|Carolyn riding Gus|
|Dani getting on Ed|
|Dani making Ed stand still for a moment|
|heading up the jeep road|
|heading toward the backside of the Grove|
Shiloh spooking & balking
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|
|heading over to Baker Creek|
|Syringa still in bloom|
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|
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.
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|
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|
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.
|cats on porch|
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|
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.
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|
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|
|Dani riding across bridge|
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|
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.
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|
|down the trail|
|coming back up Baker Creek|
|Dani preparing to mount|
|Ed standing still instead of starting off toward home|
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|
Dani, Andrea and Sam
|Carolyn, Dani & Andrea|
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|
|Nick coming into finish line|
|Nick at finish line|
|helicopter on standby at marathon|
|Heading up Gooch's basin|
|Carolyn & Michael starting up through 320|
|checking water trough|
|checking upper trough|
|elk in 320|
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|
|pausing for a drink of water|
|riding up Baker Creek on high range|
|Michael coming back down|
|coming down the ridge outside the 320|
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|
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|
|Dani & Ed|
|doe coming to or porch|
|doe going up the driveway|
|going across our back field to head up the hill to the gate|
|closing the gate behind us|
|old homestead cabins on Johnny Creek|
|the new gate Jim built|
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|
|riding up to the Forks|
|riding up the road|
riding Willow in lower field
|old barn covered with vines|
|riding along the temporary electric fence|
|Willow crossing the bridge|
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.
|old manure spreader|
|Michael putting down tiles|
|finishing the tiles|
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|
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|
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|
|Dani relaxing on Ed|
|coming back down the ridge|
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|
|Sam and Dani on Breezy & Ed|
|riding along the jeep road|
|coming back up the hill to the jeep road|
***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).