MARCH 27 – Last Thursday we had our first calf, born 13 days early. It was a cool, foggy morning and we gave the heifers their second barn lesson—and they all went in very willingly—and we were glad to have that accomplished before we had to put Magdalena in the barn later that day, to calve. The weather was very windy and cold and we thought it best to let her calve in the barn.
Andrea and Dani hid in the barn in a farther-away stall to watch and make sure everything went well during the birth. Magdalena calved swiftly—a nice bull calf. Dani took a photo of him a few minutes after he was born.
|Andrea helping Magdalena's calf nurse for 1st time|
|first calf - day after birth|
That afternoon Michael brought his skid steer down here and then took his trailer to get 4 big bales of hay he was able to locate from a rancher up the valley. He’s running out of hay for his cows. Even though he is trading fencing for some hay on a ranch across the valley from us, he can’t get into that haystack until the snow settles; the stack is a long ways from a road and the snow is still more than 2 feet deep up there.
On Saturday we put the heifers in the barn one more time for their last “barn lesson” and then took big bales to the pasture where we have the pregnant cows. Andrea and Stan moved their feeders to new areas. We also took a new big bale of alfalfa to the young heifers and a bale of grass hay to the bulls.
That evening we sorted off the cows most likely to calve next, and put them in the orchard “maternity pen” for the night, where we can see them from the house. Dani started coming down here on a 4-wheeler at 2 a.m. to check the cows on her “night shift” so I can sleep a little longer. I usually get up at 4 or 5 a.m. and it helps to have someone check the cows once or twice in the night before that.
Sunday was warmer, up to 48 degrees. Andrea helped Lynn and me tag and band Magdalena’s calf. It’s a lot easier on these little guys to castrate them at this age than to wait until they (and their testicles!) are bigger.
Michael brought a load of poles for our corral repair project, and then used his skid steer to remove the remaining deep snow from our pen below the barn. There was so much snow that it would have taken several weeks to melt.
That evening Zorra Rose started calving, so we put her in the calving pen where we could watch her. After it got dark I turned on the lights in that pen, and by 8:30 could see that she was in active labor and the amnion sac was starting to emerge. I went out to turn the lights on in the barn (since it was quite cold by then and we’d decided to put her in the barn to calve). When I went to the calving pen to start bringing her to the barn, I could see that the calf’s feet were coming, and they were hind feet!
So Andrea, Dani and I took her to the pen by the barn and put her in the head-catch, and Lynn called Michael. Michael and Carolyn had gone to bed, but they came down to help us. We were getting the calf puller located when they arrived, but we didn’t need to use it. The calf wasn’t very big (almost 2 weeks ahead of due date) and with several of us pulling we were able to get the calf out fairly quickly and it was still alive. It was a heifer, and we got her breathing without much trouble.
Since it was a small calf, and backward, we wondered about the possibility of twins. Michael reached in to check, and there wasn’t another calf, but the placenta was already coming loose. This calf was on borrowed time; we were lucky to get it out alive. We put the mama and baby in the barn, and Dani carried the calf. She took a photo of it.
|calf doing fine after backward birth|
|Dani slimy from carrying calf|
Monday was cold and windy again. We put Magdalena and calf down in the big pen below the barn, and the new mama and baby out of the barn to the 2nd day pens. Michael and Nick worked on our corral fence, and Michael stopped by to take a look at the lively little calf that he helped save the night before.
Andrea and Stan went to town for groceries and to do the town errands—which are a little more challenging with the new protocols for social distancing and not being able to go into some of the places of business.
That night it rained hard and when one of the first-calf heifers started labor at midnight we put her in the barn to calve. We put China Doll (the gentle 2nd calf cow that we’d used as a “leader” to teach the heifers to go into the barn) in with her, and moved her into the adjacent stall to keep the heifer company so she wouldn’t freak out being alone in the barn. The heifer finally calved, and was a good mother.
By morning the rain had turned to snow, and we put more bedding in the pens for the cows with new calves. Another heifer started calving in the afternoon, and at 4 p.m. we put her in the barn. She was taking too long in early labor however, and never really progressed to hard straining so we realized something was wrong. Late that evening after Andrea came down here, we put the heifer in the headcatch to restrain her so we could check. Emily and Stan came to help, too, in case it was a difficult birth.
Andrea reached in and found the calf’s head starting to enter the birth canal, but no feet. The front legs were both turned back at the shoulder. It was a long, hard reach to get those legs; Andrea had to push the calf’s head back in farther, to have more room to maneuver the legs. Lynn and Dani held the heifer’s tail straight up as hard as they could (a strategy that helps keep a cow from straining and pushing so hard), so Andrea could have a better chance at pushing the head back and manipulating the front legs of the calf. She feared it was dead because there was no resistance, no movement of the calf when she was repositioning the legs and bringing them into the birth canal. Also, the placenta was separating and already had some holes in it.
As we pulled the calf—Andrea, Lynn and Stan pulling hard on the chain handles, with Emily and me stretching the vulva so the head could come through—we could see it was dead. The eyes were glazed and the calf’s tongue was limp, thin and dehydrated.
It was a very sad situation, but we realized that this calf probably died even before the mama started labor and there was no way we could have saved it. It had been dead several hours, and that was probably the reason it didn’t enter the birth canal properly. A live calf wiggles around and resists the pressure of the uterine contractions when early labor starts, and gets pointed toward the birth canal with front legs extended. A dead calf is limp and unresponsive and apt to get jammed into or against the birth canal in any kind of position. So we lost this calf and Dani wept. We hate to lose any calves, but this young heifer was a really nice one and she would have been a good mama. We put her back out into the maternity pen with the other cows.
That evening we got an e-mail from granddaughter Heather in Canada and she sent a photo of her two boys taking a nap. Pretty cute kids!
|sleepy Canadian kids|
One of our cows (Panda—named for her white face with black spots) has short little horns and is very mean to the other cows, knocking them out of her way and hitting them in the belly with her larger horn. She may have been the cause of the heifer losing her calf. After watching her knock the other cows away from the new bales in the feeders, we decided to dehorn her, even though she’s heavily pregnant. We put her in our squeeze chute and started sawing off her biggest horn, but it was difficult to tie her head securely enough to keep her from moving too much, and when she struggled she almost got upside down in the chute. We didn’t want her to abort her own calf from the stress, so we didn’t quite finish the job, but we did thump her horn hard enough to make it a little sore so she wouldn’t use it to keep hitting the other cows. After she calves we will either dehorn her or maybe just sell her this fall after she finishes raising her calf. She has a really bad attitude and we don’t need a cow that’s this ornery and mean.
Yesterday it snowed a little more. We put several cows up in the pasture above the house and one of the calves (the little heifer that was born backward) was smart enough to figure out how to go into the calf house to get out of the wind and snow.
Grandson Nick came down with some fencing materials and built the braces in the fence that he and Michael started repairing earlier in the winter—the old boundary fence between us and the old Gooch place. We want to make sure Alfonso’s cows and calves can’t come through it into our place.
Efforts around the country to halt the coronavirus are ramping up, and the governor of Idaho said that all non-essential businesses would be closed for a while. Banks have closed their lobbies and people can only use the drive-through services.
Today we put the young cow that lost her calf up in the field with the cows and calves. She seems to be recovering ok from her ordeal and difficult delivery. Lynn went up to Andrea’s house for a little while and helped babysit Christopher while Andrea fed the cats. Since it was a warm afternoon they took Christopher outside and he had fun walking around petting the cats and picking weeds.
|Christopher walking around outside with Great Grandpa Lynn|
|Christopher picking weeds and petting cats|
APRIL 4 – I cleared off the couch in the dining room last week so Dani could sleep on it when she’s down here all night some nights watching the cows or helping with a calving cow. On Saturday one of her favorite cows calved. MiniMag is a granddaughter of Dani’s old pet cow Maggie. It was a nice day (not snowing or cold and windy so we let her calve outside in one of the calving pens next to the house. Andrea’s friend Stan got to watch a normal, natural birth for the first time! We had a nice view from the kitchen window. Within just a few minutes the calf was getting up, and it didn’t take long for it to find the udder and get dinner.
At chore time that evening Dani helped me move the mama and baby to a 2nd day pen by the barn, where there’s a windbreak and bedding. The heifer calf was very gentle and mellow and Dani named her Sweet Pea.
Sunday morning Dani was still asleep after checking on cows through part of the night, and Em was sleeping after her late night at work (she works some late shifts at the care center) so Andrea and Stan brought Christopher with them when they came to help feed cows. We took the tarp off the round bale stack and Lynn got a couple bales with the tractor (in two trips) to take to the pregnant cows, and Christopher helped me drive the feed truck for Andrea to feed a few little bales to the cows and calves in the pasture above the house. Christopher liked helping drive the truck, and on the way back to the gate he took the knob off the gear shift lever. Then Christopher rode in the tractor with Lynn when he took the tractor back to get the 2nd big bale of hay.
Afterward, Christopher stayed in the house with me while Andrea and Stan put a tarp
over what’s left of the straw stack (the old tarp tore apart when we took a bale of straw off it a few days earlier). One of Magrat’s daughters was calving so we put her in the side pen by the house and she had a nice bull calf, but she stood up just before the birth was complete and the calf landed on its head in a heap. Andrea ran out there and climbed over the gate in haste and grabbed the wadded up calf by a leg and straightened it out so it could start breathing. Then after everything was fine she took Christopher home with her on the 4-wheeler.
By evening chores the weather had turned nasty and stormy so Dani helped me take the cow and new calf to the 2nd day pens where there’s more bedding and a good windbreak. Later that evening we all gathered at Andrea’s house to celebrate Christopher’s first birthday. Sam and Charlie came out early, and took a drive in the old Eagle (Andrea’s old car that Dani is now driving) and on their way back home had a tire blow out. Andrea and Stan went to rescue them. The spare tire was flat so they just limped the car a little ways along the highway and left it at Bob and Jane Miner’s place. They were a little late getting back for the birthday dinner, but it was a fun dinner. Emily made a special soup goolash and I brought Jello salad and a big batch of potato salad that Lynn and I made.
Christopher had fun with his little “smash cake” that Emily bought, and Emily took
photos of him smash/eating it, and a photo of Lynn and me enjoying him enjoying his cake.
|Christopher's smash cake|
|Christopher enjoying his birthday cake|
|Great grandma & grandpa enjoying Christopher enjoying his cake|
|Christopher wearing birthday shirt|
|Christopher examining his new truck|
Andrea and Stan went to town to get a new tire for the old Eagle, and got it safely home again. We had another new calf that evening. Then it snowed all night and we had 6 inches of new snow by morning. I took photos at daylight from the dining room window and the window looking into the front yard.
|view from the dining room window|
|view of front yard|
|view from back porch|
|snow on the wood pile and old tack room|
|lane to calving barn|
|pair of sandhill cranes by the hay feeder|
|sandhill cranes leaving|
|snowy horse pens|
|Edna traipsing through the snow|
Wednesday we had a little more snow and colder weather. It was fairly pleasant by afternoon, however, and Dani took a few moments to brush some of the really long hair off Breezy. That old mare is 30 years old and the past 2 winters has grown an exceptionally long hair coat that doesn’t shed off very well in the spring. She has an endocrine problem in her old age.
|Breezy's long hair|
Sam has decided to go into the Army after she graduates from high school next year. She wants to become a nurse, with the Army paying for her nursing education. She and Andrea drove down to Baker that afternoon (where there is better cell service and internet reception than at Andrea’s house) to talk with the Army recruiter via the internet.
Yesterday evening we had another heifer calving so we put her in the barn and she had a bull calf. Meanwhile, Sweet Pea was a little off feed again (not nursing her mom very well) so we took her temperature. She had a fever so we gave her another dose of injectable antibiotic and some Banamine (an anti-inflammatory to help reduce her fever and discomfort and help her lungs). Today she is doing much better again.
Andrea and crew have been madly cleaning house all day because this evening Sam’s new boyfriend was coming out for supper. Sam stopped here with him on their way home (to give the house crew a little more time to clean house!) and we talked with him awhile and she showed him all the horses.
Late this evening Michael and Carolyn called, wanting to borrow some Banamine (an anti-inflammatory analgesic medication) for Peaches—Carolyn’s 5-year-old mare, who was colicking and uncomfortable. They’d used up the last of their Banamine, giving her an injection earlier in the afternoon. Even though she’d gotten a little relief from the discomfort for a while, she was pawing again and wanting to lie down. She wasn’t violently thrashing or rolling and they suspected she might have an impaction. I got out my bottle of Banamine to give them (one of them was going to drive down here to get it) then they called me back and said they’d decided to call a vet out to look at the mare.
Rene (from Blue Cross Vet Clinic) came, and thought the mare wasn’t looking too bad, but decided to go ahead and palpate her rectally--and discovered that she had a very large impaction in the large intestine. She gave Peaches some mineral oil and water by tube into the stomach, to try to moisten and lubricate the impacted material, and since the mare needed more fluid through the night, Michael and Carolyn hauled her in to the vet clinic where Rene was going to give her fluid by tube every 6 hours. We are hoping that Peaches will be ok, since she’s a very special horse.
She’s a foal from Carolyn’s favorite old mare Thelma, and she’s had a lot of challenges in her young life. First off, Michael and Carolyn had tried for several years, unsuccessfully, to get Thelma bred, and then when she did finally have a foal, it was a difficult birth. Michael discovered Thelma laboring in the field and needing help to have the foal. He put a halter on the mare and led her more than half a mile down to their house (with the foal’s head and feet sticking out) and into a corral, where he pulled the foal—and it was still alive. Next problem was her crooked legs. When the filly was very young they hauled her to a vet at Challis (70 miles away) to have surgery on her front legs (screws put into the growth plates of the cannon bones below her knees) to slow down the growth on one side so the bone growth on the other side could catch up and straighten the legs) and then take her back again to that vet at the proper time to have the screws removed.
The filly’s legs were then straight and she was doing well. Later they took her to a friend in southern Idaho to start training her. Last summer Michael started riding her (at age 4) and she did extremely well. Carolyn was looking forward to riding her this summer, so we hope she will be ok.
APRIL 12 – We had another calf last Sunday. Starfire had a little heifer calf. We gave Sweet Pea one last injection of antibiotic and turned her and her mama back out in the field with the other cows and calves. She seems fully recovered from her pneumonia.
We hauled more bales to the cows with the tractor and Lynn loaded Stan’s wood-splitter into his pickup with the tractor loader—because Tuesday Stan needed to drive back to California since he has a doctor’s appointment there. We gave him Shiloh’s old shoes that we removed last fall. They were well worn and very smooth and shiny, and Stan will probably make something special with them, since he enjoyed riding Shiloh last summer.
Dani has been eager to start riding the horses again, so Monday morning she got Ed out of her pen to brush her, and then rode her around the barnyard bareback. I took a few photos of her riding Ed.
|Dani riding Ed bareback|
|The hikers coming down our lane|
|Stan with Christopher|
|Christopher enjoying his outing|
She stayed on her feet the whole trip and had good vital signs when they got there. After doing blood tests the doctors said she was a good candidate for surviving the surgery, and put her on IV fluids for several hours to fully hydrate all her organs. They did the surgery at 5 p.m. that evening and removed a huge impaction, which required an incision into her large colon twice as long as what is normally needed. It took a couple hours to stitch her back up. After she woke up ok from the surgery, she was doing well in recovery, and drank some water. They were going to keep her on IV fluids and antibiotics for several days. Michael and Carolyn drove home that evening.
Early Tuesday morning we had another calf, just before daylight. I watched from the livingroom window and saw the young cow lying right next to the gate, and that’s where she had the calf—it slid under the gate as it was born. So I ran out there and grabbed its legs and pulled it back to the proper side of the gate, and out a ways onto some clean hay so the cow could start licking it.
I talked to Michael and Carolyn on the phone later that day and they said they’d talked with the vet taking care of Peaches in the equine hospital. They’d put a tube into her stomach and determined that the little bit of blockage that was in the stomach earlier had passed on through, so they started her on some mash to eat.
Wednesday almost felt like spring; it got up to 60 degrees in the afternoon. I took some photos of the heifers at their feeder, and Dani trying to tempt one of the heifers (Panda’s daughter, Pandamonium) to come closer.
|heifers at feeder|
|Dani trying to sweet talk Pandamonium|
|Starfire and new calf|
|Sweet Pea and her mom|
And photos of a couple mamas and babies lounging around, and one of our first-calf heifers with her baby.
|mamas and babies lounging around|
|young mama & calf|
The doctor could tell that Dani’s emotional status is much better now, and her anxiety has dramatically reduced now that she is staying fulltime with Andrea and not having to spend time with her dad and his girlfriend who has been very harsh with Dani. The doctor scheduled a later appointment for early June, when Dani will go to Pocatello for a 4-hour testing session. It looks like she may qualify for some special help at school.
All morning I had been watching MalulaMae, who was not progressing in labor. By the time Andrea and Dani got back to the ranch, we knew something was seriously wrong; she’s a big cow, this is her 4th calf, and she should have had it very quickly and easily. When we put her in the headcatch by the barn, Andrea reached in and discovered that nothing was entering the birth canal. She could feel through the membrane sac surrounding the calf, and felt hindquarters and a tail. No legs. This calf was breech, sitting on his butt, with hind feet up toward his head.
In years past, we’ve been able to manipulate some of these breech presentations and get the hind legs into the birth canal, but it takes a lot of strength and long arms. Lynn wasn’t up for this task anymore, and Michael was down river on a fencing job. We called Dr. Cope, the one vet who could possibly help us (since the two lady vets don’t have the strength or length of arm needed). Cope was out, and his wife told us he was up Carmen Creek (the other side of town, more than 22 miles away) semen testing and trich testing bulls, but she thought she could reach him on his cell phone. It was noon by then, and Cope told the ranch crew to go ahead and take their lunch break an hour early (they’d planned to take a break at 1 p.m.) and he took off to come save our calf.
He got here in less than 25 minutes and went to work on the cow, trying to get the calf’s hind legs, one at a time, into the birth canal. This involves twisting and flexing the leg at the hock and bringing it over the cow’s pelvis and into the birth canal, cupping the hoof in your hand to try to keep it from scraping/tearing the cow’s uterus. He got the first leg fairly quickly but struggled awhile with the second one; the hock kept catching on the cow’s pelvis and cervix. He finally got it, and hoped he hadn’t torn the uterus in the process.
Once both legs were out, we hooked chains to them and used the calf puller to ratchet him on out quickly—before the placenta detached or the umbilical cord pinched off on the way out—so the calf could start to breathe. Andrea took photos as Cope winched the calf out with the calf puller.
|winching the calf out by the hind legs|
|Carolyn starts the calf breathing|
|MalulaMae licking her calf|
Emily had to go to work so she left Christopher here on her way by. We had a quick lunch and watched LillyAnnie calve in the calving pen. She is a very aggressive, protective mama when she calves, and her nickname is Alligator Eyes. We watched her from the house window and realized that the sac around the calf was not breaking as the calf was born. Andrea, Dani and I rushed out there, and the cow jumped up, with the calf still hanging by the hips and the sac not broken, with fluid around the calf’s head. Andrea grabbed the calf’s legs to pull him on out and break the sac and I had to whop the bellowing cow across the bridge of the nose to keep her from charging over the top of Andrea. All’s well that ends well, and we got the calf rescued and got out of there, and later Andrea took a photo of that mama and baby.
|LillyAnnie and her calf|
|Dani & Christopher|
|ready to head home|
|Dani getting ready to ride|
|Dani & Ed|
Friday was even warmer, up to 64 degrees by afternoon. We tagged LillyAnnie’s calf and put that pair up in the field with the calved-out cows and calves, but kept MalulaMae in a few more days for observation, to make sure she didn’t get a serious uterine infection after the difficult breech delivery of her calf.
|MalulaMae & her calf|
Dani loved driving that tractor, and harrowed 3 more fields that day, finishing just before dark. I took photos of her when they brought the two tractors and the harrow up from the lower field, moving up to the field by Andrea’s house.
|Dani driving the little tractor|
|Dani ready to harrow fields|
|moving the harrow from one field to the next with the big tractor|
|Christopher & Lynn in tractor|
|Christopher driving tractor with Lynn|
|Dani on the tractor tines|
Yesterday was very cold and raining most of the day, so we were fortunate to have the harrowing done before the fields got too wet. At chore time that evening the wind was blowing so hard it was taking the black plastic off what’s left of our round bale stack by the horses. Lynn helped me hold it down and retie it to the bales to keep it from sailing clear off.
Yesterday was also our Granddaughter Heather’s birthday. She’s 29 years old. She sent photos of her boys, and Joseph helping her blow out her birthday candles.
|Joseph ready to help mommy blow out candles|
Michael is planning to rent a mini excavator for a few days to clean ditches before we start irrigating, including our ditches that originate on the old Gooch place above us. Those are very clogged with grass and all the debris Alfonso put in them last year to stop the water before it comes down to our place. I called Alfonso to tell him we’ll be cleaning the ditches. The one that Andrea spent days shoveling last year (with help from Stan) is all mashed in again from the herd of cows that Alfonso had in that field last fall and winter.
Currently we have just 4 cows left to calve (one is a first-calf heifer) and Dani has been helping watch them at night so I can get some sleep. If the weather stays cold and wet we don’t want them calving in a snowstorm! We’d rather put them in the barn to calve so the newborn calf won’t get too chilled before it can get up and nurse.
APRIL 20 – Last Monday was bitterly cold—12 degrees that morning, with a strong wind. Michael took his trailer to town to get the Bobcat mini-excavator and went ahead with cleaning the ditch that we’ve had the most problems with (that comes down from the Gooch place to service the field by Andrea’s house). It took most of the day to clean that whole ditch. Nick and another kid who is currently working for Michael brought fencing materials and finished repairing the fence between us and Alfonso on the side above Andrea’s house. They set taller posts in that fence line earlier, and now added more wires, so cows can no longer try to reach over or through it to get into our place.
Late afternoon our young bob-tailed cow calved quickly in the horse pasture, but we didn’t want to leave her there because it was still very cold and windy. Andrea and Dani helped me load the new calf into the calf sled and Dani pulled it to the barn, with the cow bellowing and coming along behind, trying to climb into the sled with the calf. We got mama and baby safely into the barn, and he didn’t get very cold—and was up nursing his mom within 30 minutes.
Tuesday was cold and windy again, but a little warmer—up to 40 degrees by afternoon. Michael and Carolyn left early that morning with their horse trailer to go get Peaches and bring her home. They took one of their other horses (Gus) to serve as a familiar buddy for her on the trip home. That day was Carolyn’s birthday, and I think the best birthday present was being able to get her young mare home again, after the miracle of being able to save her from a near-fatal impaction.
When Andrea helped me feed that morning, we dragged the two empty bale feeders out of the horse pasture and took them into the field above the house. We only had 3 cows left to calve and they could live in the maternity pen where they are easier to see from the house. We need to use those bale feeders for the cows and calves. I plugged in the tractor that morning and it started by noon, and we took a new bale to the young heifers, and 3 bales to the cows with calves above the house. Dani helped us get the tarps tied back down on the haystacks, in the wind, and filled our wood-box. We’ve been burning quite a bit of wood again, in the cold weather. That evening it rained, turning to snow by midnight.
It rained/snowed all night. Panda, the horned cow, started calving very early in the morning and I put her into the calving pen just before daylight. After breakfast Andrea and Lynn helped me put her in the barn to calve. Michael braved the nasty weather and worked several hours cleaning some of our ditches—on the lower back field and the ditch that serves the big field below the house. That mini-excavator doesn’t have a cab on it, and he simply dressed warm with many layers, with the snow and rain eventually making his legs cold before he finished those ditches. Then he went to town to buy a couple small bales of grass/alfalfa hay for Peaches. She needs some really good hay but can only be fed 3 flakes a day. They don’t want to overload her gut until her large intestine is more fully healed from the surgery.
Andrea and Dani went to town to meet with two of Dani’s teachers and get packets of homework, since she doesn’t have enough internet service at her house to do her homework online. While they were gone I checked on Panda periodically in the barn, and she calved swiftly just before noon. She had another heifer calf (her 4th heifer).
At chore time that evening Dani and Andrea helped me get MiniMag’s 2-year-old heifer (the one that lost her calf) in from the field above the house. We put her in with the two pregnant ones that are left in the maternity pen. It looked like Panda’s 3-year-old daughter will calve next, which would leave the other one—a first-calf heifer—all by herself. Since she’d probably freak out with no buddies, we put her “classmate” (the one who lost her calf) in with her to keep her company until she calves.
The next day was very cold. It was only 18 degrees that morning, with a high of 35 degrees in the afternoon. At least it wasn’t snowing and blowing so hard, so Michael worked on more ditches. He cleaned/restored the ditchbank all along the ditch that serves the fields above our house. Nick and a helper worked on the fence again between our place and the Gooch place. That afternoon Dani brushed Shiloh and trimmed her mane, then brushed Ed some more (shedding winter hair) and rode her in a loop through the fields and Andrea’s upper driveway through the woods.
|Dani ready to go for a ride|
|Dani riding Ed through the fields|
|Dani and Ed in the woods along Andrea's upper driveway|
Friday morning Michael came early to start the mini-excavator, fuel it up, and tackle the worst ditch—the one that serves our heifer hill field. It originates on the Gooch place and Alfonso doesn’t have a water right for it but always uses it and has plugged it up with big rocks and dams. We hired an excavator 3 years ago and had it cleaned/repaired but Alfonso nearly destroyed it the very next irrigation season by cutting taps out of it where it goes around a steep hill, and nearly washed it out. Andrea has struggled with that ditch every summer since, to keep it cleaned out enough to get the water down to our place. Michael got it repaired and cleaned from top to bottom but it took all day. Andrea took him a lunch and helped him remove some of the rocks and junk. This season if Alfonso damages the ditch we will just call the sheriff and send Alfonso’s landlord the bill for repairing it again.
Dani rode Ed again that afternoon, and Emily took Christopher for a walk-about in his 3-wheeler stroller. She brought him down here for a visit and he had fun walking around and around our dining room table with Lynn’s canes.
|Christopher loves walking around the dining room with Lynn's canes|
|Great grandpa's canes are fun!|
|Em & Christopher out for a stroll|
That afternoon Dani babysat Christopher while Emily napped (she’s on night shift at the care center for a while, working 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) and Lynn helped Andrea start the other ditch that Michael cleaned for us. While following the water around through it to our place, they noticed Alfonso opening the gate into the pasture just above our heifer hill field, propping it open. He was probably planning to put cattle in there this weekend. Since there’s still a big gap in the fence where we had to take it apart to get the mini through for cleaning the ditch, we needed to close it up. Dani helped us tie some wire panels across the opening with baling twines to make a temporary fence until Nick and crew come back to repair the fence—when they work again on the boundary fence repair.
Yesterday we saw Alfonso’s horses in the pasture above heifer hill, so it was a good think we closed up the hole in the fence. Today Nick finished repairing that fence and put poles across the ditch.
We started the tractor and took more bales to the cows, and new bale to the heifer after Andrea and Dani helped me put up a hot wire around a small area right below their gate, to lock the heifers away from the rest of the field so it can grow. We will feed them in this small area until there’s enough pasture grass to put them somewhere else.
We talked with granddaughter Heather in Canada and she told us they were nearly done calving, and soon will be having their first foals. She sent photos of some of their pregnant mares.