Friday, October 30, 2015

Ranch Diary: August 24 through September 30, 2015

SEPTEMBER 1 – We’ve had a lot of hot weather, and most days we are immersed in thick smoke from nearby fires. Andrea and I have been riding nearly every day, training Willow, and today was Willow’s 28th ride. The 3-year-old Morgan filly is doing very well, and her tough feet are still holding up nicely without shoes.

Andrea has been doing most of the irrigating now, and sometimes the kids go along with her. When they were changing water in the back field where the cows were grazing last week, Emily and Dani enjoyed letting the cows and calves come up to them. Some of the calves are brave enough to come up and be petted.

 I’ve been working on my next book of ranch stories. It will follow Cow Tales – More True Stories from an Idaho Ranch, the book that came out this summer. My first book in this series, Horse Tales – True Stories from an Idaho Ranch, came out last year, and now I’m writing the 3rd book. It’s a collection of dog stories, cat tales, pig tales and other crazy critters.

Last week a couple people from the Idaho Department of Water Resources came from Boise to GPS and check all the water diversions, headgates and weirs on our creek, and they saw the illegal diversions that Alfonzo is using that need to be filled in. Alfonzo was still using one of them. The water problems continue to be an issue.

Michael reshod Dottie for me. Her feet were getting too long and her shoes were also wearing out. Later that day Andrea and I rode Dottie and Willow up to the 320 mountain pasture to check and make sure no range cows had gotten in, then we rode on up into the high range for a short loop. It was Willow’s longest ride so far and her first experience up in the timber (and she was a little spooky and skittish at first), but she did very well. Her feet are amazingly tough; she still doesn’t need shoes.

Young Heather rode Shiloh a few times and I rode with her a couple times, then she rode Shiloh down here to leave her in the new pen that Michael and Nick built for her, by dividing Rubbie and Veggie’s pen.

Shiloh is the Arab-Morgan mare that was given to Heather by her college professor, Anne Perkins—the mare Heather trained for Anne 5 years ago, and Heather is giving the mare to us.
Dani helped us put an electric wire along the top pole of the new pen (so the horses won’t try to fight/bite each other over the fence, then rode Ed bareback around the barnyard. Then Dani saddled Ed and rode her down the road and over into the low range—by herself. She’s gained a lot of confidence, riding that old mare. Dani rode with Andrea and me last weekend, to check the 320 fences and gates, and made a loop through the high range.

We saw some horribly thin cows of Alfonzo’s; they must be very old or sick. Some are probably the thin ones he turned out this summer after not feeding them enough last winter, and they didn’t gain weight on the dry range.

We sold our range permit last year to John Miller (the Amish family who bought the old Kossler ranch) and it’s sad to see the state of things on the range now, with many troughs not working this year. There are many areas that were under-grazed due to lack of water and many areas severely overgrazed because the cattle all stayed in those areas. Alfonzo and the Millers don’t ride out there often enough to check on things, not taking responsibility for the continual maintenance that’s needed on water troughs and fences.

Andrea and I took pity on those poor cows and fixed a couple of the troughs ourselves. One of the plastic pipes was broken, so Andrea took it apart at the elbow and took the broken piece out.

We were working on one trough when Dani was riding with us, and she decided to take a nap on Ed while she waited for us to finish fixing the water line. It took us awhile, because we had to route the pipe straight into the trough above ground, where it would be at risk for cows walking over it and breaking it again, so we piled logs and old posts (from an earlier decrepit trough) around it to protect it.

Andrea took Sam to the doctor a couple weeks ago for another checkup on her ankle (that she broke while playing on the trampoline at Mark’s house), and x-rays showed a 2-inch fracture in the growth plate of the long bone. She’ll have to be in the compression boot and on crutches for several more weeks. Fortunately it is starting to heal now, in spite of the fact that Mark refused to take her to the doctor when she broke it, and told her to keep walking on it (for 6 days—until the kids came back home to Andrea). Sam is doing well maneuvering with her crutches, and now that school has started she has friends who help carry her books.

We went to Andrea’s place for a pizza dinner, and their friends Jade and Anita and boys were there for Charlie’s 14th birthday celebration (August 24). That young fellow is growing up fast, literally. He’s now much taller than any of us!

On one of our rides with Willow this past week we discovered a cow and calf of John Miller’s that had come down into the low range. She had been down there a couple of days and was looking for water; Baker creek is completely dry down there this time of year. We eased her partway over this direction, and this was Willow’s first experience following cows. The filly was starting to get a little nervous so we left the pair and continued our training ride loop. After we got home, Andrea had a meeting with a lady from Child Protective Services (who was investigating the situation with Sam’s broken leg and Mark’s neglect), so Dani came down to our house on the 4-wheeler to ride Ed. She and I went back out on the low range and found the cow and calf and brought them over to the fields and the creek so they’d have water. Lynn drove around the hill to Millers’ ranch to tell them about their cow that we’d brought to the lower place so she’d have feed and water.

The next day Dani rode with Andrea and me and we went up through the 320 pasture and into the high range (Andrea riding Shiloh).

We checked some water troughs, including a couple that are still not working, that Alfonzo and Millers haven’t repaired this year. We saw more skinny cows, and a few cows with brand new babies. Alfonzo’s poor management results in a lot of open and late-bred cows!

On Thursday Andrea and Robbie set 7 steel posts in the fence below heifer hill, to repair it where the wildlife had knocked it down, then we moved our cows into that field—to graze the regrowth after putting up the hay. Our green grass will last until we sell the steer calves, thanks to Andrea’s diligent irrigating this year, and stubbornly not letting Alfonzo steal most of our water like he’s done the past 4 years (ever since he started leasing the ranch next to us).

We had a bad windstorm Saturday night and by Sunday morning it had completely shredded the tarp on my little haystack next to the hay shed. Andrea and Robbie came down to help me put a new tarp over it, which was a challenge because there was still a wind blowing. The billowing tarp spooked Rishiam (Andrea’s Arab gelding) in the pen next to the stack, and he ran around the pen and leaped over the gate. He didn’t go very far, however. He stopped by the driveway to enjoy some green grass. We finished tying down the new tarp before we put him back in his pen.

Andrea and I have been making several rides on Shiloh and she is making progress in some of the training areas she lacked, and she’s getting over some of the bad habits she picked up while being handled and ridden by inexperienced students at the college. She’s a very energetic horse (not lazy like Sprout!) and fun to ride. She’s very alert, and likes to watch vehicles moving on the highway miles away, in the valley.

Michael used the backhoe to smooth out the deep ruts in our stackyard (created when the ground was wet last fall) so we can maneuver in there to unload the alfalfa hay we’re buying. The hay will be delivered next week. Andrea and I hurriedly cleaned house, before some guests arrived. Ray and Jeannie Bullock stopped here midmorning for a visit (and lunch). We met Ray at the World Burn Congress in North Carolina in 2008—the first WBC that Andrea and I attended. Ray’s son is a burn survivor and we have kept in touch since that first meeting.

That evening when Andrea and Dani were irrigating, they found a mule deer fawn caught in her bridge (with its hind legs down between two of the logs). They managed to get the fawn out of the bridge, but one hind leg was broken. They took it home, cleaned up the injury and splinted the leg, fed the fawn a bottle, then took it to the vet the next morning and told a Fish and Game officer about it. He took charge of it after that.

Michael and Carolyn brought home our bull that they’d borrowed, and we put him in the corral with Thunderbull. We put the 2 bred heifers (that were keeping our bull company in the corral so he wouldn’t try to jump out) back to the field with the other cows and heifers.

SEPTEMBER 15 – Michael and Carolyn rode up to the 320 last week and turned loose some beetles that eat knapweed. That noxious weed has spread up into our upper pastures from the county road during the past 20 years and we’re going to try to control it before it takes over those pastures.

Andrea and I rode through the high range again and took pity on Millers’ and Alfonzo’s thirsty cows and fixed another water trough. I held Willow while Andrea worked on the trough.

Two weeks ago when we started to move the cows to another pasture we noticed that one of the bred heifers we’d put with them a couple days early was breathing hard, like she had pneumonia. We took her gently down to the corral and around to the chute and gave her antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. Then it started raining that night. In the morning we put the sick heifer in the barn, out of the rain, and also called the guys that were going to deliver our hay that day and told them not to come—because our barnyard and stackyard were too muddy to drive in there with the semi.

We treated the heifer again that evening and gave her fluid by stomach tube since she wasn’t eating and drinking and had a high fever. The next morning we had our vet come out and look at her because she wasn’t responding at all to the treatments, even though she seemed bright and not dull. He listened to her lungs and figured that she probably had emphysema (from the change of feed—going from the corral and eating hay, back out to the lush green pasture). This problem is unusual in a yearling; it’s more common in older cows. But she was running out of air because her lungs were so compromised. We didn’t even try to take her from the barn to the chute for treatment; she couldn’t handle the exertion. Indeed, she didn’t last much longer; she died that afternoon. The next day Nick helped Lynn load her on the flatbed and haul her off to our hill pasture.

Michael, Carolyn and Heather were gone for several days over the weekend with their horses, on a camping trip with Carolyn’s brothers. Andrea and Robbie took the kids to the State Fair that weekend, so Lynn was doing all their chores until Nick got home from a track meet. He’s coaching the cross country runners now at our local school.

Last Tuesday Andy and his son hauled hay for us—two trips with the big truck and one smaller trailer. The stackyard had dried out enough to get around in there and unload it. Then on Saturday and Sunday Michael helped us haul the grass hay we bought locally, to augment the hay we put up. Since we no longer use the range, we are pasturing more of our fields and putting up less hay—and have to buy more hay.

Andrea has been diligently irrigating our fields with what little water we have left in the creek that’s being shared between the 1st and 2nd water rights. She and her 5 dogs go trekking through the fields; they love to go with her 4-wheeler to irrigate.

She’s kept our pastures green and growing (so they will support our cow/calf herd all summer), greener than they’ve been for several years, because she hasn’t let Alfonzo steal as much of our water this year. But we discovered last week that he’s still using water on the Gooch place (3rd right) even though it’s supposed to be completely shut off.

I’ve been finalizing the chapters of my next book of ranch stories, printing them out for Lynn and Andrea to proofread, and to help come up with a few more details about certain critters that they remember better than I do.

Last week we moved the cows from heifer hill to the field by Andrea’s house and the easiest way to get them through the hot wire was to lift it up really high and let them go under it. They were so funny; they respect that electric wire so much that some of them didn’t want to go under it, even though it was several feet above them. The last young cow reluctantly ducked under it and hunkered way down toward the ground!

Andrea and I made a longer ride with Willow (4.5 hours) on a loop through the high range. We tried to come home through the middle range by way of High Camp trough and discovered that the last big windstorm (probably the same storm that shredded my hay tarp) had blown down a lot of big trees across the trail. It was a jungle of down timber and we ended up weaving through it a different way, with Andrea leading Willow. The filly led very willingly, stepping/hopping over the down trees. I didn’t try to take any photos while we were weaving our way through all the down timber, but I took a picture of Andrea and Willow on our way home.

SEPTEMBER 30 – It rained off and on for a couple of days and now we have a little green regrowth in the old dry grass. We won’t have to buy any protein supplement for the cows on our upper mountain pasture.

Alfonzo and Millers rounded up their cows off the range a week late, but missed some—and also had to leave one skinny old cow lame that was too weak to travel very far. The next day Lynn helped Alfonzo put another crippled old cow and her calf into his field when he brought her down the road.

Andrea and I rode through the high range and saw some of the cattle they missed, and also saw a group of elk in the timber.

Andrea’s kids all had elk tags for the depredation hunt (any cow elk within a mile of private land) and they went out several mornings and evenings without success. Then a week ago Dani was able to shoot her first elk. The herd was coming up out of a neighbor’s field, onto the range. Dani and Andrea were lying in wait for them, early that morning. Lynn took our old jeep over there to help retrieve it, and Dani helped hang it in our barn and skin it. Last night she was helping her mom process it.

On Thursday Carolyn helped us round up our cows and run the calves through the chute for their vaccinations, and we put nose flaps in all our heifer calves, for easy weaning. These work great; the calves get to stay with their mothers for comfort and companionship while the cows dry up their milk, and none of them are stressed.

Michael and Carolyn put nose flaps in their heifers (and the 2 bull calves they are keeping—one for them and one for us) on Friday.

Andrea and Robbie took Sam and Charlie out early that morning to hunt elk; they saw a nice group of elk but didn’t get a shot. That evening they went to town for Sam and Charlie to play in the band for the Homecoming game. Sam is doing really well with her trumpet and Charlie is very talented—and the only trombone player in the band.

On Saturday Andrea and I made a long ride on Sprout and Dottie and found a couple of bulls that Alfonzo left out on the range, and also saw the skinny crippled old cow (and her calf) that he’d left out there. The cow was in bad shape. The next day Em rode with me and we discovered that the old cow had fallen down in some brush and down trees and was stuck in a hole in Baker Creek. Em and I tried to pull some of the logs out from under her but couldn’t. The cow was in an awkward position and very miserable.

So we rode home, and I called Alfonzo to tell him about the cow, but he didn’t do anything about her. We hate to see an animal suffer, so that evening Andrea, Em and Robbie went up there with ropes and a pulley and worked for 3 hours to try to get her out of the predicament. They were able to pull her out of the hole she was stuck in, and got her in a more comfortable position (with her hind legs underneath her instead of spraddled out behind her). But they couldn’t get her clear out of the creek. Emily was covered with mud after pushing and pulling on the cow, and very sad that they couldn’t get her up. But the cow was at least in a much better situation, no longer in such pain, and was comfortable and chewing her cud by the time they left.

They hiked back to their jeep, and then discovered that the battery was dead and it wouldn’t start. So they hiked home (more than 3 miles) in the dark and finally got home after midnight.

The next morning I called Alfonzo again, and Andrea called John Miller. Two days later, John and his boys went out there to help Alfonzo deal with the cow. She hadn’t traveled very far, and must not have been doing very well, so he opted to shoot her, but they were able to capture her calf and bring it home. It’s hard to understand how someone can own cattle and neglect them so badly. Alfonzo had several crippled old cows that were in no shape to go out on the range this year.

Today we brought our cows in from the field. Michael, Carolyn and Andrea helped put the calves through the chute to vaccinate and delouse, and Michael took out their nose flaps.

Our vet Bangs vaccinated the heifers, then preg-checked the cows. Then we put the steers and their mothers in a new pasture until we sell the steers in a few days. Buffalo Girl’s calf, that Emily named Gilbert, is the biggest steer.

We put the weaned heifers in a little pasture below the barn, and the 2 bull calves in the orchard pasture. It’s nice to have them already weaned with the nose flaps; they went right to grazing, not missing their mamas at all.

Michael hauled the heifers’ mothers (2 trailer loads) up to the upper place, and I rode up there on Dottie. Carolyn, young Heather and I moved them (along with their heifers’ mothers and bred heifers) up to the 320-acre mountain pasture, where they can spend the rest of the fall until that grass snows under. The cows and yearling heifers were happy to be up there. When we came back down, we put their cows with steer calves out of the corral and back to pasture.

Later that afternoon Michael and Carolyn took salt up to the 320 on 4-wheelers, and got the upper water trough working again; they cleaned the mud and fir needles out of the springbox, and the dead mice out of the water line. There’s lots of grass, and with a bit of green regrowth the cows will do fine up there for the rest of the fall.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ranch Diary: July 12 through August 24, 2015

Still trying to catch up this blog after our busy summer!

JULY 24 – Lynn was weak and wobbly for a few days after he came back from the hospital in Missoula, so Michael drove the stack-wagon and put some of our hay into my hay shed. Last week Andrea, Dani and I rode to check the 320 fences and make sure no range cows have gotten in. Dani was wearing her new cowboy hat and I took a photo of her as we went up through the timber, and we also saw a young doe resting in the shade.

 The range cows are short on feed in that corner of the range next to our 320-acre pasture, and have been pressing our fence pretty hard, so we try to keep checking our fences.
That evening Andrea, Robbie and Dani hauled several pickup loads of loose hay off the field above the house—the windrows that were too big and damp to bale the evening that the baler broke. They put it in the “sick barn” shed and we can use it later for hay or as bedding for the calving barn. Here’s a photo of Dani riding on top of one of the loads of hay, coming in from the field.

Last Tuesday young Heather started working with Willow again (the 3-year-old Morgan filly that will eventually be Dani’s horse). She did a little ground work with her then got on and rode her briefly around in her pen. The next day she rode her around in the field above the house—the first time she’s ever been ridden outside her pen. Last year when she did some initial rides it was all in her big pen. Dani is eager to have Willow trained so that someday she can ride that filly. She likes to lead and brush her.

Later that day Andrea and Dani and Sammy rode with me and we gathered up 7 range cows and 9 calves that have been hanging on our lower fence on the back side, trying to get into the field. These were cattle that got missed when our range neighbors moved their cattle to the next pasture. We took those cows several miles and put them into another range pasture where they would have more feed and water. Sam and Dani did a great job on Breezy and Ed helping move those cattle.

 On Thursday young Heather took Willow on a longer ride, out onto the low range, and I went along with her on Ed as a “baby sitter” horse. Willow did very well. She has been riding her nearly every day since, and I’ve been going along with her on Dottie. Willow is coming along nicely in training. Here’s are photos of Willow on her third and fifth rides.

 So far she hasn’t needed shoes; she has very tough, hard feet. I simply smooth the edges with a rasp after every ride (partly for foot handling training and partly to keep them from chipping and splitting as she travels through all the rocks on our rides).

Last Thursday Robbie helped Andrea irrigate (she’s doing it all now, since it’s hard for Lynn to do it). Then they baled the hay on Heifer Hill, and Lynn stacked it that evening. On Sunday Lynn cut our last field, and we were able to get it baled on Tuesday. Lynn stacked it that evening, so now we are done haying! We put tarps on the portion that sticks out from under my hay shed, and plan to tarp the other hay (for the cows) in our stackyard across the creek. Here’s a photo of my winter hay supply, tucked in my hay shed, with tarps over the portion sticking out.

 We’ve had more water problems, with Alfonzo taking more than his share from our shared ditches, and we also discovered that he’s been using two illegal ditches (with no headgates) on the place below us, and the ranch below that (with the 1st water right) was short of water. The water master called the Idaho Department of Water Resources for advice on how to deal with these problems.

Yesterday evening the kids got back home from their week with Mark and were very glad to be home. We all had supper here and then Sam and Dani helped me lead Rubbie and Veggie to a new pasture to graze.

I’ve been letting those old horses graze various pens and areas around the barnyard to “mow” the grass. They are so honest about fences that we can put up baling twine “fake” electric fences to partition off certain areas for them to graze.

This morning Heather and I made a short ride on Willow and Dottie (Willow’s 9th ride out in the hills).

Then Andrea and the girls came down to our place and we made a fast ride up to the 320 and back to check fences and make sure no cattle had gotten into that pasture. Sam and Dani enjoyed the chance to ride Breezy and Ed again, and especially enjoyed trotting nearly all the way home down the ridges.

 Emily took her final test and passed it, and now has her GED, finishing school a year ahead of her classmates. We’re proud of her for having a full-time job this year and going ahead with her schooling to finish her high school education.

AUGUST 14 – Two and a half weeks ago we actually had a good rain—rather than a quick lightning storm. It rained off and on all day, and we got about an inch of moisture to help our irrigation and dry spots in our fields and pastures. Between showers Andrea and Dani helped us move the cows to a new pasture but it started raining again as we finished, and we all got drenched.

One cow was quite lame, possible straining a hip while walking through a deep bog in the pasture they came out of. We held her and her calf back when we went through the corrals, and put her in the back pen where she won’t have to walk very much. We gave her an injection of dexamethasone to decrease the inflammation and pain and she started walking better. A few days ago we put her back out with the herd.

Dani rode with Andrea and me on a long ride to check fences and gates, and make sure the range cows hadn’t gotten in. They’ve eaten all the grass in lower Baker Creek and next to our fence. Since most of the troughs on the middle range didn’t get repaired this year (Alfonzo and the Amish family didn’t maintain them like we used to do when we ran cattle out there), the cattle congregated in the few area with water, and overgrazed those areas. I took a photo of the contrast showing the grass on our side of the fence, and the grass on the range where the cattle overused it.

 It was a cold day, threatening rain, so Andrea rode Sprout instead of young Willow, because that filly has never been ridden in the rain. We all dressed warm and it was a good ride.

Two weeks ago Andrea and Carolyn went to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s doctor appointments; her pain doctor put multiple cortisone shots into her back and neck. Sam and Dani rode with me for nearly 5 hours. We checked the 320-acre pasture (no cows had gotten in yet) and we let the horses drink at the one trough that was actually working. Then we made a loop up through the high range and ate our lunch near the Basco trough, coming home through the middle range.

 The next day Heather and I made a loop through the low range on Willow and Dottie—Willow’s 12th ride out in the hills. Willow is doing nicely, crossing Baker creek (the little stream that’s almost dry this time of year), and going up and down the mountainsides. We also keep seeing lots of cottontail rabbits along the Baker Grove (a large patch of trees and brush along one portion of the creek. Here are photos of Willow crossing the little creek, and watching a rabbit hopping into the brush.   

 The next morning Heather left early to drive to Saskatchewan to visit her friend Gregory for 2 weeks and attend his youngest sister’s wedding. Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie for 4 hours and checked fences—and tied a bunch of sagebrush across the path down through the big rocks on the northwest side of the 320 where there’s no fence. We used to have a lot of brush piled in there to keep the range cattle from coming down through those big rocks, but it’s all been taken out. Eventually we’ll carry some poles up there to make a real barrier, but for now the sagebrush will create an obstacle.

The next day Andrea rode Willow for the first time and we made a big loop around the low range. She’s now ridden Willow 8 times (20 rides total for Willow during the past few weeks) and the filly is coming along very well.

 Andrea and Robbie set some steel posts and put up a hot wire along the lower end of the field by Andrea’s house—the portion we didn’t cut for hay—and we let the cows graze that for a few days. Then last Monday Michael and Carolyn got worried that their bull wasn’t breeding; several cows that should have settled earlier have come back into heat. So we loaned them our spare bull (that we’ve had in the corral) and they hauled their bull to the auction sale in Montana.

Lynn’ favorite cat likes to lounge around on the back porch waiting for him to come outside, and this morning she was napping on the new Bar-BQ that Lynn won as a door prize at the auto parts store. Maybe she was waiting for us to cook her dinner!

 The kids got back home from their dad’s house last Thursday and again were glad to be home. Sam hurt her ankle on the trampoline at her dad’s place the previous Friday night and it hurt so badly that she was sure she’d sprained or broken it, but Mark would not take her to the doctor to have it checked. His live-in girlfriend thought Sam was just being a wimp and wouldn’t let her wrap it—and told her to just grin and bear it and walk on it. It was still swollen and painful when they came home Thursday night. Sam had sent numerous text messages to Andrea telling about the painful ankle, but Andrea couldn’t do anything about it because Mark won’t let her have any contact with the kids when they are at his house. So Andrea made an appointment for Sam to see a doctor the morning after the kids got home.

Andrea and Robbie had to leave early that the morning to drive to Bozeman, Montana, to pick up a new trumpet for Sam that a college student was selling at a reasonable price, so Lynn took Sam to the doctor. The ankle was x-rayed and the doctor thought there was a hairline fracture in one of the growth plates, and said she should not have been walking on it at all—and was appalled that Mark had not brought Sam in to have it checked soon after the accident. She put the ankle in a brace and Sam is on crutches until another checkup. It continues to be swollen and painful.

 On Friday I rode with Michael and Carolyn to the 320 to check fences. Michael rode a young mare he got this spring. She has some problems and a bad history (and an unusual “ear tooth” that had to be removed so she could tolerate a bridle) and was given to Michael, but she also has a lot of potential to be a good horse. He was pleased at how she did after she finally settled down.

She handles nicely on the ground, but turns into a bomb about to explode when you get on her. She was apparently raced or barrel raced as a filly and thinks that she needs to go fast with a rider and won’t stand still. But after we rode to the top of the 320 in a very short time, she was tired enough to settle down and realize that she didn’t need to rush everywhere. She even stood still for Michael to get off, reset the saddle and tighten the cinch (with Carolyn on Gus, nearby) before coming back down the mountain. She did nicely on the way home.

 On Saturday, with all the hot weather we’ve had, the creek has dropped more and there isn’t enough to service all the water rights. The upper place had to be shut off, and then a few days later part of the 3rd right on the old Gooch place. With water this short we have to carefully monitor the flows and the water master is checking to make sure Alfonzo isn’t taking more than his allotted amount.

We moved the cows to a new pasture and took the bull out. He can live in the corral with a couple heifers to keep him company (so he won’t try to jump out) until Michael and Carolyn no longer need our other bull—and then both of those bulls can spend the rest of the fall and winter together in the corral.

Alfonzo and the Amish moved their cows to the high range, but neglected to fix some of the water troughs (just like they didn’t fix all the troughs on the middle range pasture) and their cows are short on water. Some will have to go over the mountain into Withington Creek to get water. We took photos of some non-working troughs, and some of the thirsty cows trying to drink from a couple of troughs where the springboxes are plugged up and the pipes are just trickling—with not enough water for the cattle.

 These past few days Michael and Nick built a new fence (net wire topped with a pole) to divide Rubbie and Veggie’s old pen. We will use one side for Rubbie and Veg and put our new horse in the other side. Shiloh is an Arab-Morgan mare that young Heather trained for her college professor in Helena 5 years ago, and kept her here one summer on the ranch getting her conditioned for an endurance ride. Now her professor is giving her to Heather, but she doesn’t have enough use for the mare and is giving Shiloh to us—so we’ll have a spare horse when all the kids want to ride.
My next book, Cow Tales—More True Stories from an Idaho Ranch, was recently published and can be ordered from the publisher or any book seller. I am also selling autographed copies ($25 per book plus $4 postage). If anyone wants an autographed copy of Cow Tales, or my book Horse Tales, they can contact me at 208-756-2841 or P.O. Box 215, Salmon, ID 83457, or by e-mail at