APRIL 28 – A couple weeks ago Emily bought her first car—a 1994 Pontiac that needs a little fixing. She found it on-line, in Rigby, a 3 hour drive from here. Andrea and Robbie borrowed a friend’s car carrier and went to get it last week. They left after Robbie got home from work (he works at a ranch south of town) and were nearly home by midnight, but came upon a wrecked semi blocking the back road—just before they got to our creek road. The semi was delivering stove-making materials to one of the Amish families that life around the hill from us, and didn’t make the corner. The trailer was tipped nearly over, into a ditch, and the tractor part was tipped over off the other side of the road.
was no way past it, so Andrea had to turn her truck and trailer around
(a bit tricky) and go back to the highway. The state patrolman directed
them to detour through a private lane—but they had to take a locked
gate off its hinges to get through. So they finally got home at 3 a.m.
The road was blocked all night; there wasn’t a wrecker in Salmon big
enough to handle the semi. They had to wait for two wreckers to come
from Idaho Falls.
Last Monday the guys who built Andrea’s house 3
years ago came up and put new shingles on the roof where severe winds
had taken the shingles off. That day Charlie’s singing group from
school went to Rexburg to a singing contest. Charlie is doing very well
with his music—both in band with his trombone, and in chorus. His
teacher thinks he has a lot of talent and could have a career in music.
Robbie has been changing sprinkler pipes on a ranch that has some
goats. Andrea’s kids enjoy going out there sometimes after school to
see the baby goats, and pet the ones that are being raised on bottles.
On Tuesday we had 3 cows calving. LillyAnn calved first—a little red
heifer calf. It was up and nursing within 30 minutes. Cupie Doll had a
big black brockle-faced heifer that Dani named Panda Bear because of
the big black spots on her eyes, and her black “lipstick” making a
permanent smile. Dani helped me do chores that evening after Lynn
brought her home from the bus. She helped me move that pair from the
calving pen to the second-day pens below the barn, to make room for the
next calving cow. Panda Bear was still a little unsteady on her feet
and Dani enjoyed pushing her from behind to get her to go across the
driveway. Then Dani rode in the tractor with her mom for awhile as
Andrea finished the harrowing.
That night Lilly Annie
(LillyAnn’s daughter) was restless and in early labor—and calved the
next morning—a black heifer calf. The heifers are way ahead of the bull
calves this year, and with only a few cows left to calve there is no
way they will be able to catch up!
On Friday it rained and
snowed all day. Charlie and Dani helped us dump and move a water trough
from the maternity pen (since there are were only 3 cows left there) to
the field above the house. We need an extra trough up there to water
all the cows with calves. The weather has been cold at nights, down to
26 degrees, but getting warmer during the day, so the grass is trying to
Andrea and Em drove to Idaho Falls on Saturday for a
doctor’s appointment. That morning our last red cow started calving,
but she didn’t progress in labor. Finally that afternoon, the feet
started to show, but the amnion sac was filled with very dark fluid and
we knew the calf was in trouble. If the calf is stressed too much
during birth, he passes his first bowel movements, into the amniotic
fluid that surrounds him.
We’d already called Michael, to help us
check the cow in case it was a breech calf or some other abnormal
position that needed correction, so we put her in the headcatch and
Michael reached in and discovered that the legs were back at the elbows
(feet and head all jammed together rather than the feet extended in
front of the head), making it impossible for the calf to come through
the birth canal very easily. He had to pull the legs out to proper
position and then pulled the calf. It was a red bull calf, and covered
thickly with meconium (that material he’d pooped out). His mama had to
lick all of that off. But he was still alive, in spite of being too
long in the birth process. Now we just have 2 cows left to calve, and
they look like they’ll be awhile.
MAY 5 – Last Wednesday
Andrea helped Lynn put up a temporary electric fence along the south
side of the pasture where the cows and calves are—to keep the calves
from eating gravel along the ditchbank and also keep them away from the
elk panels on that side of the field (the backside of the stackyard).
On year we had a calf reach through those and get its head caught, so we
don’t want to have that risk.
Lynn cleaned more of our ditches with tractor and blade.
Saturday our friend from north Idaho (who was here for a few days
looking for elk horns in the mountains) helped him shovel and rake
debris out of a couple ditches. We finally got some of our ditches
turned on at the creek so we can start irrigating.
Dani likes to
stop here after school when Lynn brings the kids home from the bus, and
she helps me with evening chores, feeding the horses and heifers. She
also likes to pick grass for the cows. They are still on hay in the
little field above the house until the grass grows a little taller in
our other pastures. They are very hungry for green grass, so they
eagerly come to eat grass out of Dani’s hands. She’s determined to make
pets out of ALL of them! She fills a bucket with green grass that she
picks along the edges of the barnyard, and doles it out to her favorite
On Sunday Michael and Carolyn moved their cows from the fields on the
upper place, herding them up to our mountain pasture. They still have 3
cows left to calve, but they need to get that group away from the
creek—which will soon be at high water stage. They don’t want any
calves drowning, trying to cross the creek.
We are still waiting
for 2 last slowpokes in our herd. The heifer, Buffalope, is most ready
(she’s due to calve in about a week) so now I am putting her in the
calving pen at nights, under the lights from the hay shed, so I can see
her easier at night.
Michael had an article published in this
month’s Progressive Forage Grower magazine, and has another assignment
to write an article for a summer issue. He hopes to start doing more
Right now, however, he and Carolyn, Andrea and Em
are getting ready for their trip tomorrow—to drive to Oskaloosa, Iowa
for Nick’s graduation from William Penn University. Today Andrea and
Carolyn drove to Idaho Falls to pick up a van to rent, for the trip.
While in Idaho Falls, Andrea had her monthly appointment with her pain
doctor, and also dropped off some documents with her lawyer, pertaining
to the custody case that Mark is pursuing in his attempt to get full
custody of Dani, Sam and Charlie. On their way home from Idaho Falls
with the rented van, Andrea and Carolyn picked up Carolyn’s mom Irene
Allen at Arco. She will be going with them to Nick’s graduation in
MAY 10 – Early Wednesday morning Michael and
Carolyn and Irene came down to pick up Andrea and Emily and they started
their trip. Lynn took Andrea’s kids to the school bus an hour later.
The travelers made it as far as Rapid City, South Dakota (by 11 p.m.
that night) to stop for the night, and continued on to Oskaloosa on
At chore time later that morning we took a photo of Dani’s two favorite calves—Mini Mag and Panda Bear.
Our last heifer, Buffalope, started calving Wednesday morning and we
put her in the calving pen just before lunch. One foot started
showing—just the tip of the toes. Within 20 minutes that leg was
sticking out almost to the knee, and the calf’s nose was showing, but
the other leg was not there. Lynn and I got all the gates ready to
bring Buffalope across the driveway to the headcatch in front of the
barn, so we could restrain her and go fishing for the other leg. But in
the meantime Buffalope got up and down a few more times, the calf went
back in, and the next time she lay down to strain, both feet were there.
So we just left her alone and she soon gave birth to a red heifer
It was on its feet within 30 minutes, and within a
couple hours it had nursed adequately, so we moved the pair to the pen
below the barn where there’s a windbreak on one side and brush along the
other two sides. The weather had become stormy, starting to rain
before evening. Brush in the far corner of that pen overhangs the pen,
making a sort of roof, and that’s where the new mama and her baby spent
the night. We had a gentle rain all night long.
Lynn took Andrea’s kids to the school bus, and picked them up again
after school. Dani stopped off here and helped me do chores and feed
the cow and calf below the barn. She named the new calf Raindrop. This
calf is uniquely colored. She’s all red, except for some black hairs
on top of her head making her look like she has a wig, and a couple
inches of black coloring at the tip of her tail! The next day, both Sam
and Dani helped with chores, and helped us catch and tag Raindrop. They
also went up in the field to look at their favorite calves and feed
grass to the cows.
was Nick’s graduation. It started at 10 a.m and lasted until 1 p.m
with 310 seniors graduating. As soon as it was over, Michael and
Carolyn, her mom, and Andrea and Em loaded up all his stuff in his
pickup and headed home. Em rode with Nick in the pickup.
After we did chores we checked on all the babies up in the field, and
Dani showed Sam her new pet. One of the calves has become very bold and
comes up to Dani to have her head and back scratched. She’s a
great-granddaughter of Maggie, Dani’s favorite old cow that we had to
sell last fall. When this calf was born, Dani named her Mini-Mag, and
it looks like she’ll be a replacement for Maggie as Dani’s best pet. At
first she was timid and wouldn’t let Dani touch her (when this photo
was taken), but now she’s more friendly.
morning (Sunday) they had more than a foot of new snow in the motel
parking lot. The snow plows were trying to keep the freeway clear,
however, so they headed on home, with fog, rain/snow and poor
visibility, but at least it was daylight.