Monday, September 8, 2014

Late February - Early March 2014

FEBRUARY 25 – Breezy is doing very well now, recovering from the surgery to remove her eye.  The padded face mask has helped keep the socket warmer in our very cold weather, and I’m sure she’s been a lot more comfortable with it covered.

After the rescued calf and her mama had been in the barn a week, and the calf seemed to be getting around ok on her frostbitten feet, Michael and Carolyn came down and shoveled the snow out of the windbreak corners of the pen below the barn.  They put hay down for bedding, and we put the pair down there.  They were happy to get out of the barn.  

It was nice to have Michael home from North Dakota for a few days, and he enjoyed a break from steady truck-driving in the severe winter weather. We had more snow and storms, but at least the weather was warmer than the day young Heather’s cow calved unexpectedly.  We thought that would be the only “surprise” calf, but on Valentine’s Day the skinniest little old cow of Michael and Carolyn’s was calving when we fed the cows that morning.  We called them, and they came down a couple hours later.  The old cow had calved by then, and Michael pulled the calf down through the two fields in a sled, with the little cow following.  We put them in the barn, out of the wind and snow.  It snowed hard all evening.

            That Sunday it quit snowing briefly.  Michael, Carolyn and Heather helped Lynn and me vaccinate and delouse the bulls and the yearlings, and tagged the yearling heifers (brisket tags) with their permanent cow numbers.  Then we put the little skinny cow and her new calf out of the barn, down in the pen with Heather’s pair.


           Those 2 calves were sired by the precocious bull calf last spring, but there won’t be any more of those surprises because the rest of those cows had barely calved when Michael and Carolyn weaned that little bull and took him out of the herd.  None of those cows would have had time to rebreed. The calf we rescued 3 weeks ago--with the frozen ears and feet--is losing the skin off her nose, and the ends of her ears, but she feels good.

            Andrea had some tests done on her throat; she has permanent damage from 14 years ago when she was intubated for so long in the burn ICU after her burn injuries—with the tube down her throat and trachea.  She has to go to a specialist for more tests.

            Lynn was supposed to have a treadmill stress test at the hospital last Thursday to check his heart, but the doctor who was supposed to come from Missoula wasn’t able to come, so it got postponed.   We had a lot of new snow and Michael and Carolyn are feeding their horses hay up on the wild meadow.

            The yard light in our barnyard and calving area quit working, so on Friday Michael helped Lynn replace it.  They put a long extension ladder up the pole and Lynn steadied it while Michael climbed up there to replace the light and timer.  I’m glad Michael was able to help him do this before he went back to North Dakota.  Lynn and I are not very steady on ladders anymore!

Jim and Andrea took Em to the state hockey tournament in Idaho Falls, the last games of the season.  Lynn stayed those nights at Andrea’s house with the other 3 kids and they had meals here and enjoyed helping us feed cows and do chores.  Emily’s team was doing well, but in the next to last game she and another girl were racing for the puck and Em slammed into the wall going full speed—and broke her leg.

The next day, we got about 8 more inches of new snow and Lynn had to plow our driveway and Andrea’s and Michael and Carolyn’s.  At least the roads from Idaho Falls weren’t too bad; Jim and Andrea made it home ok, with Em lying in the back seat with her leg elevated.  They got her situated at home with ice packs and crutches.  She has to keep it iced and elevated to get the swelling out of it before a cast can be put on.

MARCH 9 – Emily had another x-ray of her leg and found that she won’t be able to have a cast put on until after it is surgically repaired.  The tendons are pulled loose from the bone and the break is separating.

            Over the weekend the other kids helped us feed cows and enjoyed riding on the back of the feed truck.

            I’ve been working on the edits and page proofs of my next book, which will be coming out in April.  It’s called Good Horse, Bad Habits and is published by Trafalgar.  This book looks at ways to deal with bad behavior—discussing various tips on retraining problem horses.

            On Sunday Andrea helped us feed the cows and put new straw bales in their empty feeders.  She put more loose salt and mineral in their tub in the tire holder.

Then her friends Jade and Anita came out to the ranch.  Their kids played with Andrea’s kids while they helped us split more wood (with a borrowed wood splitter) for Carolyn and hauled it up to her house, then Andrea fed them supper.

            We had some warmer weather last week and the snow is melting and settling.  On Wednesday Emily had surgery on her leg to reattach the tendons and stabilize the fracture with a metal plate.  The surgery was several hours later than scheduled, and then took awhile, so Andrea wasn’t able to bring Em home until very late that night.  Lynn got the kids off the bus and we fed them summer and then took them home to bed.  Emily has to stay off the leg for 2 weeks, keep it iced and elevated, and then later will have the stitches taken out before a cast can be put on it.

            With the warmer weather there have been a lot of snow slides.  A huge slide closed the road between here and Missoula.  On Thursday water was running down our road and across the fields like rivers.  Water coming down a draw by the upper place nearly washed out the road; Lynn called the county road department and they brought a road grader up that evening and got the flood diverted and the next day brought a couple truck loads of gravel up to fix the wash-out.

            We’ve had Michael and Carolyn’s trailer parked here in the calving pen ever since we were trailer training all our horses last fall and early winter.  Those lessons halted when it got so icy that it was risky to be leading the horses back and forth.  The trailer froze into the ice and we just left it there.  Now it’s finally thawed out, and today Carolyn and Heather brought their truck down to get the trailer and take it home.  We’ll soon be calving and needed to have it out of the calving pen.

MARCH 18 – Andrea’s kids have 2 new puppies.  One of their friends had a litter they needed to give away.  These puppies are half border collie and half Brittany spaniel and they are very cute.  They will help entertain Emily while she is recuperating.

            Our holding pen has thawed out and was getting boggy, so Lynn moved the rest of the big straw bales (that were stacked there) into the hay stack yard.  We soon need to clean out the barn stalls where the two cows with surprise babies spent time, so we can put some new straw in the barn to get ready for calving.

            Saturday morning we fed the cows at the lower end of the field by the gate, and sorted off 5 that are starting to get udders.  We put them in the horse pasture and orchard where we can watch them.  Next Sunday Carolyn and Heather plan to take their herd to the upper place to calve.  The snow is melting off those fields, but yesterday we had another blizzard.  The wind made it a bit challenging to undo (and then redo) the tarp on our big hay stack to get a couple more big alfalfa bales to load on the feed truck.  The wind was so strong it caught our storm door when Lynn went outside, and slammed it against the house and broke it.

            We still have to put a tarp over our feed truck every night to keep the deer from eating the alfalfa hay.  We’ve had to sweep new snow off the tarp on the snowy mornings.

            I’ve been writing the life story for a rancher friend in Oregon who is 86 years old.  He wants to have it written up for his children and grandchildren.  I tape record our conversations on the phone as he tells me his adventures and stories about his life and then type them up.  It’s been a very interesting project.


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