Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Summer: June - Early July 2010

JUNE 21 – Weather cleared up for a couple days in early June and Nick helped us brand and vaccinate our calves. That afternoon he helped Lynn fix the headgate for one of our ditches. Michael and Nick brought several trailer loads of yearling heifers (and a young bull) to put on pasture below our house. We decided to pasture some of our fields this year since we won’t need much hay after selling more cows to Michael and Carolyn. They need more pasture, so this will work nicely. With all the wet weather, the grass is growing swiftly and we have poppies blooming in our front yard because we haven’t taken time to mow it.

I’ve been letting Breezy and Snickers graze by my hay shed and horse pens to mow the grass before we stack hay there. It will be less of a fire hazard if there’s no tall grass around the hay shed. We vaccinated the horses a couple weeks ago—later than usual, because mosquitoes weren’t out yet. Last week Emily was here at the ranch and caught several of the wild young kittens and hopes to gentle them down.

When Michael, Carolyn and young Heather stopped by one morning, Heather had their new pup with them. Her name is Fred and she is destined to be a cowdog.

Veggie has “scratches” (infection around the heel and pastern areas of his feet) from standing in deep mud for several weeks. His left hind pastern was swollen and sore so we’ve been washing it and treating it (with a mixture of DMSO and nitrofurozone ointment) daily to combat infection and relieve the swelling. He’s no longer lame, but I’ll keep treating it until his pen isn’t muddy.

Last Saturday we drove over to the Maurer place and took photos of young Heather and her filly. She works with that sassy, independent foal every day. Little “Tornado” is learning to lead and respond to the halter.

Sunday afternoon I rode with Heather, Michael and Carolyn to help them gather and move the rest of their cattle to the middle range pasture. We discovered one of their calves caught in a water tank; he was probably pushed in when cattle crowded around it, and he couldn’t get out. It looked like he’d been there for several days. Michael got into the tank and lifted the calf up over the poles to get him out.

More rain this past week—and snow on the upper place. On Friday Nick helped Lynn saw a tree off the fence in our lower field and patch the fence, and then we moved the 30 heifers to that field. The last few days it’s been so cold we’ve had a fire in our wood stove to keep warm!

JULY 8 – Three weeks ago we borrowed a bull from Michael and Carolyn to put with our cows, since we loaned them all 6 of our bulls earlier this spring. The bull Michael brought us was one they’d rested for a month after an injury, but he seems fine now.
High water washed out one of our ditch heads. Lynn tried to put a dam in the creek but the water was too deep, swift and treacherous, so he took 12 big straw bales up there and Michael used our backhoe to set them in the creek.
I rode again with Michael, Carolyn and kids to check gates and troughs on the high range, and the troughs Michael fixed on the middle range, to make sure they were still working.

Rubbie had a sore eye (holding it shut) so I had the vet come look at it. She had a scratch on the cornea so we’ve been putting medication into the eye twice a day. She was doing better by last week, and I rode her when Andrea’s kids came out to the ranch. I led Veggie for Charlie, Sammy and Dani to ride—making 3 trips over the hill to the low range, about 2 miles for each child.

Michael brought 2 of their horses to pasture in our barnyard and we can use one of them, a mare named Ed, for grandkids to ride. Emily rode her on Tuesday and went with me to check cows on the Middle Range pasture. Ed is shorter than Veggie, and Em was able to brush, saddle her, and mount by herself without help.

This past week has been unlucky for vehicles. We had a thunderstorm a week ago, with strong wind. Two of Michael and Carolyn’s cow dogs crawled into their old Explorer (the spare vehicle they drive back and forth to their leased ranches). One window was broken out, and the dogs got in to get out of the storm. They probably cowered down under the dashboard—afraid of the lightning and thunder--and pressed on the clutch, putting it out of gear. The wind got it rolling; it left the parking area and went down the hill, where it hit a big rock and turned sideways, taking the rock with it, and rolled over a few times before plummeting over the embankment down to the county road where it landed on its top. It caved in the top and totaled the vehicle.
The dogs survived with minor injuries, since they were small enough to be protected by the seats when the roof smashed down. A full box of horseshoe nails and some new horseshoes got tossed around inside the vehicle; the dogs endured a shower of sharp missiles and thudding horseshoes as the car rolled over and over. The dogs stayed in the wrecked car until Michael and Carolyn discovered the situation and coaxed them out. Then Michael had to move the car out of the middle of the road, using our backhoe to carry it to a wide spot above their lane.

Then 2 days ago we got a frantic phone call from Carolyn asking Lynn to bring his big tractor and log chain. Nick had left for track practice and got out of his pickup to shut their driveway gate. They keep the gate shut because 2 of their old horses are grazing the pasture around their house. While he was shutting the gate, the parking brake failed and the pickup rolled down the driveway, across the main road and through the fence—and into the neighbor’s pond. Nick had to drive a different vehicle to track practice. Lynn drove our tractor up there (2 miles) and he and Carolyn were able to hook onto the back bumper of the pickup to pull it out. The back axle and entire front end of the pickup were under water. The motor is probably ruined; it was full of water. They plan to put the motor from the wrecked explorer (that the dogs drove over the cliff) in Nick’s pickup. Meanwhile, we’ll loan Nick our 31 year old car that we haven’t been driving. It just needs a new battery. Nick can drive it to track practice the rest of the summer or until they get his pickup fixed.

Monday, July 5, was the 10th anniversary of Andrea’s burn accident. Hard to believe this much time has passed, yet in some ways it seems like only yesterday. Lynn and I had some sober thoughts about this milestone, and recollections about the other fire in 2003 that burned part of our cattle range. This summer the grass is lush and green—and lots of it, and we hope we won’t have hot dry weather and risk of fires later on.

Andrea rode with me yesterday (on Breezie) to check cows on the Middle Range, and we stopped at the bottom of the 2nd Canyon while Andrea took photos of a deer (a young buck with horns still in the velvet) on the hillside.

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