OCTOBER 8 – Here are a few photos I took when Dani rode with us a couple weeks ago to check the cows on the 320—as Dani and Andrea were riding Ed and Shiloh up the ridge from our house, then up the jeep road along the ridge in the 320, and Dani checking a group of cows at the salt ground near the top of the 320.
|Dani & Andrea heading up the ridge from our house|
|Andrea & Dani going up the ridge in the 320|
|Dani checking cows on salt ground|
Michael and Carolyn had an interesting ride that day, above the head of Hayden Creek, to Bear Valley Lake, and saw some spectacular country. Here is a photo of their horses, Clifford and Gus, at the lake, and some photos they took of this lake near the top of those stark mountains.
|Bear Valley Lake - M&C horses|
|Bear Valley Lake|
|Bear Valley Lake|
That evening we had a terrible windstorm, and we were glad Michael and Carolyn were down out of the mountains; they were already coming down to the highway with their horse trailer when the wind and hit them.
It was cold and stormy all day the next day, and started raining. Michael and Carolyn took the nose flaps out of their calves and hauled their 5 keeper heifers down here (before their corral got too muddy to get in and out with their pickup and trailer) and put their heifers in our pens by the calving barn. There’s still a little grass there, and I wanted to keep those heifers contained for a couple days and gentle them a bit before turning them out in the field with our heifers. I fed them a little hay, but they were too scared to notice what I was doing; they just ran to the far corner when I came into the pen, and huddled there. They didn’t find the hay until after I left. I fed them a little hay again that evening but they were still too scared to pay attention.
The next day was cold and foggy, and by that morning the heifers had figured out that hay appeared when I came along. I fed them a little bit of hay 4 different times throughout the day, and by evening they were coming to me instead of running away. By Tuesday morning they were domesticated! They came to me readily (still at a cautious distance, but following me) and the second time I fed them, I led them into the second-day pens with a little hay and locked them in there. A couple hours later I let them out into the field with our heifers, and they followed me out the gate. This past summer they didn’t have the opportunity to see people very much when they were growing up—on the upper place—like our calves did, so I wanted them to become a little less wild before I put them with our group.
Our heifers are pretty gentle because we saw us a lot this past summer when we were moving the herd every few days to new pasture. Here’s a photo of our 6 heifers soon after we weaned them..
…and photos of the weaned steers in the horse pasture where we kept them for a couple weeks before selling them.
|weaned steers in horse pasture|
|watering the steers|
|heading across the low range salt ground|
|Andrea & Shiloh|
|shutting the gate after going into the 320|
|Andrea taking photos|
|Shiloh hurrying up the ridge|
|cows at salt ground|
|riding on up to top gate|
|going toward Preachers Spring|
|on high range|
|coming down Baker Creek|
|carrying elk antler home|
The next day was windy but not raining, which was a good thing. Michael and Carolyn loaded their calves early Wednesday morning and hauled them to Butte (a 6 hour round trip) to the sale yard, and came back mid-afternoon to get our steers. Taking the calves a couple days early gave them a day to recover from the trip and eat hay at the sale yard before the sale on Friday.
We got our steers loaded ok, and since there weren’t enough to fill the trailer, Michael locked them in the big front compartment so they wouldn’t be moving around too much (which can be dangerous if they shift all the weight too suddenly in the trailer when going down the road). As he was pulling up our driveway, however, Lynn noticed that the compartment door had come open and all the calves had moved to the back of the trailer, putting all the weight on the rear axle. Lynn got on his 4-wheeler and sped up the driveway to catch Michael, and caught up with him before he got out to the main road. They were able to push the calves forward again and get the inner door shut and latched more securely, and then continued on their way.
Earlier that morning after the wind died down a little, Jim and Andrea helped Lynn and me put a tarp on our straw stack, before it gets any more rain on it. The top bales had dried out just enough that we were able to go ahead and put the tarp on. Then Andrea hiked down in our back field to check on our yearling heifers and young cows and it took a while to find them; they were all jammed in the bottom corner in the brush, against the new jackfence—scared out of their wits. We think they had been frightened by the bear that’s been spending a lot of time in the creek bottom. It was prowling around Alfonso’s camp (just a few hundred yards downstream from our back field) the night before, and his dog chased it away.
After we got the calves loaded and gone, Andrea and I made a fast ride to the 320 to check on the cows. Michael’s cows were all at the top salt ground in Baker Creek and ours were down on the lower end. We started them back up and I took photos of Andrea and Shiloh following them.
|Andrea following cows|
Friday was cold all day. Andrea and Dani left very early to drive to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s appointment with her pain doctor, and Dani’s appointment with the orthodontist to have a tooth pulled and her braces put on.
Michael and Carolyn also left early that morning with their horses to go to Preston to help Carolyn’s brother and some friends round up cattle that weekend, but stopped at Butte on their way to see the calves sell. The prices are off a bit—not as good as they were last year. The smaller steers (averaging about 450 pounds) brought $1.71 and $1.67 per pound, while the larger steers (averaging 534 and 543 pounds) brought $1.55 and $1.51 per pound. Michael’s heifers (averaging 518 and 450 pounds) brought $$1.42 and $1.40 per pound. After watching the calves sell, Michael and Carolyn continued on their trip to Preston. They hadn’t gotten very far, however, when they had a problem with the Dodge truck (something came loose on the lift pump) and they had to figure out how to temporarily fix it before they could go any farther.
Meanwhile, here at home, Lynn got a frantic call from one of the people he water witched for earlier this summer. The well driller had finally arrived to drill the well, and with all the rain and mud the support truck had slid into a ditch and gotten stuck and there was no way they could get to the well site. So Lynn made a trip over there to locate another site, and fortunately was able to find another place where they could drill, because the options for water were limited on that property.
The next day was rainy again, but Andrea and I rode anyway, to check the cows on the 320, because it had been several days since we’d been up there. We like to keep close track of them during hunting season. I took photos as we rode up to and into the 320, making a fast ride to try to see all the cows.
|riding up to 320 gate|
|hurrying up through the lower end of 320|
|up the the ridge|
|last climb up to the top gate|
|ridge toward the top gate|
Several yellow jackets were stinging Carolyn and she started to wipe one of them off her face, and only had one hand on the reins when the young horse (Clifford) she was riding started bucking. She wasn’t able to keep his head up with just a snaffle bit and one hand, and he was going round and round on the narrow trail, bucking hard. She was afraid he would go over the edge and have a real wreck on the steep hill so she bailed off, but went over the edge herself and went rolling down the hill through the rocks, unable to stop herself. Michael could see that she was in trouble, heading straight for a big fir tree and about to smash into it, so he bailed off Gus and ran down the hill to grab Carolyn before she hit the tree.
All the horses and riders had numerous stings (and Brian’s horse had big swollen welts all over his body) but Carolyn suffered several broken ribs from her roll down the hill through the rocks. Luckily she didn’t have any head injury or broken arms/legs. It would have been worse, however, if she’d smashed into the tree at the speed she was rolling, so it’s a good thing Michael was able to grab her. As it was, she was so sore and in so much pain that it was difficult to get back on her horse to ride back to the pickup, and hard to get into the pickup. She had a miserable night, and miserable trip home the next day (yesterday), getting home late in the evening. She was too sore to get in and out of bed, and spent the night in a reclining chair. Today she is still pretty miserable, unable to get in and out of the chair without help. She spent the day in the reclining chair.
Andrea’s kids are joying school this year. She took this photo of them one morning before they all left (Charlie has been driving them all to school)…
|Kids ready to head off for school|
This morning Andrea took Dani to school early for basketball practice. After it warmed up a little midday Andrea and I rode again to check the cows on the 320. By the time we got up to the 320 it was quite warm and we’d shed our sweatshirts. It seemed like summer again! I took photos of Andrea unlocking and opening the gate.
|Andrea unlocking the gate|
|opening the gate|
|cows on ridge|
|old 203 cow on ridge|
|our cows lounging around at salt ground|
|coming down Baker Creek|
|Andrea & Shiloh in Baker Creek|
|heading for the creek crossing|
OCTOBER 18 – The past 10 days have been cold, with a little more rain and snow. One rainy day Charlie stopped by here on his way home from school and accidentally locked himself out of his little pickup with the keys in it. His spare key wouldn’t work (nearly broke it off in the lock, trying) so Lynn helped him and they spent nearly an hour prying the passenger door open enough to get a wire through the opening and reach in to pull up the lock. This isn’t the first time that darn pickup has automatically locked him out. The next day, Andrea made some extra keys for him, so he’d always have one in his wallet, and we’d have one here, and she’d have one, for emergencies.
The mice must think winter is coming; they’ve been coming into the house in large numbers lately. In our old house (the two-room cabin built from hewed logs in 1885, added onto multiple times through the decades) mice have always been a problem. Even with a troop of outdoor cats that do a worthy job of trying to halt invading mousy armies, some times of year we need to have a pretty good batch of traps.
The mice are even more prevalent in the old trailer house Jim uses as a workshop. He created a simple and effective mouse trap using a plastic bucket--with a few inches of water in the bottom. The idea is not new; multiple methods have been used for drowning ambitious rats and mice, luring them over a tall bucket partially filled with water, where they fall in and drown. Jim’s version is very simple, utilizing a round wooden dowel (a piece of a small-diameter broom handle) cut to the right size to fit over the bucket.
The wood piece rests on the top of the bucket on a small nail set into each end. The wood spins freely, resting on top of the bucket. The lure is plain old peanut butter (which mice seem to love) smeared on the middle of the broom handle, out over the center of the bucket. Here’s a picture of the trap Jim made for us.
|bucket trap for mice|
With the weather so cold, we decided it was time to stop irrigating. The water master was supposed to take the locks off all the headgates so we can securely shut them for winter (so no water will leak into the ditches and create ice flows across the fields) but he forgot to take the lock off number 8. We left him several messages, which he didn’t respond to, but finally Alfonso tracked him down and he came to take the lock off that ditch.
Lynn and I took another block of salt to the cows in the back field; they had run out of salt. They have eaten all the green grass in the field but there is still a lot of rough feed around the edges and on the hillside, so hopefully that pasture will last them awhile longer.
Last Thursday the kids didn’t have school, so Dani rode with Andrea and me to check the cows on the 320. Her saddle had a problem (one of the straps holding the cinch ring broke a buckle) so she had to ride Sam’s saddle, and lengthen the stirrups. Dani is now taller and more long-legged than Sam! We had to make a fast ride to check the cows because Andrea and Dani had to get back in time to take the kids to town for the 4 p.m. exchange since they went to their dad’s for that weekend. Here are photos of Andrea and Dani heading up the trail from our house, Andrea stopping at the ridge to tighten Shiloh’s cinch, and then trotting along the trail toward the next ridge.
|Andrea & Dani heading up the trail|
|trotting along the trail toward the ridge|
|up the 320 ridge|
Lynn located another water well site for a guy the other side of town, who gets out posts, poles and firewood, so he also checked on some posts and poles for Michael. Nick and Michael have been doing a lot of custom fence building this summer and fall and are always running out of posts and poles so it’s good to find another source.
We had some sunshine when I did chores that evening so I took photos of the fall leaves above the house and horse pens.
|photo taken from the hay shed|
|Ed waiting for supper|
|old shop roof|
|deer in driveway|
It was a cold day so we wore our coats and chaps, and so cold that I didn’t take my camera because the battery was low and it doesn’t do well in the cold. The cows were still doing well up there, but they are going through that pasture. It won’t last very many more weeks.
We hurried home and I finished cooking a big dinner for all of us. Jim got back from hunting, Andrea got the kids from Mark, and Emily came out for dinner, too.
The next few mornings were cold again, and I had to break ice on the horse tubs and heifer tank. Yesterday there was some ice in one of my hoses; I apparently didn’t drain it well enough the day before. I went back out later after the sun came up and had a chance to warm the hose, and watered the horses.
I sent an article to the editor of Polo magazine about healthy frogs (the bottom of horses’ feet have a cushiony middle section called a frog) and hoof care, and with her sense of humor she sent back some cute photos showing the “frog problem” they have with their own horses in Florida (little tree frogs that like to come into the barn and horse trailer and perch on the horses), so I thought I’d share those photos.
|tree frog perched on horse|
Alfonso also wanted Lynn to help him move his cows from his lower fields to the Gooch place, because he was having to do it by himself and riding a green, inexperienced horse. So Lynn went down there on his 4-wheeler and helped get the cows out of the field. It’s always easier rounding up and moving cows with two people rather than one, and they got the cows moved fairly easily.
Yesterday Andrea and I made a very FAST ride on Shiloh and Dottie to the 320 to check on the cows and make sure the gates were still shut, with all the hunters out and about. Our cows were all on the far side of Baker Creek in the top corner. It was a lot warmer, and we didn’t need our heavy coats or chaps. I took photos of Andrea and Shiloh trotting up toward the top gate (after which she was so warm that she shed her sweatshirt, going on up to the gate, and then calling her kids on her cell phone after checking the gate—since there is cell service up on that ridge.
|Shiloh trotting up the ridge|
|heading for the top gate|
|checking cell phone after checking gate|
|going down shady side into Baker Creek|
|a little sunlight through the trees|
Today Jim went hunting up the creek above the old Harmony mine and plans to camp up there for a few days. My brother Rockwell stopped by on his way home from the radio station (where he works) to get his belated birthday gift from us; his birthday was yesterday. We reminisced a bit; our father’s birthday was the day before Rocky’s birthday, and dad would have been 100 years old this year.
Late afternoon Lynn went to town for mail and prescriptions, and stayed in to watch Dani’s basketball game after school. Those kids got beat pretty badly by the visiting school, but this is their first season playing basketball and they try hard.
I will soon be checking the final proofs for the new (third) edition to my book Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. The original edition had a photo of Andrea on the dedication page, with her favorite cow horse Snickers, not long after she came home from the burn ICU in Salt Lake.
The editors wanted an updated photo for the new edition (since the photo in the 1st and 2nd editions was that same one, taken so long ago). I took several photos earlier this month, and selected one of Andrea riding Shiloh for the new edition’s dedication page.
Here is one of the other photos we took this fall (and didn’t use for the new dedication), alongside a photo taken 18 years ago (with Snickers) when Andrea was barely functional after her burn injury. It’s quite a contrast. I thought it was interesting to compare them—my very fragile daughter as she struggled back from the burn injuries and skin grafts, and the strong woman she is today (though still scarred). Here are the two photos.
|Andrea & Snickers after burn|
|Andrea & Shiloh this fall|
To my daughter, Andrea
Your early love of horses and riding was a joy and a help to me as we rode on the range and worked our cattle. As soon as you were big enough to get on a horse by yourself, you began helping train our ranch horses.
I wanted someday to dedicate one of my books to you — if I ever wrote one on horse training — because you were my training partner with so many young horses. Then in July 2000, you nearly lost your life in a terrible fire. I feared that our wonderful days of riding and training together were over. But you hung on and eventually fought your way back to physical fitness. It’s a long, hard road for a person recovering from severe burns, and some things are never the same again, but two years later, when I wrote this book, you were riding and helping me train horses again. Today, as I work on revisions and updates for yet another new edition, you are still training horses with me. Most recently you trained a Morgan filly that will eventually be a horse for your own youngest daughter. I have enjoyed riding with you as we put miles and “work experience” on the two fillies we were both training.
I am very glad to have this opportunity, again, to dedicate this book to you and I am so very thankful that you are still here and able to read it. I am also grateful for your help in looking over the first manuscript and this update, just as I have been thankful for your help during the past 33 years in training our horses.
Beyond the Flames – A Family Touched by Fire. ($19 for paperback, $25 hardback, plus $4 postage).
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).