Thursday, July 19, 2012


AUGUST 17 - Carpenters are making progress on Andrea’s new house, putting the roof on. They used our flatbed trailer to haul the trusses up to the building site. Now they are working on the deck and finishing the outer walls.

Andrea took Charlie and the little girls to Salt Lake, for Charlie’s appointment with a GI-tract specialist. Charlie has had some serious problems ever since birth, and the doctor says he is old enough now to have corrective surgery on his colon/rectum. Andrea will take him back again for that procedure on August 25. While in Salt Lake, they stayed overnight with friends, and the kids went to the zoo before they came home.

A section of ditch above Rubbie’s pen washed out last week. Lynn used a piece of old roofing tin to create a makeshift flume to route the water over the wash-out. So far it is continuing to work, and hopefully will carry the water until we have time to rebuild that part of the ditch.

Last Sunday I reset Ed’s hind shoes before we went to church. I was in a hurry and started one of the nails a little too straight. Her feet are very small and I have to be careful to not have nails come out too high in the hoof wall, so I was pulling that nail back out to reset it correctly, and hit myself in the face with the hammer when the nail finally popped back out. Luckily it hit between my nose and mouth—so it didn’t break my nose or knock out any teeth. But I immediately had a huge blood-filled swelling in my upper lip. I finished the shoeing job, then put an ice pack on my fat lip until we went to church. It looked funny because my lip was huge and turning purple. The golf-ball size swelling went down after a few days but there’s still a knot under my lip and my upper lip is black. The grandkids think grandma looks funny with a black mustache!

On Tuesday evening Andrea brought her 3 youngest kids to stay with us for a few days while she and Rick drove to Nevada to pick up Emily. Then they drove north to Seattle Washington to attend the funeral for my cousin Ned’s wife Amy—who was being buried in the family plot where Ned’s parents and our grandparents are buried. Ned and Amy were the ones who graciously offered their home 11 years ago to Andrea and Lynn to stay for 3 weeks after Andrea was able to leave the ICU at the burn center in Salt Lake but had to stay nearby as an outpatient for daily wound care and physical therapy.

While the kids were staying with us, they enjoyed the horses, and played in the tall grass in the hayfield while we were out doing chores.

On Wednesday Michael and Carolyn left on a 6-day trip to drive Nick to Iowa to start college at William Penn University where he has a running scholarship (for their cross-country team). During those 6 days I helped Heather with the horses she’s training. Carolyn had been riding with her every day, so while Carolyn was gone I filled in—riding Ed to the upper place and going with Heather on short rides in the mountains with 2 of the horses she’s training, and then tagging along as she took a young mare on a longer, faster loop, preparing for an endurance ride. She’s training that mare for one of her college professors, who wants the mare ready for a 25 mile race in September. After 6 days of that riding, Ed and I were both in better physical shape!

Lynn took care of Andrea’s kids (they helped him irrigate, and pick up nails at the building site) and cooked lunch for them while I was riding. Heather leaves for Helena (to start her 3rd year at Carroll College) day after tomorrow, and she will be taking several horses back with her.

AUGUST 23 – Last week Andrea and I rode to the 320 pasture and fixed several holes in the fence where wildlife had broken or stretched the wires. We don’t want the range cattle getting in; we’re saving that grass for Michael and Carolyn’s yearlings. They recently got back from their trip to Iowa to take Nick to start his first year of college at William Penn University.
On Friday young Heather drove to Helena, Montana to start her 3rd year at Carroll College, and on Sunday Michael and Carolyn hauled several horses over there, including the one she’s been training for her HAB professor. The college will use the other 4 horses during the school year for HAB classes—so students will have several horses to work with. Then the horses will come home to the ranch for summer. It will be different now for Michael and Carolyn, with no kids at home.

We have several new forest fires, and the smoke is really thick. It’s too smoky to open the windows at night to cool off the house.

Our cows were running out of grass in the swamp pasture so we put them in the little post pile pasture—after Lynn sawed several fallen-down trees off the fence and fixed the fence. The grass in that pasture hadn’t been grazed yet this year and some of it was taller than the cows!

We received disheartening news yesterday. Our neighbor, Jack Jakovac, recently had a veterinarian preg-check his young cows he keeps home on pasture every year—and discovered that half of them were open and some were aborting! The vet tested the aborting cows for trichamoniasis (a sexually transmitted reproductive disease) and they tested positive. The rest of his cows are out on the range and can’t be tested until they’re rounded up in late September.

This is a scary situation for the whole neighborhood. We’ve never had any problems with “trich”. This is a protozoan infection spread from infected bulls and cows by breeding. Idaho state law requires that all bulls be tested every year. Our new neighbor, Alfonzo, did not test any of his bulls this year.

Some of the cattle Alfonzo brought to our creek last year probably had trich, because the only way Jack’s cows could have become infected was from a cow of Alfonzo’s that went through the fence into Jack’s place in December. Jack put her in a corral overnight until he could haul her home the next morning. He put the cow in a corral with 2 virgin yearling bulls he’d just bought, and probably didn’t think it would be a problem, because at that time of year he’d assume the stray cow was pregnant. But Alfonozo didn’t preg-check his cows that fall, and had some open cows!

The young bulls apparently bred the open cow and became infected. Their infection was not detected because Jack always trich tests his bulls at the end of his breeding season, rather than in the spring. One of those yearling bulls stayed in the home pastures to breed heifers and young cows and the other one was turned out on the range in May. So now this devastating disease may have spread to other cattle besides Jack’s.

Today we had a birthday party for Charlie (10 years old), and I gave him some colorful shirts. I drew some cartoons on them—mostly Garfield the cat, since Charlie loves that comic strip character.

SEPTEMBER 10 – After we found out about the trich problem, we rounded up our own bull from our group of cows in the post pile pasture, and put him in the corral where he would be safe. Alfonzo has some stray cows (that came home early off the range) on the lower place, right next to our pasture, and we didn’t want to risk having the cattle get through the fence. We don’t want our bull to become infected!

Andrea took Charlie to Salt Lake for his colon scoping procedure. The doctor removed some polyps but decided he didn’t need to do surgery to correct the rectal restrictions; they are not as impairing now as they were when he was very young. The doctor opted to just keep Charlie on laxative medication instead.

While Andrea was gone, the 2 little girls stayed with us and enjoyed playing with kittens and riding Veggie every day.

The second day, they wanted to look at the cows and calves, so I walked with them down to the post pile pasture. While we were hiking around through the cows we saw that one of Alfonzo’s dry cows was trying to get through the fence to get in with our cattle. So we moved our cows to a different pasture. We were glad we’d put the bull in the corral the day before!

Last week Andrea and Rick spent part of an afternoon helping Lynn fix a bad place in the heifer hill fence in the brush by the creek. We want to make sure Alfonzo’s cattle can’t come through into our place when he puts them in the adjoining pasture this fall. His leased land borders us on 2 sides (the lower place and the Gooch place, that we and Michael leased for a total of 40 years) so we want to keep the fences in good shape. After we worked on the fence, we moved our cows and calves to the heifer hill pasture.

Andrea’s kids started school. Dani is in 1st grade, Sammy in 3rd, Charlie 4th and Emily in 8th grade. They are enjoying being back in school and seeing their classmates again. We’d hoped their new house would be finished by now, but it will probably be another 6 weeks.

We sold a lot of our old machinery and metal “junk” to a salvage company that recycles metal. We got rid of several old trucks, balers, and other ancient wrecks that don’t work anymore, including the old TD-14 crawler. It all added up to more than 33 tons, and we got $110 per ton. This was enough money to pay for a wood stove for Andrea’s new house, and some light fixtures.

Lynn hauled one of our old pickups (that still runs) to town for Andrea’s friend Rick to work on and get in shape for hauling wood. The little jeep we gave him earlier now has some major problems. It will take less time and money to fix up the other pickup so he can keep hauling firewood to his wood customers. While he had our flatbed trailer in town, Lynn bought some posts, poles and wire for some of the fencing projects we need to do this fall.

Nick ran in his first college track meet on Saturday and placed 3rd for his team. He’s running longer distances now, 5000 K instead of 3000 K.

SEPTEMBER 20 – Last week I trimmed old Veggie’s feet. I don’t want him stumbling when the little kids ride him. Lynn and Andrea drove to Missoula, Montana to some light fixtures for Andrea’s new house.

Michael and Carolyn put yearling steers and spayed heifers on the 320.

In spite of our hot, dry weather, some of that tall grass is still green. They were short 9 yearlings, however, that went through the Cheney Creek fence and out onto the neighbor’s range. During the past few days, Michael and Carolyn helped those neighbors (Jack Jakovac, Bruce Mulkey, and Ed Snook) round up their cattle, and found their missing yearlings.

Yesterday on our own range, Alfonzo and the other new range neighbor Lowell Cerice rounded up their cattle, but didn’t find them all. Some have gone into Mulkey Creek (Dan French’s range). In their roundup they split several pairs. One cow came home by herself and jumped into our heifer hill field yesterday looking for her calf. She hid in the brush when Lynn went up there on his 4-wheeler, so I saddled Ed and rode up there, and we managed to get her out of the brush, up through the gate and onto the road, and took her up to Alfonzo’s herd on the Good place.

We heard a wolf howl a few mornings ago. Ranchers in our area are glad the wolf hunts (that were halted last year by environmental groups) are starting again. One of our friends on the other side of town lost several calves and a cow to wolves this summer on his range, and hunters recently saw 8 wolves in that pack.

After a long, hot summer, if feels like fall. Temperatures have been below freezing some nights, in spite of hot afternoons. We had rain one night, which eased our dry conditions and cleared the smoke out of the air. We’re hoping our fire season will soon be over.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Yesterday, July 5, was the 12th anniversary of Andrea’s burn injuries, and I celebrate the awesome blessing that I still have a daughter! This blog continues “catching” up what our family has been doing since publication of my book Beyond the Flames.

JUNE 1, 2011 – The cows were happy for green grass when we moved them into the field below the lane. The grass is finally growing, now that the weather has warmed up.

Lynn took our tractor and post-pounder to the upper place and helped Michael set posts to repair and add onto the little corral. That weekend Nick ran at the state track meet in Boise, and did very well in the 800 meter run. Our little high school took 3rd place overall in state competitions.
Rubbie is still lame after her accident last month. I put DMSO on her hind leg for several days, and gave her bute (anti-inflammatory medication--pills dissolved in water, with molasses added, given orally with a big syringe) for 10 days.
The grandkids are out of school now, and enjoying summer vacation. On Friday Lynn and I were planning to go to Nick’s high school graduation, so I did our chores early while Lynn finished irrigating. When I went out to do chores, I saw one of the range bulls on the road above our driveway. Lowell, our new range neighbor, hauled a bull over here that morning and unloaded him through the gate—where about 40 cows and 3 bulls belonging to the other neighbor (Alfonzo) were lounging along the fence. The 4 bulls fought all day, and tore the fence down.
When Lynn got home from irrigating, he and I herded the bull down the road to a gate back out to the range, and then I chased all the cattle and bulls over the hill, away from the fence, while Lynn patched the fence. We didn’t dare go to Nick’s graduation until we got that situation resolved, or the bulls would have torn up more fence and the range cattle would have been all out on the road and coming into our place. After getting the fence fixed, we hurried to town and made it to graduation 30 minutes late, and ate supper late that night after we got home.
Yesterday Lynn’s family had a nice memorial service for his mother, Virginia (who died in February). We had a dinner the day before, with a chance for everyone to visit. We also had a dinner after the service, with many people bringing food. Andrea made 8 salads and baked beans for the 2 dinners.

We moved our cows to the lower end of the swamp pasture, and patched the fence where wildlife knocked it down. The old brace posts were leaning over and Lynn pulled them upright with the tractor. Michael helped him set new posts.

We had more rain for several days (and new snow on the upper place), and the creek is really high. The calves were glad for the calf houses in their new pasture—to get out of the rain. There was too much water coming down the ditch above the house, and washed out the ditch bank. The high water in the creek washed out one of our ditch diversions and Lynn spent several days trying to get water in the ditch, putting big straw bales in the creek.
There’s still a lot of snow on the mountains so we’ll probably have a lot of high water. The rivers are flooding. Last week a young woman was walking with her dog along the river that goes through town—and tried to save her dog when it went into the water. The woman was unable to get out of the swift current, and washed away. Her body was eventually found 125 miles downstream.

JUNE 13 – Andrea went to Idaho Falls again for another appointment with the pain specialist. The doctor is trying to figure out ways to help her deal with constant pain and problems caused by the shrinking scar tissue (from the old skin grafts) that’s pulling her shoulder, back and neck out of place.
Lynn tried for several more days to get water in our ditch, driving steel posts into the big straw bales he put into the creek—hoping the posts would hold the panels and dam material (with cement blocks tied to the dam material to try to hold it down in the swirling water). He finally got a little water running into the ditch, but had to be careful to not fall into the raging flood.
He then spent several days helping Michael, Carolyn and kids set more posts around the corral on the upper place, making a new pen and rebuilding the old runway to the chute. Michael and Carolyn vaccinated and hauled 60 heifers to rented pasture on another ranch. They spent the rest of the day branding and vaccinating more of the steers and heifers they bought last winter. The next day they hauled 100 yearlings to a ranch at Leadore for summer pasture, and put some steers on our 160-acre mountain pasture.
Veggie (25 years old) was a little thin this spring so I’ve been letting him graze green grass in the pen by the calving barn. Nick and Heather took old Molly and Chance to the upper place to graze with the rest of their horses for the summer. Lynn put an electric fence in part of the barnyard so Veggie can graze there for awhile.
We moved our cows to the hill pasture above the house, pumping water for them into several tanks—from the ditch in our field across the road. There’s a culvert under the road, and we put a big PVC pipe through the culvert, hooking hoses to it on both ends for pumping.

I put front shoes on Ed (the mare I got from Michael and Carolyn) between rainstorms. She has tiny, narrow feet, and Lynn shaped the shoes to fit perfectly. I can’t leave any part of the shoe sticking out, or she would step on the shoe with another foot and pull it off.
On Thursday Michael, Carolyn and Heather rode all morning in rain/snow to help the range neighbors on the south side of our place move cattle to the next range pasture. That afternoon they moved cattle on our low range to the middle range. As Michael and Carolyn brought the high cows around to the gate, Heather rode down the ridge to meet me, and she and I gathered cattle in the lower country.
While moving cattle on the south side, Michael saw the young black wolf that’s been harassing his yearlings. The wolf came after his dogs—2 of which ran back to Michael’s horse. But Fred, the young pup, wanted to tangle with the wolf. Michael charged at the wolf with his horse, yelling, and the wolf finally left.
On Saturday Andrea rode with me to move a cow and calf that got left on the low range. Then we checked fences, and the gates between the middle range and high range. We shut one gate just before we got caught in a hailstorm.

The weather cleared by the time we got home, and we saw a bull pacing up and down our fence on the other range. He got left behind when those cattle were moved. He was rubbing on the fence, wanting to fight our bulls. So Andrea and I rode across our field and out that side, and took the bull 2 miles to where he was supposed to be, in a different range pasture. The bull was stubborn and threatened our horses because he didn’t want to go. But we were able to change his mind and keep him going the right direction. By the time we got back home, we’d ridden all day and the horses were tired. I put hind shoes on Ed, because she’d worn down her feet too much for any more rides without shoes.

JUNE 30 – We’re now well started on Andrea’s new house, on the hill next to the field above our corrals. The basement floor and concrete walls are poured, and the carpenters can start on the main structure.

The kids are excited about moving to the ranch. They’ve been coming to ride Veggie and play with the new kittens.

One day Em rode with me (on Veg) when I rode Ed to go check the cows on our hill pasture. She enjoyed seeing her favorite cow, Buffalo Girl.

Last week Andrea had a serious kidney infection and went to the hospital for IV antibiotics, fluids and pain medication, but she’s doing much better now. She rode with me on Saturday to check range gates and water troughs and we rode again on Sunday (after I put shoes on Breezie)—a much longer ride to check the rest of the gates and the fence over the top of Mill Mountain. We had to put the fence back together again, where someone keeps cutting the wire every year.

On Tuesday Andrea and Lynn went to Missoula, so Andrea could drive him home after his appointment with an eye specialist. About 3 weeks ago he suddenly had a shadow in one eye, and the local eye doctor couldn’t figure it out. The specialist discovered the blank spot in his vision is due to a stroke (occluded blood vessel) in that eye. He was fortunate it was in his eye and not his brain. So now he has to be more careful about his blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and take a small aspirin daily to help prevent any future strokes.

On July 4, Andrea and Emily rode with me (Em riding Ed, and I rode Veggie) to check cattle and gates. It was wonderful to be able to ride with my daughter and granddaughter. I was grateful that we were able to do this—remembering that it was 11 years ago that very day that Andrea and I made our last major ride together (rounding up cows with bull calves, to bring the calves home to wean), before her burn injuries. The day after that ride, she had the accident that nearly took her life. So this ride with her and Em was very special to me.

On July 6 Andrea and Emily drove to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s appointment with her pain management specialist (ongoing problems from burn injuries and grafts) and then drove to Nevada to meet Jim. He came partway up from Tonapah to pick up Emily. She’ll be staying with him a few weeks.
Last week Michael worked on his swather that was parked all winter in the wide spot in the road above our house—where he left it the night the belt broke when he was driving it home from the Maurer place. He got the new belt on, and cut 3 fields of our hay before he took it to another ranch to cut hay. Andrea’s kids were staying here with us (while she made the trip to Nevada) and Charlie enjoyed riding in the swather with Michael cutting hay.
Monday Andrea turned some of the hay and Lynn baled—until the old baler sheared a bolt. He fixed it and was baling on the next field, and a bearing went out. Rather than try to fix it, he borrowed Michael’s old baler to try to finish that field. He made one round when a thunderstorm hit, and soaked the hay. It dried out enough by evening to finish baling. We had a bigger storm the next day, and had to wait a few days for the bales to dry out enough to haul.

JULY 15 - Andrea brought the kids out to the ranch last week for lunch and then they took turns riding Veggie. They love that old horse!

AUGUST 1 – We moved what was left of the old hay out of my hay shed (and tarped it) so we could stack new hay in the shed. Andrea and Charlie rowed up some of the bales in the field to make them easier to pick up with the stackwagon. The 2 little girls helped me do chores, looked at the calves, and rode Veggie--and Sam tried riding bareback for the first time.

A few nights ago we heard bulls bellowing just before dark and went out to see what was going on. Alfonzo’s bull had gotten out into his hayfield just above our fields, bellowing at our bulls. Realizing that all his gates were probably open, we shut our driveway gate in case his bull got out on the road. Just after midnight I heard crashing and bellowing and looked out the window to see an extra bull in the orchard with ours. Alfonzo’s bull had come down the road and crashed through the fence to fight our bull. We ran out and shut the gate into the pasture where the cows were. Fortunately the cows were all in there sleeping, and just our bull was in the orchard challenging the strange bull. We knew Alfonzo hadn’t trich-tested any of his bulls and we didn’t want his bull in with our cows! We called Alfonzo the next morning and he came and got his bull.
With hot dry weather and lightning, we’re getting forest fires. A fire downriver got out of control and our friend Bob Minor was called to work on it—power washing all the tank trucks, fire trucks and other vehicles that come and go from the fire. He hired Andrea to help him, so she worked for nearly a week, driving an hour each way and working 14 to 16 hour days. We kept her kids while she was working, and Lynn took them to town for their swimming lessons. While they were here they wrote letters to Emily in Nevada, and rode horses.
Rubbie is still lame from her accident this spring. I can’t ride her, and needed to take her shoes off. Her feet were growing too long. I was able to take 3 shoes off and trim those feet, but she didn’t want to stand on her lame foot for me to take the other hind shoe off. So I gave her bute for 2 days (anti-inflammatory medication) to ease the pain and discomfort. Then I was then able to take the other shoe off and trim that foot, too.
It took Lynn a couple days to get our old swather working, to cut the rest of our hay. In the process he blew a hydraulic hose on one tractor, and the other tractor’s hoses broke, so BOTH tractors were useless. We had to get one fixed before we could finish cutting our hay. This time we didn’t have rain on the hay before we got it all baled and stacked. Andrea helped bale the last two fields while Lynn was stacking.