Sunday, October 7, 2018

Diary from Sky Range Ranch – June 26 through August 8, 2018

JULY 3 – Last Tuesday Lynn went to Kirtley creek to locate water for another well, for some folks buying a piece of property there. Andrea, Dani, Carolyn and I rode a big loop over the low range. Carolyn rode Gus (first time in 2 years), and Andrea rode Shiloh (her 2nd ride this year).
Carolyn riding Gus
Dani spotted an interesting rock along the way and got off to get it, and I took these photos of her getting back on Ed. Dani is working on keeping Ed standing still for mounting, since that old mare has gotten into the habit of taking off as soon as you start to get on her. So now every time Dani gets on, she makes Ed stand still for a moment.
Dani getting on Ed
Dani making Ed stand still for a moment
After we went past the dry ponds, we rode up the jeep road toward the Baker Grove. I snapped this photo as we started up the jeep road.
heading up the jeep road
We took the fork in the trail that headed for the Grove rather than going on up the steep track to the top of the low range; here are photos heading toward the Grove:
heading toward the backside of the Grove
When we got to the upper crossing above the Baker Grove, there was a tree down across the little creek, and we had to move it out of the way to get across. Carolyn and I held the horses while Andrea and Dani wrestled the big tree out of the creek. Then when we started across it with the horses, Shiloh thought it was spooky and balked a little and it took a moment for Andrea to get her across.
upper crossing
Shiloh spooking & balking



Shiloh reluctant to cross
Later that afternoon Andrea, Dani and Carolyn put stain on the new fence Michael and crew built for the new day care facility in town, and then went to Dani’s soccer game that evening.

The next day at morning chores when I was watering the cows in the little pasture above the house I noticed Tarzan (one of our oldest calves, and one that Dani named) was a dull, and drooling from the mouth. Jim and Andrea helped us get him and his mother in from the pasture (without the bull trying to interfere) and down to the little pen in front of the barn. We put Tarzan in the headcatch and I took his temperature. It was above 105 degrees, so he had a pretty serious infection.

I gave him injections of antibiotic and Banamine (steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce inflammation, pain and fever) and a dose of DMSO (mixed with water) into his mouth--to help reduce any mouth/throat swelling and inflammation. The DMSO would also help reduce lung inflammation. We left him and his mama in the barn pens where there is a little grass, and fed them some hay. By evening the calf was feeling a lot better, no longer drooling, and was eating hay with his mother.

We didn’t ride that day. The girls worked on the fence-staining project again, and Andrea took Sam to get her temporary driver’s license.

The next morning Andrea and I made a quick ride on Dottie and Shiloh, to help get Shiloh back in shape and “user-friendly” for the girls to start riding. I took photos as we went up the hill above our house.
Andrea riding Shiloh
Andrea & Shiloh on trail above our house
And more photos as we went around the next hill toward Baker Creek and headed toward the uppermost crossing, where the Syringa is still in bloom. Those sweet-smelling white blossoms on bushes that grow along these little creeks are Idaho’s state flower.
heading over to Baker Creek
Syringa still in bloom
Later that day I hauled a few more bales around from my hay shed to make a pile by Sprout and Shiloh’s pens, and then trimmed grass and brush away from the electric fence in Shiloh’s pen to get the hot wire working better. All the new growth of leaves was diminishing the effectiveness and the fence wasn’t working anymore.

Lynn took a big round bale around to the bull pen and Andrea and I helped him get the tractor through the gates and into the feeder. Then Lynn got the swather out from behind the barn so we can get it ready for cutting hay.

Tarzan has been feeling better but was drooling a little again on Friday so we caught him in the headcatch and gave him more antibiotics and DMSO. Andrea went to her 30th high school class reunion dinner that evening, and their picnic the next day—after she made a short ride with me (on Shiloh) that morning. I took photos as we headed down the other side of Baker Creek and rode by the muddy pond that is nearly dry now.
other side of Baker Creek
coming down past muddy pond
Lynn went with Jim up on the hill above Andrea’s house to see where Jim wants to make a gate where we can ride or drive out onto that range. They figured out a place to put a gate in our back fence in a convenient spot on the hillside (easy to get up the hill to access it) so that we’d have a place to get out there when we need to ride and chase the neighbor’s range bulls away from our fence when they leave them there. Every year when they move their cattle to their next range pasture they leave some of their bulls behind. Those bulls want to come through the fence into our place to fight our bulls, and so we always have to gather them up and take them to their next range pasture where they belong. Lynn and Jim hauled posts up the hill on 4-wheelers so Jim could set the posts for a gate.

Michael and Carolyn took salt to their cows on the 320 and moved their cows into that pasture, and take the horses out. Michael also helped Carolyn make a nice picket fence for a flower garden on the backside of their house.
picket fence
Yesterday evening Lynn drove up the hill to check on Jim, and helped him finish up the braces for the new gate—finishing up after dark by the lights from the 4-wheeler.

Sunday was hot and windy all day. Tarzan seemed to be fully recovered so we put him and his mom back with the cows above the house. He was happy to rejoin his buddies in that pasture. Here’s a photo of some of the cattle in that pasture.
cows in pasture above house
Later that morning and into the afternoon Andrea and Justin (who just graduated from high school and has been working for Michael building fence) helped me for more than 3 hours moving the rest of the hay out of my hay shed so we can put new hay in.

We hauled it on the flatbed feed truck and stacked some of it by Shiloh and Sprout’s pens (to feed them through the next month or so) and the rest of it in the lane between Rishiam and Breezy’s pens, and put tarps over those stacks. Now my hay shed is empty and ready to stack new hay in it.
empty hay shed
Then we all went up to Andrea’s place for a late lunch. She had a lot of delicious leftovers from the food she’d cooked and taken to her class picnic.

Yesterday Andrea helped Lynn cut hay on the lower back field; she drove around it first with the 4-wheeler to mark the wet spots so he wouldn’t get the swather stuck, then rode around with him in the swather and chased the young fawns out of the way. Several does have fawns in our hayfields, as always. They hide in the tall grass and it’s very hard to see the little buggers; we didn’t want to injure or kill any with the swather.

I’ve been grazing Ed every morning in the lane above my hay shed, eating down the tall grass before it gets mashed down by the hay stacker when we stack hay in my shed. I took a photo of her, and also a photo of our two oldest cats resting on the porch in the shade.
grazing Ed
cats on porch
Today was cooler for a change. We moved the cows and calves from the field above the house and took them down to the little “post pile” pasture, and moved the heifers and yearling bull into my horse pasture.

Lynn cut the hayfield below the lane and Andrea and I rode Shiloh and Dottie for a short loop over the low range. Andrea wants to have several good rides on Shiloh to get her settled into a good working attitude so Sam can start riding her.
Andrea & Shiloh
Granddaughter Heather in Canada had a scare recently when she and little Joseph (age 14 months) were working in the garden. Joseph was helping pull weeds and dig in the dirt, and the dog (Dude) was also helping. Heather had her back turned for just a couple minutes and the next thing she knew, Joseph was gone. She called Joseph but he didn’t answer and she panicked, because the busy road is just through the trees from their house and garden. She started looking everywhere, with no luck. So then she took the dog to the spot where she’d last seen Joseph and told Dude to go find him. The young dog put his nose to the ground and sniffed along, across the yard, and through the bushes and trees to the barnyard, with Heather following him. There she found Joseph, sitting on the garden tractor. He is fascinated by all the machinery and wants to drive every truck, tractor, combine, etc. They’ll have to take the keys out of everything or that young man will be driving!


JULY 12 – Last week Michael put shoes on Shiloh for me. Her feet are rock-hard and difficult to trim, and she’d gone on several rides this year just fine without shoes, but we don’t want her to stone-bruise as we continue riding. I had Michael shoe her because he’s stronger than I am for trimming those very hard hoof walls!

Last Wednesday Robbie helped Lynn put more oil in the swather and they discovered it has a broken spring on one side (and had been broken awhile). Since it has several on each side, they decided it would probably hold up for the rest of this year’s cutting but we’ll need to fix it before another year. Lynn cut heifer hill that afternoon and Andrea, Dani and I made a short ride. We hope to do several more rides on Shiloh and then turn her over to Sam to ride for the rest of the summer.
short ride
On our way home down through the low range we found the block of salt that Alfonso lost off his pack horse the day before. He’d mentioned to Lynn that he was packing salt to the middle range pasture and when he got to the gate he looked back and saw that his pack horse was struggling along with a very uneven pack. After that block fell off, the weight all shifted to the other side. He’d looked for the missing block but didn’t find it, not realizing that he’d lost it just a short ways after leaving his camp; he’d traveled more than a mile with a crooked pack!

This past week has been really hot, into the 90’s and we actually got through it without any thundershowers or lightning strikes. It was good weather for haying. We got all the fields cut except the field by Andrea’s house. She’d shut the irrigation water off it, but the day we planned to cut it we discovered that the upper end was still very wet, for Alfonso’s irrigation water flooding down from the field above it and flooding Andrea’s upper driveway and lane. Here’s a photo of some of the water Dani and I rode through that day.
riding through water
Alfonso had almost the whole ditch diverted out just above our field for several days—much more than he needed for irrigating that little strip. We had to ask him to use it farther up, so our field could dry out enough to cut.

So instead of cutting that field we got the baler ready. Andrea helped Lynn service the baler, while Dani and I made a short ride. As we were getting our horses ready, I noticed that one of Dottie’s hind shoes (the one that I thought I would have to take off and re-set because it was barely holding on the one side) was coming loose. I was amazed that it held on for as many rides as we’d made, the past 2 weeks; I had expected it to only last a few days. So now that it was actually coming loose, I took it off, and we made a short ride in the field (so she wouldn’t stone bruise that bare foot) instead of out in the hills.
riding in field
We rode up through the hayfields that had been cut, riding between the windrows, and across the bridge, and made several loops around the fields.
Dani riding across bridge
When we got back, Dani helped me move some old posts and debris next to my hay shed (left from rebuilding Willow’s pen a year ago), so it wouldn’t be in the way of stacking hay. We hauled it off in my little bale wagon. Robbie came out that evening and helped finish getting the baler ready.

Friday morning I put a new hind shoe on Dottie, then Andrea, Lynn and Charlie got the baler going and started baling hay on the lower back field. After lunch Lynn went to town for the mail and groceries, and Charlie and Andrea finished baling that field.

Later that afternoon Andrea started baling heifer hill but it was still a little too green. Lynn got the stack wagon started, to haul bales, but the line to the clutch broke; it had rusted in two over the winter. Robbie came out that evening to try to fix it but it needed a new part, so we couldn’t fix it until he got another part for it the next day.

Saturday we were able to bale heifer hill, but the baler had a problem with one of the bearings getting too hot, and threatening to catch everything on fire, so Andrea had to haul water along to periodically pour on it to cool it down.

Charlie helped row bales (moving some out of wet spots so the stack wagon could pick them up without getting stuck) and Andrea baled the field below heifer hill. Robbie came out after work that evening and started hauling hay after he got the stack wagon clutch working again. He was able to haul one load to my hay shed before dark.

Sunday was a very long, busy day. Michael brought the backhoe to smooth/fill in the ditch above the house so we can drive through it with the stack wagon, and also used the backhoe to smooth out the deep ruts in the stackyard (created this spring when the ground was wet and muddy and we were taking hay out of there with the tractor).

Robbie got here about 9 a.m. and started hauling hay. He filled my hay shed (9 more loads) and started haying hay to the stackyard across the creek. Andrea rowed bales for him (sorting out some of the wetter ones to not put in the stacks) and Lynn finished baling the field below the lane (and we got it all stacked). Sam and Charlie helped Jim reset some posts in the main corral that were leaning over badly after many years of frost heaving them out of the ground and were able to pull the old posts upright again. Here’s a photo of Sam standing by the repaired corral (straight up and down again).
Sam and repaired fence
Dani helped me move the step-in posts below the lane, over into the cut area and out of the tall grass, so we can put the cows down there again on the pasture side. We also moved the water trough down there so we can water the cows. After Robbie got the last of that hay hauled, we moved the cows and calves from the post pile pasture and brought them around to that pasture below the lane. They were happy for new grass!

After a bit of a rest and some supper, Lynn cut part of the field by Andrea’s house. It had finally dried out enough to cut. He finished cutting it the next day, and Andrea shooed 4 fawns out of the tall hay so he wouldn’t hit them.

A few bales from the other fields were too green to stack so we hauled some over by the bull pen to dump off and cut open (so they could dry out and not mold) to feed to the bulls, and another batch over by Sprout and Shiloh’s pen. I cut those open and scattered them around so they wouldn’t mold, and I can feed them to Sprout and Shiloh.

Jim has been making a pair of lamps from burr wood and antlers, to sell. He got them finished this week and here are some photos of those lamps.
Jim's Lamps
We started irrigating the fields we’d cleared bales from, and made sure no water leaked on down the ditch below the lane to get into Alfonso’s field that he is trying to cut and bale.

Monday afternoon after cutting the last of our hay, Lynn went to locate water for another well on Kirtley Creek (there will be lots of new homes on that subdivision toward town). Dani and I made a leisurely rode over the low range and Dani explored some places she’d never been before. I took a few pictures. Here’s Dani heading down toward the lowest part of the range, then starting up a little draw she’d never explored before.
heading down toward the lowest part of the range
starting up the hidden draw
hidden draw
Then we went on down toward the lower end of Baker Creek and past the old flume that used to carry water around from Withington Creek to a ranch on the other side of the low range.
down the trail
old flume
At one point Dani posed for me to take a photo of her shirt that says “I make dirt, sweat and slobber look good” and then we went back up Baker Creek to the jeep road.
Dani posing
coming back up Baker Creek
On the way home she got off to tighten her cinch, and then gave Ed another lesson in standing still while she got back on, pausing as she mounted, to have Ed stand there instead of immediately moving toward home.
Dani preparing to mount
Ed standing still instead of starting off toward home
On Tuesday when I did chores I laid out hay to be fed to the horses, for Dani and Lynn to do chores. Andrea and I left at 5 p.m. that afternoon and drove to Hamilton, Montana where I checked in to the Marcus Daily Sleep Center for my overnight sleep study. I didn’t sleep much, however. At first some of the hookup wires (that they stick to you in many places to monitor breathing, heart rate etc. while you sleep) didn’t work and the technician spent nearly 2 hours trying to get them working. Then I couldn’t get to sleep for quite a while. Andrea slept on cot in next room.

Yesterday we killed time waiting for my appointment to get the results; Andrea went to K-Mart and got school clothes for the kids, and was lucky to hit a really good sale and get most of the clothes very inexpensively.

Results of my sleep test were fairly inconclusive. They claim that I need to use a CPAP machine, but my oxygen level didn’t really drop very low. Since I have a lot of trouble trying to sleep with a CPAP, I have decided not to use it anymore.

We started home at 2 p.m. and got home before chore time. Lynn was baling the hay in the field by Andrea’s house. Robbie came out after work and hauled one load to my hay shed (stacked out in front of it on the end of the stack) and a couple loads to the stackyard, using lights on the stackwagon after it got dark. One load fell down, and he and Andrea reloaded it on the stackwagon and got it restacked.

Today Robbie hauled and stacked the last load before he went to work, so now we have all the hay hauled! We can hopefully get those fields irrigated again (to grow grass for fall pasture for the cows) before the water in the creek gets too low.

This afternoon Carolyn rode down here on Captain, and Andrea and girls and I rode with her for a ride into the middle range. Andrea rode Shiloh and Sam rode Breezy.
Sam on Breezy
Here are photos of Dani, Andrea and Sam as we climbed up the hill toward Crawley trough, and Carolyn, Dani and Andrea as we stopped partway up the hill to rest the horse.
Dani, Andrea and Sam
Carolyn, Dani & Andrea
We had to hurry home, because this was the day that the kids go back to Mark; they spend every other week with him during the summer.


JULY 20  We had hot weather this past week, up to 95 degrees one day—which is unusually hot for our mountain climate. Andrea had no water in the ditch coming to the field by her house last Friday, and discovered that Alfonso was using all of it upstream on his field—and that he’d put so much water in the ditch from the creek that it washed all the dirt away from the headgate and weir so the weir could not measure water. Andrea hauled sandbags up there on her 4-wheeler, to put in the washed out places, and got it fixed.

I interview a lot of people (by phone) every week for various articles for horse and cattle magazines (veterinarians, professors at universities, ranchers and cattle breeders, equine and bovine nutritionists, farriers, farmers, dairymen, etc.) and “meet” a lot of interesting people over the phone. Now and then there’s a really unusual story that I am assigned to write. One example was a feedlot owner in North Dakota I interviewed last week, who has a cow dog that helps him move cattle. The unusual thing about this dog is that he lost both front legs a couple years ago in an accident, and manages just fine without them. He can scoot around on his two hind legs, but when he has to move fast or herd cattle, his owner puts him on his “wheelchair” that serve as front legs, and he can whiz around and do his job as well as any normal dog. He’s a blue heeler, so his owner calls him his “wheeler heeler” and he has become something of a celebrity.
Patton the wheeler heeler working cattle
Last Saturday Andrea went with Michael and Carolyn up to one of the early check points in the 50 K extreme marathon along the Continental Divide (the tops of the Beaverhead mountains across the valley from us) to watch Nick run. He’s run this race a few other years (came in 7th his first try, and had an injury last year and didn’t complete it) and wanted to do better this year. He did very well, coming in 3rd (2nd place in the men’s division) with a faster time than his first race. They took photos of him coming in at the finish line, and also a photo of the helicopter that was there on standby in case any of the runners got injured and had to be flown out.
Nick coming into finish line
Nick at finish line
helicopter on standby at marathon
After Andrea, Michael and Carolyn got back from watching that race (after watching Nick sprint in at the finish to beat out several other close runners), Andrea and I rode up the creek on Shiloh and Dottie to make a late afternoon ride with Michael and Carolyn. They were riding down the road and met us along the Gooch place, so we rode up Gooch’s Basin and up the ridge to the 320 and checked on that high pasture—to make sure no trees were down over the fence and no range cattle had gotten in. That’s our fall pasture for the cows, so we don’t want the range cattle eating it out. Here’s a photo of Michael resting Gus as we start up through Gooch’s Basin, and Carolyn and Michael heading up into the 320 from the lower ridge gate.
Heading up Gooch's basin
Carolyn & Michael starting up through 320
We also checked on the new water troughs Michael and Nick put in last year. The lower one was working very well but the top one was only running a trickle; it seems to have an air lock. Carolyn and I held the horses while Andrea and Michael checked the spring box. He may need to bring up his air compressor to blow out the line and get it running better.
checking water trough
checking upper trough
As we were going up Baker Creek we also spooked a herd of elk that came busting out of the brush ahead of us, and went out around the mountain. Here are a couple photos of some of the elk.
elk in 320
After the really wet month of May, the larkspur has grown prolifically along Baker Creek, on the 320 and out on the range. Hopefully no range cattle will be poisoned this year, and also we hope no one goes through and leaves our internal gates open (like they did one year—when Michael’s cattle went into the Baker Creek side of our pasture and 6 of them died eating larkspur. I took photos of some of the larkspur patches as we rode through the 320 that day.
larkspur
That evening Michael reset Captain’s shoes (his feet were getting long) then he and Carolyn went to Andrea’s place to eat supper.

The next morning Michael came down here early and put hind shoes on Shiloh for me. Her feet are hard and tough (she’s gone about a dozen rides this year so far, without shoes) but they are wearing down a bit after going through all the rocks, and we don’t want her to stone bruise. Her feet are so hard that they are difficult to trim, so I was glad Michael could shoe her for me; he’s stronger than I am.

That evening Michael and Carolyn brought their cows down from the middle section of the 320, down to the fields, and Andrea helped them. They didn’t need horses; they went up on 4-wheelers and opened the gates and called the cows. They were eager to come down to the green fields, now that the native grasses on the hill pasture have dried out.

On Monday Lynn went to town to buy some tarps for our haystacks, and when he got home we moved the cows from their pasture below the lane and took them to the lower end of the swamp pasture. That night we had a thunderstorm, a lot of lightning and strong wind—and hoped the lightning didn’t start a bunch of new fires.

The next day Cindy Yenter (from Idaho Department of Water Resources) brought the new water master, Ben Armstrong, up here to show him all the ditch heads and weirs so that he’ll know where they are and how to read them when the water gets short and he has to regulate the flow on some of the ditches.

That evening Lynn and I were about to eat supper when we discovered that we had two extra horses; a couple of Alfonso’s horses were coming down our lane. We stopped them before they came down into our barnyard, and they went back up the lane and down the road. Lynn got ahead of them on his 4-wheeler and turned them in off the road to Alfonso’s field, then drove across the creek to Alfonso’s camp to tell him where his horses were.

Wednesday Andrea took Sam to Idaho Falls to her appointment with the neurologist, still trying to figure out her headache problem (partly from a pinched nerve in her neck). The doctor put her on some different medication.

Jim helped Lynn and me put a tarp on my haystack (the small portion that sticks out and isn’t covered by the hay shed) and a couple big tarps over the main stack in the stack yard. Last year the fall rain ruined a lot of hay and we don’t want that to happen again.

That evening I rode Dottie and went up the creek to meet up with Michael and Carolyn and ride through the 320. It was really windy (hard to get my saddle on before the saddle pad blew off). I met them up by the wild meadow and then we went on up the creek---after getting one of their wayward calves back in off the road. We rode up through the 320 again, to check the fences again. It wasn’t as windy in the Baker Creek canyon and I took photos of Michael and Carolyn as we rode.
Carolyn on Captain
Carolyn & Michael in 320
It was still quite hot that day and we let the horses rest when we got to Baker Creek, and Michael and Carolyn drank some of the water they brought along.
pausing for a drink of water
Then we rode on up into the high range. A few of Millers and Alfonso’s cows are already up in the high range, a couple weeks too early. We came down around through the timber above the 320 and back down past Witteborg spring and the new trough John Miller put in last fall. It wasn’t running any water last fall but this summer it actually has a trickle of water and the trough was full.
riding up Baker Creek on high range
new trough
We came on down along our fence and went back into the 320 and noticed that the elk have trashed our fence on that side, going over the fence during the winter and spring. They’ve broken off half a dozen of the old wood posts and bent the steel posts almost flat. We’ll need to fix that soon. I took photos as we came down that side of the high range from Witteborg trough.
Michael coming back down
coming down the ridge outside the 320
Yesterday Andrea noticed that she has no water in her ditch to the field by her house, and the cows in the swamp pasture had no water to drink. Alfonso had taken all the water again, using it on his side of the fence. She had to go get some of her water, and left a phone message for Alfonso.

Then she and I made a short fast ride on Dottie and Shiloh over the low range before she had to go to town that evening to pick up the kids from Mark.
Andrea on Shiloh
Charlie drove out here in his pickup and we visited with him awhile. He had a good campout this past week on his Forest Service trail clearing job, camping in the wilderness area near Challis for 6 days.

Today was hot again, up to 90 degrees. Lynn went this afternoon to locate a well for some people (his 3rd water-witching job this week) and Dani came down to help me get horses ready to ride. Andrea rode with us and we made a fast short loop over the low range. It was a hot day and Dani paused to dig out one of her water bottles and drink.
Dani & Ed
Dani drinking water

JULY 29  More hot weather. Everything is drying out and the creek is dropping, but we are still managing to have enough irrigation water without having to go into regulation to shut down the junior water rights. Last Saturday Sam and Dani rode with Andrea on me on a very short ride; Andrea rode Willow (only Willow’s 2nd ride this year) and Sam rode Shiloh. We need to ride Willow a lot, to continue her training; she is still very green.
short ride - Sam on Shiloh
On Monday Charlie drove Sam to work (her job at the school garden in town). Eventually Sam will have her regular driver’s license but at this point she can only drive on practice drives with an adult. Lynn went up the North Fork to locate a water well for some people who are building a house on Hull Creek. Andrea, Dani, and I made a short ride—Andrea riding Willow again. I took one photo of Dani on Ed.
Dani & Ed
This afternoon took several photos of a doe that came to our back porch—she was curious about the cats sleeping there in the shade--and then she went up the driveway.
doe coming to or porch
doe leaving
doe going up the driveway
The next day Charlie left early in the morning to go to his next camp-out trail cleaning job, and Michael took Sam to work on his way to a fencing job. Andrea came down after she irrigated, and we rode Willow and Dottie for 2 hours on the range next to us. We rode across our lower field to the hill behind our place, and then out the gate onto the neighboring range. I took a photo of Andrea shutting the gate behind us.
going across our back field to head up the hill to the gate
closing the gate behind us
Then we rode up the ridge and across that range, into some areas Willow had never been, and across some steep gullies. The longer ride was good for her, and she did very well. I took photos of the old homestead cabins by Johnny Creek as we rode past.
old homestead cabins on Johnny Creek
We made a big loop over that range then came back higher and came home through the new gate Jim built, on the hill above Andrea’s house. We rode down past her house and I took a photo of Sam’s greenhouse.
the new gate Jim built
Sam's greenhouse
Wednesday Andrea irrigated and checked ditches on the Gooch place. Alfonso has been refusing to send enough water down to her (she barely has enough for our water right), claiming she’s using too much water, while he has been using almost 3 times his water right. He stopped Michael and Carolyn on the road a few days ago complaining that Andrea is using too much water, and Michael had to bluntly tell Alfonso that he is the one that’s not sharing the water enough and needs to be more careful if he wants to make sure we don’t shortchange the first right and have to deal with the water master and locked headgates.

Later that afternoon Andrea and Dani and I rode up to meet Carolyn (Willow’s 5th ride) and went up the ridge to the 320 to check fences and make sure the range cows were still staying out. Carolyn rode Gus that day because Captain has sore feet. I took photos as we rode up the ridge in the 320 to head to Baker Creek, and a photo of Andrea and Willow pausing in the canyon to get some snacks out of her saddle bag, and then a photo as we rode on up through the tall grass into the timber.
Andrea, Carolyn & Dani
Andrea on Willow, getting snacks out of her saddlebag
riding through tall grass on 320
The next day Lynn went to find water for another person on Hull Creek. Sam and Dani rode with Carolyn and me up the road to the forks of Withington Creek, with Sam riding Shiloh and Andrea on Willow. Sam gets along great with Shiloh and will probably keep riding her this year, since Breezy at age 29 is starting to stumble a bit. Here are photos taken as we went up the road into the Forks.
riding up to the Forks
riding up the road
Traveling on the gravel road is wearing Willow’s feet down but she’s still not tender-footed. On Friday, however, Andrea and I just made a short ride around the fields checking on the irrigation water; the soft ground was easier on Willow’s feet. We want to be able to make several more rides on her before I have to shoe her. I took a photo of her riding in the field, and a photo of our old barn covered with vines as we came back up the lane from the lower field, and past that barn.
riding Willow in lower field
old barn covered with vines
Then we rode through the fields above the house and I took a photo of the electric fence we put up (with step-in posts) to enable the heifers to graze the ditchbank this summer but not the hayfield, and a photo of Andrea and Willow crossing the bridge on the upper lane to her house.
riding along the temporary electric fence
Willow crossing the bridge
We moved the cows and bull back down to the lower swamp pasture for a couple of days, to try to give the next little pasture (along the ditch in the field above it) more chance to grow. While the cows are in that pasture—that Andrea’s driveway goes through—we keep the gates shut and everyone uses her upper driveway through heifer hill. To make sure no one tries to drive through the swamp pasture while the cattle are in there, Lynn parked the feed truck in the lane through the barnyard. We don’t want some unsuspecting person trying to go through there with the cattle, because the 3-year-old bull is becoming more aggressive and comes right up to check out anything that goes through his pasture.

We made another short ride on yesterday—up the road to Michael and Carolyn’s house—and I took photos of the rock work they’ve done to create the start of a yard, and the old manure spread Michael hauled up there; it will eventually become a flower planter. I took photos of Michael putting down tiles in their little piece of back yard (for their barbecue pit). He and Carolyn have done a lot of work to create a yard and do some landscaping around their house on that bare old hill.
rock work
old manure spreader
Michael putting down tiles
finishing the tiles
Today when I went out at daylight to do chores, a coyote started yapping and barking on the hill behind the bull pens. He kept it up all morning. The barking woke Lynn up, and he hiked over toward the bull pens to yell at the coyote but the brazen critter just kept barking and wouldn’t leave.

While Lynn was over there, he noticed the bull was right down by the gate to the corral. So we went back over there, fed the other bull and the cow that’s with him in the back pen, and quietly opened all the gates and let the big bull come in. We locked him in the back pen with his 2-year-old brother and the cow. That was the easiest way to round him up out of his cows without a fuss or anyone getting hurt! We are going to sell both those bulls very soon, because of their bad attitudes.

After we got that bull in the corral, we took the yearling bull out of his heifer group in the horse pasture. I called the heifers into the calving pen, and led them and the little bull around to the front corral, where we sorted the bull off into the corral and took the heifers back to the horse pasture. Now the breeding season for our herd is over; calving should end next year the end of April, with the last possible calves the first week in May.

Andrea finished reestablishing the hot wire along the ditch pasture below her house, and we let the cows up into that little pasture. They were glad for some new grass. It has grown about a foot since they grazed it earlier this summer.

Then we saddled the horses, and Andrea and I rode Willow and Dottie up the road to meet Michael and Carolyn; we all rode up into the right fork of Withington Creek. It was nice to ride up there again, though we had to let the horses rest a few times because Captain (Carolyn’s horse) was coughing so much from the dusty hay he’s been eating in their corral. When we finished the ride they put their horses in a different place, where they don’t have access to the old bales.
Michael and Carolyn riding in the right Fork
Andrea & Michael
When we got home we left Willow and Dottie tied awhile and let the heifers out of the horse pasture and up into the little ditch pasture. It’s grown back quite a bit since they grazed it this spring, and will probably feed them for about a week.


AUGUST 8  Last week was very smoky. There are several lightning-caused fires in the area. I was going to put front shoes on Willow last Tuesday (because she seemed to gimp once or twice on the sharp rocks when we rode 6 miles up to the Forks and back) but she still had a fair amount of hoof wall and her feet are so hard that they are difficult to trim. I decided she could go a couple more rides without shoes and then I would put shoes on her. We made a short ride that day instead of shoeing her—going up the road and into the Gooch field to talk to Alfonso (who was irrigating there). He and Andrea discussed the water situation and agreed to share the ditch to the field by her house, with her having more water part of the time and him having it part of the time.

After talking with him, we rode over the hill into Gooch’s basin, up Baker Creek (where we spooked a young bear that went galloping down along the creek through the tall sagebrush), and then made a loop and came down through the low range.

Andrea irrigated again that evening (she changes the water twice a day, trying to get over some dry spots in our fields with the little bit of water she has), and saw 4 bulls come over the hill from the neighboring range, headed down toward Alfonso’s back fence on his lower place. These were some of the bulls we saw a few days ago when we rode on that range; those guys never do get all their bulls moved out of that range pasture when they move their cows to another pasture. They leave them here hanging on our fences, wanting to get into our fields and pastures to fight our bulls.

It was so smoky that night from nearby fires that we were not able to open our windows (for the first time this summer) to let the house cool off.

The next day Andrea and Carolyn left at 6:30 to drive to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s appointment with her pain doctor (to refill her prescriptions). Lynn went to town a little later that morning for fasting blood tests and his appointment with our doctor for a checkup and to discuss the chest pain and shortness of breath he had a couple weeks ago. She did an electrocardiogram and didn’t like the looks of it, and sent him to the ER. The ER doctor checked him out pretty thoroughly and thought he was ok, but he has an appointment with his cardiologist next month.

That afternoon we had a brief thunderstorm and actually a little rain. Andrea and Carolyn got home at 7 p.m. and Andrea changed her irrigation water again that evening.

Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent us a photo of young Joseph on their bed headboard trying to grab the alarm clock. He’s a very precocious 15-month old kid!
Joseph grabbing the alarm clock
Thursday was HOT, up to 96 degrees. Andrea was busy helping her friend Anita get things ready for Anita’s son Jeremy’s wedding, and we didn’t ride. Lynn put the baler in the sick barn (to get it out of the weather for next winter) and Jim and Andrea helped him put the hay fork back on the tractor. Then he got a big round bale for the bulls and cow in the back pen and we helped him through the gates to take the bale to their empty feeder. The bulls behaved themselves while Andrea took the net wrap off the bale. They are not very aggressive around me or Andrea, because we’ve been the ones feeding them from the time they were weaned calves (we bought them both from Michael as weanlings—the first one 3 years ago and the younger one 2 years ago). They get upset and angry when the guys come around to put them down the chute for vaccinations.

That night it was too smoky to open the windows, but the smoke cleared away by the next morning. We moved the cows to the post pile pasture and lane; the grass there might last them a couple days. Carolyn helped Andrea most of the day, making several batches of salads for the wedding reception dinner and Andrea took some of the salads to the family barbecue that evening.

Dani helped us move the cows, then stayed here and ate lunch with Lynn and me, then held Dottie for me to take off her front shoes (which were worn out), trim her long feet, and put new shoes on. It got really windy and Dani sang songs to Dottie to keep her from getting nervous and spooky.

Saturday I got up early and typed several interviews, then did chores after it got daylight. Andrea changed water briefly and helped us move the heifers across the lane from one ditch pasture to another; she and Lynn guarded the sides of the lane and the heifers followed me. They are easy to move; they will follow me just about anywhere. Then the brand inspector came to look at our 2 bulls and the young cow in the back pen.

Andrea was hurriedly getting everything ready to take in for the wedding. About the time she was leaving to go help set things up, she got a call from Bob Minor; they were being called out on a fire near Challis, and she had to be ready to go immediately. So she threw her gear in her truck, so she could leave directly from the wedding.

The wedding was outdoors on a ranch above the Salmon River, with a beautiful view, and the reception was at the old Carmen Grange. We hurried over there after the wedding and helped set food for the reception dinner. There were nearly 300 people there, and we enjoyed visiting with several old friends.

Michael and Carolyn hauled the bulls to the sale yard in Montana on Sunday (when Michael wasn’t busy with his custom fencing jobs) for the sale on Tuesday, so the plan was to round up their cows Saturday and have their bulls in the corral for Sunday morning. They had a hard time getting their cows rounded up but finally got them in the corral and left the whole herd in overnight.

The next day, Sunday, Lynn and I got the corrals ready for loading our bulls to go to the sale. Michael, Carolyn and Nick brought back the yearling bull we loaned them, to live here with his buddy until next year’s breeding season.

Then we got our two bulls and cow from the back pen and loaded them in the trailer. Nick locked them in the front half, where bulk of the weight needed to be, and they drove back to the upper place to load their 2-year-old bull (the really ornery one that they had trouble loading when they took him up there at the start of the breeding season).

They planned to use a cow to go with him into the trailer but the bull ran the wrong way and crashed over a wooden gate, smashing it to bits, and leaving the corral. He ran down into the horse pasture below the corral but Nick ran after him and was able to get around him when the bull paused because the 4 horses stood their ground and didn’t get out of his way. Nick managed to get the bull back into the corral again but he tore down another fence and got out again. Once again Nick ran around him, and the horses helped herd him back to the corral! Nick just kept charging after him and this time the bull ran into the trailer and Carolyn slammed the door and they had him loaded. Good riddance to three bad bulls! Michael and Carolyn hauled them to Montana and dropped them off at the sale yard, to be sold on Tuesday.

On Monday I got up early to get a couple interviews typed and then did chores early, feeding the horses as soon as it was light enough to see (the days are getting shorter already!) and changed irrigation water on the field below the lane. After breakfast Lynn changed water in the ditch above the house, trying to get more of that field watered. I did two more phone interviews that morning then Dani and I rode Ed and Dottie to the 320 to check fences and make sure no range cows had gotten in.
moving range cows
We pushed some lazy cows up around the top corner of our 320 so they could go to Baker creek of water. Now that the range cows are on the high range, we have to patrol the fences on the top side of the 320. I made a note of how many wood posts the elk broke off last winter, so Michael can replace those with steel posts. About a quarter mile of fence is really bad on that side where the elk have been going over it, pushing the fence over. While I was fixing one patch of fence, Dani relaxed and pretended to take a nap on Ed.
Dani resting
Dani relaxing on Ed
I took another photo as we started down the ridge above the 320, then we rode down into Baker Creek along the top fence and down through the timber, and had to patch the 320 fence where elk have a regular trail through; every year we have to patch that spot because they mash it down or break the wires. We don’t want the range cattle coming through the hole they made.
coming back down the ridge
When we got home from our ride, Dani helped me move the two yearling bulls from the front corral to the back corral (now that the big bulls are gone), where the little bulls can finish eating the big bale in that feeder. I opened the gates into the 2 side pens so they can go into those pens and eat the grass that has grown up since spring.

Yesterday morning Lynn changed the irrigation water and Carolyn stopped by to pick up some more things Andrea needed at the fire camp at Challis. Carolyn drove to Arco today to be with her mom a couple days and take her mom to a doctor appointment in Idaho Falls, so she was able to go by way of Challis and deliver the things to Andrea. Dani rode with me for a short ride over the low range.
Dani on low range
making a loop through the low range
Today Sam rode with Dani and me on a lower loop around the low range. Sam rode Breezy for old time’s sake; we don’t know how much longer she’ll be able to ride that good old mare.
Sam and Dani on Breezy & Ed
We went along the jeep road past the dry ponds and Baker Creek (which has dried up completely on the low range, during the hot weather), then went down to the boundary fence and through some tall sagebrush. Along the way Sam spotted a pretty moth resting on a sagebrush and we took photos of it.
riding along the jeep road
moth
Then we made a loop back over to Baker Creek, crossed the dry bogs, and came back up the hill to the jeep road again and home.
coming back up the hill to the jeep road
It was fun to be able to ride with both girls before they went back to their dad’s place for a week.


***
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).