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.

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