Thursday, February 26, 2015

February 4 – February 26, 2015

FEBRUARY 8 – We had some new snow this past week. The heavy snow on top of our woodpile shifted the tarps that were covering one end of it, and that side collapsed, crashing down on the wheelbarrow.

The new snow made our driveway nearly impassible. Lynn got the pickup stuck when he took Charlie home from the bus on Tuesday afternoon, and had to walk back to our house. Andrea and Robbie pulled it out of the snowdrift when they got home that evening, and brought it home for us. The kids had supper with us, and Dani made a calving calendar for this year, showing the due dates of the cows that will be calving in April, and we pinned it up on the wall. Every year we make a calving calendar, to give us an idea at a glance when each cow might possibly calve, and Dani likes to mark them off (circle their names) as they calve.
The next day Michael helped Lynn put chains on our big tractor so we won’t get stuck loading hay and straw, and took more straw bales up to the cows. Andrea picked up the kids from school that day and took them to hockey practice.
The cold weather has taken a toll on 29-year-old Veggie and he’s become so stiff that he can hardly walk. On Thursday I started giving him a dose of “bute” daily, dissolving 2 pills in warm water and mixing it with molasses, giving it to him orally with a big syringe. Like a big aspirin, it reduces pain and inflammation, and by the next day he was walking better, and not so lame and stiff.

The deer aren’t being dissuaded from eating hay with the heifers by having the dogs tethered next to where we feed the heifers. The deer come boldly, in spite of the dogs barking. So yesterday Robbie and Lynn took the dogs back home to Andrea’s house. The kids have been missing their pets!
Emily took another GED test (English) and passed it. So now she only has 2 more tests to take; she’s halfway done! She enjoys being able to study on her own time, and have a fulltime job—and pursue her photography.
With the snowy driveways, Lynn has been using his 4-wheeler to go back and forth from Andrea’s house, and to go to the mailbox.

This weekend Andrea took Emily to her hockey tournament in Sun Valley. The weather warmed up on Friday and the snow was melting, making slush on top of ice in our driveway. It was treacherous, and hard to get up enough speed to make it up the hill at the top when they left home. Michael spent that afternoon with our little tractor and blade, trying to make our driveways safer. He got the slush off, but some of the ice was still too thick and hard to get through. He had to spend another afternoon the next day, clearing the rest of it off after it melted a bit more.
It thawed for several days, and the snow melted off the low country, flooding the fields, ditches and roads. Now instead of snow we have mud! It washed some big gullies
across our county road, making it impossible to drive to and from our place without 4-wheel drive and a lot of clearance.
Yesterday my brother Rockwell Smith and his wife Bev brought a big U-haul trailer from Boise, the first load of things they are moving. They are selling their house in Boise, and moving to a little rented house here at Baker (just 2 miles from us), while their new house is being built this spring on the upper place. Lynn and Robbie helped them unload the multitude of boxes from the trailers.
The flooding continued today, but is slowing down. Most of the snow is gone off the low hills, and the higher snow hasn’t started melting yet. Andrea and Em got home from Sun Valley, where Em’s team won half their games.
Readers have been enjoying my new book Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch, so I am now starting my next book, Cow Tales from and Idaho Ranch. It’s a fun project, remembering some of the interesting adventures with cattle.

FEBRUARY 12 – On Monday it rained, so in addition to melting snow we had even more water, and more flooding. The frost went out of the ground and even the main road up and down the creek became deeply rutted and challenging. It reminded me of the days when my parents and little brother and I had to leave our car along the road and hike the last several miles up to the little cabin above our present ranch, where we stayed in the summertime before my dad bought the ranch. The road got so boggy that a vehicle would sink down to its axles.
Monday morning while Lynn and I were feeding cows, Andrea shoveled the ditches along her driveway to divert the water away; it was making deep ruts, washing out the driveways. Michael spent 3 days working at a friend’s ranch fighting floods.
The nice thing about the warmer weather and snow melting off the fields is that the cows are happily starting to graze again. There was still some grass under all that crusted snow.
This has saved several big bales of straw; we haven’t put out straw for more than a week. We’ll save it for when the weather gets cold again. We’re feeding the alfalfa hay on top of some of the straw where the feeders have been—so the cows won’t waste it. The alfalfa hay has very fine leaves and if it’s fed on wet ground the cows tend to tromp it into the mud and much of the value is lost. It’s best to feed it on the old straw or thick grass where there’s no mud.
Dani missed school on Monday, and Andrea took her and Sam to the doctor on Tuesday; they came back from the weekend at their dad’s place with more respiratory problems. This has been an all-too-common occurrence—missing school because they are sick when they come home--after they spend a weekend in an environment with people smoking in the house.

FEBRUARY 20 – Veg is doing better, not so lame and stiff, so I cut back on the amount of bute I’m giving him (one pill daily instead of 2) and that seems to be enough. I don’t want to give him too much bute because it can be hard on the stomach (just like aspirin) and I don’t want him to get ulcers.
On Friday Andrea and Dani helped Lynn feed the cows; Dani loves to see the cows and goes with us every chance she gets—whenever she’s here at Andrea’s house—when we do anything with the cattle. Andrea’s friend Robbie has a job on a ranch the
other side of town, feeding cows, checking the calving cows, etc. and on Saturday Dani went with him to ride around in the tractor feeding hay, and see the new babies. Our cows won’t start calving until late March, and Dani is impatient to see some calves!
Sam’s hockey team had a tournament here this weekend. She had 2 games on Saturday and Lynn went to town with Emily to watch the second one.
My brother and his wife made another trip from Boise, bringing more of their things to unload here at their rented house, and a trailer load of outdoor things that they took to their house site on the upper place.
We had more cold weather, and Lynn plugged the tractor in overnight to make sure it would start on Tuesday to load more big straw bales for the cows.
On Wednesday Andrea took both Sam and Dani to the doctor—Dani for medication to ease her terrible cough, and Sam for an x-ray of her hip bone. She got hit really hard with a puck at hockey practice the evening before, and her hip was very painful. Just badly bruised, however, and not broken. It’s probably a god thing that hockey season is about over!

FEBRUARY 26 – This past weekend was Emily’s state tournament in Boise. She and Andrea drove down Thursday evening and Em’s first gave was Friday, late morning. Her team played Sun Valley and won 7 to 0, with Em making one of the goals and assisting with another. Emily’s boss (at the music store) was in Boise that day and came to watch her team play. They didn’t do so well in the rest of their games, and didn’t win them.
Sunday afternoon some folks from northern Alberta stopped here to meet us on their way south to see the Grand Canyon. They have a ranch along the Frasier River, near Yukon Territory. They have been reading my Rancher’s Diary column in Grainews (a Canadian farm newspaper) for about 20 years and wanted to stop by. We enjoyed visiting with them, and they stayed for supper with us and Dani, Sam and Charlie. Lynn went into town just before supper to pick up those three kids from their dad, who had them over the weekend.
Andrea and Em got home very late that night and didn’t get much sleep. Andrea needed to rest on Monday but insisted on coming down that morning to help us feed cows and help Lynn refill our woodbox. With the cold weather (dipping down to zero for several nights) we’d gone through a lot of firewood.
Dani’s respiratory problem took a turn for the worse again and she had a fever and stayed home from school. Her fever got really high Tuesday evening and Andrea took her to the ER, where the doctor gave her an injection of antibiotic. She is doing a little better by today.
On a brighter note, granddaughter Heather’s first book has been accepted for publication, by the same editor who published my book Horse Tales (which came out in late October last year). Her book discusses safety when handling horses, and will be published in April. We are all very excited and delighted about this news.

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