Saturday, November 15, 2014


OCTOBER 7 – My publisher sent me the final proofs last week for my new book Horse Tales.   It looks good. [this book is now available; see the end of this month’s diary]
We had a little rain for a couple of days, and after the rain Andrea took a picture of a rainbow behind her house.

With the cooler weather we built a fire in our stove for the first time this fall. It’s been a long summer and a very mild fall this year. Last winter we only used the one stove (in the kitchen area--our really old stove that Lynn’s parents had when he was a child) because the chimney was completely plugged on the newer stove in the living room. Last Tuesday Michael helped Lynn take the stovepipe apart and they cleaned out the packed soot and debris above the firebox. We bought a new section of stovepipe and got it put back together, so this winter we can use the stove. It heats the house much better when temperatures drop below zero.

On Wednesday it wasn’t raining so Andrea and I made a short ride on Dottie and Rishiam—her 50th ride on that horse since she started working with him 2 months ago. It was a bit muddy and slippery, with a lot of puddles in the jeep road over the low range. Rishiam is finally starting to get over his phobia about walking through water, since he had to walk through some of the larger puddles.

Michael helped Lynn reset the gate post between the 2 fields above the house. It’s been leaning more the past few years, to where it’s almost impossible to open and shut that gate. They dug a deeper hole for the post and added a brace wire to help hold it so the post will stay upright and support the gate better.

The next day we moved our cows to the field above the corrals and sorted off the cows with steers, to leave in the holding pasture, and left the yearling heifers and cows with heifer calves in the larger field. Carolyn got their cows into the corral on the upper place and the brand inspector came and looked at their steers and ours. That afternoon Dani rode with Andrea and me on a short ride over the low range. We went up and around our hillside pasture where Mable—the young maple tree that Dani named—has suddenly turned from green to golden. Mable was just a 2-foot high sprout 26 years ago when we fenced that pasture, and now she’s grown into a small tree.

We fed the steers and their mothers a little hay that evening, and then got them into the corral before daylight on Friday. Andrea and her friend Robbie helped us sort off the steers (with flashlights) and put them in the main corral about the time Michael and Carolyn came down with their 5 steers in the trailer. We loaded ours with them and they were on the road by 7 a.m. (just as it started getting light enough to see) and took them to the sale in Butte, Montana.

They got there as the sale started at 10 a.m. but there were more than 1500 calves at this feeder sale and ours didn’t sell until 2 p.m. But they sold well and brought more than $1400 apiece. The yearling steer, Peabody, the orphan twin that Carolyn found last spring abandoned by his mother, and raised on a bottle (and he then spent last winter with our heifers) brought more than $1800. He was definitely worth saving!

Later that day Andrea and I rode up through the 320 acre mountain pasture to check all the gates. On Sunday Robbie and Andrea helped Carolyn and young Heather get a load of small bales that Heather bought for her horses. They used Andrea’s pickup. That afternoon Andrea and I made a longer ride up through the 320—Rishiam’s 53rd ride.

Yesterday afternoon we made a loop through the middle range and came down the Second Gully canyon. The weather was quite hot (very hot for October!) and Andrea took off her shirt; she has trouble dealing with hot weather because her grafted skin cannot sweat, and if she gets too warm she is at risk for heat stress.

Today Andrea went to Idaho Falls for her pain medications, so I rode Dottie up to meet Carolyn and we made a short ride up through the middle range. On our way home we met 2 men setting little wood posts along some of the cow trails; they are marking out numerous routes for bicycle trails crisscrossing our low range and middle range pastures, and setting posts as trail markers.

The two retired gray horses, Rubbie and Veggie (age 27 and 28) are now in their split pen for winter. We have to keep them separate because she eats faster than he does and would eat more than her share of the hay if they were still together.

OCTOBER 14 – After a ride last Wednesday (55th ride for Rishiam) we dewormed Rishiam and Dottie. He probably hasn’t been dewormed in his life, but was pretty good about it. We will deworm the rest of the horses soon, but are waiting for the weather to get colder so there will be no more bot flies. We usually don’t have any, but with all the horse traffic this year (people riding by our place, and the new Amish neighbors and their buggies) there were probably a few bot larvae shed this spring in the horse manure along the road; a few bot flies hatched out on warm days this fall. A couple weeks ago we picked about 100 bot eggs off Rishiam and Sprout.

The fall colors have been beautiful this year, as the trees along the creek have been turning gold. Lynn took some photos last week, here and on the upper place.

Andrea has been diligently handling Rishiam’s feet and trying to get him over his fears. He’s become fairly tolerant of having his feet cleaned before and after every ride, but he is still fearful about use of nippers. So Andrea is trying to get him used to the sound and feel of them, clanking them around, pretending to use them like she would do for pulling a shoe or trimming a foot. It’s going to take a lot of time. He is so phobic that we are sure someone tried to trim his feet at some earlier point in his life and beat on him with the nippers.

On Saturday we brought the cows down from the field and Michael helped us put nose flaps in the heifer calves.

We’ve wanted to try this weaning method for several years, so this fall I ordered enough nose flaps for our heifers and Michael’s. These small plastic “paddles” fit into the nose and hang down over the calf’s mouth, making it nearly impossible for the calf to get a teat into the mouth. The calf can still eat grass or hay, and drink water, but can’t nurse mama. It’s the least traumatic way to wean calves because they can stay with their mothers and have her companionship and security (which is the biggest thing they miss at weaning time). Since the calf can’t nurse, the cow dries up her milk. It’s a wonderful way to wean calves without the emotional trauma.

After we put in the nose flaps and turned the cattle back up into the field, we made a short ride—this time with Robbie (on Sprout) and Sam and Dani. Sprout hadn’t been ridden for 3 weeks and was feeling goofy, and started bucking after we’d gone about a mile. Robbie was able to get her stopped but we could see that Sprout was in a really bad mood and might try it again, so Andrea tied her halter rope up to the saddle horn with only a little bit of slack—so Sprout wouldn’t be able to get her head down far enough to buck very hard. She’s a really smart horse and knew she couldn’t buck much, so the rest of the ride went smoothly and Robbie didn’t have any more problems with her.

Our friend Danny Ashenbrenner arrived that afternoon from north Idaho, to hunt elk. Andrea went with him up the creek, to show him how to get up the big draw and over the top into the head of Baker Creek. It got really windy and stormy, and a couple of bull elk came out of the timber just before dark—and Danny was able to shoot one of them. About that time it started raining hard, turning to snow and hail, with lightning striking all around them. They left their guns (which might attract lightning) on the hill and went down off the ridge a little ways into a swale and waited out the pounding rain under a plastic rain poncho. Then they quickly gutted the elk with flashlights, put the rain poncho over its antlers to try to deter wolves and bears from approaching the carcass, and hiked back over the mountain in the dark (grateful for flashlights) to their 4-wheeler.

The wind was horrendous that evening; it ripped the tarp in two that was over my small haystack, and blow a big tarp (the one that earlier covered our trough garden) out of the backyard, over the fence and into the brush along the creek. We worried about Andrea and Danny up there on the mountain in the lightning storm, but Andrea was able to call us from the ridge with her cell phone to let us know they were ok, had got an elk, and were coming home. They finally got home at 10 p.m. They wanted to go back up and retrieve the elk with 4-wheelers but it was much too dangerous in the dark with the wet conditions. The hillsides and jeep track would be too slippery.

The next morning at daylight Andrea, Danny, Robbie and Sam took two 4-wheelers up through our mountain pasture into the high range and were able to get fairly close to the elk, quarter it, and bring it down to Andrea’s pickup at the bottom of the mountain. Fortunately no wolves or bears had found it yet.

Yesterday morning Andrea and Robbie helped Michael and Carolyn put nose flaps in their heifer calves on the upper place.

Then Andrea and I went on a short ride. On our way home, as we were coming down off the hill toward the road, several vehicles went by (lots of hunters!) and a couple of them were really noisy. One pickup and trailer went rattling by very slowly, coming up behind us, and the incessant noise upset the horses and they both started jumping around and bucking. We realized we didn’t want to end the ride on that note so we trotted and galloped them up the hill and make a longer loop to come home a slightly different way, and they were settled down again by that time.

Michael has been using our backhoe and dump truck to move a lot of dirt from behind their house and make a loop driveway and also enough room to park several vehicles. It’s looking really good.

This morning we had a beautiful sunrise when I went out to feed the horses at dawn, and I went back inside, grabbed my camera, and took a photo from our porch.

This afternoon young Heather had a serious accident and we are thankful she wasn’t hurt worse. She’s been working with two very spoiled Quarter Horses that someone brought her to train. They are about 5 years old, barely started under saddle a few years ago and not ridden since. One of them isn’t too bad, but the other one is nasty. She has ponied both of them several times and started riding them. Today she was riding the undependable one and had just started up the trail over the hill from their place when the horse just lost his mind and started bucking. He spun around and bucked straight down the hill toward a 5-strand barbed-wire fence. Heather was trying to stop him but he’d gotten her partly out of the saddle and was pounding her against it. She went off the side away from the fence (or she would have been catapulted right into it) and landed on her face. The horse ran back toward the horse pens but was on the outside of the range fence. Their dog Fred barked, and Michael (who was working in the backhoe) saw the horse running back, and Carolyn came out of the house and they both realized Heather had been bucked off. Michael jumped over the fence and caught the horse, but as he grabbed the reins the horse wheeled and struck at him. Michael realized this horse had bucked people off before and probably got beat. This horse was a total nut case with a nasty attitude.

He and Carolyn started hiking around the hill to go find Heather, but she was hiking home down along the road and saw them. She is pretty sore and stiff tonight and can hardly walk. We are thankful that she didn’t hit the fence or break her neck.

OCTOBER 20 – Young Heather was really sore for the past two weeks (badly bruised and some pulled/torn muscles) but nothing broken. She started riding again a couple days after the accident, working with the other horses she’s training (the bronc is going back to its owner). It was painful, especially getting on and off, because her left leg wasn’t working very well and she couldn’t raise it much. It’s doing better now.

Last Friday Charlie played his trombone with the band in the Homecoming parade and at the football game. He didn’t have his music but wasn’t worried about it because he plays most things from memory.

When Andrea and I rode up through the 320-acre pasture to check gates, we found another tree blown down across the little road up through the timber. Fortunately it was broken off partway, leaving 5 foot space between it and the steep bank, and we were able to get around it with our horses. The bank above and below the jeep track was too steep (and covered with old branches and trees) to go around it that way. This was her 61st ride on Rashiam. He’s becoming much calmer about obstacles and scary things than when she started riding him. We went out through the gate at the upper end of our place. Andrea is able to do the gates now that Rishiam is more accustomed to her getting on and off, and standing patiently as she opens and closes them.

We heard a bull elk bugling in the timber above us, as we rode on up into the high range. We rode on up Baker Creek and then out to the big salt ground.

As we came back down the ridge we startled 2 bull elk that went crashing down through the timber. Rishiam and Dottie startled a little at the noise, but they are getting more accustomed to seeing elk and deer.

On Saturday Michael worked all afternoon with the backhoe, fixing the eroded ditch channel below the old barn—eliminating that ditch (which we no longer use) and repairing the creek channel. Andrea and I made a longer ride that day and came home through the middle range. We found very fresh tracks--Alfonzo’s bull. We saw that bull the end of July after Alfonzo and Millers moved their cattle to the high range, and told Alfonzo about it, but either he never rode out there to get the bull or didn’t find him.

Sunday morning Michael and Carolyn hauled their heifers down here, and then hauled their cows down. We got our cattle in to the corral, and the vet came that afternoon to preg check for us and Bangs vaccinate the heifers. We took the nose flaps out of the heifer calves and put all the heifers in the little pens below our calving barn. There’s green grass there and they happily went to grazing—already weaned. There was no bawling, no stress.

One of Michael’s old cows was open. They bought her 4 years ago as a “one-timer” older cow, and she’s had several good calves; her latest calf is a nice big heifer that will replace the old cow. We had one open cow, too—Maggie—our oldest cow. Dani is sad because that cow was her favorite pet, and now we have to sell her. She started making friends with Maggie several years ago when she was only 5 years old and Maggie was a middle-aged cow that was curious about this small child.

My new book, Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch can be ordered through any book seller, or from the publisher - A.J. Mangum ( 719-237-0243 ).

Autographed copies can be ordered directly from me by calling 208-756-2841 or by e-mail at

The price is $24.95 plus shipping.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my! I'm sorry to hear about what happened to Heather. It's good that she's recovering from the accident, though. I hope her positive progress continues all throughout. Please do tell her to take care always. Thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney NY