Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer 2008

JULY 2008 – The area around my hayshed was full of tall grass, so I let Breezie and Snickers graze it down so it wouldn’t be a fire hazard when it dried out. Michael and Carolyn were custom cutting hay all month, and trying to irrigate all their leased places.
One Sunday a neighbor called to say he had a cow and calf of Michael’s that came in from the range with their cows and he’d put the pair in his corral. Michael was cutting hay, so Lynn and I hauled the cow and calf to our corral.
The next morning I put front shoes on Rubbie, and rode with granddaughter Heather to take that pair back to the range, gathering up 7 more pair on the low range that had come down through the fence. We took them back up to the middle range pasture. When we came home we rode through the lower fields and gathered 11 cows and calves that had come through the fence from the neighboring range, and brought them up to our corrals so their owners could come get them. While rounding them up, I accidentally rode through some old barbed wire hidden in the tall grass. Rubbie’s hind legs were tangled in it. She didn’t panic, so I was able to get off and have Heather hold her while I pushed the loops of wire down to the ground where I could hold them down with my feet and gently pick up Rubbie’s feet one by one and get them out of the wire.
Lynn cut some of our hay and got it baled. We moved the last few bales out of my hay shed so Lynn could start hauling and filling the shed again. Andrea came out to the ranch and rode with me for 5 hours; we gathered 9 more pair from the low range that came back through the fence. We put them on the middle range, fixed a water trough, then rode along the fence to see where the cattle were coming through. We found a hole where the top 2 wires were broken and the bottom 2 mashed to the ground—probably from elk travel. We spliced the wire and patched the hole, so the cows would stay where they belong.
[[use photo of me and Andrea ready to start our ride, and 2 photos of Andrea moving cattle]]

On July 10 our grandson Nick (age 15) and 2 other boys from Salmon went to Boise, to meet up with the rest of the runners to fly to Los Angeles and then to Hawaii, on the first leg of their trip to Australia for the invitational track meet. While in Hawaii they toured Pearl Harbor and Nick saw the cemetery where my uncle Dix Moser (who died in World War II) is buried, and took photos of the headstone.
The track team did a practice run on the beach at Waikiki and ran to the top of Diamondhead Crater. At the Down Under track meet there were 300 runners from Australia and New Zealand, and 200 from the U.S. Nick placed 3rd in a cross-country race with about 100 runners. They got home in late July, and Nick went back to his summer job, irrigating and changing sprinkler pipe.
AUGUST - Lynn finally went to a doctor to check his back. It has been bothering him for a long time. The last few years he’s had pain and numbness in his left leg and foot. Nothing showed on x-rays, so he had an MRI, which showed bone spurs and a pinched nerve. The doctor wanted to try cortisone shots (into the area between the vertebrae where the nerve is pinched) to see if that would relieve pressure on the nerve. In early August Lynn cut our last 2 fields of hay, hoping to get those baled and hauled before his first cortisone shot (since he was not supposed to do anything strenuous for a few days after the shot).
Andrea and kids were here one day and the two little girls drew pictures and made headbands, and Charlie (age 6) rode around with Lynn baling hay; that little kid loves tractors! Lynn didn’t get the last field baled before he had his first cortisone shot, and it rained the next day. It took a few more days for the hay to dry out enough to bale and haul. His back was painful for several days from the shot, since the doctor made 3 tries to get the needle into the joint space, because of all the calcium deposits in the way. The cortisone helped for awhile; the leg was still numb, but not as painful.
[[photo of Dani & Sam, making headbands]]

Michael, Carolyn and kids started moving their range cows from the middle pasture to the high range. I put hind shoes on Rubbie that morning and rode with them. They didn’t get a very early start, due to irrigation/sprinkler problems on the Maurer place, but we rode all afternoon and into the evening and gathered cattle from the south end of the pasture. One of the dogs began having problems as we finished gathering, just before we started the long trek up Baker Creek. He was hot, but also having gut pain and was staggering, dragging his hind legs. So granddaughter Heather took the dog home. He couldn’t travel, so she picked him up and got on her horse, holding him—mounting her horse from the uphill side—and carried the dog 2 miles home on the horse.
[[photo of riders going through gate, starting out to find and move cattle]]

We had a near catastrophe before we started up Baker Creek canyon. As we were bringing cattle down into the canyon, a few went out through the cliffy rocks instead of down the trail, so Michael rode out through the rocks to head them down. He got off his horse to lead him through the worst of it, and sent the dogs after the cows. When he turned Captain around to lead him back out of the rock cliffs, the horse scrambled and panicked—and reared up, with the cliff right behind him. For an instant it looked like he was going over backward, right over the cliff, teetering there on the edge, past the point of no return. The only thing that saved him was Michael pulling on his head, serving as an anchor. Just as Michael was afraid he’d have to let the horse go—or be pulled over the cliff with him—Captain regained his balance and got his front end back down.
[[photos of Michael riding Captain]]

The rest of our ride was without incident, except for a freak hailstorm that hit us as we got toward the high range—drenching and pounding us with big hailstones and huge raindrops, with the sun still shining! It cooled us and the cows off nicely.
[[photos of Nick and cattle after the rain]]

We made a longer ride the next day (Sunday) and gathered 75 more pairs, then gave the horses and dogs (and ourselves) a day off and rode again Tuesday. Rolley, the dog that was sick on Saturday, was recovered enough to go again. It was a LONG hard day, gathering the final cows. We split up and covered 3 drainages, taking cattle to the top. Rubbie and I gathered cattle in the middle canyon and herded 25 pair up through the brush and headed out to the ridge near the top—which took a lot of effort. I needed to be in 3 places at once and had to outrun several pair that tried to go back down the draw while I was gathering others out of the brush above them.
Eventually we got all the groups converged at the top of the pasture and took them around the mountain to the high range. On the way home we found 4 more pair in the bottom of Baker Creek. As we started them up the canyon, Michael’s horse began having muscle spasms (a different horse than the one he rode earlier—a spare horse that was not in shape). So he led the horse back down into Baker Creek and stood in the shade before starting to lead him home. The rest of us took the cows up to the high range, and caught up with Michael an hour later. The horse was recovering by then, and we got home before dark.
Andrea moved back to Salmon from Challis. It’s nice to have her closer, and her kids were looking forward to going to school here again. She’s renting a house on the edge of town. The kids were staying with us some days, while Andrea made trips to Challis to get her things moved.
Our handicapped calf, Boomerang, ate all the grass in our back yard, so we moved him to the pen in front of the calving barn. He followed me around the driveway, as I enticed him with his bottle. The kids still enjoyed playing with him and feeding him a bottle, and grain. He was growing rapidly, but still had abnormally long legs and an upward bend in his back. We did some research and found out that his deformity was due to a genetic defect in the Angus breed (fawn calf syndrome). He must have inherited a recessive gene from each parent. This was the first case we’d ever seen.
[[photo of Emily and Boomerang by calving barn]]

Lynn had his second and third cortisone shots. I drove him home from the hospital each time since he wasn’t supposed to drive or do very much after the injection.
We had temperatures up to 100 degrees F. in mid August and then had cold nights. It froze hard one night and nipped Lynn’s garden and froze my hose for watering the horses. He went out before daylight that morning and sprinkled his garden in hopes it would help keep it from freezing, and most of it survived. After that, we covered it nearly every night, and I started draining my water hose.
The evening of August 24 we had a birthday party for Charlie (just turned 7) at Andrea’s new place. Emily and Jim got there about 8 p.m. after driving all day from Tonopah, Nevada. Em spent the summer there with her dad, and he brought her back when he came to spend a month working for his friend in Montana as a hunting guide—so Andrea didn’t have to drive to Nevada to get Emily. Jim borrowed a saddle pad from us, since he forgot to bring his. He brought some of his antler lamps and chandeliers, to sell here in Salmon. Jim has been doing well with his antler art, making some beautiful pieces.
The next day, Lynn took some things into town for Andrea and picked up Emily. She and I made a short ride on Veggie and Rubbie on the low range. This was Emily’s first chance this year to ride with me since her ride in June to help me check cows on our 160-acre pasture. She stayed overnight with us, and rode again with me. We went to the high range, through our 320-acre pasture, but didn’t have time to go very far. She enjoyed the chance to try out her new binoculars, to check the cattle. We made sure there was still a little water in Baker Creek and that the top gate in the 320 was still shut, then hurried home so Lynn could take Em back to town on his way to go locate a water well for some people near Challis.
[[photos of Emily riding Veggie001 & Em checking cows001 & Em & Veg003.]]

A bear went into our neighbor’s cabin up the creek while the neighbor John was gone to town. When John came home he discovered that the bear had gone through the screen door, trashed the kitchen, rubbing on the cook stove and licking grease out of a frying pan. A few days later a bear was on top of the chicken coop at another neighbor’s place.
Lynn set steel posts in the fence below our house where the range cows got into the lower place this summer, and was able to get the fence standing up again. It’s swampy there and hard to hold a fence where the range cows press it, trying to get into the field. The cows on that range would be drifting home along that fence in the fall, so it needed fixed. The next day Lynn fixed fence on the upper place where deer and elk had broken off a post and pushed the fence down, and made a wire gate along the road by our old stackyard. We had a couple metal gates there earlier, but took them last winter for a more urgent purpose, so we needed another gate for the stackyard.
On Sunday Emily rode with me again and we made a longer ride to check troughs and gates on the high range. We discovered that someone had vandalized almost all the water troughs, taking the upright plastic pipes apart at the elbows where the pipe comes out of the ground to go up into the trough. For several of the troughs, I was able to find the pieces of pipe they’d thrown into the bushes or down the hill. I put the pipes back onto the elbows, and used my pocketknife as a screwdriver to tighten the clips to hold them on.
[[Em riding Veggie checking water trough]]

Our most crucial trough at the head of Baker Creek was also dry. Apparently the vandal hadn’t been able to loosen those clips to take the pipe apart, so he used a knife or something sharp to hack a big hole in the plastic elbow where the pipe comes up out of the ground—and all the water was leaking out. Fortunately I always carry baling twines in the coat pockets of the jacket tied to my saddle (for emergency fence and gate repairs). I tied twine tightly around the bend of the elbow where the hole was, making many wraps around it to cover the hole. It still leaked, but blocked the hole and enabled much of the water to come up the pipe and into the trough.
We also found two gates open into the neighboring range, and shut them. From the cattle tracks going through, it looks like some of Michael and Carolyn’s cows had gone missing. They would have to search the neighbor’s range to find them.
[[Em riding Veggie 002]]

Lynn and I moved our cows in the swamp pasture to another pasture, taking the bull out on the way through the corrals. We moved the cows on the upper place from the wild meadow to the fields across the creek, to eat the regrowth on those pastures. We’d planned to sort out the bull from that group (one of Michael’s bulls), and haul him home. We got the trailer backed up to the corner of the corral, sorted out the bull, and tried to load him, but re ran back past us twice. On the third try he went under a gate and broke it, so we decided he could just stay with the cows till we could bring them home to vaccinate later in the fall.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Early Summer 2008

LATE MAY 2008 – Lynn hauled our big tractor home on the flatbed trailer, from the ranch on Sandy Creek—where Michael had used it during winter to load hay. Lynn used it to smooth out manure piles on our upper Wild Meadow before he started the irrigation water on that field. We hauled manure up there from the corrals several years ago but never took time to spread out the piles, so it’s nice to finally have that accomplished.
I was working on the edited manuscript of my next book, checking the edits and adding clarifications and a few more illustrations. I finally got that finished and sent back to the publisher, and had more time to write articles for horse and cattle magazines.
Our weather finally warmed up and leaves came out on the trees. Everything was about a month late that spring, including the grass. Michael and Carolyn had to buy several more semi loads of hay to get through the spring till grass. There was no extra hay for sale in our valley. It had to be hauled from Montana, making it very expensive.
We were still feeding our cows until mid-May when we moved them to the pasture above the corrals. We locked them in the lower end, away from the creek, to eliminate the chance for any calves drowning, in case they tried to cross it. With the warm weather, the snow on the mountains is melting and the creek is very high.
We had more snow than usual this past winter, and this is the first big run-off after the 2003 fire. Though grass is now growing in the burned area, the soil is still not very stable; a lot of silt came down the creek and into our ditches.
Michael and Carolyn spent several days sorting pairs (on the Maurer place) and hauling them to summer pasture—some to the Sandy Creek place, some to leased pasture at 17 mile, some to our range, using 2 stock trailers.
Lynn and I hauled water tanks to the State Land pasture and pumped for those cows. That pasture has no water, but we can pump water from our ditch in the field next to the county road. We put a long pipe through the culvert under the road and string out hoses to hook up to it—from the pump in the ditch, and then to our tanks in the dry pasture. We have enough troughs to hold water for several days.

JUNE – Granddaughter Emily played baseball on her school team, and we went one evening to watch her last game of the season. It rained hard during the end of the game but the kids kept playing, and we held plastic garbage bags over our heads to keep from getting soaked.
We finally got Boomerang (the handicapped calf) out of the barn and into the back yard. He was walking much better, and needed to learn to eat grass! The weather was so wet and cold that we made a shelter in one corner of the yard, using an old canvas tent, and plastic tarps over the top of it to make sure it doesn’t leak. He spent a lot of time in his shelter when it was raining or windy.


Lynn and I drove up on the State Land pasture with the 4-wheeler one Sunday to check on the grass and the cows and discovered Peggy Sue had foot rot. We’d seen all the cows a few days before when we were pumping water for them, and she was ok, but was now severely lame. We started to bring her and her calf down the steep hill to the road, following them on foot, but her calf ran back to the herd. So I brought Peggy Sue down by herself (she was too lame to try to run off) and Lynn went ahead with the 4-wheeler to open the gate. We brought her a half-mile down the road to the corral and put her in the headcatcher, giving her antibiotics. Then I followed her back up the road and put her back into the State Land pasture.

In early June I trimmed the horses’ feet in hopes Emily could come out and ride with me, but the weather was too wet and cold; it snowed one day, and never got above 40 degrees F for several days. We had a fire in our wood stove nearly every day that spring, and ran out of firewood, so Andrea and her friend sawed and hauled a trailer load of wood from up the creek. Usually by mid-June many ranchers are cutting hay, but not that year. The hay crop was way behind.
In late June Michael, Carolyn and kids branded and vaccinated the last of their late-born calves. Lynn and I branded and vaccinated our group. The calves were about 2 months old and had grown so big that it was all Lynn and I could do to tip them, on the calf table, to brand them. We’re not as young and strong as we used to be!
The next day Lynn and I moved the herd on our upper place, putting them across the creek to the field next to the mountain. The creek had finally dropped enough that there was less risk for drowning calves. Moving our cows is always easy; all we do is call them and they’ll follow us anywhere. They followed Lynn to the gate panels by the creek and waited for him to open them.

My nephew, Matt Smith, spent several days with us in late June, coming from Seattle. He had some good visits with my mom (his grandmother) at the care center. It’s nice that mom is a little stronger and more lucid than she was during the fall and winter; she appreciated his visits.
Andrea finally made a trip to Salt Lake for long overdue appointments with a couple doctors—to check on her skin graft problems and to have a large lump checked in her breast. The breast lump checked out ok so we were relieved. And the mole mapping on her legs gave no indications of problems this time. It had been 3 years since she had those grafts checked and the doctors prefer she check them every year, since periodically they’ve had to remove malignant tissue. She had some mole growths on her back that were removed prior to her burn accident, but some had apparently been left. When skin was taken from her back to graft over the burns on her legs, some of that tissue was transferred with the grafts. She’s had several crops of black moles appear on her legs, and those moles had to be removed.
One of the highlights of her trip this time was reconnecting with some of the nurses, physical therapists and others at the burn center who made such a difference in her life that summer 8 years earlier when she spent so much time in the burn center struggling to survive. She made a point this trip to look up many people she wanted to see again, and they were delighted to see how well she is doing.
She had good visits with several of the burn ICU nurses, including some that were no longer in the ICU (like her 2 most favorite nurses—Kim, who was now at the cancer center and Matt Harringer who was now a flight nurse, helping bring seriously ill or injured patients to the University hospital). She was so delighted to reconnect with them. She said this trip was really special, seeing many of those people again.
There were emotional reunions. In her earlier trips down there for checkups, with Mark, he wasn’t interested in doing things like this, and never wanted to take time. Now that Andrea was no longer with Mark (though the divorce is not yet final, and he was putting her through a lot of emotional and financial trauma trying to gain custody of the kids) her life was easier now in some ways, and she hopes to do more things she’s wanted to do—such as help encourage other burn survivors as they struggle back toward a more normal existence. Someday she’d like to help with burn camps--to help encourage young burn survivors, and maybe attend one of the burn conferences. Her life will be more her own, once she gets this divorce behind her.
While Andrea was gone for 4 days, the 3 little kids stayed here at the ranch with us. The oldest, Emily, was spending part of the summer with her dad, Jim, in Nevada. He moved to Tonapah a couple years earlier. Andrea planned to drive down to get her before school started. Emily enjoyed helping Jim in his shop, learning how to cut and polish turquoise stones that he puts into some of his antler lamps and chandeliers.
While Andrea was in Salt Lake for her doctor appointments, Charlie, Samantha and Dani had fun here, helping me do chores, helping feed the crippled calf in the back yard, painting pictures to send to their big sister Emily. We got 2 postcards from Emily, so the little kids wrote her “letters” and made pictures to send back to her. The highlight for them seemed to be playing with and feeding the calf in our yard. Little Dani would ask me several times a day if it was time yet to go feed “maa maa”. His name was Boomerang but when we called him we’d say “maa maa” (and he came galumphing out of his tent to come suck a bottle), so Dani thought his name was maa maa.

A few days after Andrea got back from Salt Lake, she came out to the ranch while the kids were at the Mahoney House (the family safety center where Mark had supervised visits with them once a week), and rode with me. It was the first time she’d had a chance to ride her horse since we were rounding up cattle off the 320 and 160-acre mountain pastures the previous fall. We only had time for a short ride, since she had to be back to pick up her kids after a 3-hour visit with their dad. We rode Rubbie and Veggie to the upper place to check on our cattle up there. It was great to be able to ride together again.

Michael was extremely busy that summer, doing custom hay cutting. It was a hectic year for him, taking on 5 leased ranches and trying to get things functional (old falling down fences, broken sprinkler systems). Our grandkids Heather (age 17) and Nick (15) were good help; they put in long days helping with the irrigation and changing sprinkler pipe. In early July, however, Nick was preparing for a 2-week trip to Australia and Hawaii for international track meets--a wonderful opportunity for a 15 year old kid. One other boy from Salmon was going, and they each had to raise almost $5000 apiece for the trip. They did a lot of fundraising projects, and Nick worked odd jobs for various people, and also had donations from family and friends to make the final total. This trip would be quite an experience for a kid who had never been on an airplane, never seen the ocean, never traveled very far from home (only to track meets in our region).
Lynn was helping Michael that summer, wherever possible, on some of the irrigation and fence fixing. He took our stackwagon to a ranch north of town to stack hay for a client of Michael’s (a job Michael didn’t have time to do). I kept writing as many articles (for horse and cattle magazines) as I could, since we were definitely not to the point yet that we could slow down in trying to help our kids financially…
As we tackled all the projects that summer, we were grateful that we had children, and were still able to help them—glad that we DO have kids and grandkids! And another
blessing has been the ever-widening circle of friends and loving people whom we would never have met but for Andrea’s burn accident and the way it changed our lives. We now have a lot more empathy for other people, and more understanding about the truly important things in life, and this understanding helps us strive to keep things in proper perspective.
We weep with others when they have trauma, and we rejoice with others as they find healing or peace. In late June we received an e-mail from an older couple who were at the burn center when Andrea was there 8 years earlier (Royce was severely burned in a methane gas well explosion, and was in the room next to Andrea in the ICU… and nearly died several times from his injuries and from pneumonia). Royce and Marie live in Georgia and they had a good friend with a child that had severe seizures from a very young age, and had recently undergone surger. A wide circle of friends has been keeping that family in their prayers.
Royce and Marie sent me an e-mail forwarded from the mother of that child:
“Today marks the 3rd week since Catherine’s brain surgery and the 20th day with no seizures. I am in such amazement as I watch her play and interact, learning anew how to engage with her world. We’ve coaxed a few chuckles. Then suddenly, today, she offered smiles from nowhere; she’s attempting (very humorous) to run, and is responding to us in new ways. She is more “here” with us than I’ve seen in the last 2 years.
“I feel like I’ve walked out onto a beach after a storm. The air is fresh and peaceful but the view is littered as the water recedes. Upon closer inspection, it isn’t all refuse. Strewn around are remnants and seaweed I wish to cast back into the tide, never to be seen again, but beachcombing also reveals treasures from the depths that I could never have imagined.
“The depth of my understanding and certainly of God’s love and mercy now have nothing to do with whether this reprieve in Catherine’s seizures is permanent or whether they will return to torture us all again. The joy I have in simple, uncomplicated days is steadfast and rich. The experience of His enduring presence will ever outshine the best of any outcome we could ever seek on Catherine’s behalf. These are miracles and treasures of immeasurable value.
“As I take in all that I am able, I know my portion is for today. For whatever lies ahead, whether calm or storm, the portion will be ample to fill the need. And this time I am breathing in deeply the fresh aroma of His promise to supply that ample portion.
“Many blessings and thanks to those who beachcomb alongside and help us fill our buckets with treasures. I pray that you enjoy them as much as we do.”
* *
Lynn and I felt that her words were worth sharing, since we know how wondrously surprised a person can be, at times, by joy—and treasures unimagined that are suddenly given to us as we travel though days that sometimes threaten to overwhelm us with adversities…