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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.