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.