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.