I’ve also been getting her used to having her feet handled for shoeing, smoothing them with the rasp, placing a shoe on her foot and tapping on it with a hammer.
Andrea turned hay Sunday afternoon, and then she and her friend Mike took 4-wheelers up through the 320-acre mountain pasture and sawed up the huge tree that blew down over the main trail in the timber on the high range just above our place. Lynn got the turned hay baled and hauled.
On Monday Dani rode with Andrea and me (Dani on Ed, Andrea on Sprout and me on Breezy) for 4 hours to check troughs on the middle range—the longest ride this year for 8-year-old Dani. We worked on a couple springs that were no longer running into the troughs.
That evening when Andrea drove past our cows in the swamp pasture on her way to Em’s graduation from drivers’ education class, she noticed Freddy lying by herself, not looking very well. She’d lost a lot of weight—apparently relapsed from whatever was wrong with her earlier. Lynn and I brought the cow and her calf down to the corral and took her temperature. It was 105 degrees F. We gave her LA-200 and an injection of Banamine to help reduce the fever and make her feel better. She’s not eating very much, and not chewing her cud. The next day her temperature was still high (104 degrees) so we gave her more Banamine. By the third day her temp was 102.4—nearly down to normal, but we treated her again. But she still wasn’t eating much, nor chewing her cud.
The next day her temperature was up a little more, so we switched antibiotics, giving her Baytril every day for 4 days. Her temperature is normal now, but she’s not eating at all, and losing more weight. Yesterday we gave her some baking soda and water by stomach tube, in hopes to normalize the pH in her rumen, but she’s still not eating or chewing her cud. She’s very weak and dehydrated. So today I soaked up a couple pounds of alfalfa pellets and beet pulp and we gave her several gallons of water and “mush” this morning by stomach tube, and again just before dark.
Michael drove home from North Dakota last week, to be home for awhile and catch up on things here. On Friday he helped Lynn work on our baler all morning. The frame was cracking so we had Bob Minor come over and weld it. Andrea turned hay in the field below the lane that afternoon and by evening it was dry enough to bale—and the baler worked! Lynn baled till dark and got it finished.
On Saturday Lynn hauled hay; Andrea rolled some of the bales out of the wet areas so he wouldn’t get the stackwagon stuck. Yesterday he cut our last field of hay, the lower field across the creek. Michael is busy re-shoeing all their horses, and shoeing the young horses Heather is training for various people.
Today we moved the cows down into part of the lower field that we didn’t cut for hay. When we brought the cows down through the lane next to the horse pens, Dottie and Willow both ran around bucking, then Willow stomped her water tub and got both front feet in it. I rinsed it out but now she thinks splashing in her tub is a fun game. Lynn and I got out the old tires we used years ago to resolve the same problem for a couple young horses—one tire on top of the other, putting a rubber tub inside the top tire—at a height that makes it much harder for her to get her feet into it.
This afternoon Bob Minor got called out to work on a huge fire that started near Challis (60 miles away), to do the weed washing; all vehicles coming and going from the fire must be power-washed to prevent spread of weed seeds. Andrea went to help him.
AUGUST 2 – Andrea has been at the fire camp in Challis for 11 days now, working long hours (from 6 a.m. until dark—about 10 p.m.) and we’ve been taking care of her younger kids, with Emily’s help.
We continued to keep Freddy alive with feedings by stomach tube (into her nostril and to the back of the throat and down into her stomach), soaking alfalfa pellets into a mush and then running the mush through a blender. Mixed with several gallons of water (and a little molasses for added calories) the mush goes readily down the tube. But with her rumen not working, nothing much was going through. The 3rd day of “instant meals”, we also gave her a gallon of mineral oil and a quart of castor oil, in an attempt to get her gut working again. Within 36 hours her rumen was “empty” and she was passing manure again! She was still terribly weak, but started eating and drinking, and chewing her cud. We tubed her a couple more times with “mush” but after that she was strong enough in her protests that we stopped putting her in the chute for her food. We gave her some good alfalfa hay, and she is eating a little better.
She dried up her milk a couple weeks earlier when she first got sick, but we kept her calf with her—for company. They are both happier being together, and less stressed than if we’d separated them. But as soon as she started eating again, Freddy came back to milk production and her calf started nursing again. She’s so thin that we considered separating them, but decided that the psychological benefits of keeping them together outweigh the physical drain on the cow. On Sunday we moved them to the little pen and lane by the calving barn, where there’s some green grass.
Young Heather and Dottie are making good progress. We’re making longer rides now, with me accompanying them on Ed. We’ve been taking Dottie all over the low range, up and down the hills, and trotting on some of the trails. There’s still a little water in the upper crossings in Baker Creek and Dottie had to learn that she can walk across the mud and water and doesn’t have to try to jump the creek. We made one ride into the middle range and Dottie had her first experience with Heather opening and closing a wire gate. On the steeper hills the saddle kept sliding forward and Heather had to get off a few times to reset the saddle. We’ll need to use a breeching to hold the saddle in place.
Last week Lynn finished baling and hauling, so we are done haying. Emily helped me put tarps on my 2 little stacks of horse hay—the load that fell down and we re-stacked next to the horse pens. Michael and Nick chopped larkspur in Baker Creek in the 320 so it won’t kill any cattle when they put their cows in there. Yesterday they branded their 4 late calves and took their herd up there.
Last Friday Dani rode with me for nearly 2 hours; she rode Ed and I rode Breezy. We discovered one of John Miller’s cows on the wrong side of the fence (she’d crawled into the low range). There were about 30 cows gathered by the gate wanting to come through, but we chased them away from the gate and Dani held them back while I got the wayward cow through the gate. Then we checked the water trough to make sure it was still running enough to water the 50 pairs in that area.
On Saturday Dani and I rode again, for nearly 4 hours, checking more water troughs. The cows have tromped and broken the plastic pipe going into one trough. We tied our horses at the Green Trough and ate our lunch there, watching bluebirds going in and out of a hole in a dead tree, feeding their babies.
A couple days ago Michael reshod Sprout and Ed for me. Then Dani and I made another 4 hour ride, checking the range and working on several water troughs. On the way home she wanted to try to get off to open the little metal gate the bicyclists put on their trail, and was proud of herself to be able to open and close that gate.
We don’t have enough hay of our own this year, so we bought 55 tons of hay from a ranch family 100 miles from here. The son and grandson hauled it in two trips with their truck and trailer and a semi. It is nice grass/alfalfa, and a reasonable price ($185 per ton, delivered) considering the high price of hay this year.
Yesterday Dani and Sam both rode with me (Sam on 27-year-old Veggie) to check water troughs in the 320. Today I helped young Heather move her old horses to another area behind our calving barn where they can graze for a few days.
AUGUST 18 – A couple weeks ago Alfonzo and John Miller and family moved their cattle from the middle range to the high range. They apparently put a big group up along our 320 fence on their way; a couple cows got pushed through the fence into our pasture. The grass is really dry this year; usually it’s still green on the high range when the cows go in there, but not this year. Our creek is very low, and we had to shut off our water on the upper place. Michael and Carolyn can’t have water in the ditch that goes through their corral, not even enough for their horses to drink. So they are piping water into a tank for their horses.
There’s only enough water to service the 2 lower places (with earlier water rights). We have enough water to try to grow a little pasture on some of our hayfields on this place, but the big field by Andrea’s house has no water and will remain dry this fall.
Last Monday Michael reshod Breezy for me, and put shoes on Dottie—her first shoeing. She did well, thanks to all the foot-handling and getting her used to hammering on her feet. The next day he headed back to North Dakota to his truck driving job.
That Friday, Nick helped Lynn put a big tarp on our new haystack, then the next day he drove back to college in Iowa—a 22 hour drive. That day Dani rode 4 hours with me. We went up through the 320 and pushed some range cows up Baker Creek a ways; they were hanging down on our fence, very thirsty. Then we came home through the middle range and found 5 pair that John and Alfonzo missed, and took them a mile up the mountain to the high range. Dani is delighted to be able to move cows with grandma! She loves riding and herding cows.
Carolyn and young Heather were gone for a couple days, to attend Carolyn’s brother’s wedding. That Sunday Lynn took the kids to Challis to the fire camp so they could see Andrea briefly.
On Monday Dani made another long ride with me, and helped me move the range cows more than a mile up Baker Creek. They were short of water so we took them clear up to the top trough that John Miller fixed a few days ago. Now his cows know where that trough is, and if they stay in the high country they’ll have plenty of water. Dani helped me again last Wednesday; I worked on the springbox for the top trough in our 320 (the holes were plugged and the trickle of water was missing the box) and then we moved a bunch more range cows clear up to the big trough at the head of Baker Creek.
We were going to move our cows to heifer hill but Lynn discovered that 2 big trees had fallen down over the fence between that pasture and the Gooch place, so he had to saw out the trees and fix the fence. Dani helped me move the cows the next day, after he got it fixed.
On Thursday both girls rode with me (Sam’s longest ride this year on old Veggie) and I worked on the lower trough in the 320. We checked the upper one I fixed the day before (still working!) and ate our lunch in the shade with our horses tied to trees.
The fire near Challis is finally under control. The fire camp disbanded yesterday evening, and Andrea was able to come home. The skin on the inside of her knees is rubbed off, however, and very painful. She always wears shorts when working outside in hot weather, because her grafted skin has no sweat glands and she overheats horribly if her legs are covered. She managed fine until a new supervisor at the fire camp insisted that she wear long pants. The combination of heat (97 degrees in the afternoons) and the abrasion of cloth against her delicate skin rubbed the grafted skin off and now she has huge painful raw areas. We hope she doesn’t develop infection.