Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 1-15, 2015

JANUARY 7, 2015 – We’ve had a week of really cold weather and I’m still sick. On New Year’s Day Andrea and Robbie fed my horses for me so I wouldn’t have to go outside (9 below zero), and they helped Lynn feed the cows and heifers and break ice on the creek for the cows. Our feed truck hasn’t been running very well so Robbie put new spark plugs in it, which made a big difference. Andrea got a few more small bales of grass hay on her pickup for the heifers, to feed with their alfalfa. Our high for the day was zero. Emily took the kids to town for their hockey practice that evening, and took a photo of Charlie waiting to play.

 The next day was a little warmer, only down to 6 below zero that morning. Andrea and Emily left early in the morning to drive to Kalispell, Montana for her hockey tournament, and Dani went with them. The roads were slippery and they had to go pretty slow on the last part of the trip, barely making it in time for Emily’s first game. They played several games that weekend—against the Kalispell team, Whitefish, a Canadian team from Lethbridge, Alberta, and a team from Seattle, Washington—and won them all, in spite of being short on players. They only had enough players to be a team, and when one of their teammates injured her knee in the 3rd game they had to “borrow” a player from the Kalispell team to be able to finish the tournament. Andrea took photos of Em playing, and a photo afterward of Em, Dani, and their goalie.

That weekend Sam had a tournament here at home, so Robbie took her to those games, since Andrea was in Kalispell with Emily. Robbie also helped Lynn and me do chores and break ice for the cows. Michael and Nick came down and put out 2 more big bales of straw with the tractor. We had stormy weather and more snow, and the roads were bad when Andrea and Em drove home from Kalispell, so we were glad they made it home safely Sunday evening. We had so much new snow here at Salmon that school was cancelled on Monday.
I had an encouraging message from my publisher of Horse Tales; he said the book did well during December, with people buying it for Christmas, and he hopes it will continue to have strong sales as more people learn about it. He gave me the go-ahead to do another book, on Cow Tales, and I hope to start writing it very soon.
I’m starting to feel a little better, and have been helping Lynn feed the cows again, and took a few photos when we fed yesterday.
 But for several days I had to do all my phone interviews (interviewing people for the articles I was writing) in a whisper. I’m starting to get my voice back again, and not coughing so much, which makes it easier to do the interviews. I’m also able to sleep a little better, which helps.
The whitetail deer are really plaguing us. The dogs are keeping them out of the haystack but now more of them are eating alfalfa hay with the heifers. Some of them are so bold that they just lie around in the field and wait for us to feed the heifers, then come
eat their hay. Emily took a few photos of several young deer with the heifers. She is taking a lot of pictures these days and I am using some of her photos for this diary.
[photos 6, 7 & 8 – deer and heifers]

About 20 to 30 deer are coming into the field in the evening right after we feed the heifers, eating their alfalfa hay. They ate so much of their hay the past several nights that the heifers were pretty empty and hungry by morning. The deer also jumped into Veggie’s pen and ate all his alfalfa hay. This isn’t going to work! Poor old Veggie (29 years old this year) has bad teeth and it takes him all day to eat his morning feeding, and all night to finish his evening meal. If the deer eat it, he won’t get enough to eat and will be losing more weight.

Lynn started shooting fire-cracker shells at the deer to scare them away, but they come right back. He went out there several times in the night and the deer were back eating the hay again every time. So we called the Fish and Game and asked what we could do to try to remedy this problem.
Three of their wildlife people came out this morning and assessed the situation. They didn’t have a solution for the deer eating our heifers and horses’ alfalfa, but they brought some strong plastic netting material that we could wrap around our haystack to protect it—something the deer can’t eat through. We wrapped it around the stack, so now we won’t need Andrea’s dogs tied at each end of the stack to protect it.

JANUARY 15 – The day we wrapped haystack, we moved the dogs to a new location—putting their little houses by the fence in the field where the heifers are, and staked them there. A few deer still sneak up around them, but they’ve been able to bark and scare most of the deer away that used to come right through that area to eat the heifer’s hay.
[photos 12 & 13 - dogs guarding the field]

We had several foggy, cold days this past week but at least the temperatures were no longer below zero. One night the power went off at 8 p.m. and was off for more than 3 hours—affecting about 800 people in our valley. We were about to go to bed anyway, so we just used flashlights to put wood in the stoves, and were glad we had wood stoves for heat!
Nick left early Friday morning to drive back to Oskaloosa, Iowa to finish his final semester at William Penn University. He had relatively good roads, and cold weather. We sent a full gas can with him, in case he got stranded somewhere; he could at least keep his engine running and not run out of gas, and be able to stay warm. But the roads weren’t that bad and he didn’t need to use the emergency fuel. He drove more than halfway that day and made it clear across South Dakota, spent a few hours sleeping at a motel, and made it the rest of them way in time to be there for track practice on Saturday.
In the meantime, granddaughter Heather was on her way back from another visit to friends on the wheat farm in Saskatchewan, and got home Friday night. That weekend Charlie’s hockey team had a tournament here, and Emily took pictures of him skating.

On Saturday Michael and young Heather came down to help us put more straw out for the cows and Heather brought a bucket of horse pellets for me to try for Veggie. He has trouble eating very much hay, with his bad teeth, and when the deer jump into his pen and clean up his alfalfa, he doesn’t get enough to eat. These are tiny pellets, easy to chew, and contain a lot of calories and nutrition. Young Heather bought a lot of bags of these to feed her old pregnant mare, Classy, and thought they might help Veggie.
That evening, I fed him a small amount in a rubber tub and he tasted them and nosed them around and kept trying to pick up the tub with his teeth and dump it (I had to stand there and keep him from flipping the tub over). The next morning I gave him some more, and he seemed to like them a little better—ate more of the handful I gave him—but still tried to dump the tub. By the third time, he decided he liked them. Now I am giving him 2 cups of pellets twice a day, and sticking his tub down firmly into an old tire so he can’t pick it up with his teeth and dump it. He always liked to play with tubs (with his teeth and feet) so I can’t leave one in his pen, just take it in there to feed him and take it out when he’s finished. He can eat it while we are loading up hay right there for the heifers, so that works nicely.

Now that he is willingly eating the pellets, I started mixing some joint medication (containing glucosamine, also in tasty pellet form) in with his easy meal, in hopes it might help his painful arthritis. He does fine in the summer, but his leg joints get stiff and painful in cold weather.
Michael spent a couple days fixing vehicles. He helped Lynn take 2 of the old worn-out tires off the feed truck (tires that had slow leaks and were always going flat) and put on some newer ones, and worked on Andrea’s car to get it to run better. Yesterday Lynn and Andrea fixed the electric fence around Veggie and Rubbie’s pens that the deer tore down, so now the heifers can’t lean through into Veggie’s pen and rub/press down the net wire. It’s hard to keep the fences working with all the wildlife going through them!


  1. That is a really tantalizing look at a normal day of wildlives and hockey pucks. Anyway, it's nice that you have been able to get the gas tank of your car full. With the environment being like that, and its attendant happenings, what adventures further awaits? Might as well get your car always prepared, right? All the best!

    Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company

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