Friday, September 7, 2018

Diary from Sky Range Ranch – May 18, 2018 through June 25, 2018

MAY 27 – Last week I worked on page proofs for the new edition of my book on raising beef cattle (Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle). We had warmer weather after a bit of rain. Last Saturday was our last day of feeding hay to the cows. That evening Lynn and I went up to my brother Rocky’s place for picnic and hot dog roast.

The next day we moved the cows and calves to the grassy pen above the corrals and left them there a few hours to graze and mother up and then turned them out to the swamp pasture. They are so happy for green grass after a long winter of eating hay!

The young bulls in the corral are tired of eating hay, too, and are reaching through the fence to grab bites of grass.
young bull with mouthful of grass he grabbed through the fence
Lynn brought the harrow around from the field above the corrals and harrowed the pasture above the house where the cows and calves have been all spring. Now we can irrigate that pasture and get the grass growing.

That afternoon I lured the heifers out of the field below the lane where they’ve been all winter, and led them through the gate up onto the ditch-bank to graze. This will serve two purposes—to get them off that hayfield so it can grow, and let them eat down the grass along the ditch so maybe we won’t need to try to burn the tall dead grass next spring to unclog the ditch.

Its nice having our heifers so trusting and well-trained. They will follow me anywhere when I call them, knowing they are going to be fed or go to new pasture.

That evening I cooked a big dinner for Andrea and kids and Jim, for when the kids got home from their dad’s place. Dani went out to see the horses after dinner, until a thunderstorm and downpour suddenly hit.

On Monday I mailed page proofs of my book back to Storey Publishing. The new edition will be illustrated with colored photos, and will look very nice.

Tuesday morning when I hiked over to the swamp pasture to check on the cows and took a photo of them lounging around by the calf houses.
cows lounging around
When I hiked up farther into that pasture, I saw that 118’s calf was out in the hayfield. He’d crawled under the fence on the hillside in a spot where irrigation water had eroded a gap beneath the fence. I was able to get him back in through the gate, thanks to our calves not being very wild. Later that morning Andrea and Carolyn brought some poles and wire and blocked that hole under the fence so no more cattle can get out. Then they started working on getting things ready for their trip to California with the High School Stage Band and Legacy Choir. That evening they attended the awards ceremony for the kids, and picked up some of the band instruments they were taking to California (so the kids wouldn’t have to take them on the plane).

Some of Sammy’s artwork from her art class was on display on the wall in the school commons, so Andrea took photos of three of her drawings.
Sam's art from art class on display
After the awards ceremony, they came home briefly to finish getting ready for the trip, and left at 11 p.m. with Dani and a very loaded car! They drove straight through the night (except for a brief stop to sleep in the car) and arrived in Anaheim, California Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, Charlie and Sam had a very short night’s sleep, getting up in the wee hours of morning, and Jim drove them to town to get on the school buses. The 50 kids from our school rode 2 buses to Idaho Falls where they got on the shuttle bus to the airport in Salt Lake City, Utah, then flew to California, arriving a couple hours before Andrea, Carolyn and Dani got there.

They all went to the beach that first evening with the group, and then found their motel. They took a bunch of photos during their trip.
Andrea & Dani in California
Dani & Carolyn in California
One of the highlights of the trip for all the kids was a musical play at the Hollywood Pantages Theater in Los Angeles on Hollywood Boulevard. Andrea, Carolyn and Dani were also able to go to the play with our music group (the teacher got tickets for them) to see the musical, School of Rock (music by Andrew Lloyd Weber). It was an awesome experience for our Salmon group. Andrea and Carolyn both felt that this was worth the whole trip! While they were there on Hollywood Boulevard they also enjoyed looking at the sidewalk stars of some of their favorite actors. The Hollywood Walk of Fame has more than 2,600 of these stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.
Dani & Sam - ready to go to the musical
Our band and chorus the next day competed with many other school groups across the nation and performed at Disneyland’s summer kickoff program and received high honors. They got a gold award, a silver award, and most exciting of all, our small group from a little rural town in Idaho received the most spirited award. This was pretty amazing, to win that award, out of thousands of kids from all over the country.

Here’s a photo of our Legacy Choir during their competition in Anaheim and a photo of our whole group (choir and band kids) outside their hotel.
Salmon Legacy choir in Anaheim
our music gang (band & choir) outside their hotel
While the band and choir spent a day at Disneyland, Andrea, Carolyn and Dani spent some time at the beach at Oceanside and a few other interesting place and took a bunch of photos.
Andrea & Dani on pier at Oceanside
Beach at Oceanside
Dani & Andrea
Dani & Carolyn
Dani & pelican
Meanwhile, here at home, I started working on the next book project—page proofs for the new edition of my Storey’s Guide to Training Horses, and Lynn changed the irrigation water. It’s a lot harder for him to get around the fields, and he didn’t get the water changed as often as Andrea does, but it all helped.

The heifers on the ditch-bank strip along the field below the lane were running out of grass so we moved them to the ditch-bank strip along my horse pasture and the field above the house. First, however, we had to patch the old fence along the outside (along the horse road—what used to be the old road). That whole fence needs to be replaced (some of it is more than 60 years old, and falling down) but for now I patched it with baling twines, and Lynn and I took a pole and steel post up there with the 4-wheeler to resurrect the worst place. Then I called the heifers and led them out of their strip, across the driveway, and into the upper ditch-bank strip. They were very happy for new grass!

Yesterday I worked on page proofs all day except for helping Lynn feed 3 bales of my horse hay to the cows in the lower swamp pasture; they are running out of grass. Today we fed them a few more bales, to help tide them over until we can move them to a new pasture.

Lynn and Jim took Charlie’s truck to town to leave in the school parking lot so Charlie and Sam would have a way home when they get back; the band and choir flew to Salt Lake this afternoon, rode the shuttle bus back to Idaho Falls, got there after midnight, and then drove home.

Today Andrea and Carolyn packed up the kids’ stuff and band instruments, and took photos of the kids leaving their hotel.
Sam & Charlie leaving hotel at Anaheim
Then were a little late leaving California on their drive home. They had to rescue one of the band members who lost her drivers license when the kids were at Disneyland. It was found but the girl had to go back and get it, so Andrea drove her there, retrieved the driver’s license, and then was able to get the girl back to the group before they left for the airport to fly back to Salt Lake. Then Andrea, Carolyn and Dani started their long drive home.

JUNE 5 – The kids, Andrea and Carolyn were very tired for a couple days after their trip. We didn’t try to put up the electric fence(to move the cows to new pasture) until they weren’t so tired, so last Monday we let the cows down through the corral and into the hold pen by the sick barn, to graze out that barnyard for part of the day, then locked them in our driveway that afternoon to graze along the edges. This is better than mowing it down (to reduce fire risk later this summer); it doesn’t go to waste if the cows eat it! After they cleaned up the lane, we let them into the orchard and horse pasture, even though we were saving that pasture for the heifers for their breeding season. We figured the cows could eat it for a couple of days, then we can let it regrow for 3 weeks and still have enough pasture for the heifers.
Lynn’s sister Ann and her son Craig were here briefly for Memorial Day and Lynn went out to the cemetery with them and his sister Jenelle to put flowers on their parents’ graves and the graves of several close friends.
Robbie finished the greenhouse at Andrea’s place, for Sam’s plants. He and Andrea got a load of manure from the bull corral to use in the greenhouse.
Dani has been playing soccer this summer and at one of their practices Andrea took a photo of Dani’s team.
Dani's soccer team
On Tuesday after Andrea and Carolyn finished their irrigating, Carolyn came down and helped Andrea all afternoon, creating a hot wire along the lower edge of the hayfield above the corrals, using the new step-in posts we bought. These are much handier for all the temporary fences we put up every summer, instead of having to pound in the steel posts and take them out again in the fall. 
I worked on articles (urgent deadlines) all afternoon then helped them for a couple hours in the evening. We got the fence ready to hook up to the charger at her house, but ran out of time for moving the cows before dark. The next morning we finished it, and took some mesh panels up there to fence off the big hole in the fence corner where our neighbor’s runoff water eroded the ground away, creating a huge hole that a cow or calf could fall into. Eventually we will haul some rocks over there to fill in the hole, but in the meantime we fenced it off. Then we moved the cows and calves from my horse pasture to their new section of pasture along the ditch at the lower part of that hayfield.
That night we had a horrendous thunderstorm, wind, and hard rain. The next morning I hiked through that group of cows and calves to make sure they are all ok. Later that day Andrea and Carolyn put up another electric wire (with step-in posts) to create a corridor pasture along the ditch above the new fence at the top of the small field above our house. We are going to graze that ditch-bank with the heifers every year and not have to try to burn old dead grass each spring (and put our new fence at risk).
That was the last day of school for the kids, and they went to their dad’s to spend the first week at his house. Through summer they will alternate each week between Andrea and Mark.
Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent some photos of young Joseph (now past a year old) helping Daddy Gregory drive the skid steer, climbing up to get into the big tractor, and tootling around on his own little machine. Joseph loves all kind of machinery and is always eager to go drive something.
driving with daddy
farm kid
going to work!
Thursday and Friday it rained again and everything was very wet. The rain let up and quit for a few hours Friday afternoon, so Carolyn helped Lynn and me put up electric fence to divide the field below our house. We always graze the swampy side, fencing the cows away from the portion we can cut for hay. The boggy side stays too wet (from upstream irrigation water) to cut for hay without getting the haying machinery stuck, so it works nicely as a pasture to be rotationally grazed with cows and calves.
When we finished putting up that hot wire, I led the heifers from their ditch-bank pasture above the horse pasture, into the new strip along the upper ditch. That afternoon Andrea went to town for a doctor’s appointment. She needs a mammogram/ultrasound to check a big lump that appeared a few weeks ago. 

Then that evening Andrea and Carolyn went to the high school graduation; Charlie and Sam were playing in the band for graduation, and some of their best friends were graduating.
It’s been cold in the mornings for a few days, but Saturday was really cold (28 degrees) and my hose was full of ice. It took awhile for it to flush out when I tried to water the horses that morning. By afternoon the temperature had warmed up to 70 degrees and I trimmed Dottie’s feet. We need to start riding the horses so they will in better shape when we need to move cattle and check on fences, etc. but they all have long feet and need trimmed. The next day (Sunday) I trimmed Willow’s feet, and Sprout—and discovered that Spout’s right front leg is sore. She didn’t want to bend it for me to pick it up and trim it. This is something she did quite recently; she wasn’t lame the day before. The only thing we can surmise is that she strained it while bucking around in her pen, with slippery footing in all the mud we’ve had. I managed to get it trimmed, however, and then put DMSO on her knee, fetlock joint and pastern. Then I trimmed Breezy’s feet, and helped Lynn cut off some of the low-hanging branches on the elm tree in our yard; they were drooping down and obstructing our view from the windows on the upstream side of our house.
Speaking of windows, that morning I took photos of a young doe eating some of the tall grass in our front yard.
Doe in yard
Doe eating in yard
That afternoon I trimmed Ed’s feet. I don’t want her tripping and falling down when Dani starts riding her again. When I did chores that evening, Sprout was walking a lot better and not nearly as lame, so maybe the DMSO helped relieve the pain and inflammation in her leg.
Yesterday got up to 85 degrees; our hottest day so far this summer. While it was still cool in the morning, I trimmed Shiloh’s feet. Andrea came down after she did the irrigating, and we put more DMSO on Sprout’s leg, and took photos of her with some of the horses. I need a new photo of her for the dedication page of the new edition of my training book (Storey’s Guide to Training Horses). The old photo was really nice (of her and Snickers, taken shortly after Andrea came back from the Intermountain Burn Center in Salt Lake, after her burn injury 18 years ago) but all the photos in the early editions of that book were black and white and the editors want a new one. I am not sure if any of the photos we took yesterday are good enough; we didn’t take time to brush the horses’ manes (all tangled after winter and no grooming!) because we were short of time and in a hurry so we will probably try to take a few more later. Here are some of the photos we took of Andrea and Sprout (who was clowning around), Andrea and Shiloh, and trying to straighten Willow’s wild forelock, and a couple with Dottie.
Andrea & Sprout
Andrea & Shiloh
Andrea & Willow
Andrea & Dottie
One reason we were hurrying was because we needed to try to make a short ride on a couple horses that day, and get started working with them again. Dottie always needs several rides in the spring before she resigns herself to settling down and behaving herself instead of trying to prance and dance and run home (or try to buck if she can’t run home). Since Sprout was lame, Andrea rode Breezy, and we made a short loop out over the low range—over to Baker Creek and back—just before it got really windy.
Then I had to do a couple more phone interviews that afternoon (for articles). At chore time I put more DMSO on sprout but she didn’t want to cooperate; I had to pick some green grass for her to eat so she’d stand still.
Today was warm again. Andrea and Carolyn left early to drive to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s pain doctor appointment. I did more phone interviews, brushed Dottie and pulled up more poppies that are trying to take over the front yard, then Lynn and I moved the cows from their ditch pasture to the field below the lane (their pasture portion). It’s handy that the calves grow up learning about hot wires; they respect an electric fence from then on. At chore time I put more DMSO on Sprout; she seems a lot less lame now.

JUNE 14 – Last Wednesday Andrea and I made a short ride on Dottie and Breezy over the low range to put a few more miles on Dottie to get her settled back into work again. We didn’t ride very far, but I took photos of Andrea and Breezy when we paused to look out over the low country at the top of one hill (and Andrea took a photo of me and Dottie). 
Andrea on Breezy
Grandma on Dottie
Then we had to hurry back so Andrea could drive to town in time for her mammogram and ultrasound. When she got the results a few days later the doctor said that it this point the lump seems to be benign, and the doctor didn’t think she needed a biopsy.
After she had the mammogram that afternoon, she and Carolyn helped Michael, Nick and Jim work on one of their fencing projects downtown. The crew was a little short-handed, trying to finish up a big project. They’ve been building a LOT of fences lately, including some very fancy fences in town.
Lynn also went to town that afternoon to get the mail and groceries, and to mail a couple packages of books (Horse Tales, Cow Tales, and Ranch Tales) that people ordered from me.
The next day Andrea and I rode Dottie and Sprout on a short ride—for Sprout’s first ride this year. 
Andrea & Sprout
Sprout is doing better but still a little lame at the trot and when traveling downhill, so we put more DMSO on her leg when we got home. That night it rained hard again, but quit by the next morning.
While it was still cool that morning, Andrea held Dottie for me while I put front shoes on her. Then we rode Dottie and Sprout on another short ride, and Andrea led her on some of the downhill places. We put more DMSO on Sprout’s leg when we got back.
Andrea leading Sprout
Then we made another short ride on Dottie and Willow; this was Willow’s first ride after 7 months’ vacation (after just 28 rides last fall to get her well started in training) and she behaved fairly well. We got home just ahead of another thunderstorm and hard rain. Here’s a photo taken during Willow’s first ride this year.
Willow's 1st ride this year
That evening the kids came home from their dad’s place, and will be home a week. Dani was eager to finally get to ride with us.
Saturday morning started cold (40 degrees) then went up to 80 degrees. Early that morning I put all four shoes on Ed, so Dani could ride her. Ed’s feet are not as tough as I’d like; she has 3 white feet and they tend to break and bruise easily, so I wanted to get shoes on before she is ridden.
After lunch all the kids came down here. Charlie, Sam and a friend helped Lynn with a couple of jobs (putting netting around the remaining hay in the stackyard so we can graze that area with the heifers and they won’t be able to get into the hay, and getting the pump and pipe ready for pumping water for the cows) while Dani rode with me. Dani and I went up the road to the upper place (and Andrea came on her 4-wheeler) to help Carolyn round up and move their cows.
We gathered them out of the wild meadow and put them in the corral, where we could count them and then put them out onto the road.
Dani & Grandma rounding up cows on upper place
cows in corral
After we got them out of the corral we took them up the road to the 160-acre pasture. Dani went ahead to open the gate by the cattleguard, and then tried to decide which of the open Amish gates to guard. Some of the cows started to go up through an open gate into a hill pasture and I had to hurry up through the herd to help her get those back to the road again. Then I had to get up through the herd again to go open the gate into our 160-acre pasture. The cows were very happy to go up there to new grass!

Then on our way home we were riding up the narrow part of the road along the wild meadow, when a pickup pulling a huge trailer crested the hill above us and roared past us—and never slowed down. We got off to the side as far as we could without going over the steep bank, to get out of the way. Thankfully Ed is not afraid of noisy vehicles and she stood her ground solidly. Dottie was right behind her and I was able to keep her from leaping away (and over the bank!) from the noisy truck. Some people have no manners about driving past livestock or horses. We were glad that none of us got hurt.

When we got home, Dani helped me move the heifers from their ditch bank pasture to a new little pasture by the creek. I called them and she followed, and we got them down along the fence and through a new gate, into the old “water hole” pen that we haven’t used for many years. It’s overgrown with trees and brush but has a lot of grass in it that they might as well eat. We are doing a lot of “creative” grazing this year to help stretch our field pastures.

We are glad that Alfonso and some of his friends moved his cows from the low range to the middle range that same afternoon (about a week later than usual) so we can finally move our cows to the hill pasture above the road. We don’t dare put our cows there until the range cows are gone, or the range bulls would probably try to come through our fence to breed our cows. We calve a bit later and don’t put our bulls with the cows till late June, so we don’t want any of them bred to the neighbor’s bulls! 

Carolyn drove her 4-wheeler up to the 320 to check on their 5 horses that wintered up there and they were gone! Someone hiking through there last winter or this spring left one of our inside gates open (we shut it late last fall when we brought the cows down) and the horses had found it and gone into the Baker Creek side of the 320. Carolyn lured them back to where they were supposed to be, and tried to shut the gate, but the gatepost had shifted (the gate had been open so long) and she couldn’t get it closed even using a rope for leverage. So she cobbled together a bunch of small wire pieces to make a longer loop to hold it shut.
That evening Lynn and I watched the Belmont race on television and were delighted that Justify won again, and we have another Triple Crown winner! Andrea and the kids went fishing along the river and had a lot of fun.
kids fishing
We had several days of raining again. Michael brought the backhoe and worked on the rock pile at the bottom end of our hill pasture (from the horrendous runoff last fall) and moved it across the road and into Andrea’s upper driveway. He put it in a pile at the top of heifer hill where we can use it later to fill the big hole in the fenceline across the creek (where we put the temporary fence to keep the cows from falling in it). Then he brought the backhoe down to corral and put 2 scoops of manure in little trailer for Lynn to take up to Rocky’s place for his garden.
Andrea, kids and Lynn took the extra water tanks up on the flatbed feed truck to the spot Michael cleaned out, and pumped water for the cows. 

Dani helped me get the cows and calves into the 2nd day pens and barn alley from the field below the lane. The grass was getting short; the cows were eager to go somewhere new. As we brought them into the pens, process Dani noticed that 117’s calf had an opaque, blind eye—either from an injury or pinkeye. So she and I cut back that calf and his mama, and another young cow and calf to keep them company, and locked them in the lower pen. Then we got our horses saddled and ready. When I was getting Dottie ready to saddle, Lynn’s old cat (Edna) was resting by my saddle.
Edna guarding my saddle
Andrea came down to help us on her 4-wheeler; the crew had finished pumping and filling the water tanks. We took the herd up the horse road and put them in that hill pasture. Hopefully that grass will last awhile and give the other pastures more time to grow. 

When we got back from moving the cows and put our horses away, Andrea and Carolyn helped us corner 117’s calf in the headcatcher chute and I gave him injections of antibiotic. I took photos of his blind eye.
calf with blind eye
Monday Michael and Carolyn drove to IF to get parts for fence job (the ones they needed were backordered and won’t get here in time to finish the fence on time)

Charlie went to work at 6 a.m. He has a summer job on a youth drew building jack fences for the Forest Service. Sam has driver’s ed classes every morning at 8 a.m. so Jim took Sam to her class.
Dani and I were going to ride and make sure there were no range cows left on the low range, but the weather was too nasty to ride.
Tuesday was cold (28 degrees that morning, and my hose froze). Jim took Sam to drivers ed again on his way to work on Michael’s fencing project downtown. The fence crew is building a really nice fence around a day care playground.

Dani and I rode that day, going up through our hill pasture to check on the cows and calves, and out through the top gate into the low range. The wire gate was hard to shut so Dani helped me get it shut, and then I took pictures of her getting back on Ed.
Dani preparing to get on her horse after shutting the gate
Dani getting on Ed
Then we made a big loop and checked the entire low range. Since we were that high we went on up the ridge to the top end first, and I took photos of Dani as we went up the ridge and checked the areas just below our 320 and 160-acre pastures.
Dani riding up the ridge
Dani at top end of low range
We also checked the 320 fence, to make sure it didn’t have any bad places where cattle could go through, and checked the old jack-fence on the ridge—the boundary between our 320 and the low range.
checking jackfence
I also took a photo from that ridge, looking across to our 160-acre pasture at Michael and Carolyn’s cows on that pasture.
cows in the distance, on the 160
Then we rode across to the far side of the low range, and checked the low country on our way home. For the first time ever, we didn’t find any cows of Alfonso’s and Millers left behind that we had to move. Alfonso had left the gates open and the stragglers had all made it to the middle range on their own, so we closed the gates for him. Dani’s friend Sekoya stayed overnight with her, and while we were riding she helped Andrea pick tall grass off the hot wire along the horse pasture so the fence won’t short out, and helped Lynn tie the barn doors shut so we could let the two pairs graze by the barn and eat down that tall grass. Then Andrea took the girls in for soccer practice.
Yesterday Lynn and I cut the old net wire fence on the backside of the water hole pen so the heifers could come through into the stackyard, to graze down the tall grass before we stack hay there. I led the heifers through the brush, across the creek, and out through the new “gate” in the fence, then tied the fence back together again. Andrea helped me catch and doctor 117’s calf again, putting some topical medication into his eye as well as giving him the injected antibiotic.
Today was cool and windy all day. One of the water tanks on the hill pasture is still full of dirty water the cows won’t drink. Andrea bailed it out and she and Carolyn helped Lynn pump new water to fill all the tanks—after Andrea and Carolyn went to the head of the ditch and got more water from the creek. Alfonso had dammed it off and we were only getting his very dirty waste water in that ditch (water that came down across his field where he fed cows all winter, through all the manure), and none from the creek, when we pumped the first time. No wonder the water was brown and the cows didn’t like it.

That afternoon Carolyn helped Dani and Andrea and me doctor 117’s calf again and this time we put a patch over his blind eye, to protect it while it heals—so he won’t run something into it and injure it more because he can’t see.
putting patch over calf's eye
Dani helped me put a hot wire (with step-in posts) around my little haystack for Sprout and Shiloh, and around the few round bales we have left (so the cows won’t get into them) and we let those two pair out into that little hold pen by the horses. The grass is 2 feet tall and the cows can eat it down for a few days.
We are doing a lot of creative grazing – I’m letting Ed graze a couple hours in the lane by my hay shed morning and evening after chores, to get that tall grass eaten down before we stack hay in there again.

JUNE 25 – Friday a week ago Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie up through the hill pasture to check on the cows than made a short loop out through the low range. Sprout was still a little lame, more noticeable at the trot, and when going downhill, so we just walked, and Andrea led her down the steepest hills. We have figured out that the problem is in her knee. When she injured it, she probably hyperextended it backward when bucking around in her muddy pen. So we put more DMSO on her knee when we got home.
That night it rained again, and all the next day. The two calves in the hold pen next to the horses took shelter under the big flatbed truck; they are small enough to go under it and stay dry. It kept raining off and on for the next 3 days after that, so we didn’t ride. The horse pens are boggy puddles, the water was running down the road, and overflowing the ditches. This is the rainiest June we’ve had for many, many years! The people who started cutting hay 2 weeks ago haven’t had a chance to get it dry enough to bale (or stack). 
Last Monday Andrea took some spare mesh panels (old ones we took off the fence above the house when we rebuilt it a few months ago) to put at the ends of the jack fence in the creek in the swamp pasture—where the creek washed the bank away. The mesh panels will keep calves from going under the fence. Then we moved the cows that evening to the swamp pasture from the hill pasture. Andrea rode Sprout and I rode good old dependable Ed. Dottie would have been a bit silly on that short a ride, and with the mud and slippery footing bringing the cattle down off that hill it was better to ride Ed.
We had more rain that night and all the next day. I made a temporary electric fence in the back yard and we put the two pairs from the hold pen in the back yard to graze it down for a couple of days. Even though the grass is nice and tall there, both calves were reaching through the fence to get at the grass in the driveway!
calves reaching through fence
Lynn drove to Leadore that morning to locate water for future well sites for a couple who bought property up there.
The big bulls were out of hay in their feeder but it was too muddy to get into their pen with the tractor and a big bale (the tractor would have bogged down in the deep mud) so we fed them little bales from my hay shed, feeding them along their fence feeder.
That evening Andrea and Carolyn went to town to watch Dani’s soccer practice but she wasn’t there. It was Mark’s week to have the kids and Dani was sick—and Mark didn’t bother to tell Andrea that she was sick.
On Wednesday it wasn’t raining so I put front shoes on Sprout. Even though her knee is still a bit sore, there are times Andrea needs to ride her if we have to do cattle work, since Willow isn’t far enough along in training yet, so Sprout needs shoes to keep from stone-bruising.
The next day we moved the two pair from the back yard (they got it mowed down nicely) and took them up to the swamp pasture to put with the main herd of cows and calves. Carolyn rode down here on Captain (her old paint gelding) and she went with us on a short ride over the low range. I took photos of her and Andrea as we made a loop past the ponds.
Carolyn on Captain
Andrea & Carolyn on low range
Andrea & Sprout
Then Andrea and I we rode home with her, up the road past the wild meadow and then came back down the road. I took a photo of the wild meadow—and the hills behind it. They are really green this year.
Carolyn and Captain riding home
wild meadow
Andrea & Sprout by wild meadow
It was Carolyn’s first ride this year; she wants to get herself and her horse back in shape. She wasn’t able to ride at all last year due to her injured back, but she’s doing better now and hoping to be able to ride more this summer.
It started raining as we went with Carolyn up the road, and the rain turned to hail for a while. It rained even more as Andrea and I rode back home, and we were drenched. It let up for a little when we were unsaddling and putting the horses away (and putting more DMSO on Sprout’s knee) but rained hard again that evening. The kids came back home again after their week at their dad’s place.
Granddaughter Heather sent a couple more photos of young Joseph in his natural habitat – playing in the barnyard, and playing farmer in the mud.
Joseph Michael
Joseph playing in the mud
Friday morning I put hind shoes on Dottie. She’s never been very good about having her hind feet handled (she was really bad about that when we bought her as a 2-year old) but has gotten a little better over the years. Michael has always shod her hinds for me (I usually just do her fronts) but he was too busy now (and she had to have shoes so I can keep riding her in rocky terrain), so I managed to do it myself. She was squirmy and wiggly and wanting to jerk her hind feet away, but I got them on, with Andrea holding her for me and bribing her with a little hand-fed grass. The first shoe I got a bit crooked (and I will probably have to take it off later and redo it) but the second one she behaved a little better and I got it on better. 
Then I did a phone interview for another article, which gave me a chance for a short rest, and then put hind shoes on Sprout. She, too, was really nasty about her feet when we bought her, but over the years has gotten a lot better. I’ve been shoeing her fronts for several years and Michael her hinds. She’s become pretty nice to shoe so I went ahead and shod her hinds this time—and afterward put more DMSO on her knee.
Dani wanted to ride that afternoon, so Carolyn rode down here again on Captain and the three of us went for a longer ride this time (it wasn’t raining!) We went across the low range toward Coyote Flat and I took photos as we went along.
Carolyn & Captain
heading across the low range toward Coyote flat
Then we went up through the bicycle gate into the middle range and up the ridge past the 1st gully where I took photos when we stopped to rest the horses.
stopping to rest the horses
Dani giving Ed a breather on the ridge
As we went on up that long ridge toward Crowley trough Dani spotted a really pretty rock and got off to get it, and a few steps farther on she found what she though was an arrowhead and Andrea got off, too, to take a look at it.
finding neat rocks
maybe an arrowhead
I took more photos of Dani and Carolyn as we rode down off the ridge and headed into the draw to check on Crowley Trough.
heading around toward the trough
coming off the ridge
When we got to the trough we let the horses get a drink and I took another photo of Carolyn and Captain.
Carolyn and Captain at trough
Then we made a short loop through the middle range, back to the low range, and came home through Gooch’s basin.

The next day was cool and cloudy but didn’t rain very much so we made another ride. Sam wanted to go with us, so she rode Breezy, Dani rode Ed, and Andrea rode Shiloh for the first time this year. She needs a few “break in” rides and then Sam or Dani can ride her. Carolyn rode down to meet us on her old mare Thelma, and we made a loop over the low range. I took photos as we headed out our driveway and paused at the top of the little ridge beyond the first gate. Ed and Breezy are old buddies (having gone thousands of miles together over the years when Andrea and I were riding range on them checking cows and fences, moving cattle, etc.) and were glad to be having an outing together again.
heading out the driveway
old riding buddies
I took a few more photos as we made a short loop over the low range. Shiloh behaved very well for her first ride of the year.
Shiloh's 1st ride this year
Carolyn, Andrea, Dani & Sam
Sam and Andrea stopped off at home on our way back; a short ride was best for old Breezy and also for Shiloh—so she won’t get a cinch sore. She needs several short rides to toughen up the tender skin in her girth area before we make long rides. Dani and I rode with Carolyn to the upper place and then came home, putting a few more miles on Ed and Dottie. Then I put more DMSO on Sprout’s knee when we got home. 
That afternoon Andrea bailed the remaining water out of the water troughs on the hill pasture and got the long black pipe out of the culvert (that we used for pumping water from the field across the road). She dragged it home through the field with her 4-wheeler and then she and Lynn and Dani took the flatbed truck to the hill pasture to haul the water troughs home, since we need them for the cows here. They also took down the temporary hot wire along the edge of the pasture above the house.
Yesterday we had a busy morning. I filled the water tanks above the house when I did chores, and the one we put in the orchard, and got all the gates ready for moving cows. I locked the young bulls in their old pen, then hiked up to the swamp pasture to get the cows. They were all down at this end lounging around, so that made it easy. Andrea came down about then and helped take them down to the corral. I opened the gate and called them through, Lynn led them down to the corral with the 4-wheeler, while Andrea and I followed so they didn’t stop and graze in the two little pastures in between.
We sorted off the dry cow (Doll Baby, who lost her calf prematurely this spring) and locked her in the chute corral while we let the big bull (the 3-year-old) out of the back pen and put him with the cows. I took the herd around through the front corral and barnyard and up past the horse pens to the pasture above the house, while Lynn and Andrea got the yearling heifers in from the stackyard where they’ve been grazing. We put one of our yearling bulls with them, and I took them around to the orchard. They let the 2-year-old bulls into the round corral, and we sorted Michael’s bull on through to the main corral and put our other yearling with him (to go to Michael’s cows), and then put Doll Baby with our 2-year-old bull in the back pen to keep him company so he won’t try to jump out (which he would do if he was left all by himself).
Andrea and I hurriedly saddled Sprout and Dottie and started up the road to the upper place (3 miles) to help Carolyn gather some of their cows on the 160-acre pasture to bring down to the gate so the bulls would be able to see some cows when they were unloaded (and wouldn’t try to run off somewhere in the new pasture). It took us awhile to get some cows, because they were all at the top—half a mile up the mountain. We rode up there to find the cows, and while we were up there Andrea and Carolyn cleaned the moss off the trough that was plugging the overflow.
cleaning moss off water tank
fixing the overflow on the water tank
Then we brought most of the herd down, gathering them from both mountainsides and took them down the draw toward the creek. I took photos of Carolyn starting one group down from the water trough, Andrea bringing a group off the mountainside, and then getting off her horse to lead Sprout down the steepest part as she followed the cows.
Carolyn starting one group down the draw from the water tank
Andrea bringing another group
Andrea getting off to lead Sprout
I took a few more photos as we brought the cattle up over the little ridge and salt ground before taking them down to the creek bottom, and the gate where Michael would be unloading the two bulls.
bringing the cattle past the salt ground to go down to the creek
We thought we’d be really late, but Michael and the trailer had not arrived yet at the bottom gate! Then we started to worry. We waited there for about 30 minutes before the trailer came up the road.
Indeed, they’d had a lot of trouble trying to load the bulls. Michael’s 2-year-old bull refused to go toward the loading area and went under a fence instead, and into the creek—into an area between the corral and our back yard. He went through the brush and up into the lane between my horse pens and up toward my hay shed, and the guys had to bring him back around through the calving pen by the house. He still refused to go toward the loading area (kept running over everyone) and ran through the wood pile and between the old chicken house and the barn, through the machinery parked behind the barn, down through the brush and into the creek below the old milk barn. Robbie went after him through the thick brush and stinging nettles, and finally got him back up out of the brush. Eventually they got him back with the younger bull (who was calmly behaving himself in the corral) and finally got both bulls loaded to haul up to their cows! That 2-year-old bull was flighty as a weanling/yearling but he’s worse now as a 2-year-old because he realizes he can run back past anyone trying to herd him; he knows they will either get out of the way or get run over. Michael and Carolyn will sell him this fall after the breeding season is over. We’re glad we have the yearling bulls coming on, to replace him (and our older bull), and they have better dispositions!
We received more photos of little Joseph today, this time riding horses.
Joseph and mama
Joseph riding
Today we had another bull episode. I was sitting at my computer this morning, typing interviews for several articles, when I heard a bull bellowing. I looked out the window and saw a young bull going into our calving pen here by the house, trying to go through the fence to get in with our heifers and yearling bull. I hurried out there to shut the gates and lock him in the calving pen. He didn’t have a brand, but I assumed he belonged to our neighbor Alfonso, since his fences are really bad and his cattle are always getting out. 

As I was shutting the gates, Jim drove by, taking Sam to her driver’s education class. On his way down the creek he met Alfonso on a 4-wheeler and told him we had a stray bull “in jail”. Sure enough, this was Alfonso’s bull—one he’d bought recently at a sale in Montana. So he brought his truck and trailer, and backed the trailer up to the calving pen gate. We made a “chute” with the calving pen gate and the trailer door, and herded the bull into the trailer so he could haul him home. 

Anyone interested in some of the adventures we’ve had over the years with our cattle and horses, and stories about life on the ranch with our critters can read my books: Horse Tales; True Stories from an Idaho Ranch, Cow Tales; More Stories from an Idaho Ranch, & Ranch Tales: Stories of Dogs, Cats and Other Crazy Critters.

Signed copies of these books can be purchased for $24.95 each (or $70 for all three books) plus postage ($3 per book, or $7 for all three books)

Book orders can be made by phone (208-756-2841) or mail (Heather Thomas, P.O. Box 215, Salmon, Idaho 83467)

I also have some of my father’s books left, if someone wants to read them. They are now out of print and hard to find. These are collections of some of his best meditations and bits of spiritual wisdom, and include By the River of No Return, Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails, Sagebrush Seed, The Open Gate, and Short People Need a Tree to Climb. These books by Don Ian Smith can be purchased for $12 each (plus $2 postage for one book, $3 postage for 2 to 4 books) or $50 for the whole set (and $4 postage).