It rained a little, but Nick and Justin worked on the fence along the horse road and got all the stays put in. The fence was essentially finished except for one small gap that needed a gate, which Michael was going to purchase and bring the next day.
Lynn took the tractor and harrow down to the back field and harrowed that field, and had just come back into the house when Alfonso and John and Sy Miller brought all of Alfonso’s cows and calves up the road past our place. They failed to come shut our driveway gate or tell us they were moving cows (or we could have shut the gate), and several cows ran down our driveway. Some went roaring up past my horse hay shed and some went down below the lane in the little barnyard next to the field where our heifers are, and where some hay is stacked. We happened to look out the window and saw some cows running through the calving pen and up by my hay shed, so I ran outside, climbed into Willow’s pen and ran through her pen to chase those cows back to the driveway.
Meanwhile, John Miller rode his horse down into the hold pen by our heifers to try to get some cows and calves out of that area. They all ran out but two, so I went into the second-day pens to get one calf that had run behind the gate instead of back out to the driveway. The other calf made it out the gate. As John was trying to herd the wayward calf back toward the gate, it ran the wrong direction and crashed into the gate by the heifers, then squeezed under the gate and into the field with the heifers.
Up on the road, the main herd was going past our place, but the cows were out in front and a bunch of calves in the back didn’t know where their mothers went. Alfonso has never learned how to move cattle in a low-stress manner and they don’t stay paired up. So a lot of calves were turning back and trying to go back where they came from, and some dropped down off the steep bank and were going along the horse road. One of them found the gap in the fence (where the new gate had not yet been installed) and ran in there and into our heifer hill field. That calf came running down through our field and ended up next to our cows and calves. Fortunately we have a really good new fence around that pasture and no cattle can get through it!
This was the third time this spring that Alfonso and John had a mess with their cattle moving, with some cattle coming down our driveway and into our barnyard. As John left to go help the other cowboys get the rest of the herd up to the Gooch place, he said he would come back with Alfonso later to rope those two wayward calves and haul them up to where they needed to be.
The last thing we wanted was a wild rodeo amongst our heifers (which have become very mellow and easy to handle, this past winter), so Lynn and I decided to get the heifers in from the field and corral the calf ourselves, without the heifers becoming spooked and wild with someone riding around through them trying to rope a wild calf. I called the group of heifers up through the gate into our hold pen, but the wild calf did not come with them, and chose to stay down by the fence at the bottom of the field. We put our heifers in the little pen in front of the barn, so they wouldn’t be out there running around when Alfonso came back to try to rope his calf.
It was taking a long time for him to come back (we saw him haul a bale of hay up the creek on his pickup instead), so Lynn and I decided to try to get the stray calves ourselves. The one pacing the fence above our cows (just like the wild cow of Alfonso’s did, that came down into our place last month) might be easiest, so I hiked up the ditch bank and opened the little wire gate into that skinny pasture along the horse road while Lynn drove up the road with his 4-wheeler and came down through our field to herd the calf. It ran past him the first time he tried to herd it along the fence to the gate, but he sped up around it with the 4-wheeler and got it turned back around and heading along the fence again. This time it found the gate and came down the ditch and out the gate I’d opened at the bottom end—and ran on down the road to Alfonso’s lower place where it had come from.
Since Alfonso still hadn’t come back with his horse, we decided to try to get the other calf out of our heifer field. With the heifers safely out of the way, in the pen by the barn, Lynn went down in that field with his 4-wheeler and after some false starts and the calf running the wrong way, he gently hazed the calf up to the gate. It was very bumpy in the swampy side of the field (that we always pasture instead of cutting hay) and rough on the 4-wheeler, but probably safer than trying to run around through those humpty bumps on a horse and possibly fall down and get a broken leg.
Lynn got that calf up through the gate and shut it, and then had to stay there and guard the gate while I tried to get the calf out through the next gate and back onto the driveway. The calf had a bad case of scours (another reason we don’t want his cattle mixing with ours, possibly bringing some new disease) but it was still very lively; it kept trying to crash back through/under the gate to go back into our field, and Lynn had to beat it away with a stick to keep it from getting back under the gate. Alfonso’s cattle are very wild and crazy, but it’s partly due to the way he handles them. We prefer to have our cattle gentle and trusting and easy to handle.
I finally got the calf back out onto the driveway and up to the main road, just as Alfonso and John were starting to pull into the driveway with Alfonso’s truck and horse trailer, with their horses. They saw me bringing the calf and backed out of the way so the calf could go on down the road to Alfonso’s lower fields. I told them we got both calves out and they didn’t need to try to rope them (which may have saved a bad horse wreck in our field’s bad footing), and to PLEASE shut our gates (or tell us, and we would shut them) the next time they move cows past our place! When we take cattle up and down the road (from our lower place to the upper place and vice versa) we always shut our neighbors’ gates along the way. It saves time and problems. This little fiasco took a couple hours’ extra time to resolve, and Alfonso still had several calves that went back to his lower fields without their mothers. We knew those cows would crawl out through his bad fences on the Gooch place to come back down, so we left our driveway gates shut all night.
The next day was cold (24 degrees that morning). Alfonso’s cows did come down for their calves, and at dawn I saw Alfonso taking 4 pairs back up the road. Andrea left early that morning with Dani to take her to Idaho Falls for her appointment with the orthodontist to adjust her braces.
Meanwhile, granddaughter Heather in Canada sent us photos of her new filly that was born the night before.
|Granddaughter Heather's new foal|
Friday was warmer but raining and windy. Michael and Justin built a jack fence at the top of the ditch pasture where they had to tear out the old fence, and Michael used his skid steer to repair the ditch just above it, where it nearly washed out last spring when Alfonso put too much water in it trying to get more water down to his field below us. The bank is very fragile at that spot and if we lose the side out of the ditch it will take a major repair.
|new jack fence across ditch|
|new spillway out of ditch|
|plastic dam material covering spillway|
We’ve had a fire again in the stove these cold mornings, and Jim filled our wood-box again. That evening I cooked supper for the kids when they came home from their weekend with their dad, and Emily (and baby Christopher) and Jim joined us. I took a couple photos of Em holding Christopher on our messy couch.
|Em & baby|
That day was our great-grandson Joseph’s birthday. He’s 2 years old now. Granddaughter Heather (in Canada) sent us photos of Joseph enjoying his birthday cake—Gregory presenting Joseph with his special cake, and Joseph delightedly contemplating it, then devouring and demolishing it.
|Gregory giving Joseph his cake|
|Joseph admiring his cake|
|Yum yum! Cake almost gone!|
Today was really cold, down to 16 degrees this morning. I started a fire in our stove when I got up. Our neighbor John Jakovac turned his cattle out on the range this morning and drove them up along our fence. He always turns his cows out early, even if it’s a slow spring and the grass isn’t ready yet. Since those cows will be pressing our fence trying to get into our fields, Andrea hiked along it to see if there was much damage over winter from wildlife going through it. She only found one fence clip missing and one metal stay bent up, which is very minor damage, considering more than 100 head of elk went through that fence one day after they ended up on the hill above her house.
Dani had a checkup with the bone/joint specialist today to evaluate her knee. It is healing. She won’t need surgery, but needs to keep the leg brace on awhile longer.
MAY 9 – The first part of the week it was cool and windy and still freezing hard at night, but we had a couple days that actually got up to 60 degrees in the afternoon.
Willow’s feet have been getting really long; they hadn’t been trimmed since last fall and one of her front feet was starting to split. So last Thursday Andrea held her for me and pampered her with a little green grass (it took about 30 minutes to find enough new grass tall enough to pick and put in a bucket!) while I trimmed her front feet. Her hinds were not so bad; I will trim them another day. We need to get all the horses’ feet trimmed before we start riding again.
All the light bulbs in the ceiling lamps in our livingroom have now burned out, except for a couple on the far side. We are basically in the dark if we try to watch a movie on television in the evening. Jim brought in our stepladder and since he is taller and a little more agile than us old folks, he helped us change out the old bulbs and put in new ones. Then he helped me take new salt blocks to some of the horses and one to the heifers; they were running out of salt.
Andrea sent me a couple photos she took this week at her house, of Em and baby, and also one of Charlie holding his little nephew. Here are some of those pictures.
|Em & Christopher|
|Charlie and new nephew Christopher|
Sometimes in the past (when we were calving in January) we’d have a cow or two that got such sore teats that she wouldn’t let her calf nurse at all, and we’d bring the pair in and put hobbles on the cow (made from baling twine). Then she couldn’t kick the calf. We’d leave the pair in a small pen where the calf could easily catch up with mama, and be able to nurse without being kicked—until the teats healed.
Some of the other range neighbors took their cows out to the range a few days ago and pushed/jammed them up the hill along our fence. They jammed and crammed them so hard that one calf got pushed through our fence. One cowboy got off his horse and went over the fence and tried to chase the calf back through it on foot. They went over the hill out of our sight and we weren’t sure if he got the calf out; we just saw him get back on his horse and gallop after the rest of the herd.
The next day, however, we saw that the calf was still in, pacing the fence and bawling. The mama had come back to find him and was pacing the fence on the outside. So Andrea hiked up the hill and got the calf back through the fence. I guess those cowboys didn’t care about that calf!
With all the cool weather this spring, the horses have been slow to shed out. Here’s Ed napping in her pen on a sunny afternoon, still wearing her winter coat.
|Ed still has winter hair|
Emily started working again at her old job at the school, cleaning classrooms at night. She works from 6 pm. until midnight. Andrea takes care of baby Christopher while Em is working. That kid is almost 6 weeks old now, and really growing.
On Wednesday Andrea drove to Idaho Falls for her appointment with her pain doctor. The doctor will set up a date to have another MRI on her neck, this time looking at some of the vertebra farther down. The bone spurs are pressing in on the nerves and she may have to go to a neurosurgeon to get the problem resolved.
Today was cold again. Jim left early this morning to drive to Colorado to his new job. He will be managing a ranch property for a fellow who recently bought a place in the mountains. He will be fixing a lot of fences, doing repairs, planting some apple trees and caretaking the place this summer and fall.
MAY 16 – Dani went to her 8th grade formal dance last week, and here are photos of her in her prom dress. She stopped by after the dance to show us her dress.
|Dani's dress for 8th grade Formal|
|Dani after Formal dance|
While Andrea and the boys were patching that area with panels, Sam and I got the cows and calves in from the field. Our cows are fairly easy to gather; we just call them and open the gate. They were eager to come into the lane by my hay shed because there’s a little green grass there; their little pasture is eaten down and they are eager for green grass instead of hay. The calves were a bit timid, however, having never come back through that gate, so while Sam called the cows in through the gate I quietly encouraged the calves to follow them. Eventually I got them all through the gate and put them in the calving pen corral until we were ready to take them to the sorting pen.
Then the kids helped me and Andrea sort off the cows into the main corral, holding back the calves. Then we put the calves in the front stall of the old “sick barn” which is right next to the little chute and calf table where we brand. While Lynn strung out the electric cords (for the branding iron and clippers) Andrea and the kids and I put the cows through the main chute and vaccinated them. Dani insisted on doing her old job of pushing the cows along the runway to the chute, in spite of being on crutches. Charlie ran the head catch, and his friend Jack ran the tailgate and squeeze.
|Dani ready to move the cows down the runway|
|Dani pushing a cow into the squeeze chute|
|Charlie catching the head and Jack closing the tailgate|
|Sam lowering a bar so she can have room to vaccinate|
|Sam learning how to use the syringe gun|
|Sam giving the 8-way clostridial vaccine|
|me giving the lepto and live virus IBR-BVD vaccines|
|Charlie and Jack letting a cow out of the chute|
After we finished vaccinating the cows, we branded the calves. Sam and Jack brought the calves in small groups out of the sick barn to the calf table chute, Andrea pushed them into the calf table, I head-caught them, Charlie tipped the table, and Lynn clipped the area for the brand. Here are photos of Lynn clipping calves, with various crew members helping hold the calf still.
|Lynn clipping a calf; Andrea holding leg|
|Lynn clipping, Charlie & Dani holding|
|Dani learning how to vaccinate|
|Dani vaccinating; Sam & Jack in background getting more calves in|
|Dani giving the 8-way vaccine|
|Andrea branding & Charlie holding tail|
|Christopher napping while we ate lunch|
One of the calves had diarrhea and squirted all over the calf table when we were branding him. Before we let him out of the headcatch we gave him a dose of liquid neomycin sulfate solution to help combat the intestinal infection. Here’s a photo I took of him later. He still has pasty diarrhea all over his hind end but isn’t sick anymore.
|calf with diarrea|
On Monday Lynn went with his sister Jenelle to Idaho Falls. She had a dental appointment and he went along to keep her company. Andrea spent most of the day shoveling, cleaning out the ditch above our house so it won’t overflow when we put a little more water in it. When Lynn and Jenelle got back from Idaho Falls we gave Jenelle some DMSO for her sick calf that she’s been treating for diphtheria. The swelling in its throat makes it hard for it to breathe, and a DMSO gargle (with a little water) will reduce the swelling and inflammation.
The next day Lynn helped Andrea irrigate and get a little more water coming down our ditch next to her house. Alfonso had a lot of water in the ditch but none of it getting down to our place. I trimmed Dottie’s feet. They were very long and needed trimmed before I start riding her. That afternoon it got up to 80 degrees, but was partly cloudy.
It was cooler the next morning and I took my camera when we fed cows. I took some photos of the cows and calves lounging by the water tanks waiting for the feed truck while I opened the gate.
|cows & calves by water troughs|
|lounging by water tanks|
|cows & calves eating hay|