Tuesday, December 9, 2014

November/December 2014

Last Monday morning Lynn and Michael hauled the 2 open cows and one of our yearling bulls to the saleyard at Butte, Montana. We kept 3 bull calves last year, but it turned out that we only needed 2 of them, so we sold the extra one.

Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie that morning, and met Carolyn at the upper place. She had already gathered the cows into the corral, just before we got there. We helped her prop up and tie together a fallen-down fence and brace post for the gate next to the road (that the neighbors’ cows crashed into earlier this fall when they brought their cows down the road after they rounded up off the range). Ralph the goat helped fix the fence, and at one point tried to climb up on the prop Andrea set against it.

We took our cows up the road to our 320-acre mountain pasture to spend the rest of the fall. The grass is really good this year, with the rain we had earlier in the fall, with new green regrowth amongst the tall mature grass. I took photos of Andrea and Carolyn as we moved the cows into Baker Creek, and Dottie got her head in one of the photos.

After we got back home, Andrea and I made a shorter ride—on Rishiam and Dottie—since this will be the last time she has a chance to ride him until she gets back from the World Burn Congress in California. She and Emily spent the evening getting packed and ready for their trip.

At chore time I gave the weaned calves a little hay, mainly to start gentling them and get them used to people. Our calves are already pretty gentle because they’ve seen us a lot, but Michael and Carolyn’s calves spent the summer on our mountain pasture and are not used to seeing people up close. The next morning when I fed them again, our calves came eagerly to the hay and others were not so scared and followed them.

That morning it started raining. It was a downpour by the time Andrea and Emily left here to drive to California. It rained most of the day. Carolyn and I had planned to ride and check the cows we’d put on the 320, and Lynn was going to take some salt up there on his 4-wheeler, but it was too wet and slippery. During a brief let-up in the rain, Michael and Carolyn went up on 4-wheelers just far enough to get a look at the cows and make sure they were doing ok and hoping none were trying to come home to their calves. Thanks to the nose-flap weaning of their calves, and the cows already drying up, none of them were very upset about being moved up there and they were doing fine.

Wednesday we moved the weaned heifer calves into a larger pasture. They are gentling down and were easy to move. It was still too slippery on the mountainsides to safely ride up to the 320 to check the cows, but the jeep track wasn’t bad, so I went with Lynn on the 4-wheeler when he took salt, and we checked the cows on foot. Andrea and Emily made it to Anaheim (for the World Burn Congress) by late afternoon, in time for the Walk of Remembrance. They were among more than 4000 people doing the walk to honor friends, relatives, firefighters and others who have perished in fires. Later that evening they met up with many friends they met at earlier WBC gatherings and talked with some of the firefighters.

Yesterday Lynn took Sam for her appointment at the hospital for an ultrasound of her abdomen to check her old hernia repair (the doctor wanted to check it because she’s been having discomfort). Later that morning he had to drive to town again to pick up all the kids. There was a gas leak at the school and they were closing school early and sending all the kids home.

Carolyn and I rode to the 320 to check on the cows. It was still muddy and slippery from the rain 2 days earlier, but not as bad. When we started up Baker Creek, a young cow and a yearling heifer were bawling and coming down the creek. They were quite upset, and when they saw Carolyn’s dog they ran on past us and down to the bottom. I rode down to get them, and took them back up the fence along the ridge while Carolyn rode up Baker Creek to see if there were any more cows coming down. There were no cows up there—just a bear! He was in the timber above the jeep road, and scared her horse as she rode by. The rest of the cows were out on the mountain. Apparently they’d all come in to water at the upper end of the pasture, and then gone back out—except for these 2 that must have gotten separated from the others and scared by the bear. Hopefully he won’t stay in our pasture. Dani and I rode this morning to check on the cows and move them again, since Carolyn has to work at the vet clinic.

NOVEMBER 1 - Andrea’s kids cleaned their rooms and cleaned up the house to surprise their mom when she got back from the World Burn Congress in Anaheim, California. Andrea and Em had a wonderful experience. The first evening, they participated in the walk of remembrance. The next 3 days were filled with inspiring speakers, other burn survivors sharing their stories and the struggles and high spots of their various journeys.

Featured speakers included Mark Nepo--a cancer survivor, poet and philosopher who talked about finding inner courage. Robert David Hall (who stars as Dr. Al Robbins in the CBS series CSI –Crime Scene Investigation) inspired the audience by sharing his journey as a burn survivor, after being seriously burned—and losing both legs--in 1978 when an 18-wheeler struck his car, which exploded. Another speaker was Justina Page, a delightful person that Andrea and I met at our first WBC in 2008 in North Carolina. Justina was severely burned some years ago, dramatically changing her plans for life. In her speech she used extraordinary humor and wisdom, challenging her listeners to live bold, purposeful lives filled with hope, faith and compassion.

Various workshops throughout the 4-day event focused on dealing with stress, alternative healing and self-care, self-compassion, reclaiming your life after a burn, etc. One workshop focused on choosing happiness (pain is inevitable after a burn but misery and happiness are optional). There are ways of make healthy changes to find happiness. Andrea and Em spent most of their time reconnecting with friends they met at earlier WBC gatherings, and meeting new ones—the WBC is one great big support group in which they help one another and celebrate life after a burn.

After the WBC was over on Sunday, Andrea and Em started their trip home, but made several stops along the way to visit friends and relatives. They made one detour down to San Diego to see Emily’s friend Eduardo. Emily met him at an earlier WBC when he was a new burn survivor, struggling to adjust, and they became good friends.

He had planned to drive to the WBC this year but his car broke down and he didn’t make it. So Andrea and Em drove down to San Diego to see him.

Then they drove north to Sacramento and visited with Ray (my cousin Kit’s husband; Kit is my twin cousin, who died earlier this year). He was glad to see them, and delighted to finally meet Emily.

They left his place late Monday night and drove as far as Reno, Nevada to stop for a few hours of sleep before heading on home.
During the week they were gone, we helped take care of the younger kids and Robbie took them to and from the school bus on his way to and from work. On Saturday Lynn took another block of salt to the 320 on his 4-wheeler.

It was too foggy in the morning to ride and check the cows, but the fog lifted a little by mid-afternoon so Dani and I made a fast ride on Ed and Dottie to see the cows.
On Sunday Lynn shut off all our ditches—before the weather gets colder and they start freezing up. The next day we let the weaned heifers into the little pasture above the orchard, where there is a lot of green grass regrowth.

Tuesday I rode Ed up to the 320 to check the cows and most of them were down on the low end so I moved them back up to the top. It was a little tricky, with the ground frozen and the steep hillsides very treacherous (no traction). Ed and I had to gather some of the cows in lower Baker Creek and it took awhile because I didn’t want to risk having my horse fall down on the steeper slopes where there’s no trails.

That afternoon we went to town and picked up the kids at school—and took Charlie’s good clothes for him to change to before his performance at the Salmon Idol. Andrea and Em were driving home and hoped to get here in time to hear Charlie sing, but arrived a bit late. Charlie did a great job, singing the convoy trucking song. Robbie made a video of his song, however, so Andrea and Em got to hear it. They stayed for the rest of the program but Lynn and I came home before the senior performances, to feed the horses and bulls (in the dark). Robbie gave Andrea a nice bouquet of roses when they all came home after the concert ended.

Andrea was exhausted after the trip and we didn’t ride the next day; she needed some sleep. We rode again Thursday, and Rishiam was pretty good. This was his 65th ride after 9 days off. We rode up the ridge to the 320 and found most of the cows down again. We moved them up Baker Creek and out through the timber at the top. Rishiam hasn’t had much experience yet moving cattle, and he got upset and worried when we first started, but then became more at ease. At one point Andrea left me holding him from my horse (Dottie) while she scrambled up the steep, frozen hillside on foot to move a few cows that were not wanting to follow the herd.

After we crossed Baker Creek and started up the little jeep track through the timber, some of the young cows—that haven’t had much experience being driven by horses—tried to go down across Baker Creek and up the other side of the canyon. Andrea and Rishiam held the back end of the herd (so they wouldn’t turn around and go back down the creek) while Dottie and I charged across the creek and up the other hill to turn them around to get them back to the herd. About that time some of the others headed up the bank on the other side, trying to go out through the timber, and Dottie and I had to hurry over there, lunge up the bank, and turn the cows the proper direction. She’s getting better about working cattle (and likes it!) and Rishiam is becoming less nervous. We got the herd back to the top area where there’s a lot more grass.

After we got home, I took Dottie’s bridle off and was just starting to lead her across the driveway to tie her up to unsaddle her when she suddenly fell forward into me. I thought for a second that she’d tripped and fallen down, then realized that her front leg had gone through the driveway surface into a deep hole—up past her knee!

The old culvert that Lynn put under the driveway more than 40 years ago (for the ditch) had rusted out and water eroded a big hole alongside it. There was a small cavern down in there, and Dottie just happened to step on the right spot to fall through. Luckily it was her (and not Rishiam, or a vehicle tire), and I was just leading her and not on her. It was a good thing she was just walking, and not trotting, or it might have broken her leg. Andrea and I put an old tire over the hole so no one would step in it or drive over it.

Yesterday Lynn drove past Gibbonsville to locate water for a well, for people who are planning to build a house on property they purchased there. On his way through town he ordered two long lengths of culvert, which were delivered in the afternoon.

Andrea and Robbie (on Sprout) rode with me on a 3 hour loop over the range (into the middle range) where we again tracks and fresh manure from Alfonzo’s bull that is still out there. Sprout was a bit naughty after several weeks of not being ridden, and tried to buck. Andrea had tied her head up fairly short (halter rope tied to saddle horn) before Robbie got on her however, and Robbie was able to keep her from bucking hard.
Charlie, Sam and Dani went trick-or-treating for Halloween, and had a great time.

They stopped along the way at Jade and Anita’s place, with their kids, and saw the huge pumpkin they grew. We gave them several trailer loads of manure for their garden this spring, and they had a little pile of manure left over; they planted a few pumpkin seeds in that pile and grew some huge pumpkins.

Today Andrea, Robbie and I rode again, this time up the ridge to the 320 to check on the cows. Some were down again, so we herded them up the ridge, taking them along the fence. Rishiam is figuring out the following-cows job and is actually enjoying it now instead of being nervous. Sprout behaved better today for Robbie than she did yesterday, and didn’t try to buck—even when it started raining. We rode home in the rain and a lightning storm. This is very late in the year for lightning!

NOVEMBER 7 – Last Sunday and Monday Michael helped us take out the old rusty, broken culvert in our driveway.

He dug it out with the backhoe, then he and Lynn placed the new culverts (coupled together to be long enough) and realized we needed 10 feet more. The old one was always too short, leaving a deep ditch that people sometimes drove into unexpectedly when turning around at our place (the ditch that Rishiam fell into after Andrea got on him, on one of their early rides). We put the new culvert 10 feet farther that direction thinking we could just fence off the ditch on the other side, toward the barn, but realized that would create problems on the barn end. Trying to save money on the length (the whole project was an unexpected expense that was definitely not in the budget!) was going to leave us with a situation we wouldn’t be happy with, so Lynn went to town Monday morning for another piece of pipe.

Michael hauled 3 dump-truck loads of dirt from his place to bed the pipe and smooth out the driveway, and also filled a dip in the gateway toward the lower field. It was a major project, taking till dark both days. There is still a small dip in the driveway on this side of the culvert and Michael hopes to bring one more truckload of dirt to finish smoothing that out. The material at his place makes great road surfacing because it packs beautifully and makes a firm surface that doesn’t get muddy.

Andrea and I didn’t ride Sunday while they were working on the culvert, but needed to ride on Monday to check the cattle on the 320. Rishiam was nervous about the machinery and noise, and didn’t want to be caught, so Michael shut off the backhoe. Andrea got him saddled, but when she tried to bridle him he was still upset and reverted back to his earlier phobia—raising his head up and stepping backward. I tried to help her, like we did earlier, holding his head down while she bridled him, but he was too upset to cooperate. She finally had to resort to our earlier trick, taking the bridle apart and putting it over his ears first. She felt badly that he regressed so much, after all the progress she’d made, the past couple months, on that aspect of his phobia.

The good note was that after we finally got past that situation and rode to the 320 to check the cows, Rishiam did really well. We had to move the cows higher again, and he did a great job. He’s becoming more at ease around the cattle and Andrea was able to go up one side of Baker Creek while I went up the other, and he held up his end of the move without becoming nervous about the cattle. He is going to be a useful cow horse. The ground wasn’t frozen that day, and we were able to safely scramble around on the steep hillsides to head a few wayward heifers. Our two green horses are getting better at moving cattle, and the young cows are learning how to behave and stay with the herd.

November 4 was Dani’s birthday. That morning Lynn gathered up all his irrigation dams before they snow under, and Andrea and I rode again (her 69th ride on Rishiam since she got him a few months ago). She is still having to take the bridle apart to get it on him, but at least he’s standing still for that and not trying to rush backward. It’s just going to take time to regain the ground she lost. We made a short ride that day—a loop around the low range—since Andrea had to go to town to get things ready for the birthday party.

I drew horses on T-shirts for Dani, and a Garfield cat for Charlie. They had friends for a party at the pizza place in town. We celebrated their birthdays together because we never did have a party for Charlie; the kids were at their dad’s that week.

My first shipment of books arrived that afternoon (Horse Tales: True Stories from
an Idaho Ranch) so I was able to give one to Dani for her birthday. She was delighted to discover that she is in 3 of the photos in a couple of chapters. The other kids will get their copies for Christmas. This book will be our Christmas gift to several friends and family members. It will give a bit of insight into our lives as well as that of our horses.

On Wednesday morning Andrea and Charlie got up at 4 a.m. to drive to town and go on the school bus for the choir trip to Shelley, Idaho. Andrea was one of two parents who traveled with them on the bus. Five schools sent their best singers for this regional meet.

The kids practiced all day and put on a concert that evening. Charlie was chosen as one of 3 soloists from the 5 schools, so we were proud of him. It was a long day for them; they got back home at 11 p.m. that evening.

That same day Lynn and Robbie helped Michael on a custom fencing job all day, leaving here at daylight and getting back just before dark. Michael wanted to get it finished that day because he was leaving the next morning for Wisconsin. He and Carolyn and Fred the dog left early yesterday morning for the first leg of their trip, making it as far as Bismarck, ND to spend the night. They’ve never had time to go to one of Nick’s track meets or cross-country competitions while he’s been in college in Iowa, so they wanted to go to his final regional meet (in La Crosse, Wisconsin) and surprise him. They called his coach earlier this fall to see if it would be alright if they picked up Nick after the meet, to take him back to college (rather than him riding the bus with the track team). The coach kept everything a secret, and helped them make motel reservations.

Andrea and I rode to the 320 again yesterday, and there were only a few cows down low. We moved them back up to the high grass, and Rishiam did very nicely; he now enjoys herding them. When we got home we dewormed the rest of the horses, and picked bot eggs off Willow and Veggie. It was such a warm fall that a couple more bot flies hatched out last week and attacked the horses. Hopefully there won’t be any more!

Today I moved the heifers to the little field above the house. We let that grass regrow after grazing it mid-summer, and the green grass is about 8 inches tall. We saved it for the weaned heifers this fall.
Andrea came at noon and took the shoes off Breezy, with a little help and advice. She’s helped me trim feet, but has never taken shoes off, and wanted to practice on some of the other horses before she tries to take the shoes off Rishiam later this year.

We talked to Michael and Carolyn this evening. They made it safely to La Crosse and got there in time to meet up with Nick as he and his teammates got off their bus. Fred the dog went to greet Nick and it was a wonderful surprise! He’d been very homesick and having his family come to his track meet really lifted his spirits.

1 comment:

  1. That is such an illuminating display of the different ways in which we can assist people. Sad to read about the fellow who didn't make it in that gathering because of his car breaking down, though. I hope the repair work did a good job in making the car endure more, so it wouldn't be an obstacle next time. Thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Cayla Maggio @ Nowthen Transmission