Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ranch Diary: June 20 through July 12, 2015

I apologize for the long time between updates; it’s been a difficult summer!

JUNE 28 - This past weekend Michael and Nick got all the posts set in the 160 pasture boundary fence (our neighbor John Miller augered the holes) and put up most of the rails. Then John brought a load of poles and Michael and Nick finished that stretch of fence on Saturday. They also made a jack fence across the creek. Now that end of the fence is secure enough that when Michael puts his cattle back in our 160 pasture he won’t have to worry that the neighbor’s bull will come through the fence.

Last Sunday we had our vet come out and look at Cub Cake’s calf; his leg had been healing fairly well but we thought it might have had a setback from all his activity. Dr. Cope checked it and said it was pretty solid and didn’t need a typical splint, but he helped us put some padding and wrap around it for a little more support.

Robbie helped Lynn get the tractors, swather and baler ready for haying. He also set steel posts in the old fence between our swamp pasture and hayfield above our house. The cows were short on grass in the hill pasture so Andrea and I moved them down to the swamp pasture. That grass lasted until we moved them to the field near the house this past Saturday and put the bull with them. We left our spare bull in the corral and put Buffalo Girl and her calf (Gilbert) with him for company so he won’t try to jump out.

Young Heather got back from Canada and is busy training horses again. The local newspaper did a feature story about her new book in last week’s paper. She signed copies for Dani, Sam, Charlie (all 3 of them were in the cover photos) and Emily (who took the photos). Dani is on the front cover with one of Heather’s horses, and Sam and Charlie are on the back cover—sitting on the horse as Heather holds the horse.

 Lynn and I went up to visit Michael and Carolyn last week and looked at Carolyn’s foal Clarice. She has really grown!  She had surgery last month to straighten her front legs. This involved periosteal stripping on the right leg, to encourage one side of the bone to grow faster. The left one was more crooked, so the vet did a procedure called transphyseal bridging—using screws to bridge the growth plate and halt the growth on one side, allowing the other side to catch up. Her legs have straightened a lot and it was almost time to take the screws out so the correction won’t go too far. She and her mom have been in a very small pen since the surgery, so she won’t exercise too much. I took some photos of the sassy filly, and her knees.

A few days later Michael and Carolyn hauled the mare and foal back to the vet in Challis (60 miles away) to have the screws taken out. They also took along a couple other horses that needed dental work.

This seems to be the year for leg problems in youngsters. Magnicate’s big steer is lame, with a swollen hock. We’re not sure what happened to it.

We took the padded wrap off Cub Cake’s calf (Cinnamon Bear) after he got it all wet wading in the spring water in the back corral. Since the leg seems solid now, we put that pair out with the rest of the herd. He still walks with a limp, but puts weight on it and runs around like the other calves, so we’re hoping it will eventually be ok.

On Wednesday Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie up to the 320 and checked on Michael and Carolyn’s herd. They are doing well and the calves are growing nicely. The curious heifers came up to Sprout to sniff her.

On our way home we rode down through the 160-acre pasture and took photos of my brother’s new house—as the carpenters were hoisting the trusses into place with a big crane.

On Thursday Andrea and I made a fast ride up Baker Creek and through the 320 again, then hurried home in time for me to do phone interviews for a couple of articles I was writing. That evening she picked up the kids from Mark (she’ll have them for a week) and they all had supper at our house. After supper Sam enjoyed playing the piano and Dani went out with me to look at the cows and calves.

The next day Sam and Dani rode with Andrea and me to the 320 to check cows, and Dani got off her horse to get close and personal with the yearling heifers she helped feed all winter. She was able to walk up to her favorite one and pet her.

It’s been hot lately, up to 100 degrees in town. It’s not quite that hot up here at the ranch, but we try to ride in the mornings before the worst of the heat. This past weekend my brother held a ham radio field day up at his place, for people interested in learning about short wave radio. Charlie spent most of Saturday and Sunday up there, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Charlie wants to get his radio operators license.

Today Emily rode with Andrea, Dani and me—the first time she’s ridden with us this year. She rode Sprout and enjoyed getting out in the hills again. We rode out over the low range and then up into the middle range.

The creek is dropping, in the hot weather. This evening Jack (the rancher at the mouth of our creek) was short on water at his weir so we adjusted the flow on a couple ditches up here, to make sure he has enough for his water right. It may be a dry summer!

JULY 12 – Lynn went with Andrea and Charlie to Pocatello last Wednesday for Charlie’s appointment with a specialist for evaluation and an update on his progress socially and at school. Charlie is high-functioning autistic and doing very well.

Sammy and Dani and I rode that day and then for part of the ride did a short fun session on the low range pasture, trotting around the dry ponds, where we could do circles and figure 8’s and play follow the leader on horseback.

 Michael and Nick came down from their place to get some of our old electric fencing tape to recycle, and used it to fence off part of their field on the upper place that’s next to Binnings. The Amish family living there (helping take care of the place for Gordon Binning) has two horses and for awhile they had a hot wire keeping their horses away from the fence. Then they took it down and their horses were right through the fence from Michael’s horses. His big paint gelding, Captain cut his foot badly, striking at the horses through the fence. So Michael and Nick put up a hot wire partway down the field on their side, to keep their horses away from the fence.

The next day we had more water problems with Alfonzo taking more than his share from our ditch. Lynn spent so much time on water issues that he didn’t start cutting hay as he’d planned.

Andrea took Sam to eye doctor that day and discovered that she needs glasses. She’s now wearing glasses and it makes her look a bit older—and quite a lot like my cousin Diane at that age.

A young deer has been jumping into the front yard to nibble the weeds and rosebriars in the lawn that we haven’t mowed. The other day as I was typing I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye and looked around—and he was looking in the window! I slowly moved to the shelf where I keep my camera, then crept to the window, trying not to startle him—and took a few photos through the window.

Lynn finally started cutting hay, and cut the field below lane and the lower field across the creek on Friday. Andrea and I rode the next day to check the 320 hill pasture and make sure range cows hadn’t broken in.

On Sunday Lynn cut more hay. Andrea and Robbie helped me get the last of the hay out of my hay shed and stack it by the horse pens, with a tarp over it, so we can stack the new hay in the shed. Then we got the baler hooked up, and Andrea started baling until a thunderstorm hit. When they got out of the tractor and slammed the door shut, the handle door handle broke (and essentially won’t open!) then she and Lynn got soaked hiking home from the field.

The next day was hot and windy but the hay was still wet from the rain, and too wet to bale. That afternoon Andrea got the official results from Charlie’s psychological evaluation. He’s made some improvements in his social skills and adjustment and his testing showed that he is reading at 12th grade level even though he’s only starting 8th grade this fall.

I trimmed Willow’s front feet; they are getting too long and we need to start riding her again—and don’t want her stumbling because of long toes.  Granddaughter Heather started her training last fall, saddling her and doing groundwork—as shown in this old photo.

Now that Willow is 3 years old it’s time to continue her training. 

Lynn fixed the tractor door handle so the door will open again. Andrea and Robbie put the turner rake on the little tractor. On Tuesday Lynn started turning hay so it could finish drying, then baled all afternoon and finished that back field while Andrea turned hay on the field below lane. We got it baled just ahead of another thunderstorm.

The power was off all day Wednesday. I worked on a bunch of things that needed caught up, rather than writing articles with my computer. Lynn started hauling hay. Andrea and Robbie picked up few wet bales with the pickup (the bales that were too wet to stack) and opened them up by the corral (so they won’t heat and mold) to feed to the bull in the corral. Later that day we discovered that Alfonzo stole our water again, from the ditch that comes down by Andrea’s house.

Thursday morning Lynn woke up at 3 a.m. and thought he had diarrhea, but it was straight blood.  He passed another bowel movement at 6 a.m. that was nothing but blood, so Andrea and I drove him to the ER at 7 a.m. The doctor put him on IV fluid. While we were there at the hospital, Lynn passed a lot of blood a couple more times. The ER doctor decided to send him by life flight to St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula, Montana, so they loaded him into an ambulance to go to the airport.

The plane arrived in Missoula at 11 a.m. and he was taken by ambulance to St. Patrick’s hospital.  The doctors there kept him on IVs throughout the day, and thought they might have to give him a blood transfusion because he kept passing more blood, but the bleeding finally slowed. They gave him medicated fluid to “clean out” his digestive tract so they could do a colonoscopy the next day and try to locate the problem.
Meanwhile, here at home, Andrea turned and baled hay, until another brief rainstorm. Alfonzo turned out ditch off again, so Andrea and Carolyn took photos of it and turned it back on. Robbie borrowed a car trailer from Bob Minor and used it to gather the rest of the wet bales from the field below the lane. It was a lot easier to put those big heavy bales on that low trailer than up into a pickup. He took them over by the bull corral to use there (rather than stack them and risk heating and a haystack fire). He and Andrea put the good hay in my hay shed. Andrea tried to finish baling the field above the house, but the hay was heavy and the baler broke.

Lynn’s bleeding stopped early Friday morning and the doctor in Missoula was able to do a colonoscopy. He removed one polyp and didn’t find any tumors. The doctor couldn’t find the source of the bleeding but suspected it came from one of the many pockets of diverticulosis in the colon. It probably bleed more severely and for a longer time than usual, due to the anti-inflammatory medication Lynn has been taking for his back and hip pain. He’ll stop taking that medication now.

Andrea and Robbie worked on the baler to try to get it fixed, and Sam and Dani helped me move our cows to a new pasture. We rinsed out their water trough and moved it, too, and then moved the two old horses (Rubbie and Veggie) to another pen to graze. At age 28 and 29 they are enjoying their summer on green grass.

Alfonzo is trying to cut hay on the place below us and got stuck with his swather. So he hiked up through our place and yelled at Robbie who was working on the baler - trying to blame us for “flooding” his hay. But Lynn told him several days earlier that certain areas in that field tend to stay wet from sub water, and that when we leased that place (for 40 years) there were some places we simply couldn’t cut. Lynn also explained to Alfonzo how to divert some of the water down a drain ditch, but Alfonzo didn’t listen. He just wants us to quit irrigating our field!

Yesterday morning Alfonzo came by our house to tell Lynn to turn off our ditch and I told Alfonzo that Lynn was in the hospital in Missoula and that we were not going to turn off our ditch. 

Andrea, Michael and Robbie worked on the baler to get it fixed, then Andrea and the girls drove over to Missoula that afternoon to get Lynn from the hospital and bring him home. Robbie helped Michael and young Heather haul some hay from a ranch near town, for her horses.

Andrea, Lynn and the girls got home late last night and Lynn was very weak and tired, and went to bed. On her way home from our house, Andrea noticed that there was no water in the ditch by her house, so she hiked up the ditch to check it and found that two of our ditches had been completely shut off! So this morning we called the sheriff. Michael and Carolyn and Andrea checked the ditches and someone had not only shut the headgate on one of them but also packed mud around it. They took photos of it, and of the boot tracks. The Sheriff’s deputy wrote up a citation to deliver to Alfonzo.

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