Wednesday, October 29, 2014

JULY 2014

JULY 15 – Andrea and I (riding Sprout and Dottie) helped Carolyn and kids bring their cows down from the 320 a couple weeks ago to put the bull with them and then take them all back up there.  Dottie hasn’t had much experience yet working cattle and she got a little excited when the cows ran down the hill and Nick galloped ahead to open the gate.  Dottie tried to run and buck and got very angry and frustrated when I wouldn’t let her buck.  She still has a lot to learn before she’s ready for young Sam to start riding her.

Granddaughter Heather has been ponying the 2 Arabian horses she’s training for a lady who wants them broke to ride so she can sell them.  Andrea rode with her a few times while she ponied them, and also when she started riding them out on our low range.  The black mare is nicknamed Vinny; she is still very flighty but starting to settle down a little.  Andrea took photos of young Heather’s first rides out in the hills on Vinny.

The bay gelding is smart and learns things quickly.  Andrea really likes him; he reminds her a lot of Snickers (her old Arab-Thoroughbred mare) and Fozzy (her old 7/8 Arab gelding) and Fozzy’s sire (the stallion we kept here on the ranch for 2 years and used for range riding).  This gelding is 7 years old and was a stallion the first 4 years of his life, and wasn’t handled much before he was brought here for training.

Michael got home from North Dakota last week.  He took the backhoe up to his house to use on the upper place, and took a scoop of manure from our bull corral for Carolyn’s flower and berry garden.  He and Carolyn and kids helped the range neighbors move their cows to the next pasture.
Last Sunday Andrea, her friend Robbie, Nick and Em drove to Montana (then back into northern Idaho to the trailhead at Paradise.  They hiked back in to Running Creek Ranch (where Em is working for the summer), and took groceries in backpacks. 


Andrea, Robbie and Nick hiked back out (7.5 miles) that same afternoon, crossing the pack bridge and hiking along the river.  It was really hot in the river canyon.

 Michael reset Breezy’s shoes and helped Lynn hook up our swather so we could start cutting hay.  The next day Sam rode Breezy with Andrea, Dani and me—Sam’s first ride since her hernia surgery a month ago.  She and Breezy did very well.

Nick helped Andrea and me move the few remaining bales out of my hay shed so we can put the new hay in.  We stacked the old hay next to the horse pens and put a tarp over them.
The heifers and yearling bull tore down the hot wire along their fence by the driveway so Andrea and I spent one morning putting in a few steel posts and making a better fence, and put a new electric fence along the horse pasture on the other side where the young bull has been trying to rub down the netting.  We set more steel posts and put a double wire electric fence out from the main fence.
Michael helped Lynn work on our baler and got it running properly and Lynn started baling the fields about our house.  Next, we discovered that the stackwagon wouldn’t work, and Michael helped Lynn fix it, too.

It was evening by the time they got it running, with only enough daylight left to haul one load.  While Michael hauled it, Andrea, Lynn and Sam picked up 22 wet bales on the feed truck.  These were from a wet part of the field and we didn’t dare stack them because they were already starting to heat.  We spread them out by my horse pens, cut them open and scattered the flakes around so they wouldn’t heat excessively or mold.  One of our neighbor’s haystacks burned up this week, after he stacked some wet hay that heated too much, so we didn’t want to take that risk.  Then Andrea and kids went up to Michael and Carolyn’s house to barbecue hamburgers.
On Thursday Andrea, Sam, Dani and I rode up to the upper place to ride with Michael and Carolyn to check their cows and check the grass on the 320. 


There were several trees down across the jeep road into Baker Creek, since the last windstorm.  We had to move a couple and break some branches so we could get the horses under one big fallen tree.  Breezy was a little nervous in the timber; this is the first time we’ve ridden her in thick brush and timber since her eye was removed.  Sam was able to manage ok with her, and kept her fairly calm and controlled and was careful to not bump the branches on her blind side.

As we came on down Baker Creek we discovered about a dozen range cows in our place.  Andrea helped Michael and Carolyn chase them out (and discovered a tree had blown down, smashing the fence) while I took Dani and Sam home down the ridge.  Even though the girls wanted to help chase the cows, we didn’t want Breezy to have a problem running through the trees.  They took the cattle over the next ridge on the range.

Then Michael, Carolyn and Nick went back that evening and fixed the hole in the fence.
Nick and Lynn tried to put the turner rake on our little tractor but yellow jackets were nested in the tractor and they were at risk of being stung.  Lynn doused them with bee-killer spray and went back later to put the rake on.  He wasn’t able to start turning hay until late afternoon.  Andrea finished baling the hay the next day.
The stackwagon still wasn’t running right, so Lynn drove to Mud Lake (100 miles away) to get parts and new belts for it, and then Michael helped fix it.  It’s running a lot better now, and Michael stacked more hay in my shed.
I’ve been busy proofreading the chapters for my new horse book, and finding old photos of the horses I wrote about.  I sent it all off to the publisher and he’s hoping to have it in print by October.

JULY 31 - A couple weeks ago when Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie up through the 320 we saw about 80 range cows and 6 bulls crowded down in Baker Creek along our fence.  Some of the ones that we put out earlier were trying to get back in.  So we took them over the mountain and scattered them out in small groups over the middle range where there’s a lot more grass.  It was Dottie’s first major cow moving where she had to be widely separated from the other horse, to herd cows on the far side of the creek until we could get them to the trail over the mountain.  She actually did pretty well.
Andrea talked to the lady who owns the bay Arabian gelding that young Heather is training, and made arrangements to start buying him.  Andrea led him down the road 2 miles to our place.  Even though he’s 7 years old and had never been ridden until this summer (and had some bad experiences along the way, and was a stallion the first 4 years of his life), he seems to trust Andrea and she wants to finish his training herself.
He has a phobia right now about being bridled and having the bridle taken off, so we are working on that.  He’s had his teeth clanked, so he raises his head up to try to get away from expected pain, which makes it even harder to take the bridle off without hitting his teeth (he has long canine teeth that catch the bit).  So we are teaching him to put his head down—and patiently letting him take time to relax so he can spit out the bit without it catching his teeth.  Young Heather had only ridden him 5 or 6 times and Andrea started riding him after bringing him down to our place.  We started out with a short ride (2 hours), with me riding Ed as a baby-sitter horse. 

The second ride the next day, we went farther and rode through some of the cattle on the middle range.  He did really well.


Michael finished hauling my horse hay and Lynn got our last field of hay cut.  Michael and Nick have been doing a couple of fencing projects—contract fencing for other people.
Last Tuesday Dani and Sam rode with us after our short ride with the bay gelding.  We rode up through the 320 and saw that there were too many cows in Baker Creek again on the range side.  The girls helped us move them out of there and over the hill.  Sam rode with me and we took Breezy and Dottie down the side of the creek with a good trail through the brush so Breezy wouldn’t get into problems on her blind side.  The next day we took the girls on a short ride out through the hills behind Andrea’s house, on the neighbor’s range.  They’d never ridden out there before.

Michael and Carolyn helped those range neighbors move cows again, into a new pasture, and then had to go back 2 days later and move them out.  The larkspur is really bad this year, and even though the grass was really good in that pasture the cows were eating the larkspur and several cows had already died.
Our Amish neighbors brought their draft horses and horse equipment up to cut, rake and bale Alfonzo’s hay this year.  When we were riding up the ridge above the ranches we took photos of the youngest son raking hay in the field below us.

They pastured the horses in the little field below our place, which worked fine until they ran out of grass and started reaching over the fence; those horses are HUGE.
Andrea and I helped Carolyn bring their cows down from the 320 and put them in the wild meadow on our upper place.  They’re hoping they have enough irrigated pasture to last until the calves are sold this fall.  
A few days ago Andrea was riding with Carolyn and Heather, on one of their horses.  As they came down the road toward our upper pasture they heard goats bleating.  Two goats were in our mountain pasture, on a steep rocky hillside.  The gals rode over there and found that one of the goats had a collar and was dragging a long rope, and the rope was tangled and caught in the rocks.  They rescued her and then the goats followed their horses down the road to their horse corrals.  We have no idea where they came from, but they are very tame.  Over the past few days they’ve stayed at the hay corral and don’t want to leave.  Nick named the big one Ralph and the small female Doe Ray Mee.  Andrea’s kids are enjoying the new pets.

Michael hauled the last of our hay on Saturday.  Andrea and I rode the new gelding (which she nicknamed Rishiam) and Dottie for 4 hours, up through the 320 and into the high range—his longest ride so far.

On Monday Andy Wagoner and his son Heath brought 3 truck-loads of hay (53 tons of alfalfa-grass big square bales) and stacked it here for us.  This hay looks just as good as what we bought from them last year; it was excellent hay for the cows.
Day before yesterday when I did morning chores I hiked up in the field above the house to try to see what the bull was bellowing at.  I never did figure out what was upsetting the bull, but I noticed that one of the calves had a long piece of old wire caught around her neck in a loop, dragging about 50 feet of wire.  So Lynn and I got her in (with a few cows and calves to keep her company) and took them to the pen in front of the barn where we could confine her in the squeeze chute and cut the wire off.  Fortunately it hadn’t tightened up enough to strangle her.
Later that day we made another long ride with Rishiam and Dottie; we went up the road, met up with Carolyn at the upper corral, and the 3 of us rode up through the 320.  We fixed the top gate where someone had cut the wires to go through it earlier this year.  Alfonzo and Millers’ cows were in the high range and a large group was hanging down on our 320 fence, with no water.  So we moved them 3/4 mile up the creek to some water troughs.  It was the first time Andrea has tried to move cows with Rishiam.   He did pretty well (and Dottie did very well), but he got a little nervous on the way home coming down out of the timber.  The weather was really windy by then and he blew up, but Andrea was able to keep him from bucking, and got him settled down.  He did pretty well the rest of the way home in spite of the wind.
Yesterday morning Michael put new shoes on Dottie for me, then Andrea and I rode with Carolyn again, out through the middle range. 

Lynn helped Michael and Nick survey the line where they will be building a new fence for my brother on his little acreage up the creek where he plans to build a house.
Today Michael reshod Sprout and Nick helped Lynn move our electric fence out of the tall grass in the field below the lane.  Then Andrea helped Lynn and me move our cows down there.  After that, we rode with Carolyn again—up through the 320. 

There were too many range cows down low again, so we moved them up, taking them farther this time.  Rishiam did really well until we had to cross a large bog.  He got through part of it, then panicked and buck-leaped through the rest of it and panicked—exploding up into the air on the other side.  Andrea stayed on, and got him stopped fairly quickly.  He’s still pretty green, and scared of going through water and bogs.  He’s also a little nervous in tall brush and timber; he’s probably never been in anything but a flat pasture with no trees.

He calmed down after we finally got out of the timber and was fairly relaxed on the way home until we got down to the corral where we parted with Carolyn.  The two goats they rescued earlier had wandered away from the corral and were up in the cliffy rocks above the road, bleating.  Rishiam and Dottie freaked out and didn’t want to go down the road past the bleating cliffs.  We finally had to make them trot to get down the road.  Later that day Nick had to climb up in the rocks to bring the goats down.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

JUNE 2014

JUNE 4 – Rocket, the calf that was so sick, was much better the 2nd day after Michael gave her the IV fluid and a few days later we put her and her mama back with the herd.  The last evening we went to the barn to check on the calf, Lynn’s cats followed us, and one of them climbed up on top of the tractor cab to take a nap.

Andrea and I have been riding Sprout and Dottie nearly every day.  Last Thursday when we were riding up the road we stopped to talk with young Heather while she was working with some horses she’s training.  Then Carolyn hollered out the door to tell us she’d had a phone call from Lynn to say that the neighbors were bringing a herd of cows up the road to their upper pasture, and would be traveling right through Michael and Carolyn’s cows.  So we trotted up around the hill and gathered all those cows and calves into the corral until the herd went by.  The neighbors put their cows on the 160-acre pasture next to ours, and didn’t fix their torn-down fence onto the road.  If their cattle (and bull) get out on the road they could come down and mix with Michael’s cows, and Michael doesn’t want his cows bred this early (to calve in late February) so Lynn took 2 old pole panels up there with the tractor and put them across the hole in the fence.
That evening we did chores early and went to the kids’ music concert at school.  Sam had a trumpet solo in her band performance, and Charlie’s group did very well.  He’s the only trombone in his group.

Last Saturday we moved the cows and calves from the field above the house and put the heifers with them (from the field below the barn) and put them all up in the lower end of the swamp pasture—finally off hay!  They are glad for the grass.

The next day Andrea’s friend Robbie helped Lynn set a railroad tie on the fence line where the neighbors need to rebuild their fence, to mark the survey corner at the old falling-down corral.  Andrea, Emily and I rode—Emily’s first ride since she broke her leg in February.

On Monday the neighbors came up to rebuild the fence braces and Lynn helped them for awhile. Andrea and I rode to check the fence between our 320 and the middle range, and patched a few bad places and shut a couple gates between the middle range and high range.
On Thursday we made a short, fast ride, then Andrea took Emily to town to meet up with the people who drove her to Hamilton, Montana, to fly into a remote dude ranch/hunting lodge (Running Creek Ranch) in the Selway Wilderness where her dad is working.  Em has a summer job there helping take care of the place, mow grass on the airstrip, etc.  Emily sent us some photos she took there.


This Sunday Michael, Carolyn, Nick, Robbie and Andrea helped us vaccinate and deworm the cows and brand, vaccinate, castrate and deworm the calves.  The dewormer will also kill any flies on them for a few weeks.  It was a really easy branding for Lynn and me; the rest of the crew did most of the work!
We left the pairs in the hold pen for an hour afterward to mother up and recuperate (a few of the little bulls were still bleeding a little from their castration) while we put up a 2-strand electric fence across the lower field to divide off the swampy part that we can’t hay.  We then moved the cattle down into that part; the grass has grown rapidly and should last more than a week.  Then Andrea and Robbie went up to the 320 and helped Michael, Carolyn and Nick set 5 posts and make 2 new braces where the fence is starting to fall down.  I hiked through the cows and calves that evening at chore time to check on them, and the little steers all seemed to be doing ok after their castration.  Some were lying in the tall grass and a little hard to find!  I’ve continued to check on them morning and evening and by this evening they are all feeling much better.
We took a few minutes that afternoon to work with Willow and tie her for awhile, and Dani brushed her.

On Monday Andrea helped Michael, Carolyn and kids gather their cows and calves and brand and vaccinate them—and take them up to the 320-acre pasture.  Andrea rode with them around the fence and checked the ridge gates after they moved the cows.
Young Heather is renting a little house downtown and Andrea and Carolyn helped her move some of her things down there.  Andrea mowed her lawn for her, and found a few extra household items for her that she’s been storing and doesn’t need.
This morning Michael reset Dottie’s shoes and reshod Sprout’s front feet.  Andrea went up to their house to get instructions on how to do all their chores (feeding dogs, horse, bull, etc.) while they are gone for a few days to a wedding in North Dakota.

JUNE 17 – Last week Andrea and I rode nearly every day, putting more miles on Dottie and Sprout, checking fences, etc.  Dottie is coming along in her training but needs a lot more riding before she’s dependable enough for Sam to start riding her.
Now that school is out, Sam and Dani have been riding with us—Dani riding Ed and Sam on Breezy.  This has been the first time Sam has ridden Breezy since she had surgery last December to remove her eye.  That mare is doing fine with one eye and she and Sam are getting along fine.

A week ago Alfonzo and Millers moved their cattle from the low range to the middle range pasture but they missed some.  Last Monday Michael put new hind shoes on Sprout and then Andrea, the girls and I made a brief ride, found a couple pairs that got missed (one cow had a fairly young calf, born in the last few days) and moved them to the middle range.  Michael spent that afternoon with the backhoe fixing the boggy place in Andrea’s road, making a ditch to drain off the water and hauling more rock onto that soft spot in the road.
On Tuesday he reset Ed’s shoes, then Andrea and girls and I rode again.  This time we rode up toward the 320 and found a dozen pairs that got missed, and took them around the hill and into the middle range gate by Baker Creek.  Andrea went on ahead to open the gate and head the cows, while the girls and I brought the cows down the steep hill along the fence.  They are good little cowgirls and enjoyed being able to help us move the cows.

The next day Andrea helped Lynn take the water troughs up to our little hill pasture above the house, and pump water from the ditch across the road (using a plastic pipe through the culvert under the road).  Then Andrea and the girls and I got the cows in from the field below the lane and took them up the road to the hill pasture.

Michael went back to North Dakota to his truck driving job.  The girls and Andrea and I rode through the cows to check them, and on out onto the range to check the middle range gate on the jeep road.  The girls are both able to get their horses ready to ride, and Dani has been practicing cleaning Ed’s feet.

Saturday Andrea drove Carolyn and Nick to Indianola where Nick was competing in a 6 mile run.  The race was a fundraiser for the families of fallen firefighters.  Nick placed first, but gave his prize money to the second place finisher.  That morning Lynn and I pumped for the cows, to refill their water tanks, but had a little trouble at first because the pump wouldn’t start.  We finally got it working and filled the tanks.
Yesterday it rained a little.  It was the first rain we’ve had in awhile.  It was cold and we started a fire in the stove, first time since spring.  It rained again last night.

Today Sam had surgery to repair a hernia at her navel area that she’s had since she was a baby.  It was a tiny hole, but over the years some fat has come through it and made a painful bulge.  The surgeon removed the fat and stitched up the hole.  She has to take it easy for a few weeks and not lift anything, and won’t be able to ride for awhile.  

The power was off for several hours this morning—all the people in this area on this side of town.  We ate breakfast by candlelight!  This afternoon we drove up on the hill pasture with the 4-wheeler to check on the cows and see how long that grass will last, and heard wolves howling on the high range.
JULY 1 – Dani rode with Andrea and me a few days ago, just before a storm and it was very windy.

Rubbie and Veggie (age 27 and 28) are fully retired this year and we are no longer riding them.  We put them on pasture together a couple weeks ago.  Neither one of them can eat hay as readily as they used to.  Veggie has been on grass all summer, in pens near Rubbie (they are very unhappy if they are apart from one another so he has to be where he can see her), but now they are together and can hopefully spend their last days together.  Andrea and I trimmed their feet, and put fly repellent on them.
Andrea and I have been making some longer rides on the range, checking water troughs, etc.  We told John Miller about one trough that wasn’t working, and he rode out a few days later and fixed it.  These longer rides have been good for Dottie; she’s settling in a bit more and not so grumpy and headstrong on the way home (if she has to follow other horses).  We made a really long ride last Monday with Dani, up into the high range, and shut some gates—and saw two cow elk. 

The next day Carolyn and Heather rode down here and led an extra horse, and Charlie rode with us on a short ride.  Charlie really enjoys riding their old gelding, Gus.  Andrea killed a big rattlesnake on that ride, and Charlie wanted the rattles.

Dani took hunter safety class (3 full days of study, tests and then some shooting practice on the 3rd day) and passed it with high scores.  All of Andrea’s kids have now gone through hunter safety and are looking forward to being able to hunt this fall.
I’ve been working on my next book, called “Horse Tales”, which will be published in October.  These are stories of some of our horses—and all their unique personalities and our various experiences and adventures with them—from the time I got my first horse when I was 9 years old.  I had some of the stories written already but have been busy writing the rest of them.  It’s been a fun project, bringing back lots of interesting memories!
Lynn and Andrea planted their tomato sets, cabbages and squash in his trough gardens again, in the back yard.  We had to cover them one night; the temperature dropped below freezing.
Dani rode with us and helped move the cows and calves back down from the hill
pasture.  We put them in the little “post pile pasture” where the grass was so tall that it lasted from nearly a week.  Then we moved them up through the corral, put fly tags in the cows’ ears, sorted off the yearling heifers, and put the heifers and ThunderBull (Freddy’s yearling bull) in the horse pasture and orchard.  We put the big bull (Zorro Lightning Face) with the cows—in the upper swamp pasture.
Range cows have been coming through the fence on the upper place.  On Thursday Nick and Carolyn rode and chased them out, and again the next day.  It rained hard that afternoon. 

On Saturday Andrea, Lynn and Emily’s friend Justin drove to Connor, Montana and then 65 miles to the trail head to hike about 8 miles into the Selway wilderness area, on a trail along the Selway River.  They took backpacks and packed groceries into the Running Creek Ranch (a privately owned dude ranch, hunting camp and airstrip) where Emily and her dad are working this summer caretaking the place, mowing the airstrip, etc.  It took them until 11 p.m. to get there and Lynn was really tired. 

While they were gone, Andrea’s friend Robbie came to work on the old pickup that Michael and Carolyn are giving him (trading for some fence-building help) and got it running. While he was here he noticed that our bull and some cows had gotten out of the swamp pasture, and helped me get them back in. The old wire gate at the top of that pasture had been left open! On Sunday he helped Carolyn and Nick take steel posts up the mountain on the upper place and fix the bad spot where the range cows have been getting in up there.

Andrea, Lynn, Emily and Justin hiked out of the back country on Sunday and it took all day to get home. They had an exciting episode when Lynn fell in one of the creeks while crossing it on a narrow log. His walking stick slipped off the log and he tumbled backward into the water. They helped him get out, and poured the water out of his shoes, and fortunately he had a change of clothes—in Andrea’s backpack! It’s a good thing he didn’t fall in that creek the day before, on his way in, since he was carrying a backpack filled with paper towels and toilet paper.

The main reason they hiked into that remote area was to help pack in supplies and groceries, and so that Em wouldn’t be hiking out by herself (she has a week off from her job). It’s a dangerous trail, and there are wolves in that area, so we didn’t want her hiking alone, without a gun. Andrea will hike back in with her this coming weekend when she goes back again.

Yesterday Em went to the dentist. She’s had a bad tooth (one of her back molars), giving her a lot of pain. The dentist pulled it and put her on antibiotics because there was infection in it. He didn’t want to risk having the infection spread to the rest of her body, where it might gravitate to the repaired bone (the plate and pins in her leg) and cause a serious problem.

This morning Andrea and I will ride to the upper place and help Carolyn and Nick bring their cow herd down off the 320 to the upper corral so they can put their bull with them, and take them back up. The bull is a young one and doesn’t know the way and it will be a lot easier to get him up there to that pasture if we take him with some cows.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

MAY 2014

MAY 10 – Last week we put out more straw in and around the calf houses, to give the calves clean bedding.  The cows are also eating some of it.  This is probably the last straw we’ll have to put out for them this spring, we hope.
Dani was sick for several days with a high fever and cough.  She missed school but is doing better now.  Andrea took her to the doctor, who prescribed an antibiotic.
  Some friends from Oregon, Jerry and Silvia Wilcox, who run a carriage business (doing weddings and funerals with their horses and carriages/wagons, and using their draft teams on wagon train adventures) brought a horse to our Amish neighbors to be trained, and stopped to visit.  They’ll pick up the horse this fall after a summer’s work as part of a team, and it will be ready to join their other driving horses.


Granddaughter Heather has been working with the 2-year-old filly (Willow), doing more ground work, and is starting to ride her.  She’s been taking her around to the back corral and riding her around in it.


Young Heather also rode Dottie a few times for me, to get that young mare going again after a winter vacation.  She’s doing well, picking up where we left off in December.  Only one negative episode:  Heather was cantering Dottie in circles and figure eights up on heifer hill on their 4th ride, and Dottie slipped on a slick spot and fell flat.  Young Heather rolled clear and the mare didn’t fall on her, but when she got up she took off and ran home.  Heather hiked down from the field and got on her again and rode back up and finished the session with a good ride.
That afternoon we had another calf, leaving only 3 (one cow and two heifers) left to calve.  The next day Andrea and I rode Breezy and Ed, and Andrea gently washed the dust and dirt out of Breezy’s eye socket.  It has healed very well after the eye removal in late December.


Andrea helped Lynn clean some debris out of the ditch above the house, then took Emily to the doctor for a check-up and x-rays to see if her leg has healed enough for her to start putting weight on it.
Last Friday Andrea and I made a long but fast ride on Ed and Sprout, for Sprout’s first ride this year.  She only tried a couple of times to buck a little, but not nearly as hard and nasty as she did last spring.  Andrea rode her several more days in a row, and the mare settled back into work quite nicely.  All the riding and cow-chasing they did last year paid off; Sprout is a bit more dependable now.

Andrea harrowed the field above the house, where the cows and calves are, and harrowed the horse pasture and orchard.  That finishes it up until we take the cows out of that little field to go to pasture—and then we’ll probably harrow that field again.
On Saturday Carolyn and Heather took their truck and trailer up to Mulkey’s place to help haul cattle to the range—an all-day project.  Andrea and Lynn brought their flatbed feed truck down here to load a couple more big bales of alfalfa for them.  Sammy helped me trim Veggie’s feet, holding him for me and letting him eat a little grass while I trimmed them.  The 28-year-old gelding hadn’t been trimmed since last fall, so his feet were getting pretty long.  Charlie went with Lynn on the 4-wheeler to irrigate.
Nick drove home from college in Iowa (a 2-day drive) and made it home day before yesterday evening.  His little pickup was having problems toward the end of his trip, as he came up the creek road.  Yesterday morning when he started to move the pickup to a flat spot by their house so he could jack it up and look underneath it, the tie rod fell off!  He was very lucky that it didn’t happen on the trip home; his guardian angel must have been looking after him!

Yesterday it rained off and on all day and last night it changed to snow.  We had 5 inches of new snow this morning.  Carolyn, Nick and Heather left at 4 a.m. this morning, in the dark, just before the rain changed to snow, to drive to Pocatello to go to Carolyn’s brother’s graduation (receiving his Master’s degree).  About 40 miles up the Lemhi River a bunch of deer ran across the road right in front of them and they hit one, breaking out a headlight and damaging the front of the car.  It was still drivable, so they just turned around and came home.  We were scheduled to do their chores for a couple of days, and feed their cows, but Carolyn called me at 6 a.m. when they got home, to let us know they weren’t going to be gone, after all.
In this crazy weather we are still getting up at nights to check the last 3 pregnant cows.  The older cow has had a big udder for more than a month and will hopefully calve soon.  The two heifers look like they’ll be a bit later.

MAY 20 – Last Sunday Andrea took the kids fishing.  That evening our last cow finally started calving.  By midnight there was a nasty wind blowing, and a bit of rain, so we put her in the barn right after she calved, pulling the calf to the barn in the calf sled.  Nice to have a calving barn even for bad weather in mid-May!   The next day we were able to put them back outside.

We decided we didn’t want to keep getting up at nights to check on the two heifers (one of them will calve fairly soon but the other one probably won’t calve for another couple weeks), so we sent them to the sale at Butte, Montana, along with a young bull we don’t need this year.  We had kept an extra bull in case Michael and Carolyn needed one, but they don’t need him so we sent him to the sale.  Prices are fairly good right now.  Carolyn and Nick brought their trailer down on Monday and we loaded the 2 heifers and the bull and hauled them to the community corral and scales at Carmen (the other side of town) to load on the semi.  Rusty Hamilton put a load together from ranchers around the valley, to go to the sale.  They sold fairly well.  Our bull weighed 1500 pounds and brought $1 per pound.  The two pregnant heifers brought $1775 apiece.  Now we can sleep again at night and not have to get up to check those heifers!

On Tuesday Andrea and I made a fast ride to check range gates and shut a couple that had been left open all winter.  The next day young Heather brought one of her horses down here and used him to give Willow her first ponying lesson, leading her around in the orchard

Then Andrea and I rode with Heather back up the creek as she headed home, then made a loop over the range again—on Dottie and Breezy.  Our range neighbor Alfonzo hasn’t fixed the broken gate post yet on the jeep road into the middle range.  He had a lot people help him brand, and turned his cows out on the range, but didn’t fix the gate—so Andrea and I tied it up with baling twines.  We don’t want his cows going into the middle range 3 weeks early, before the grass up there has a chance to grow.

On Saturday I trimmed Rubbie’s long feet, then Andrea, Dani and I rode (Dani’s first ride this year, on Ed) with Heather on a ponying/training ride for willow.  Heather has ponied Willow a few times around home, and this was a longer ride—leading her on a 2 mile loop around the low range.  We went along to open and shut the gates for her, and Dani enjoyed seeing how young Willow is coming along in her training.  We’ll keep ponying her a few times so she learns how to lead nicely from another horse, and learn how to navigate through the gullies and around the sagebrush and hillsides before she has to do it carrying a rider.

Yesterday morning when Andrea and I fed the cows we noticed a calf lying off by herself.  She didn’t get up and come with the others.  It was Rocket, named by Dani after she and I watched her birth, a month ago (she was born quickly and Dani said she “came out like a rocket”).

When Andrea walked over to check on her, we saw that she had diarrhea and didn’t want to get up.  She needed treatment immediately.  We went back to the barnyard and moved all the stored objects out of the “sick barn” including Andrea’s jeep—and had to use her car and jumper cables to get it started.

Then Lynn helped us bring the cow and calf in from the field.  The calf was so weak and wobbly that it took two of us to get her up, and she could barely stand, let alone walk.  Lynn went to get the calf sled while Andrea and I fended off the other cows (who all came running, thinking it might be their calf) and helped get the staggering calf to the gate.  Then we put the calf in the sled and pulled her to the barn, with mama following. 

It is very unusual to have a month-old calf this weak, so suddenly.  She wasn’t dehydrated, even though she was scouring.  She was slipping into toxic shock, probably due to toxins released by a bacterial gut infection.  Her gums were purple instead of healthy pink color.  We realized she needed IV fluids; the metabolic changes in her body from shock were shutting down her organs, including gut function, and she wouldn’t be able to absorb oral fluids very well.   We called Michael, who had just gotten home from North Dakota the night before, to come help give Rocket IV fluids.  While we waited for him, we gave Rocket an injection of Banamine (to help ease the gut pain and reduce any inflammation) and tubed her with fluids, electrolytes, and castor oil (to help stimulate the gut if it was shutting down, and to absorb the toxins).

Michael, Carolyn and Nick arrived soon after, and Michael was able to stick a needle into the jugular vein first try, without having to shave the calf’s neck.  We put 3 liters of IV fluids into her, and added some baking soda (bicarbonate—to reverse the acidosis) and dexamethasone (to help reverse the shock and keep her from leaking fluid out through the capillaries and losing blood pressure).  As we were finishing the 3rd liter, she finally urinated, which was what we were hoping to see.  This meant we had restored her fluid levels enough to prevent kidney damage, and her kidneys were still working—she could flush some of the toxins from her system that way.

We continued treatment through the day, giving her more fluids and electrolytes, and a kaolin-pectin mixture via stomach tube every 3 to 5 hours.  She was still too weak to stand, but by late evening she was stronger and gave more protest when we tubed her.  When we got up at 1 a.m. to tube her again, she was a lot stronger.  This morning when I went out at 5:30 a.m. to check on her, she had actually nursed her mother on one side, so we didn’t give her fluids at that time—just more kaolin-pectin via dose syringe.

She continues to improve and we didn’t need to tube her at all today.  Andrea and I simply treated her a few times with the kaolin-pectin by dose syringe—into the corner of her mouth to the back of her throat, a little at a time so she can swallow it without choking.  Her bowel movements are starting to firm up, so we may not need to continue treatment much longer.

This week I started working on my next book—a collection of stories about some of our favorite horses over the years.  It will be called Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch.  My publisher, A.J. Mangum (The Frontier Project) hopes to have it published by mid-October.  At that point it can be ordered through any book seller, or autographed copies can be purchased directly from me.

Meanwhile, a young doe has been coming into our yard every day to nibble the grass and I took photos of her through the window.