Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Diary from Sky Range Ranch – October 1 through October 20, 2016

OCTOBER 7 – Last Friday we had strong wind that blew shingles off Andrea’s house. It also ripped and blew the tarp off my haystack—the part of the stack that didn’t fit under my shed. The wind shredded the tarp and blew bits of it all over the barnyard. Weather was nicer by Saturday and I trimmed Veggie’s feet. We’ll be putting him down in a few weeks; his arthritis is getting worse with the cold weather. But I want him to be as comfortable as possible until then, without the extra strain on his joints from long toes.

Robbie helped Michael fix his truck. Now they just need to find time to fix the hydraulic leak in the backhoe. It takes about 5 gallons of hydraulic fluid each time Michael uses it.

That evening Andrea and Robbie took Lynn and me to the movie “Sully” about the pilot who was able to land his crippled plane on the Hudson River and saved all the passengers. Lynn and I had not been to the movie theater since 2004!

Sunday the weather was colder. I fed the heifers a little hay just to start gentling them. That afternoon Andrea and I rode Breezy and Dottie to the 320 to check cows.

Andrea on Sprout, checking cows on 320
The upper water trough wasn’t working, so Andrea cleaned out spring box and took out a dead toad that was blocking the outlet into the pipe to the trough.

That evening the power went off while I was cooking dinner for the family (it’s been traditional to eat at Grandma’s house when Andrea’s kids get back home from a weekend with their dad). We started a fire in our wood stove for first time this fall, not only to warm the house but also to help with cooking supper. The power came back on at the last minute and we didn’t have to eat by candlelight. After supper all the kids went out to see Veggie, they will soon have to say goodbye to him.

Monday it rained all day. That afternoon we let Veg out of his pen to graze in the barnyard next to the pen, where the green grass has grown back a little this fall. He will enjoy the green grass as long as it lasts.

Veggie Grazing
Charlie has been getting some practice driving, when Andrea takes the kids to school. If they are a little late to make it to the bus, she lets him drive all the way to town. This is about the only time he gets driving hours (toward the required hours he needs—driving with a licensed adult in the car) since his dad won’t let him drive any of the vehicles out at his house.

Tuesday Andrea took Sam to Dr. Carrington, the skin specialist here in town, and he took a weird mole off her head. He wants to check it again in few months.

Wednesday we moved the 16 heifers to the field above the horse pasture. It’s grown back, thanks to Andrea’s irrigation. Hopefully it will have enough grass to last until we put them in the field below the house for winter. Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie to check cows, and on our way up the ridge to go to the 320 we took pictures of the heifers in the green field below.

Heifers in field above house
When we got up to the 320 we found that the storm brought most of the cows down to the lower end of that pasture. We checked the lower trough and discovered that it’s not working at all. The spring box probably needs to be dug out and the water line unplugged.

Thursday evening Charlie’s choir sang the national anthem before the volleyball game. Today Dani had running practice after school, and Sam and Charlie played in the band in the Homecoming parade and again at the game.

band playing at the homecoming football game
Phil Moulton hauled us 3 trailer-loads of hay today, and we stacked it in the hold pen by Shiloh and Veggie, to feed the heifers this winter. He will bring a couple more loads tomorrow.

OCTOBER 14 – This last week Andrea’s kids and friends went to the Homecoming bonfire and festivities and I took a photo of them when they stopped by here.

Sam & Dani and friends
Charlie went to the Homecoming Dance, and he looked very nice, all dressed up. His mom took a photo of him before they left home, and when they stopped by here for us to see how nice he looked, I took a photo, too.

Charlie before the dance
Charlie ready for the dance

Lynn moved our stackwagon (which was parked for winter beside the old 2-ton flatbed truck) so we could stack more hay in the hold pen by the horses. The next day Lynn located water for guy who wants to put a well at his ranch near Northfork.

Someone in town advertised an old piano free to the first person to respond, and Robbie saw the ad. He and Andrea went to get the piano and put it in the basement playroom. Sam has been teaching herself to play the piano (playing our old piano every time she’s here at our house) so now she has her own to practice on. Charlie and Dani may also try to learn how to play.

On Sunday the girls rode with us to check cows on the 320 and I took photos as we rode up the ridge from our house.

girls and Andrea riding up the ridge
girls riding up to the ridge gate at lower end of 320
riding up into the 320 from the lower ridge gate

I also took photos as we rode into the Baker Creek canyon and crossed Baker Creek, and Andrea was taking photos of the girls, too.

heading for Baker Creek
crossing Baker Creek
Here are photos as we rode on up Baker Creek to check the trough at the top. We took lots of photos that day, not knowing whether the girls would be able to ride with us any more times this fall, since they now spend most weekends with their Dad.

Sam & Dani riding up Baker Creek
We checked the water trough at the top end of the 320 and checked the cows; they were spread all over and doing very well. We saw 3 elk just above the 320 on the Preacher’s Spring side, and spent a few minutes looking at the elk, and took a few photos, even though they were a little too far away to get good pictures.

looking at the elk
Andrea taking photos of the elk
Andrea took some photos with her phone, and I took a few with my camera, and here’s the bull elk, cow and calf elk.

three elk on skyline above 320
bull elk on skyline

After we got home the girls went home to rest, then Sam came down later and spent time with Veg, brushing him and combing his mane. She is the one who rode him the last 3 years before he was retired from working, and the two of them have a special bond.

Sam & Veggie
We are trying to irrigate the rest of our fields before winter, but we’re still short of water. Alfonso has been using water on Gooch place even though that 3rd right is supposedly shut off.

Michael and Nick went hunting on opening day of deer season and got a small buck. Everyone is short on meat right now, so hunting is of great interest!We aren’t going to shoot any of our little mule deer family however; we have 2 does and their 3 fawns that are always hanging around the horse pasture, barnyard and house. Here are photos taken through the window, of deer in our front yard in the early morning.

doe & fawn in front yard

Here are photos of the deer another time, in the back yard, taken from the dining room window. The fawn was standing in the old water trough that we used to use as a vegetable garden, but it’s now growing weeds—and the deer seem to love those weeds!

doe in back yard
fawn in back yard
doe & fawn in back yard
Alfonso moved his cows out of the fields below our place a few days ago, with a multitude of cowboys to gather them and take them down the road to pasture somewhere else. He failed to have someone out on the road to head them the right direction, and the whole herd came up the road past our house instead of going down the road. It was quite a rodeo, as one rider came galloping through all those cows, scattering them every which way, to try to get to the front of the herd and turn them around after they’d gone more than half a mile the wrong direction--and nearly put a bunch of them through the fence.

Dani hurt her wrist at school in P.E. and the school office called Andrea, who drove to town and took Dani to the ER to have it x-rayed. The wrist was very swollen, and the doctor wanted to make sure it wasn’t broken, but it’s simply a sprain and she needs to keep ice on it and wear a brace for a few days.

Dani with a sprained wrist
We had some more rain, which was very welcome as we try to finish irrigating some of our dry fields before winter. We are still short of irrigation water, and haven’t had a chance to irrigate the field by Andrea’s house for many weeks, so we had the watermaster switch our allotted use from ditch #9 to ditch #8 which comes down to our place through the Gooch place. Alfonso apparently thought it was for him (even though his 3rd right should all be shut off since the creek doesn’t have enough water to fill our 2nd right. He took it all, to water his fields above ours. We had NO water in that ditch a couple days ago, and Lynn had to hike up the ditch and get our water back, since Andrea was gone that day to Idaho Falls, to her pain doctor. The water problems on this creek seems to never end!The watermaster had to tell Alfonso to not use that ditch, until there’s enough water in the creek.

Michael went back to Dr. Carrington again for a checkup on his nose. The biopsy report was malignant, but Dr. Carrington thinks he got the entire lesion removed.

Wednesday was Dani’s last track meet, and she ran well in spite of her sprained wrist (fortunately a runner doesn’t need to use the wrists!)In her cross-country race she came in 19th out of 78 runners (6th, 7th and 8th grade). This is her best time so far, and it was pretty good, running against kids 1 and 2 years older. She loves to run.

Our little family of mule deer continue to graze in our yard every day, and these photos were taken out the bathroom window when they were eating weeds in the area between our house and the horse pens. In one picture the horse’s water tub in the background makes it look like the doe is wearing a hat!

fawn next to horse pen
doe next to horse pen
doe wearing a hat

Early yesterday morning Michael and Carolyn cooked a big breakfast for the high school cross-country runners, who came up to the ranch for a run. They came out here two mornings in a row to practice running at higher altitude, running up the road from Michael and Carolyn’s house on up the creek, going several miles up the mountain.

Charlie took a trip to Boise with a few other students to check out the college there. The bus broke down on the way home, at Baker, so Andrea was able to go pick him up there (just 2 miles from home), rather than have to wait a couple hours at the school (another bus was sent out to pick up the stranded kids).

OCTOBER 20 – Andrea helped her friends Jade and Anita and their son Jack butcher and haul out 3 elk that they killed during the bull season. They had incredible luck, running into a huge herd of elk that morning. All three of them shot their elk on Stormy Peak above Lynn’s parent’s old ranch. Andrea posed with little Jack and his elk for this photo.

Andrea, Jack and his elk
Last Saturday Lynn located a water source for a well on Diamond Creek, where some folks from Texas bought property and want to build a house. Lynn has now located about 350 wells.

We had a pleasant surprise on Sunday when my nephew Matt Smith came to visit; he came for a few days, to celebrate his dad’s 70th birthday. He’s Andrea’s favorite cousin, and we hadn’t seen him since he was here for my mom’s funeral (his grandmother) in 2010. He and Andrea drove to cemetery to look at the graves of their grandparents.

Andrea cut up Nick’s deer that afternoon and ground it into hamburger for Michael, Carolyn and Nick. Lynn went to town that evening and got the kids from Mark and we all had supper here, but Dani came home sick. The kids almost always come home sick from their dad’s place because the smoke is bad for their lungs, especially since they all have asthma and respiratory problems.

She stayed home from school on Monday, still sick. Monday night Lynn and I went up to my brother’s place for an informal birthday party. Andrea came also, and brought a couple of young cats to Aaron, who has been wanting some kittens.
The next day Michael brought a load of firewood for us. Andrea and I rode again to check the cows on the 320, to make sure they still have enough grass.

Andrea riding Sprout to check cows
We discovered that the upper trough was not working at all. There were more toads in the spring box this time, and one of them probably went down the pipe and plugged it. She tried to take the pipe apart at the trough, but we needed more tools. We may have to use compressed air to blow out the line.

That evening the weather was stormy; it was snowing and blowing at chore time, which made it harder to give Veg his bute (squirting the medication into his mouth). He was miserable in the cold, wet blizzard and didn’t want to stand still. Fortunately the storm didn’t last very long, and we didn’t get much snow.

It all melted off by the next day, so hopefully the cows are still doing well on their upper pasture and not wanting to come home!

The deer are back again in our yard. Here are photos of a couple fawns next to Rishiam’s pen and one fawn looking at Willow in her pen. The deer are not afraid of the horses at all, and go through some of the horse pens as they wander back and forth through our yard and barnyard.

fawns next to horse pens
fawn checking out Willow
Andrea’s old car (a 2003 Ford Explorer) has more than 220,000 miles on it and is wearing out—after all the travel to kids’ hockey games and other activities, out-of-town doctor appointments, trips to the World Burn Congress, etc. We found her a newer used car –a 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, with only 67,000 miles on it, at a reasonable price. We set up the purchase on a long-term contract with a low interest rate, so hopefully this car can last her a long time.

Andrea's car

My cousin Ned and his wife Pam called us a couple days ago, to give us an update on their various health challenges. She has just come through multiple sessions of chemo, surgery and radiation in her battle with cancer (and is doing well right now) and Ned recently underwent open heart surgery and is recovering. It was good to hear from them and to know that they are both doing better.

If anyone would like to order some of Heather’s “critter stories” books as Christmas gifts, here’s information about her three most recent books and she’d be glad to provide autographed copies.

Ranch Series by Heather Smith Thomas

Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch (the original book in this series) is a collection of 22 stories about the horses that helped define the author’s life in Idaho ranch country. Press release stated: “Horse Tales is a unique memoir infused with the brand of wisdom that can be acquired only through an existence built around livestock and the land. Thomas centers each story around a specific animal, along the way sharing lessons on life, family and stockmanship.” 282 pages, paperback. $24.95

Cow Tales: More True Stories from an Idaho Ranch (325 pages; $24.95) was published in July 2015. The press release from the publisher states: “Following the success of her acclaimed nonfiction collection Horse Tales…Cow Tales is an entertaining and compelling line-up of autobiographical essays detailing her family’s adventures raising cattle in the challenging ranch country outside Salmon, Idaho. In the tradition of James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small), each story centers on a particular animal or aspect of animal husbandry, offering insight into the resourcefulness required to manage a cattle herd, and a heart-warming look at human-animal bonding.”

Ranch Tales: Stories of Dogs, Cats and Other Crazy Critters, the third book in this series, was published December, 2015 (273 pages, $24.95) and consists of stories about memorable ranch animals and wildlife. “Each humorous, heartwarming and insightful tale is centered on the unique bond that forms between people and the animals—livestock, pets and wildlife—that populate a working ranch.”

Order any of these books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher: The Frontier Project Inc. (phone: 719-237-0243)

Signed copies are available from Heather Thomas, Box 215, Salmon, Idaho 83467 (208-756-2841) [price: $24.95 plus $3 postage – Idaho residents add 6% sales tax. For all three books - $70 plus $7 shipping]

1 comment:

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