Thursday, March 29, 2012


Early Fall 2010

AUGUST 27 – Last week several cows came down through the fence from the range into “No Man’s Land” and Lynn was able to herd them back up to the gate with his 4-wheeler to get them back where they belonged. Later that day he took several blocks of salt up into the forks of Withington Creek to encourage some of the cows to stay higher.

I put new hind shoes on Rubbie. Lynn sat in a lawn chair and held her for me (his back hurts when he stands for very long). I suppose we looked funny—an old lady, shoeing an old horse, being held by an old man sitting in a chair. No one was there to take a photo of us, but I did take a picture of one of our cats napping on my shoeing chaps, on the porch, just before I started the shoeing job.

Michael and Carolyn have been baling and hauling hay on the Sandy Creek place. Range cows on that side of the valley have been coming into their fields, so they had to get the bales safely into the stackyard.
Our Granddaughter Heather went back to Carroll College, in Helena, Montana, to start her second year. Michael and Carolyn are missing her help with irrigating and hay hauling (driving trucks).
Andrea and I rode last week through the high range to check troughs and fences, and found 2 gates in Withington Creek open—with cattle going back and forth onto the wrong ranges. We brought some of Michael and Carolyn’s cows back into our range and shut the gates. On our way home we found cattle in No Man’s Land and put them back up where they belong. It’s hard to ride a horse up through the bottom of Withington Creek. After the fire in 2003, dead trees keep falling over the trails, and some hillsides have eroded away, leaving steep cliffs along the creek where the trails used to be.

One of our retired neighbors likes to ride for fun on our low range and middle range, and told us he’d found a bull and herded it down into another neighbor’s range, thinking the bull was in the wrong place. Actually it was Michael’s bull—so now we’ll have to go find the bull in the neighbor’s place.
On Monday we moved the 30 heifers from our back field. With all the brush, it’s hard to round up cattle there with a horse, so we lured them out of the field and up the lane with some hay on the 4-wheeler. Lynn drove and I sat on the back, hand-feeding hay to the curious heifers, and they followed us into the hold pen below the corrals. We left them there to eat grass and weeds around the machinery.

On Tuesday evening we went to town for Charlie’s birthday party. He’s 9 years old! His birthday surprise was a new bicycle.

Yesterday Emily and the 2 younger girls stayed with us at the ranch. Emily rode Veggie to help me check troughs and gates. When we got home, Dani and Sammy took turns riding Veggie up and down the lane all by themselves, without grandma leading him.

SEPTEMBER 5 – The grandkids are back in school now. Nick is a senior in high school and doing well in track. At their first track meet in southern Idaho he placed 15th in the 3-mile race (with nearly 100 runners), with his best time ever. At the second track meet (yesterday) he place 8th, out of 78 runners.
We’ve had several cold nights. This year it has frozen 2 or 3 times every month all summer long! This morning I had a lot of ice in my water hose when I fed and watered our horses; it’s time to start draining the hoses again.
Andrea and I rode again on Thursday and found more trees down over the fence between our range and the Forest range. The cattle have been going back and forth over the down fence. It’s hard to keep our fences up, as fire-killed trees continue to fall down over them.

Today we moved the 30 heifers to another field, after we saw a bunch of range cows going down along the fence next to them. Ranchers on that range recently put all their cows in their highest pasture but those cows are coming home, along our fence. We don’t know if they are restless because of hunters or wolves, or whether hunters left the gates open—but the cows are not staying up there.
We were afraid our heifers might try to crawl through our fence and go with the range cows, so we drove out in that pasture with the 4-wheeler and some hay, to lure the heifers out and move them. We were short 2 heifers—they’d already crawled out and gone with some range cows. Lynn went back to that pasture later to change the irrigation water and found the 2 heifers! The cows on the range had probably been mean to them so they’d crawled back through the fence to come home, and were wondering where their friends went. So we took more hay and patiently lured the 2 heifers—one bite of hay at a time—out of that field and around through the barnyard to the pasture where we’d put the others. The two left-behinds were timid and suspicious, but with patience we were able to lure them with the hay, from the 4-wheeler.

SEPTEMBER 12 – Earlier this week I reset Ed’s front shoes. I need to use her for part of the roundup when we gather cattle off the range. Andrea and I rode Breezy and Ed a couple days in a row checking cattle and gates.

Our range neighbor, Dan French, stopped by our place after driving up the creek to check his cows on the Forest range. It was the first time he’d been able to drive a vehicle since he broke his leg early this summer--in a 4-wheeler accident while fixing fences. We told him there were several cows of his on our range, and some cows of Michael’s on the Forest, and that we’d be rounding up very soon. We will bring his cows home with ours and sort them out, and might be able to help him with his own roundup, since he can’t ride a horse until his leg heals.
Michael started his second cutting of hay on the Maurer place; elk have been coming into the fields at night and eating/mashing down the alfalfa, so he wants to get it cut and baled before they ruin more of it.
I reshod Rubbie’s front feet; they were getting a little too long to be safe. I don’t want her to trip and fall chasing cows in the steep mountains. She and I are both getting old (she’s 23) and less agile, and we need every advantage!
On Thursday and Friday it rained more than 2 inches. It stopped Michael’s haying, but will really help the irrigation. The creek is very low on water. The moisture will also help our mountain pastures.
Yesterday was our first day of rounding up cattle. Michael and Carolyn picked me (and my horse) up with their trailer on their way to the Forest range. Carolyn’s brother Brian is here for the roundup, and rode with us.

We split up to cover more territory. Michael and Carolyn came down the right fork and gathered a few strays, then came down through our part of Withington Creek. Brian and I gathered about 30 pairs in the left fork, sorting back Dan French’s cows (those will be staying there until late September). We found our yearling bull (Freddy George) who had been missing for more than a month.
When we split our cows off from a bunch of French’s cattle, the bull was going with the French cows, and it was a challenge to cut him back. I was riding Ed and galloping along a steep, slippery mountain, pushing the bull downhill toward our cows as he was trying to run past me to get back with the French cows that were running over the mountain. I’m glad Ed is surefooted; she didn’t trip or fall in that mad dash, and we managed to keep pushing the bull down the mountain until he finally decided to follow our cows instead of the French cows.
After we had all the cattle together in our allotment, we brought them down through No Man’s Land into the private pasture, and sorted Michael and Carolyn’s pairs into our 160-acre pasture, leaving Alfonso’s cows (our new neighbor who is leasing the Gooch place) in his big pasture.

Today Michael and Carolyn are gathering their cows off their Sandy Creek range across the valley, and tomorrow we’ll make another big roundup on our range.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Late Summer 2010

Late Summer 2010 (July-August)

JULY 23, 2010 – Earlier this month the owner of the ranch our family leased for 40 years finally lowered the rent enough to get a new renter. Carolyn and kids helped their new neighbor, Alfonzo Martinez, take his cattle to the middle range. That same day we moved our small herd into the upper swamp pasture, and Lynn turned off the ditch to dry up the field above our corrals for haying.
Andrea and I rode through the middle range that week to check water troughs. The next day Andrea brought Dani and Sammy and we took them for a ride on the low range. Dani rode double on Breezy with Andrea, and Sammy rode Veggie, led from my horse. Halfway through the ride, we stopped and changed kids—putting Sammy on Breezy with Andrea, and letting Dani ride Veggie. Thus both girls got to ride “solo” as well as with their mom.

In mid July it froze again. The hose I water horses with was full of ice. Nick and young Heather brought their flatbed pickup and loaded 28 bales from my hay shed, to take to our upper place where Heather has 3 young horses in the corral for the summer. She’s training several horses this year for other ranchers, and working with a 2-year-old filly of her own.

Emily rode range with me, and rode Ed again (the old mare we’re boarding for Michael and Carolyn). We checked water troughs and fixed one that wasn’t working. I cleaned mud and sticks out of the springbox. It was a hot day and Emily cooled herself at the next trough by dipping her hat in the water and pouring cold water over her head and shoulders.

Lynn baled part of our hay and stacked it in my hay shed. The next day Nick helped Lynn set 8 steel posts in the post-pile pasture fence so we could put 30 heifers in there for a few days. Andrea drove to Salt Lake for another appointment with the lung specialist, and Em went with her. The younger kids stayed here, and went with us in the jeep that evening to pick up the last of the bales that Lynn didn’t get with the stackwagon. The kids enjoyed riding Veggie the next day, and helped me do chores.

We’re pasturing 2 more old horses (Molly and Chance) for Michael and Carolyn, grazing around the calving barn. Chance is the old Arabian that granddaughter Heather rode for many years, but now he’s retired and very thin. Yesterday we dewormed all 3 old horses, and put Chance by himself in the little pasture next to the house, and started feeding him grain. We hope he’ll gain weight before winter.
Yesterday Lynn was about to start cutting the hayfield above our corrals and discovered the new neighbor had turned water into the ditch again, and our field was too wet to cut. So we decided to pasture it instead. We’ll be short of hay for our cows this winter, but right now we won’t worry about that. Michael is short on pasture and we’ll let him use this field with his cows.

AUGUST 6 – Last Sunday afternoon I rode Rubbie to gather our cows from the upper swamp pasture, and Lynn rode his 4-wheeler. The bull didn’t want to come, and challenged Lynn. For a moment it was a standoff, then Lynn roared toward the bull with the 4-wheeler, and the bull gave ground and followed the cows. We locked him in the back corral.
That evening Michael, Carolyn and kids rounded up their cows from our upper place and brought them down, sorted off the bulls, and put their cows with ours in the fields above the corrals. It’s good we saved those fields for grazing instead of haying. The cattle on the upper place had run out of pasture.
Last Friday Michael, Carolyn and kids rode and chopped larkspur on the high range in Baker Creek (so the cows wouldn’t eat it and be poisoned), then moved some cows into the high range. It was dark before they got home.
I put new front shoes on Rubbie; her feet were too long to be safe chasing cows, then I rode with Michael and Carolyn and granddaughter Heather the next day to move more cattle. It was late in the day when we headed out to the Middle Range.

We didn’t find very many cattle on that ride; Alfonso had moved some of them already. He’d left one of his bulls behind, however, and when Carolyn approached the bull he charged her horse. The only thing that saved her from being knocked down was that the horse spun away and took off, just as the bull hit the horse’s hindquarters. Otherwise the bull would have hit the horse broadside. We didn’t try to bring that bull.
It got dark as we put the cattle through the gate into the high range. We rode home 4 miles in the dark. There was no moon, and we couldn’t see, and had to trust our horses to see the trails, rocks, brush and gullies. Michael took the lead and let his dogs and horse seek out the proper direction and trails. We had to feel our way through the brush in the gully crossings, and be careful to find the gate between middle range and low range, and not hit the fences. With no depth perception, and unable to see our surroundings, riding that far in the dark was an interesting experience. We had to concentrate hard to keep from getting dizzy, and Michael said he nearly fell over when we finally got off our horses. It was like being carsick or seasick, so Carolyn called it “horsesick”.

AUGUST 18 – Last Tuesday we rounded up cows from the fields above the corrals and helped Michael, Carolyn and kids sort them. They took 18 pair up the creek to our 320 acre mountain pasture and left 23 pairs (young cows and some old cows) with ours. A storm hit after they started up the road, and they got drenched. Lightning was popping, so they didn’t come home the short way down the ridge. We learned later that the storm killed the son of one of my school classmates; he was working on a ranch the other side of town, and lightning struck and killed him and his horse as he was helping move cattle.

On Wednesday I rode with Michael and Carolyn and their kids, to take their cows to the high range from the 320 pasture. Again, it was late evening when we left the ranch, and we rode home in the dark, but this time it wasn’t as far, and it didn’t get completely dark until we were nearly home.
The old car we gave Nick to drive (after his pickup went in the pond) quit a few days ago when he was driving to track practice; it ran out of transmission fluid and ruined the transmission. Lynn and Andrea helped pull it off the highway. This has been a bad year for vehicles!
On Saturday Andrea and Em rode Breezy and Veggie to help me move the other group of Michael’s cows to our upper fields. Em was happy to ride old Veggie again; he’s her favorite horse, ever since she learned to ride on him 5 years ago.