Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ranch Diary: October 25 to November 16, 2015

OCTOBER 25 – We’ve had a little rain, the past 10 days, and some cold weather. Last week it got down to 21 degrees, which is our coldest night so far. Before that, things were still pretty green. On one of our rides to check cows, Dani and I rode up Baker Creek and I took photos of some of the old aspen trees with bear claw marks on the trunk.

Dani has also been helping gentle the heifer calves in the field above the house, walking through them, and letting them come up to her. Ours know her already, but Michael’s four heifers are a bit timid and suspicious, so it’s good for them to get used to people walking amongst them.


Last Tuesday Andrea took Sam for her doctor’s appointment and an MRI to check her ankle. It showed that the fracture in the growth plate has healed, but there is still a problem with a bone in her foot, and her heel—that were not obvious in the x-rays. The doctor said she needs to be on crutches again for 6 to 8 weeks. She had a dental appointment after the MRI, and had four teeth filled. She didn’t want her mouth numbed, so that kid endured four fillings without any painkiller! Andrea picked up the other kids after school, and also met up with Emily in town.

All the kids had deer tags and wanted to hunt. Last year the only one that had any success was Emily. We have a lot of deer on our creek, especially whitetail (about 30 to 40 of them in our fields all summer, and eating our haystacks in winter) so we need to harvest a few. Our freezers are practically empty (we haven’t butchered a cow for a couple years) so it’s time to do some serious hunting. 

Some of the whitetails are so tame they practically live in our yard, like these fawns and their mother that I took photos of from my window.


Michael got a mule deer on the upper place and Andrea started cutting it up to grind into hamburger for them (she’s the best butcher in the family) and then Thursday evening after school she took Charlie to our 160-acre mountain pasture and he shot a mule deer.

Thursday evening at chore time I noticed that one of Michael’s heifers was in the wrong pasture; the heifers have been reaching under the net wire and stretching it, and she must have crawled under it. After Lynn and I brought her around through the horse pasture and back to her buddies in the field above the house, we took a couple of poles up there with the 4-wheeler. We laid the poles on the ground and tied the net wire down to the poles, so the heifers can’t crawl through that spot. 

On Friday Dani rode with me to the 320 to check the cows, since we hadn’t made it up there for several days. A dozen were down in the bottom corner, thinking it might be time to come home (with the cold weather) so we moved them back up to the top. There’s still some grass on the high part that they need to use before it snows under.


On our way up the ridge, moving the cows, we could see across the canyon on the far side of that pasture—and saw a lone cow standing next to the range fence. It seemed strange that one cow would be off by herself, especially on that hillside that’s been grazed off. So after we got the cows to the top of the 320 and checked the top ridge gate, we went to check on her.

By that time we’d seen all the other cows, and realized that it was Buffalo Baby (a daughter of Buffalo Girl) who was over there by herself. We could no longer see her, and suspected she might have lain down behind some sagebrush. We rode down into the canyon and across Baker Creek (where I had to patch some fence that had either been cut by humans, or the wires broken by elk), and then we rode up to that far hillside.

We found Buffalo Baby lying down in tall sagebrush, and saw that she had lost weight. When we made her stand up, it was obvious that she was very lame, with a swollen right hind foot—a bad case of foot rot. We were very fortunate that she’d been standing up as we came up the opposite ridge, or we never would have seen her, and wouldn’t have known where to look for her.

Dani and I slowly herded her down off the steep mountain, along the fence. She probably hadn’t gone to water for a couple days or so, nor grazed much. When we got her down to Baker Creek she drank and drank, for more than 10 minutes. Then we slowly moved her up out of the creek bottom and over the ridge.

It took a while to bring her the mile and a half down to the corral on our upper place. We put her in the corral and then trotted another mile down to Michael and Carolyn’s house and told Carolyn we’d put Buffalo Baby in the corral. We needed to hurry home because it was almost time for Andrea to take Dani and the other kids to Mark for his weekend with them. Carolyn said that she and Nick would doctor the cow for us that evening. They put her in the chute and give her antibiotic boluses and injections.

Yesterday Emily went hunting up the creek on the 4-wheeler, and shot a whitetail deer. She brought it home on the 4-wheeler, so now Andrea has another deer to cut up to put in our freezers.

I defrosted both of our freezers while they were so empty—putting everything into one and defrosting the other, then putting everything into the other.

That afternoon I reset Dottie’s other front shoe (her foot was getting too long and needed trimmed), to more evenly match the one I had to reshoe a couple weeks ago when she lost a shoe. Lynn and I drove up the creek and checked on Buffalo Baby, and she’s already walking better. She’ll stay in the corral a few days (being fed hay) so we can give her some additional treatments.

NOVEMBER 1 – Last Sunday Emily rode with me to the 320 to check the cows, and she rode Sprout. We moved a few low ones back up the ridge to higher country again.

Andrea spent the day grinding hamburger, and sent about 70 pounds of meat home with Carolyn since she and Michael were completely out of hamburger. I cooked supper and we fed everyone after Andrea and Robbie went to town to get the kids from Mark.

Sam and Charlie mentioned that they’d told their dad that they are going on a special school trip (which falls on his weekend) and wrote it on his calendar. A small group of students from our school’s music program will be going to Boise to see a professional performance of the Broadway play “42nd Street” and Sam and Charlie are part of that group of 14 students. They were afraid their dad would refuse to let them go, so they just announced to him that they are going.

On Tuesday Robbie and Lynn took down the temporary fence dividing the field below the lane, taking out the steel posts and rolling up the electric fence. We won’t need that field split when we put the heifers down there for winter. We also started shutting off our ditches so they won’t make ice flows across the fields.

That evening the sun was highlighting the mountains across the valley so I took a photo from the back porch.

On Friday Andrea finally got caught up enough with the meat processing to ride with me and we checked the cows again on the 320, and got the top trough in Baker Creek working better again (the spring box was plugged up). By now there is a lot of water in Baker Creek, however, so the cows aren’t short of water even if that trough quits running. Up on the ridge we paused to check a group of cattle, and heard an elk bugling in Baker Creek. Sprout was all ears, listening, and then LilliAnnie rubbed on Sprout’s head and chest, wanting to fight the horse.


Yesterday we had more rain. Lynn was able to bring a couple big alfalfa bales from the haystack, with the tractor, for Rubbie and Veggie, before it started raining very much, and we got a tarp over it them. Those two old horses (nearly 29 and 30 years old) have such bad teeth that they can’t eat grass hay very well unless it is very fine, so I’ve been feeding them some leafy alfalfa and they are managing to eat enough of that to keep up their weight.

Andrea, Robbie and kids came down after supper to show us their Halloween costumes; they were headed in to town for the kids to go trick-or-treating to a few friend’s places.

It warmed up and rained part of the night, with a strong wind. Andrea stayed up late and finished boning out Emily’s deer to put the meat on ice (for later grinding); it was too warm for it to continue hanging by the shed.

NOVEMBER 8 – Last Monday it was cool and rainy all day. I did the GI tract
“cleanout” in preparation for a colonoscopy on Tuesday. Lynn and I were both supposed to have colonoscopies this summer (5 years since the last ones) but he had his when he was flown to Missoula in July for emergency medical treatment for his GI hemorrhage. I put mine off until now. Andrea did my horse chores for me Monday evening because I was unable to leave the house.

Tuesday morning it was snowing, but I managed to do my chores quickly and easily because I had the hay all laid out. Andrea helped me finish up (and watered the horses) when she got back from taking the kids to the school bus. My colonoscopy went well, I think, but the doctor was too busy to give me the results afterward; I won’t know how it went until my appointment with the doctor next week.

Dani had a birthday party in town Tuesday evening (11 years old!) but I was too weak and wobbly to go to it. We just wished her a happy birthday and gave her our gift when Andrea and kids stopped by briefly on their way to town.

 On Wednesday we had several inches of new snow. When I did chores that morning I discovered that Willow had wallowed down the electric fence in the corner of her pen and was on the wrong side of it, eating grass and fallen crab apples. The fence had shorted out somewhere and when it’s not working, Willow is very bold and leans over it or tries to go through it. We have that corner of her pen fenced off, by the crab apple tree, so that she won’t eat a bunch of apples and get a bellyache.

Andrea and Robbie got back from taking the kids to the school bus about the time I was finishing feeding the other horses, so they helped me extricate Willow from the mess of hot wires, patch the fence back up (tighter and higher than it was before, with more strands of electrified tape) so she won’t try to go over it again. While I watered the horses they searched along the pasture where the young bulls are, and found where the hot wire was shorting out against a steel post. After fixing that situation, the electric fence was working again, and maybe Willow will leave it alone. I took photos of her eating her hay after we got her rescued, and the new snow on my haystack and pens.

Charlie and Sam practiced with their chorus group all day, in preparation for a concert that evening. Several school from central eastern Idaho sent busloads of kids to Salmon for this event. Usually our kids (the ones chosen to sing in the multi-school concert) go to one of the other schools to participate—with a four-hour bus ride to get there. This time Salmon hosted the event, and all the music groups came here. Lynn and I went to the concert at the high school that evening and it was an incredible presentation of some difficult songs. The kids (and the instructor/conductors) did a fantastic job. Andrea took photos of the kids before the concert, with some of their friends, and a photo of their group singing.


Michael and Carolyn drove to Idaho Falls that day with Nick, where he rented a car to drive back to his old college in Iowa, to participate with the track team in their regionals track/cross country meet. The roads were snowy and slick, but they made it OK.

With all the new snow, the grass at the top end of the 320 is snowed under, and the north-facing slope is slippery and treacherous. Carolyn went up there on her 4-wheeler on Thursday and let the cows into the lower section where the snow is not so deep. The new green regrowth from all our fall rains is 2 to 3 inches tall and the cows are enjoying it. When she drove up there, however, 35 elk were in that pasture, eating the green regrowth! So it was time to let our cows in there before the elk it all. The cows all came when she called them, and it was easy to move them through the gate into that lower part.

When I went out to do chores that morning the sunrise was spectacular, with a bit of clear sky between snowstorms.

Andrea took Emily to Idaho Falls for her appointment with the dental surgeon who will be removing her impacted wisdom teeth later this month. It was snowing again and the roads were very bad and slippery on their way home.

Mark called Andrea to tell her he was taking the kids on Friday to an appointment he’d set up with the custody evaluator in Idaho Falls, and Andrea told him that Sam and Charlie were going on a special music trip to Boise on Friday and coming home Saturday evening. Mark then had his attorney write a letter to Andrea’s attorney stating that Andrea “refused to allow the appointment” so Andrea’s attorney had to respond, to tell Mark’s attorney that his client was fully aware that the two older children were attending a school function in Boise and that the children had put the event on Mark’s calendar.

Sam and Charlie went on the trip and thoroughly enjoyed the musical—it was a great experience for those 14 kids who went down there. They got back Saturday evening and Andrea assumed Mark would pick them up off the bus, since it was his weekend to have them, but she met the bus anyway, to take home some of the things Sam and Charlie took along on the trip. They waited and waited, and Mark never showed up. Finally Andrea had Sam call him on her cell phone and Mark was very rude when he answered, thinking it was Andrea. When Sam told him they were back from the trip, he changed his tune and was surprised, because he thought they wouldn’t be back until Sunday—even though all of them had told him differently. Apparently he does not listen to his children!

We had more snow this weekend. I took photos of the bull calves in the orchard.

 On Friday Lynn and I went to the memorial service for one of my high school classmates, Ed Smith. Ed lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, but managed to keep up that battle and have some good times for much longer than the doctors originally expected. On Saturday a group of us classmates got together and shared some great memories. 

The past few days we’ve had cold weather – down to 14 degrees. With the grass snow covered and the weather this cold, I started feeding the weaned heifers (16 heifers and one steer) in the field above the house, taking a little hay out in my wheelbarrow and scattering it around. They still have some grass but the hay gave them encouragement, and was useful for training purposes, getting some of the timid ones more eager to come to me. Now they will be easier to move to the next pasture in a few days because I’ll be able to call and lead them, and they will follow me.


Today Lynn and Andrea went up to the 320 on our 4-wheeler to take another block of salt to the cows and check on their water. The spring is running half a pipe into the trough, and it’s not freezing yet. The cows are grazing happily in spite of the snow. I cooked a big dinner and fed everyone this evening when Andrea picked up her kids from Mark. The kids always enjoy this get-together after coming home from their dad’s place.

NOVEMBER 16 – Last Monday morning after feeding the horses, I moved the heifers to their new pasture below the driveway. They were eager for my “lure” of hay and followed me through the gate and into the lane by my haystack. Andrea and Robbie got back from taking the kids to the school bus just in time to help head them across the driveway and down to the field. There’s enough green grass there to feed them another month or so unless the snow gets deeper.

We had a heavy wet snow Monday night, when Nick was driving back home from the track meet in Iowa, but he made it almost all the way before he stopped to sleep awhile. It was still snowing Tuesday morning when Michael and Carolyn drove to Idaho Falls to meet him and return the rental car he drove, and bring him home.

Emily drove the old Eagle to work that day because it has 4-wheel drive, and her little car was having trouble in the snow. Our power went off that morning for an hour and we cooked lunch on our wood stove.

The weather warmed up later in the week; most of the snow melted off the field below the lane so the heifers are happily grazing. Dani went down there to talk to them and make sure her most favorite one (Deerling) would still come up to be petted.

Andrea took Sam to her doctor appointment Wednesday, for another x-ray. The main fracture has healed, but there’s still a problem with her heel bone, so she’ll have to be on crutches another 3 weeks. She’s quite athletic and agile on her crutches, having been on them for several months now—even going on a hike up Panther Creek with Andrea and Robbie before it snowed.

Young Heather drove back from Canada and got home Wednesday night. Her roads were pretty good.

On Thursday Andrea took the kids to the court house instead of to school, to deliver them to Mark to take for his appointment for them with the custody evaluator in Idaho Falls. Andrea picked them up again late that evening. They missed a lot of tests at school that day (that they’ll have to make up next week) and have a lot of homework.

With the snow and frozen, slippery mountainsides, John Miller decided not to leave his draft horses on the 160-acre pasture next to ours (the pasture he’s sub-leasing from Alfonzo) and brought the horses home. John rode one, led two others, and the rest were following along as a herd.

They were hungry, trying to graze along the way, and some of them went into a neighbor’s driveway. Lynn happened along about that time, driving back from Rocky’s new house, and herded them out of the driveway so John wouldn’t have to go back for those.

On Friday Dani rode with Andrea and me to check the water trough and the cows on the 320. Andrea cleaned a little debris out of the overflow pipe, but it was working fairly well. The cows were all happily grazing up on the mountainsides.

The whitetail deer have been getting into our haystacks every night, making great holes along the sides of the alfalfa bales. Robbie put plastic “deer wrap” around one of the stacks on Friday, and yesterday Andrea and Lynn helped him wrap up the other stack. We have about 30 to 35 deer ganging up at the haystack this year. Some of them go through our barnyard and horse pens daily, and aren’t a bit afraid of people unless we get close to them.

Saturday and Sunday Dani and Sam had friends sleep over. Dani’s little friend likes horses, so Dani saddled Ed and they both rode her around in the field above the lane. Dani likes to practice trotting in circles and figure 8’s.

Andrea and I dewormed all the horses on Saturday, except Rishiam. I ran out of dewormer and will have to buy some more for him.

Emily had surgery early this morning at the hospital in Idaho Falls to remove her wisdom teeth. She and Andrea drove over there last night and stayed in a motel near the hospital. Her wisdom teeth are adversely affecting the jaw bones and making her jaw very sore. Andrea brought her home right afterward and Em slept all the way home.

Today I had a doctor’s appointment to finally get the results of my colonoscopy two weeks ago. No major problems.

The proofs for my next book, Ranch Tales – Stories of Cats, Dog and Other Crazy Critters, arrived last week for me to check over. This book will be available very soon, in time for people to order for Christmas gifts. If anyone wants to order autographed copies from me, they can contact me by phone, mail or e-mail (208-756-2841 or P.O. Box 215, Salmon, Idaho 83467, or The price will be the same as my other “Tales” books (Horse Tales, Cow Tales) at $24.95 plus shipping.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ranch Diary: October 1 to October 20, 2015

Diary from Withington Creek 

October 10, 2015 – Michael and Nick have been working on several custom fence-building jobs and Robbie helped them for a few days. We’ve had some nice fall weather with just a few cold nights that turned the tree leaves from green to gold. We had a dusting of snow but it’s mostly melted.

The day after we preg-checked the cows and took the heifers’ mothers to the 320-acre mountain pasture we put the heifer calves in the horse pasture, and the two bull calves in the old orchard pasture. They are content to graze, having been already weaned with the nose flaps while still on their mothers. There’s a lot of green grass this year in the orchard and horse pasture, thanks to Andrea’s diligent irrigating during the dry summer. That evening we put the steer calves and their mothers in the hold pen above the corrals. Later that night we had a hard rain. It didn’t last long, but put down a lot of water—which created new gullies down some of the hills and trails on the range.

Last Friday we brought the steers into the corral before daylight, sorted off their mothers, and when Michael and Carolyn brought their steers down we were ready to load ours (and the open heifer and one open cow) into the trailer with theirs—to haul to the sale at Ramsey, Montana, near Butte. On the way over there, the trailer had a flat tire and they had to change it, so they didn’t get there at the beginning of the sale as hoped.

The steers sold pretty well. The market is off from what it was earlier this summer, so they didn’t bring as much per pound as last year, but they weighed a little more than our steers last year.

That afternoon Lynn looked out the window and saw Sprout stuck on her back. She’d rolled too close to the side of her pen and had her feet up against the mesh wire and couldn’t get up. We have some old tires along that side to keep her from lying too close to the fence, but she managed to get herself stuck anyway. So we rushed out there and looped a rope around her opposite foreleg—and with both of us pulling we were able to tip her back over, away from the fence. Then she was able to scramble to her feet. She’d been there a little while, and was glad to be rescued. We put a few more tires along that side of her pen, to discourage her from rolling there.

Dani and Andrea rode with me on Ed and Sprout later that afternoon, up to the 320, to check on the cows. We moved a few that were down low, and took them up the ridge where there’s a lot of grass they should eat before it gets snowed under this fall.

We hurried home, trotting most of the way, to get back in time for Andrea to take Sam and Charlie to play in the band, for the high school football game.

On Saturday Andrea and Robbie helped Michael and Carolyn haul more hay for young Heather’s horses; this is the last load of the hay she bought for her horse-training program. Dani rode with me and we checked the cows on the 320 again, and also made a loop through the low end of the middle range, along Baker Creek. The moisture this fall has started a little green regrowth of grass.

We were curious to see what happened to Alfonzo’s cow. She must have regained her strength enough to get up, after Andrea, Em and Robbie got her unstuck from the hole in the creek, because her body was no longer right by the creek. She’d moved quite a ways from that spot by the time Alfonzo and John Miller went out 2 days later to do something with her (and shot her).

Dani and I moved a few more cows up the ridge to the high end of the 320, then came home the long way, down the road. Weather had become stormy—with a strong wind. If we had been coming down the ridge, the wind would have blown us away!

On the road, we met a neighbor, Jeff Minor, with his horse trailer, hauling some of John Miller’s big draft horses up the creek. The Amish will be using some of them for skidding out firewood logs, but are also pasturing 10 of the big horses this fall and winter on the 160-acre mountain pasture next to ours (that Alfonzo leases from Colstons).

The weather was cold by the time we got home. Lynn had built a fire in our stove (our first fire this fall), which felt pretty good when we came in from putting our horses away. Dani had a peanut butter sandwich and then worked on some puzzles until Andrea got back from hauling hay.

On Sunday Andrea shut off a couple of our ditches; we are done irrigating those fields and just have a couple fields left to finish watering before we shut the ditches off for winter—so they won’t create ice flows across the fields.

Robbie put Lynn’s pickup back together; the part we ordered got here last week and now it’s all fixed and working again.

We have a group of ruffed grouse spending a lot of time in and under the old crab-apple tree by my hay shed, eating the little crab apples. They are not very wild; they don’t try to fly off unless you get really close to them. When I walk through there to feed my horses, they just stand still and think I can’t see them! Yesterday morning a group of females was pecking around in our front yard, and I took photos of them through the window.

Now that Andrea has turned off the water that was coming through the little field above the house (where the 16 heifers and Cinnamon Bear are now living), and horse pasture/orchard, we’re watering them in the trough and watering the two little bulls in the orchard with tubs. They have never drunk from tubs; the little bulls grew up on the upper place and always had the creek or a ditch, or a big water trough. They were really thirsty but too leery of the plastic tubs to try to drink from them. For a couple of days I gently herded them down to that corner where the tubs are, and they finally got brave enough to stick their noses into the water.

On Tuesday Carolyn and Nick brought their trailer down and we loaded the steers’ mothers to haul to the upper place. We left Buffalo Girl (she’s getting old and a little thin) and Magrat (the cow that was lame this summer) home—and put them in the lower back field so they can have an easy life this fall on green pasture, and not have to climb the mountains.

Andrea and I got our horses ready to ride to the upper place and I discovered that Dottie had lost a front shoe. So we rode carefully up the road (avoiding rocks and gravel as much as possible) and met up with Carolyn and Heather at the upper corral. They’d put their cows (mothers of the steers they sold) into the corral and moved their two old cows to a different pasture. We put our two little groups together and herded them up to the 320 to join the other cows we put up there last week. I took some photos of young Heather following the cows up through the timber.

We took them all to the top trough in Baker Creek and came home down the ridge. Dottie was getting a little tenderfooted by the time we got home, so I put another shoe on that foot. Even though Michael now does most of my shoeing, I’m glad I’m still able to shoe my own horses if necessary, at age 71.

Andrea and Carolyn left early the next morning to drive to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s appointment with her pain doctor, and an appointment with the custody evaluator. The custody case will probably drag on for several more months.

On Thursday Andrea and I rode Shiloh and Dottie to check cows on the 320 and ended up moving some low ones up again. With all the hunters out and about, we wore red, and draped red shirts over the rumps of our horses, to make sure no one would mistake us for deer or elk!

Shiloh has never been around cattle but she’s not afraid of them, and didn’t mind following the herd as we moved them. She got upset, however when Dottie and I had to go a different direction to gather some other cattle. She got a bit excited on the slippery, frozen hillside and Andrea had to bail off her and try to keep her calm, not wanting her to fall over backward with Andrea on her. When we got the whole group of cows back together and Dottie was nearby again, Shiloh calmed down and we finished moving the cattle to the top of Baker Creek. Then we had to hurry home so Andrea could pick up the kids after school and take them all to their dental appointments.

Yesterday young Heather drove back to Canada to spend a month with her friend Gregory and his family. That evening at chore time I discovered the heifers had pooped in their water tank again (this was the second time we’ve had to bucket it out, dump and rinse it) so we started some water in their ditch, putting a little down through the corner of that pasture so they can drink from the ditch and not have to worry about the trough. By the time we have to shut that ditch off (to keep it from freezing), we’ll have them in a different pasture.

Today Andrea and I rode Shiloh and Dottie for 3 1/2 hours to check the cows, and also took along some spray paint to paint our fence posts orange along the ridge where hunters keep trying to drive, and also sprayed the gate posts by our locked gates. We don’t want people trying to go in there hunting while we have cattle grazing. In years past we’ve had several cows shot, so we want the hunters to know it is private land. While we were up there Andrea worked on the springbox again at the top trough in Baker Creek. It gets plugged with mud and fir needles occasionally and quits running.

After we got home, Andrea, Lynn and Robbie drove up to the upper corral to get her little jeep. It quit running (dead battery, and out of gas) the night they drove to the 320 to hunt a couple weeks ago and had to hike home in the dark. It seemed strange that it was out of gas, because they’d filled it recently, but a couple of their vehicles had mysteriously ended up low on gas and they suspect someone may have “borrowed” a little gas at some point when no one was home, or maybe during the night.

At any rate, they went back a few nights later and pulled the jeep out of the 320. Andrea coasted it down the road to Michael and Carolyn’s corral, where it sat until now. With all the hunting traffic on our road, and a lot of strange people going and coming, Andrea didn’t want to leave the jeep there, so this evening they brought it home.

Robbie and Lynn pulled it to the top of the hill by the Wild Meadow, and then Andrea coasted it the rest of the way home (about 2 miles—all downhill). As she came along the road by our place, Alfonzo was riding his mule in front of her, and apparently neither he nor the mule heard her coming until she was right behind them, pulling around them to go past. The mule startled and leaped up the steep bank above the road, with Alfonzo practically falling off over its rump. Andrea yelled at him, “You ok??” and he yelled back, “I ok!” as she whizzed by. Fortunately the mule was surefooted and didn’t fall down backward on that steep rocky cliff, and managed to turn around and come back down. We have our differences with that neighbor, but Andrea didn’t want to accidentally wipe him out!

OCTOBER 20 – The carpenters are coming along with good progress on my brother’s house (3 miles up the creek from our house). It is nearly finished; Rocky and Bev are living right now in their camper trailer up there, and eager to move into the new house before the weather gets cold.

Last week Michael put new shoes on Ed for me. Her feet were getting very long and her shoes were worn out. I’m hoping Dani will be able to ride with me a few more times this fall, checking cows on the 320, so I want that mare’s feet to be in good shape, with plenty of traction on frozen ground—and not too long. We don’t want her tripping and stumbling.

Last Monday we went to Myra Miller’s funeral. She was 93—and the last of my parents’ generation. Her family and mine have been closely associated since I was a tiny baby, when my parents moved here to Salmon (when Dad came here to be the preacher at the federated Methodist/Presbyterian church—and then a few years later started building the Methodist church). My brother and I grew up with Myra’s kids. It was great to see her kids again, gathering here for the celebration of Myra’s life. And a great life it was—an inspiration to all of us.

In her later years she spent a lot of time helping out in the grade school, reading to kids, and the little kids loved her. After she “retired” from helping at the school, she still helped out at the city library. When little Dani was a timid, backward child, starting first grade and way behind in her reading skills, Andrea felt badly that Myra was no longer working with kids’ reading at school, but Myra offered to help Dani. Andrea took Dani to the library to work with Myra after school, 2 days a week, for 2 years. Myra helped Dani with her reading, made it a fun thing, and then read her a story (as a reward) after every session. She made a huge difference in that child’s life, and is the reason that Dani is a good reader today.  

Dani insisted on going to Myra’s funeral, so we picked her up at school and took her with us. Andrea braided her hair on the way to the church, and took a photo of her.

After the funeral Andrea went to get Emily’s car (where she’s working) and took it to town to have a tire fixed. That tire has been leaking air; it had a piece of metal in it.

Lynn went to the skin specialist again, to have a few more pre-cancerous lesions frozen off. The good news was finding out that the growth on his eyelid (which Dr. Carrington removed a few weeks ago) was benign.

Michael and Nick went deer hunting that morning, and Nick shot a buck. That afternoon Andrea and Carolyn took Andrea’s truck and Michael’s 4-wheeler up Haines Creek to help retrieve it.
Michael and Nick actually saw more elk that day than deer (but didn’t have elk tags) and one big bull elk came walking right up to Nick in the timber—within 15 feet.

Last Wednesday Lynn went to Challis with Bill Allen to find a new location for a well on some property there. The old well had gone dry. Andrea and I made a fast ride to the 320 on Shiloh and Dottie to check the cows, and moved a few low ones back up to the high end of that pasture. This time Shiloh did a lot better following the cows and didn’t get so worried.

The springbox was plugged up again at the top trough, so Andrea dug out around it more, and got the water running into it better again.

A couple days ago there was a lot of shooting in the lower fields just below our place (even though the landlord doesn’t allow hunting on his property), so Andrea checked on our 2 cows in our back field to make sure they were ok.

Dani had a friend stay overnight, and the next morning she took her friend for a short ride on Ed. Dani brushed and saddled Ed, and led her around with the friend riding, and they took turns riding that good old mare.

Andrea and I rode again to the 320 to check the cows, and Andrea took her rifle (strapped to her back) in case we saw a buck. The cows were all high that day, and we didn’t have to move any, but we did have to work on the water trough springbox again, and this time dug out around it better, with the shovel we leave underneath the trough. On our way home we saw 15 does and fawns, but no bucks.

The Amish families have spent several days getting firewood up the creek, and that evening they had a flat tire on one of their trailers. Lynn was driving down the creek (after checking on the progress of Rocky’s new house) just as 8 of the Amish young men and women were abandoning the trailer and trying to figure out how they could all ride on the little tractor that was pulling it. He gave most of them a ride home.

On Friday Michael put new shoes on Sprout for Andrea, and Sam helped me take the shoes off Breezy. She held that old mare for me, in her pen. Breezy’s feet were getting really long, so I took her shoes off and trimmed her feet. She won’t need shoes for the few rides she’ll have this fall.

Then Sam ate lunch with us, and afterward rode with Dani, Andrea and me for a short ride around the low range. It was Sam’s first ride since breaking her ankle early this summer. She missed out on a lot of riding while she was on crutches.
On this short ride, Andrea rode Shiloh and Sam rode Breezy (who has been missing her rides!) and then she and Andrea switched horses out there—to give Sam a chance to try out Shiloh.

Sam did just fine riding Shiloh, and is looking forward to riding Shiloh quite a bit next summer. Breezy will be 25, and she’s getting a bit stiff, so it will be good for Sam to have some other options next year. Sam and I can trade off on Dottie and Shiloh.

On Saturday Michael and Nick went hunting again in the high country but this time didn’t see ANY game, just a wolf-killed carcass. That morning Andrea had good luck, however, shooting a buck in our field below her house. This is about the 5th time in the past dozen years that she’s shot her deer in her bathrobe, right from her house (the first was when she was still living out at 12-mile). She and the girls took it over the dump hill to gut it out and then hang the carcass in the shade by her shed.

Dani and another friend rode Ed around the barnyard again, and Andrea took Sam on a short hunt—and Sam was able to shoot her very first deer. We have a lot of whitetail deer living in our fields (the ones that try to eat our haystacks in the winter, and eat a lot of the alfalfa we feed to the heifers), so Sam was able to shoot a small whitetail buck in the field below Andrea’s house. Sam made a very good shot; she’s going to be a good hunter like her mom. Again, the girls helped Andrea take that one over the hill to gut out and hang by the shed.

Saturday was Rocky’s birthday, so I gave him a copy of my new book Cow Tales as a birthday present. Some of the early chapters include reminiscences of cattle he and I grew up with on the ranch, so he’ll enjoy reading those memories.

I’m hoping people will want to buy my two new books (Horse Tales and Cow Tales) to give to friends as Christmas gifts. Anyone who would like a signed copy can contact me by phone (208-756-2841) or e-mail (

It has been freezing hard at nights, but that night was very warm—the one night we needed it to be cool for the 2 deer hanging by Andrea’s shed! So the next day (Sunday) she spent most of the day cutting the meat off the bones and putting the meat in coolers with ice packs.

Sam rode with me to the 320 on Sunday (since Andrea was busy cutting up meat), to check the cows. Breezy did fine without shoes. We hadn’t checked the cows for several days, and wanted to make sure they were doing ok with all the hunters out and about. We saw all the cows, and checked on the gates (riding up the ridge to check the gate at the very top). We checked the water troughs, and this time the upper trough’s springbox was still working.

Yesterday it rained off and on. Andrea and Carolyn drove to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s appointment with her pain doctor (and received 6 steroid shots in her lower back, to help relieve some of the extreme pain that keeps her awake nights). While they were there they stocked up on dog food, cat food and groceries (most things are cheaper in those big stores than here in Salmon) and bought a new fly mask for Breezy. We keep a mask on her all the time except when she’s being ridden, to protect her one eye from sunlight as well as from flies in summer.

Dani had an asthma attack and seriously impaired breathing at school, and didn’t have her inhaler with her. The gal at the school office called us, since Andrea was still in Idaho Falls for her doctor appointment. Lynn drove to town and took an inhaler to Dani, and then she was able to breathe better, and go back to class.

I made a big pot of stew soup and fed the kids supper after Lynn got them off the bus. Dani helped me do chores in the rain, feeding the horses, and then Andrea and Carolyn got home soon after. Andrea and Sammy got the rest of their deer meat ground into hamburger last night. We are all out of meat, so they plan to share it with us and with Michael and Carolyn. Deer season is nearly over, but Michael, Dani and Charlie still hope to fill their tags.