Sunday, October 8, 2017

Diary from Sky Range Ranch - September 6 through September 27, 2017

SEPTEMBER 12 – Weather continues hot, and very smoky. Michael used the backhoe and finished creating the water gap for the two pastures, and Nick and Robbie finished the fences. That same day we saw two bears. One came down to the creek where Michael was working with the backhoe and then it decided to retreat and go on down the other side of the creek. A larger, lighter-colored bear came galloping down through our barnyard and went right past Jim’s shop where he was working. The bears have been coming down here to eat the chokecherries and are also eating crab apples in the trees along the creek.

I was putting new front shoes on Sprout—Andrea was holding her for me in our driveway—when she looked up and saw the bear that was galloping past on the other side of the creek. At least she’s not afraid of bears, so it didn’t bother her.

Later that day Andrea and I rode (Willow’s 20th ride) on a short, fast loop up through the field and into the creek to check out the new fence project. Willow loves to splash and play in the water so she stomped and pawed the water in the creek.
Willow in the creek
Willow after pawing and splashing in the water
Then we went up through heifer hill and out that gate, up the road and through Gooch’s Basin to make a short loop over the low range. We hurried home so Andrea could get to town by the time school was out, to take Dani and Sam to the walk-in clinic to assess their bad colds and breathing problems. The smoky air is probably part of the problem they are suffering.

Emily was looking for a new job, since the fellow she was working for sold his business. She spent several days training the new person, then needed to find another job. She interviewed for a job at the hospital (cleaning examination rooms, taking care of hazardous wastes, etc.) and last Wednesday found out that she is hired and will start work in a week.

Millers’ and Alfonso’s cattle keep coming down through the bad fence along the road, from Alfonso’s pasture across from my brother’s house, trying to come home from the range. They’ve been traveling down the road, and some have gotten into Michael’s place and my brother’s place. Instead of fixing the fence, Alfonso and Millers just keep pushing the cattle back up Withington Creek. Since the grass is so dry up there (devoid of protein) the cattle don’t like to eat it. So they either come back down or go over the top into Baker Creek (where there is no grass left) and make the loop around the hill to drop down into Alfonso’s pasture again, since there is no fence along the top of it.

On Thursday we moved our cows from the field by Andrea’s house to the field below our lane. Then Andrea and I rode 2.5 hours (Willow’s 21st ride) and went up the ridge to the 320 and up Baker Creek to the top end of our pasture. There were too many hungry range cattle hanging down on our fence, with no water, so we pushed them up a little higher and then came home.
Andrea and Willow following cattle
taking the cattle farther up Baker Creek to some feed and water
Friday morning when I did chores I discovered that our cows had broken down the hot wire dividing the field below the lane. They were all in the top part that we were saving for them for later. They usually respect the hot wire, but something may have spooked them through it, because one of the steel posts was bent completely over—like it had been hit by a cow at speed. The bears that have been eating in the crab apple trees in the creek bottom adjacent to that pasture may have spooked the cows.

So Andrea and Jim helped Lynn gather up the hot wire and take out the posts so the cows can have the entire field. While they were gathering up wire, they noticed that one of the yearling heifers was lame, with a very swollen front foot. That pasture is boggy at one end; she probably got foot rot walking in the deep mud. The opportunistic bacteria are almost everywhere. If the cow’s foot has a nick or a scrape (and if the skin is softened up from being wet in the mud it is more easily nicked) it creates easy entrance for the pathogen. So we got the heifer into the little pen by the barn, and Andrea and I put her in the headcatch and gave her injections of antibiotic while the guys finished gathering up the fence. By the next day the heifer was walking much better.

On Saturday I took photos of the lamps Jim has been making, utilizing some unique burr wood as part of the base. One of the lamps also has a horn from a bighorn sheep. These lamps are beautiful and he is hoping to sell them.
Jim working on lamps
Jim's new lamps
lamp with bighorn sheep horn
Jim also called his sister Barb that day, to check on her and her husband in Florida, where Hurricane Irma is hitting right now. So far their home is safe, though they have no electricity.

Andrea and I made a short ride (Willow’s 22nd ride) over the low range along the bottom of it, and rode up the big draw on the far side. There’s lots of interesting terrain in that draw, with various colors of bentonite outcroppings. I took photos of Andrea and Willow as we rode up through it.
riding Willow on 22nd ride
bentonite layers in big draw
exploring the colorful layers
riding out of the big draw
When we got to the top where there was cell service, Andrea called home to see how soon Robbie and Jim wanted to go get firewood. Willow has gotten used to the sound of her cell phone ringing—and automatically stops because often the cell service is sketchy and we have to stay in that place to not lose service.
Andrea talking on phone
Later that afternoon Andrea, Robbie and Jim went up the creek to get a load of firewood on Robbie’s pickup and trailer. It’s time to start laying in our winter’s wood, since we don’t have any carry-over from last winter after that long, cold winter.

While they were up the left fork of Withington Creek getting wood, they discovered a dead calf. Andrea called me on her cell phone (there are a few high spots up there where there’s cell service) to have me call Dan and Eileen French, since it was probably their calf. I called them, and described the calf and tag number, and they called their son Chris, since it was his wife’s calf—a nice big calf, just recently died. The cow was still with it, licking it, wondering why it was dead. Chris drove up the creek just as it got dark that evening, and Andrea and crew were still up there, coming down with their load of wood, and showed him where the calf was. It may have died of pneumonia.

We got an e-mail from granddaughter Heather in Canada and she sent photos of baby Joseph Michael “Monkey” (at 4 months of age). One was a photo of Monkey napping with his dad.
Gregory & Monkey taking a nap
 Another photo showed the kid taking time out for lunch..
Monkey taking time out for lunch
The other photo was taken when they were all in the combine and the kid was trying to help drive the combine! He spends quite a bit of time in the combine when his mom is driving it, and sometimes fiddles with the keys and has learned how to turn it off—which is a bit frustrating to his mom!
Monkey helping drive the combine
On Sunday we vaccinated the calves and started their easy-weaning process. Jim came down early morning and helped me and Lynn get them in from the field below the lane. We sorted the calves from the cows by the time Michael and Carolyn came down to help us. Robbie and Andrea helped, too, and we put the calves through the chute, gave them their vaccinations, and Michael installed the nose flaps. These handy yellow plastic flaps hook into the nose and hang down over the mouth a little bit, keeping the calf from getting a teat in his mouth to suckle. It doesn’t interfere with grazing or drinking water, but makes it hard to get hold of a teat. It’s the least stressful way to wean calves because they can still be with their mama, and have her company and comfort, but just can’t suckle. The cow starts drying up her milk and soon baby is weaned.
putting in nose flap
While we were at it, we dehorned the 5 calves that still had horns. We thought we had them adequately dehorned when we burned the horn buds at branding time this spring, but we must not have done a very good job! So Michael clipped the little horns off when we had those calves in the chute.
Michael dehorning a calf
Then we put the cows and calves back down below the lane. They can graze that field until we bring them in again to take the nose flaps out of the calves and pregnancy-test the cows. We sorted off the yearling heifers and put them up in the swamp pasture, just to make sure there would be enough grass for the cows and calves to last a week.

We vaccinated the bulls, but had trouble with the big bull—he hit the headgate so hard coming through the chute that he bounced it open and jerked Michael’s shoulder pretty badly as Michael was trying to close the headgate. We had to run him in again, and this time didn’t try to catch him in the squeeze chute. Carolyn vaccinated him in the runway.

Then Andrea, Jim and Robbie went up to Michael and Carolyn’s place to help them vaccinate and nose-flap their calves. Their old chute is worse than ours and it takes several people to work the headcatch and the tail gate. One of the poles hit Jim in the chest and bruised his ribcage.

That evening I cooked a big supper for Andrea, Jim, Robbie and kids, after the kids got home from being at their dad’s place for the weekend.

Yesterday when I did chores and checked through the cows and calves I discovered that Panda’s calf and Rosalee’s calf had lost their nose flaps. Sometimes the flaps pop out if the calf hits them on something solid, or pull out of the calf’s nose if they hook it on a fence. So that evening after Dani got home from cross-country practice she helped us, and we brought those two pairs into the little pen by the barn, put the calves in the headcatch and put new nose flaps in. We may eventually find the ones they pulled out (we wash them up and re-use them the next year).

Earlier that day I put new front shoes on Dottie. We didn’t ride; we gave the horses a day off so Dottie’s freshly trimmed feet wouldn’t be tender in the rocks. Also we had to be here to help Michael load up our open cow (Sugar Bear). She’s the one that had the premature calf in February--that died in spite of intensive care. She apparently didn’t get pregnant again, because we noticed her in heat after we took the bulls out of the herd. So Michael hauled her and his older bull to the sale at Butte, Montana. We had a little trouble loading her, however, because she’d never been in a trailer before, and she ran past us a couple times until we could convince her to stop and look at the trailer opening, and then she hopped up into the trailer.

Today was very hot again and smoky. Andrea was very upset with Gary the watermaster because when he came out yesterday he shut our ditch down to 48 inches. There is adequate water in the creek for us to have our full right (70 inches) because a lot of water is going on past Jack’s first right. Gary is so afraid that Jack might get short that he is shortchanging the second rights, and has been doing that all fall. It’s difficult to try to water our parched fields with only a small amount of water, and frustrating when the water is there, but going to waste. We need an impartial watermaster next year!

This afternoon Nick and Robbie took a water trough and pipe up to Michael’s place, where it can be hauled on up to the 320 sometime for fixing one of our troughs. Andrea and I rode for 3.5 hours (Willow’s 23rd ride). We went up through the middle range this time and I took a photo as Willow was traveling through tall sagebrush.
riding up through the middle range
Then we went up through the timber at High Camp where the middle range fence divides 2 water troughs—one that serves cattle on our side, and one on the other side where French’s cows are pastured. That spring needs dug out again and the pipe fixed; the BLM hauled materials up there last year but the roll of new pipe is still sitting there.
riding through timber toward High Camp
riding up around the division fence
When my father bought our upper ranch (in 1955) and we started using the range with our cattle, there was an old sheep trough at High Camp, about 50 or 60 feet long. It was built in the 1930’s when this rangeland was used by migrating bands of sheep and there were no fenced divisions (before the BLM came into existence in 1946). The herders with their roving bands camped at that spring with their sheep (hence the name High Camp) and the long, low trough could accommodate hundreds of thirsty sheep. When they camped there in the timber, the herders carved their names and the brands of their outfits on the dozens of quaking aspen trees around that spring. My brother and I enjoyed looking at all those old carvings when we were riding range and checking on our cattle during the 1950’s and 60’s.

Most of the old trees have died and fallen down, but there are still a few left. Some of the carvings today are more recent, as other people added their graffiti and names and initials along with those of the early sheepherders. As we rode by there, I took a photo of one of those trees that is still standing.
old quaking aspen tree with carvings
From there, Andrea and I rode into Basco Basin on the high range, and checked the water trough she fixed earlier. It was still working, but the spring has cut down (like it always does in late summer) and there wasn’t enough water there for the thirsty cows.
Basco trough with thirsty cows
From there, Andrea and I rode into Basco Basin on the high range, and checked the water trough she fixed earlier. It was still working, but the spring has cut down (like it always does in late summer) and there wasn’t enough water there for the thirsty cows.

SEPTEMBER 18  Last Wednesday Andrea went to town early morning for a doctor appointment. Robbie and Nick used our tractor and loader to put the heavy loader for the skid steer on the flatbed pickup to take up to Michael’s place—where they used the skid steer for moving jacks and poles around. They are building a fence around the hay that Phil Moulton hauled up there last month, to create a new stackyard.

It rained briefly, but not very much—just enough to clear some of the smoke out of the air for a few hours. That afternoon Andrea and I made a fast ride up the ridge to the 320, up the low trail along Baker Creek and out the high trail and talked to Jim, who was sitting in the timber, hoping to see some elk. He has a tag for a cow elk in a special depredation hunt. There is a 30 day hunt (for cow elk, anywhere within a mile of farms and rancher’s fields) since large numbers of elk are hitting the fields pretty hard. Groups of elk have been going through our place on a regular basis, and we need to eat one! They ate a lot of our winter pasture last year, got into my horse hay stack, and have been eating our pasture this summer. As Andrea and I rode through the 320 we looked for elk.
Willow’s 24th ride.
Andrea and Willow in 320
pausing to look for elk
riding up through the timber
On our way home, we killed a rattlesnake on our way back down the ridge. Our cattle will be up there soon and we don’t want them bitten. After we got home, we left horses tied awhile before I put them away. Willow needs more tying lessons and needs to learn patience—rather than thinking she has to immediately go back to her pen.

Our calves still have their nose flaps but Rosalee’s calf might be cheating. A few calves do figure out how to tip their heads and get their tongue past the nose flap to get hold of a teat, but most of them don’t.
calf with nose flap
calf can't suck with nose flap
Thursday morning it rained a little. Robbie and Nick finished the stackyard fence on the upper place, then hauled the trough, pipe and a spring-box up to the 320. They sawed some trees out of the jeep trail so they could get those materials down into Baker Creek for fixing the old trough. Andrea and I didn’t ride; it was raining harder by afternoon, and by evening there was actually water running down our driveway. This is the first real rain (to amount to anything) since the flash flood in late July.

Friday it rained all day and there was snow on the mountains above us. The snow line was clear down to the upper place and the weather stayed cold all day--an abrupt change from the hot, dry weather we’ve had for so long. Sam and Charlie played in the band on a float in the Homecoming parade and got very wet and cold. Andrea and Robbie went to the Homecoming game at the high school.

Lynn and I went to a gathering of my old high school classmates for my 55th class reunion. There were 62 of us graduating in the class of 1962, and about half of my classmates are gone now. More than half of those remaining made it to this reunion so it was great to see old friends again and reminisce about those days when we were actually young! We had some fun remembering our senior sneak—a trip with 2 school buses to the World’s Fair in Seattle, where we spent a couple of days. My class worked hard for 4 years earning money to go on that trip, by putting on car washes, pancake suppers, selling magazine subscriptions door to door—all kinds of fund-raising projects.

When Lynn and I got home that evening from my reunion get-together, we discovered that it had rained so much that our roof started leaking in a couple places it has never leaked before. It’s time to fix the old roof!

Saturday morning Andrea and Robbie helped me feed 6 little bales to the cows and calves in the field below the lane because their pasture was getting short, and we found one of the missing nose flaps.

Later that morning Lynn and I went to town to attend my class reunion’s brunch and visited for several hours with more of my old classmates. Some of them bought a few of my latest books (Horse Tales, Cow Tales and Ranch Tales).

Andrea and Robbie went up the creek to get a load of firewood and saw a sick calf that belongs to Dan and Eileen French, and called us on Lynn’s cell phone. They tried to call French’s but they weren’t home. Their son Chris doesn’t have a phone number in the phone book (just a cell phone) so we couldn’t call him. On our way home we stopped by Chris’s house and told him about the calf, got his cell phone number, and put him in touch with Andrea up on the mountain with her cell phone. He drove up to meet Andrea and Robbie, who had come home by that time, unloaded their wood, grabbed some ropes and halters, and were heading back up to help Chris find the calf.

Meanwhile Millers and Alfonso had been riding all morning to round up their cattle off the range and were bringing them down the road and sorting them on the road by the Gooch place, putting Alfonso’s cattle in that field and then bringing Miller’s cattle on down the road to the lower fields to go across the creek and over the hill to their place.

I did our chores and fed the horses early, so Lynn and I could head back into town for my class reunion dinner at the Elks Hall. Just after we got there, Andrea called us to say they’d found the calf again, got halters on it and led/dragged it down the hill through the timber to where they could load it into Robbie’s pickup—which was no small feat since it weighed about 450 pounds. They brought it down our house and Andrea was calling us to ask what to give it, to start easing its respiratory distress (it apparently had pneumonia and could hardly breathe). She gave it a shot of Banamine (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that reduces pain and inflammation) and DMSO orally (which is instantly absorbed and also reduces inflammation, as well as drawing excess fluid out of the lung tissue). Then they hauled the calf to French’s where Chris gave it antibiotics.

Their next bit of excitement was rescuing a cow of Alfonso’s. On their way down the creek through the timber with French’s calf, they saw Alfonso’s cow stuck in a patch of fallen-down trees, wedged into a tiny area like a miniature corral. After they got home from French’s they took chain saws and went back up the creek. By that time it was dark, but they were able to find the cow, using cell phones as miniature flashlights. The cow was emaciated—she’d probably been stuck there for several days—and on the fight. She probably thought they were predators. Indeed, Andrea and Robbie could hear wolves howling in the distance, farther up the creek. Robbie sawed out some of the down trees to try to free the cow but had to be really careful because she was charging at him, trying to get at him, the whole time. At one point he had to throw his saw under a log and leap up out of her way as she crashed through one of the trees he’d sawed out. She got hung up in more down trees but managed to scramble out of the mess. Immediately she grabbed bites of vegetation to gobble up, on her way to the creek to get a drink—and then disappeared into the night. She probably wouldn’t have lasted very much longer stuck in those trees without food or water.

Yesterday Dr. Cope came to preg-checked the cows. Andrea and Robbie went up to Michael and Carolyn’s place early in the morning to help them preg-check their cows, take the nose flaps out of the calves and Bangs vaccinate all the heifer calves, then they came down here to do ours. While they were working cattle on the upper place, Jim helped Lynn and me get our yearling heifers into the corral from the swamp pasture (we basically just opened the gate, called them, and led them down to the corral) and then got in the herd of cows and calves from the field below our lane. We sorted off the calves, and a few cows we plan to sell (no need to preg-check them) and were ready to start when the crew came back down here. We ran all the calves through first, and Michael took out their nose flaps.
Michael removing nose flap
As the heifers came through, Dr. Cope gave them their Bang’s vaccination and put a tattoo number in their ear, along with a tag clipped to the ear to show they have had their required vaccination.
Dr. Cope putting Bangs tag in ear
Afterward we put the pregnant yearlings down below the lane, and put Buffalo Girl with the heifer calves we plan to keep—in the little grassy pen below the barn—and put the sale calves in the orchard. We put the main herd (that will go to the 320-acre mountain pasture) in the field by Andrea’s house and left the sale cows in the corral and hold pen where there’s a lot of grass.

This morning Michael and Carolyn took a trailer load of their calves and a couple open yearling heifers to the community corral at Carmen (to send to the sale at Butte on Rusty’s cattle truck) and came back for our load of calves, then made a final trip to take our cull cows. Robbie and Nick worked on the new fence below our old barn until they got rained out. It started to rain as we were loading the last of our cattle, and rained hard all evening. Our dry weather is definitely over, for now, and the forest fires are tamed!

SEPTEMBER 27  Tuesday afternoon Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie. This was the first time she’s ridden Sprout for a couple months, since she’s been so busy riding Willow to get her trained. We checked the 320 to make sure no range cattle had gotten in or got pushed through the fence when the neighbors were having their big roundup a few days earlier.
Andrea riding Sprout up through 320
Then we then make a loop through the high range to see if we could find some of the neighbor’s missing cattle (since they didn’t get them all) and had to be careful on the muddy, slippery hillsides to make sure our horses didn’t fall down.
riding through high range
Andrea riding Sprout through high range
We found 2 cows and 4 calves in Baker Creek above our 320 pasture (a pair of Millers and a pair of Alfonso’s plus a couple extra calves of each—probably left behind in the big roundup). It started to snow while we were bringing them down out of the high range, but as we got down to lower elevation it was just a bit of wind and rain. The rain stopped as we brought them through the middle range and low range.
bringing range cows home
bringing the cattle down toward low range
When we got to the saddle at Gooch’s Basin, we sorted off Alfonso’s 3 critters and headed them down toward his Gooch field, and took Miller’s 3 on down to put in the lower field where they’d be easy for Millers to take over the hill to their place.

On our way down the road, nearly to the gate, one of our neighbors (Barb Peets) drove up the creek past us, and didn’t slow down very much (and was way too close to the cattle) which spooked one of the calves and it whirled and bolted back toward my horse. Dottie instantly spun out farther into the road to head the calf (which she knew was her job to do), and nearly got smashed into by Barb’s car! Instinctively Dottie reared up to get out of the way and the car nearly brushed her front legs. Ironic that we’d made it through that whole ride on treacherous footing bringing those cows home, and hadn’t had an accident, only to be nearly wiped out on the county road by a neighbor’s car!

The next day Andrea went to the eye doctor (she needs new glasses because her eyes are getting worse) and Michael came to get the backhoe. He used it to remove the many tons of rocks that washed down the draw on our little hill pasture and piled up against the fence.

Andrea got our cows in from the field by her house, and then we got Sprout and Dottie saddled. Carolyn got their cows in and sorted on the upper place, then she and Michael brought the trailer down to haul our cows up to their place so we could take ours and their cows to the 320. We had to leave our cows waiting in the trailer for about 30 minutes, however, while we got two cows and a calf of Alfonso’s out of the field. They had jumped through the fence to get in with Michael and Carolyn’s herd and Carolyn had sorted them out when she got her cows in. She put those strays back out on the road (to hopefully go on down to Alfonso’s field) but instead of going down the road they went through the fence again—this time getting in with Carolyn’s mare and foal. So Andrea and I rode in there and got them back into the corral, and then took them down the road. I followed the cattle down the road on Dottie, and Andrea rode along inside the fence to discourage the cattle from jumping through the fence again! After I got them over the hill and headed down the road toward the Gooch place, I hurried back to the upper corral where Michael unloaded our cows, put them with their cows and we took the combined herd up the road and then up the trail to the 320.

Andrea and I got them up through the two lower gates while Michael and Carolyn drove around on the jeep road on their 4-wheeler to open the top gate. By that time it had started raining and the wind was hitting us hard in the face. The cattle didn’t want to face into it, but we finally got them over the top and headed down into Baker Creek, where they were out of the wind. Then we hurried home down the ridge, with the wind and rain at our backs.

On Thursday, several of Alfonso’s cows were hiking up and down the road (crawling out through his bad fences), and one of Miller’s bulls was coming down the road past my brother’s place. It’s a real zoo around here, with the neighbor’s bad fences!

Andrea and I rode again, and she took her irrigating boots and shovel, so we could work on the water situation in Baker Creek. She rode Sprout again because Willow is still too inexperienced for the job we had to do.
Andrea taking shovel and irrigating boots to 320
Our cows on the 320 were doing fine up at the top, grazing. Andrea tied Sprout in the trees near Preacher’s Spring while I checked all the cows and she worked on a couple of little springs, digging out basins where a few cows might be able to get a drink.
Sprout tied in timber
digging out a little spring
Then we ate our lunch on the go, heading back over to Baker Creek. On our way we saw a hiker coming along our fence, and went to see who he was—a BLM employee mapping water troughs out on the range.
eating lunch on the way
watching a hiker
We spent several hours in Baker Creek. I led Sprout down the trail while Andrea hiked along the creek, digging nose holes for the cattle. When we got to the bottom of our place we spent some time looking for the old spring-box that’s been overgrown by bushes since we installed it more than 30 years ago. It quit working last year, so Andrea dug nose holes to make sure the cows have water until Michael can get up there with the backhoe to put in two new troughs in place of the old ones that are no longer working.
digging nose holes
Friday it rained a little more and there was new snow on the mountains. Michael got a ton of protein tubs and tried to take some up to 320 but the jeep track was too slippery. After his pickup slid off the road he gave up for that day. Andrea, Robbie, Jim and Charlie got a load of firewood up the creek.

On Saturday Andrea, Robbie, Sam and Charlie left early to drive to Boise to watch Dani run. It was a big cross-country meet with more than 20 schools from several states. There were 419 runners in Dani’s middle school group of girls. Dani came in 129th and beat her last year’s running time. The Salmon middle school girls got 8th place and the Salmon middle school boys placed 6th among all those schools, so their coach felt they did very well, competing against so many larger schools.

Here at home, the mud dried out enough that Michael and Carolyn were able to drive up to the 320 with 4 tubs of protein for the cows. This will help the cows utilize the dry grass.

Sunday was clear and sunny. It froze hard that morning (24 degrees) but warmed up to about 50 degrees by afternoon. Michael and Carolyn were able to drive into their corral (not so muddy) and load their 5 weaned heifer calves into their trailer to bring down here and put with our heifers in the horse pasture.
Michael and Carolyn's heifers
They will spend the winter here. We have one small field of green grass that we saved for these calves and it should last until it snows under or weather gets severely cold, and then they will be on hay.

That afternoon Andrea and Dani came down and we rode Sprout, Ed and Dottie. We stopped briefly along the road by Andrea’s upper driveway so Andrea could check on her irrigation water, and Dani held her horse.
Dani holding Ed & Sprout
Then we went up to the 320 to check on the cows. As we started up through the timber we saw a little group of mule deer. I took photos of them, and of Dani & Andrea snacking on their way up the creek. Andrea always carries a few granola bars and cheese sticks for hungry riders!
deer in the 320
Dani & Andrea eating snacks on the way
Some of our cows were on the steep northeast side of Baker Creek at the top, and hadn’t been out the other direction yet to find the protein tubs, so we took those cows down off that rocky canyon and across through the timber to the other side of the canyon. It was handy having 3 riders and Dani enjoyed helping us; she hasn’t had a chance to ride for more than a month.
Dani helping move cows
moving cows around the hill to the protein tubs
We took those cows to the protein tubs over by Preacher’s Spring and the cows were happy to find them. Our young cows had never used these lick tubs before but they were attracted to the molasses smell and tried them out. While the cows were licking on the tubs, Dani held Sprout while Andrea moved one of the salt blocks to a flatter area so the cows won’t roll it down the hill.
cows found the tubs
Dani holding Sprout
We treated Shiloh’s eye when we got home. She seems to have an eye infection, maybe from debris caught under the lid, like she had last winter.

Monday morning I heard a calf bawling in our back field when I went out at daylight to do chores so I hiked across the bridge to go look. One of Alfonso’s calves came wandering up toward our barnyard. When he saw me he went back down to the lower field again. After I fed the horses I walked down there and saw him pacing the fence. Alfonso was irrigating in the field below our place and I asked him about the calf. He’d sold two old cows the day before and hauled their calves from his other leased pasture (the other side of town) to his corral on the Gooch place, but it’s not a good corral and they crawled out and went looking for their mamas. They came through the fence in the creek bottom where Gary, the watermaster, duct-taped some of the wires together to make it easier to crawl through to look at our weir but it also made it easy for the calves to come through! I told Alfonso we would put the calves in our corral for a few days until they were less frantic.

When that calf came wandering back up through our barnyard, Andrea came down from house to head him off before he went back up through the field by her house, and I shut the corral gate. We put him in our corral and then captured his buddy who was coming down from the Gooch place. They are both bull calves. We fed them some hay but they were too frantic and forlorn to eat—just pacing around trying to find their moms. They are fairly gentle, however, and not afraid of people.
bull calves
Michael drove the backhoe to the 320 that morning and Robbie went up ahead of him and sawed out a few more trees along our jeep trail that were in the way. Michael made a flat spot for the new trough we’re putting in at the top spring in Baker Creek. The old trough is rusting out and we also need a new spring box.

Andrea and I rode up there that afternoon to check the cows and look at the spring project. She rode Willow for the first time in nearly 2 weeks—Willow’s 25th ride this year. As we were going up Baker Creek we looked up at the ridge to see some deer at the top of the timber.
Willow's 25th ride
looking up at the ridge
We took photos of Michael and Robbie working on the trough, setting the posts around it, after Michael created a flat pad for the trough with the backhoe. The new trough is situated downstream a bit from the old green trough that was rusting out, which was next to the original installation that Lynn and I put in during the late 1960’s—an old bathtub. We couldn’t afford a water trough back then, so we used a discarded bathtub. We slid that old bathtub down the mountain from the ridge, sliding on its side, through the timber. This was several years before we made a jeep trail down into Baker Creek to take the bigger trough (which is now old and full of rust holes).
Michael & Robbie setting posts around new trough
putting in new trough
new trough is situated below the old rusted trough and bathtub
Coming home it was threatening to rain again, but didn’t. I took a couple photos of Andrea and Willow riding back down Baker Creek as we headed home.
riding back down Baker Creek
heading home
Yesterday morning when I did chores, I was gathering up a pile of loose hay to feed Ed, and when I lifted it up to throw it over the fence for her, a piece of hay poked into my right eye. It was pretty painful for a few moments but I didn’t think much about it until I came in the house later and started to put some eye drops in (because it felt like there was some debris in that eye) and saw a huge red area on that side of my eye, with a bulge in the center of the red spot. After breakfast Lynn took me to town to the eye doctor. The sharp piece of hay scraped through the top two layers but had not penetrated any farther; the bulge was just from blood under the surface from the broken blood vessel. So the eye doctor prescribed some antibiotic drops to make sure I don’t get an infection in those scratches until it heals.

That afternoon Andrea and I went back up to the 320 (Willow’s 26th ride) and moved some of the low cows back up again. Willow is learning to follow cows.
taking some of the low cows back up to the top of the 320
Willow following the cows
We then rode into Baker Creek on the high trail through the timber and took photos of Michael working with the backhoe covering the water line from the new spring box, and Robbie and Nick working on the overflow line from the trough. They captured a lot more water in the new spring box and the trough was already nearly full
Michael covering pipeline
covering pipeline from springbox
Robbie and Nick barely got the overflow line finished before it filled up completely.
Robbie & Nick covering the overflow pipe
Then we hurried home down the ridge so Andrea could make it to town in time to go to the school and pay for Charlie’s and Sam’s student activity cards. As we came down the ridge we rode past one rattlesnake in the sagebrush beside the trail and didn’t bother to stop, but when we came across the second one right in the trail a few minutes later, we took time to kill it. This was a huge snake and very angry and aggressive; it reared up with its head more than a foot above the ground (like a cobra) ready to strike—which is unusual for our rattlesnakes here. Andrea killed it with rocks and then held it up for a photo.
Rattlesnake that was in the trail