corrals. We cornered Panda’s calf behind the chute corral gate and treated her for foot rot, then left that pair in the corral. Before Lynn put the tractor away he used the blade create a couple little ditches in the field above the house, where it’s hard to get the irrigation water down a dry ridge.
It was so warm that day that we opened the windows that night, to help cool the house. This was the first time this summer that it’s been up to 80 degrees.
Tuesday Em took baby Christopher to town for his checkup. That afternoon Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie.
|Andrea riding Sprout|
Wednesday Lynn took the tractor and loader to the top of the driveway and we piled the sagebrush and chokecherry branches onto the loader that the guys piled there when they cleared out some of the brush for building the new fence. We had to get the brush pile away from the gate into the lower ditch pasture (between the country road and our field), and cut out several tall sagebrush bushes, so we could open that gate. Then we moved our heifers across the driveway from the upper ditch pasture to the lower one.
When Andrea came along after changing her irrigation water, she helped us corner Panda’s calf again for a second round of antibiotics for foot rot. It will take longer to clear up her infection because we delayed a few days before starting treatment. We gave her a third round of shots yesterday and by then she was responding well enough that we could put her and her mom back out with the cows.
Wednesday afternoon I trimmed Sprouts feet, then Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie up the ridge to the 320-acre mountain pasture to check the fence between our pasture and the middle range, to make sure no trees blew over the fence during winter. The neighbors’ range cows are going into the middle range now, and we want to make sure they don’t get into our pasture. We also checked the troughs in the 320 to see if they were still working.
|Riding Sprout through 320-acre pasture|
|checking 320 fences and troughs|
We patched a couple bad places in the fence where wildlife have knocked the wires off and range cows have been reaching through, and when we got home I trimmed Ed’s feet.
Thursday Andrea rode Shiloh for the first time this year.
|Andrea's first ride on Shiloh this year|
|Andrea gathering cattle|
|gathering more cows|
|bringing cows to the second gate|
Yesterday was cold all day, with a little rain (and new snow on the mountains), and we didn’t ride. Dani goes to town every morning at 8 a.m. for her Drivers’ Ed class, and sometimes again in the afternoons to drive. Charlie helped us load 2 water tanks on the flatbed truck, along with the long plastic pipe that we put through the culvert under the road (up by Andrea’s lane gate), and helped Lynn start the little pump to make sure it was going to work.
This morning was cold, with frost on the grass and snow on the low hills, and we built a fire in our wood stove to warm up the house. Andrea and Charlie helped Lynn pump water into 3 troughs across the road (on our hill pasture) so we can move the cows up there tomorrow. They managed to get the pumping done between rain storms. This afternoon Millers helped Alfonso move the rest of the range cattle from the low range pasture to the middle pasture, so now it will be safe to put our cows on the hill pasture and not have bulls next to them.
JUNE 18 – Last Sunday morning was cold, with frost on the grass and ice in my water hoses. Andrea and Dani helped us put our cows and calves up on the hill pasture where we’d pumped water the day before to fill their water tanks. Dani rode Ed and I rode Dottie. She and I headed the cows up the driveway after we got them out of their pasture below the lane, then we took them up the road to the hill pasture and put them through the gate by the water tanks.
|Dani helping me head the cows up the driveway|
|going into the hill pasture, past the water troughs|
|Dani starting the cows up the hill|
|letting the cattle mother up at the first bench|
|taking the herd up on the hill|
One of Alfonso’s bulls already crashed through our fence on the upper place to get in with Michael and Carolyn’s cows. They had to round him up and put him in the corral and have Alfonso come get him. Speaking of bulls, they took their stock trailer up to Lufkin’s ranch and got the yearling bull we’ll be using for our heifers. Michael is trading some fencing (this fall) for the bull, and we’ll use that bull to breed all the heifers--Michaels and ours. We put the new bull in the main corral where we’d put a new bale in the round bale feeder and reinforced a low place in the corral fence by the creek.
Sam now has her driver’s license and can take Dani to her drivers’ education classes early mornings on her way to work. Dani has another week of classes and then takes tests for her temporary license and learner’s permit. On Tuesday Em took baby Christopher to town for some of his baby vaccinations. That little kid is really growing! She stopped to see us on her way home and I took a photo.
|Em & Christopher|
The next day was Dani’s appointment with the doctor to check her knee. It has healed enough that she no longer has to wear the knee brace. The doctor thinks it will be strong enough by fall for her to do sports again.
Our yearling heifers have been grazing the stackyard—to clean up the tall grass and weeds before we stack this year’s hay in there. They were doing really well, and then on Friday morning when I hiked around to check on them, Lida Rose was missing. I finally saw her up at the top end, lying down. When I went toward her, she got up, but didn’t want to put any weight on her right front foot, so I figured she had foot rot.
When Andrea came down to our place after irrigating, I got the heifers into the round corral from the stackyard, and we prepared to sort off Lida Rose and put her down the chute to give her antibiotic injections. At that point we got a closer look at her foot, and realized it wasn’t foot rot. She had torn most of the hoof horn/wall off the inside claw of that foot. It was a bloody stump with the tip of the bone showing. She probably caught that foot in some of the old machinery parked in the stackyard, and in pulling loose cut/tore off that toe. She may have run through something in the dark; Andrea’s dogs were barking ferociously during the night, like they do when a large predator goes through. If a wolf or cougar went through the stackyard, the heifers may have spooked and run blindly through some of the obstacles they would have avoided during daylight.
After seeing the extent of injury, and the risk for a bone infection, and how long it would take to regrow new hoof horn, we probably should have switched gears right then and there, and butchered her instead of trying to treat the injury, but we didn’t even think about that, at the time. We are always focused on treating/saving every animal that has a problem, so we went ahead and put her down the chute to doctor the foot. We gave her injections of oxytetracycline to prevent infection, an injection of Banamine to relieve pain and inflammation, and lifted her foot up with a rope around the pastern and above the fetlock joint so we could work on the foot.
We rinsed all the dirt out with a squirt bottle and disinfectant, scrubbing a little to get the mud and dirt out. The exposed, damaged spongy cushion next to the bone was squirting blood in 3 places from damaged arteries. We got it as clean as we could, as quickly as we could, and slathered an antibiotic salve onto some sterile gauze pads, which we placed directly over the bottom of the injured foot, with a folded clean washcloth over it for more padding. Then we wrapped the foot with Vet Rap (the stretchy stick-to-itself bandaging material), and then several layers of stretchy adhesive bandage.
|bandaging the foot|
|wrapping adhesive bandage around the vet wrap|
|duct tape around everything|
The next day Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie and Lynn went up to the hill pasture gate on his 4-wheeler, and we gathered the cows off that pasture to bring home. They had nearly run out of water, and it wasn’t worth pumping for them again because there wasn’t enough grass to last for another 3 days. I took photos as we gathered them off the hill pasture overlooking our house, and as we brought them down the horse road, along the new fence that Michael and Nick built this spring.
|gathering the cattle|
|bringing the herd down the horse road|
|bringing them down along the new fence|
After we got the cows moved, Andrea and I took a small bale of coarse grass hay (hauling it on her 4-wheeler) to the little pen where we’re keeping Lida Rose, to make a clean bedding spot for her along the side next to the stackyard, where she spends most of her time lying down next to her buddies.
Then Lynn went up to Andrea’s house to tend baby Christopher awhile; Emily had to make a trip to town (she’s getting ready to start a new job, working at a care center for elderly people), and Andrea needed to finish changing her irrigation water and getting some of it back (Alfonso keeps taking too much water out of our ditch that goes through the Gooch place before it comes to our field). Andrea also picked some green grass for Lida Rose and carried her some fresh water from the creek, to fill her water tubs. When Andrea got back, she took this photo of great-grandpa Lynn feeding the baby a bottle as they both lounged on the floor.
|grandpa feeding Christopher|
Then we rode over to next middle range gate and it was also shut. We made a loop through the middle range, discovered two troughs that were not working (no water for the cows in that area); Alfonso and the Millers have not checked them yet this year to get them working again after snow-melt run-off plugged the spring-boxes with mud. They are not very conscientious range managers. I took a photo of one empty trough.
|trough not working|
|carrying elk horn|
|dottie & horn|
We rode up and over the top of the mountain and went into the high range, through the gate in the crossfence that ties into our 320 fence. That gate into the high range was shut, but there were fresh cow tracks and horse tracks through it, like someone had herded a bunch of cows into the high range. We went on in, and discovered a group of cows and calves and a bull. If we’d had more time, we would have herded them back to the middle range where they belong, but we had to hurry home because Andrea had to go to town to pick up Dani from drivers education class.
It’s much too early for any cattle to be in the high range; they need to stay in the middle pasture at lower elevation for at least another month or so. If they go into the high range this early they will eat too much of that smaller pasture and the cattle won’t have enough feed to last through summer—which will be hard on the cows and on the range. It’s a shame that Alfonso has never learned how to use the range; it’s been horribly mismanaged the past 8 years and it’s starting to show—with some areas severely overgrazed. We try to ride out there now and then and fix some of their water troughs for them, just because we hate to see their cattle short of water and having to congregate too much in the areas that do have water.
On our way home through the 320 Andrea stashed the elk horn under the old water tank in Baker Creek so we would hurry home and not be encumbered with it. We can get it later. As we came on down through our 320 pasture I took photos of the tall grass in the meadow and on the trail heading up out of the meadow to the ridge gate.
|riding down through 320|
|riding through 320 on our way home|
Today we moved the heifers from the stackyard to the back yard to graze for a day. Then we put Lida Rose in the chute again and rebandaged her foot. It didn’t look bad at all—no stink or obvious infection—so we put more antibiotic ointment, gauze and padding against the injured part, and rewrapped it.
|foot was looking good when we took the old bandage off|
This afternoon Emily was working again, so Andrea took care of Christopher and took him to town for his polio shot, and stayed in town awhile until she was sure he wouldn’t have a bad reaction to it. When Em had her polio shot as a baby, she had a severe anaphylactic reaction and had to be rushed back to the hospital. But Christopher was fine, and Andrea brought him home early this evening. Lynn and I watched him for a while so Andrea could finish changing some of her irrigation water before dark.
JUNE 25 – I’ve been working madly this past week checking the page proofs for the 4th edition of my book Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses. They arrived last Monday and I only had 10 days to check for errors, write captions for some of the photos they put in the new edition, etc. It will be a nice improvement, having colored photos.
On Wednesday we moved the heifers from the back yard and took them up the lane and into the ditch pastures above the house, then we moved the cows from the post pile pasture to the upper swamp pasture. It hadn’t been grazed yet this year and was also very tall. Then Andrea held Dottie for me while I put front shoes on her. She’d managed to travel barefoot for nearly 10 rides, but I don’t want her to get tender-footed or stone bruise; it was time for shoes.
We also need to start riding Willow again; she’s still very green because Andrea hasn’t had time to ride her much at all the last few years. She only got 11 rides last summer before Andrea left to work at a fire camp. So several days this week we caught Willow, cleaned her feet and brushed her, and longed her a little, getting her back in a good frame of mind to be handled so we can start riding her again. It has been very windy nearly every afternoon and evening, so we’ve tried to work with the horses in the mornings.
Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent more photos of Joseph; one looks like he and his clothes need a good washing after playing in the mud, and the other looks like he needs to grow into those big boots he borrowed.
Right after breakfast Andrea came down and held Ed for me while I put all 4 shoes on her, before it got windy. I also trimmed Breezy’s long feet, and just finished that job when it started raining and blowing and we had a nasty thunderstorm.
The next few days were cold and windy, with a little more rain. We took a couple more little bales to the heifer pen and spread them out for bedding, to help keep Lida Rose’s bandaged foot clean. Friday afternoon Andrea and Mark both rode in the driver’s ed car while Dani did her “parent drive” and drove them around town. She’s been doing very well in her driver’s ed classes.
Saturday we brought the heifers back to the corral, put the yearling bull with them and took them all to the orchard. Then we called the cows and calves through the gate from the upper swamp pasture and locked them in the lower part, where they would be close to the corral. Michael and Carolyn got their cattle out of the pasture where they’ve been grazing, and took them to their corral to sort off the heifers. They hauled their 5 heifers down to our place and unloaded them into the orchard with our heifers and the young bull. Then they hauled one of the 2-year-old bulls home to put with their cows and we put the other one with our cows and took them around to the pasture above the house. The breeding season has begun.
Sunday morning before it got windy, Andrea held Dottie for me and I put hind shoes on her. Later Dani came down and she rode with me, on Ed, for a short ride.
|Dani riding Ed|
|beaver slide near Jackson Montana|
Lynn went to town late morning to get mail and groceries and got Dani after she finished her test. We had an early lunch and then Dani rode with me for 3 hours to check on the fences and range cattle. We saw a coyote, 13 antelope and a lot of beautiful wildflowers on our 320 pasture. I took photos as we headed toward Baker Creek after going in through the ridge gate, and as we rode through the meadow—where Ed couldn’t resist the tall grass and kept grabbing bites as we went along.
|Dani & Ed heading to Baker Creek|
|Riding through the meadow|
|Ed grabbing a bite of lunch|
|heading up through timber|
|going around the dead branches|
I always have some baling twine in my saddle pouches, so we let the horses graze for a few moments along the edge of the jeep road while we used a long piece of twine to wrap around one of the dead trees that was lodged against the fallen tree. With us both pulling on it, we broke it off and got it out of the way—and the fallen tree started to come on down, only to catch on another dead tree. So we looped the twine around the fallen tree and yanked and yanked and finally got it free; it fell down onto the road and was only about a foot off the road, and easy for our horses to step over.
We went on up to the top of our pasture and repaired one place in the fence (up from the gate a little ways, in the timber) where elk had gone through and broken an old wood post off, making a gap in the wires. I was able to get the post upright again and tie the wires to it with baling twine. We continued on up Baker Creek and found the herd of cows and the bull, and took them back to the middle range where they belonged. I took photos as Dani helped gather and herd those cows back to their proper pasture.
|Dani herding cows back toward middle range|
|herding cows back where they belong|
|Ed going over logs|
|Dani opening the gate|
|Dani's Drivers Ed graduation|
Today I got an e-mail from granddaughter Heather; she sent another photo of Joseph, sitting on one of their horses.
|Joseph ready to ride|
Today we were going to change the bandage on Lida Rose’s foot, but the one we put on a week ago was still holding together and she’s doing a little better and eating more, so we decided not to do anything with it until it actually starts to come apart. I think the less we have to fuss with that foot, the better. It mainly needs time now, and being kept clean.