Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Diary from Sky Range Ranch - September 5 through Sept 25, 2019

SEPTEMBER 12 – We had a few hot days early this past week then the weather cooled off. A week ago we put Lida Rose in the chute again and redid her bandage on her foot. The hoof is continuing to grow down over the exposed raw tissue; it’s grown about an inch and a half in the past 3 months and is looking good.
Andrea cutting old bandage off
broken hoof is healing well
I trimmed her extra-long good toe; it has grown too long, being bandaged for 3 months without any wear on it. The bandage will also stay on longer without having to be so long in front to cover the too-long good toe.
hoof is more balanced after I trimmed the long toe
A couple days later we decided that even though the broken toes growing and would eventually be solid, sound and healthy again, it’s probably going to take too long to have it all healed up (without having to periodically bandage it) before winter. We don’t want her to have to walk around in mud or deep snow with just a bandage to protect it, so we may have to butcher that heifer. She has grown a lot in the past 3 months and is in good shape, so she would be fine to butcher, but we need a good place to hang and cool the carcass. This time of year the weather can be cool but it also can be hot. A few years ago when Dani shot her first elk in late September, the weather was so hot that we couldn’t get the meat cooled out enough, and it ruined.

So, we decided to go ahead and build a meat room/cool room where we could keep a carcass cool in summer and warm in winter—if we have to someday butcher something in the winter. We’ve had problems in the past, trying to cut up a solidly frozen carcass when we had to butcher a cow in cold weather. 

Andrea had a small shed near her house that she decided to convert into the new meat room. It needed a real door, and better insulation. She and her friend Stan cleared out all the things that had been stored in there, and started the remodeling project. Lynn helped, and supplied some lumber and tools. We bought more materials and some insulation to put in the walls and ceiling. The project is now well along, but the race is on, to see if we can get it finished before the current bandage comes off Lida Rose’s foot—because we don’t want to have to put her in the chute again for re-bandaging.

Meanwhile, Andrea took Sam to the doctor (she was complaining of abdominal pain) and discovered she had a bladder infection, so she is now on antibiotics. Lynn had his checkup with the heart doctor (it’s been a year since his second stent procedure) and he is doing well.

Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent us some photos of their garden harvest, which Joseph enjoyed helping pick. He’s a very good “helper” at age 2 ½ years old.
Joseph & garden bounty
bounty from Joseph's garden
We had some rain a week ago—the first real rain we’ve had for a while—which will help our very dry conditions and augment our tiny bit of irrigation water. We bought some tarps to put on our haystacks but haven’t had a chance to put them on yet; it rained before we got the tarps on and now the stacks need to dry out!

Andrea has a bad cold, and between all the things that are going on, working on the meat room project, etc. we haven’t ridden the horses all week. We moved the cows from the lower back field and put them up on the field below heifer hill, but we didn’t need horses for that; the cows will follow us anywhere, knowing they are going to new pasture.

Michael and Carolyn are trying to find time to get their filly Clarice “Peaches” started, and made a longer ride this past weekend—out into the middle range pasture. There is no grass left out on the range; Alfonso’s and Miller’s cows have eaten it all.

On Sunday it rained a little again and was cool all day. Monday I took advantage of the mud making Sprout’s feet softer and trimmed her feet. We only rode her a few times this spring, because of her stiff knee, and didn’t put shoes on her. By now her feet had grown too long and were starting to splay and break a little. It was time to trim them.

Monday night was quite cool; there was frost on everything Tuesday morning but my hoses didn’t freeze. Later that day Lynn went to the clinic for an echocardiogram, a test on his heart to check its function. The results were ok.

Yesterday the guys who have cattle out on the range next to us on the south side of the ranch gathered all the cows that had drifted home (including the ones we chased out of Michael’s place earlier) and pushed them back up above our Cheney Creek pasture and dumped them there, rather than take them clear back to the range pasture they are supposed to be in this time of year. Some of those cows came right back down into our Cheney Creek pasture, pushing over the fence that Michael fixed earlier.

Today Lynn and Stan finished making the forms for the concrete footings for the front wall of the meat house and Andrea went to town for more materials. This afternoon Alfonso and John Miller brought about 15 cows (and their calves) down the road from the Gooch place –some of the stray range cows that went into Alfonso’s field last week about the same time some went into our Cheney Creek pasture. Those cattle, just like Miller’s and Alfonso’s cattle on our old range on the other side, are out of grass and going through every fence they can get through to find something to eat.

Today I hiked up to the field above the house to check on those cows and calves and took some photos of the cows and calves. The calves are really growing fast and some are getting quite large.
cows & calves
One of our calves in that field has pinkeye and we’ll need to treat it soon. I took photos of her eye, trying to show how cloudy it is, but the eye is so sore that she is holding it shut. Sunlight hurts it, and the eye is watering.
calf with pinkeye

SEPTEMBER 19 – Last week the weather was hot again for a few days, up to 80 degrees. On Friday morning Andrea took Sam to the doctor again for another checkup; Sam is still on antibiotics for her bladder and kidney problem. Then Andrea helped Lynn and Stan pour concrete for the meat house foundation. Afterward she and Stan drove up to the 320 in her little jeep to make sure no range cattle had gotten into that pasture. They drove on up through the high range and were appalled at the lack of grass and how skinny the cows are; Alfonso and Millers should have taken those cows home a couple weeks ago or earlier (before they broke into our 160-acre pasture).

On Saturday Millers and Alfonso did start rounding up, bringing cattle down to the Gooch place, sorting off Millers and taking those on down the road and around to their place (Kosslers old place). Now we won’t have to worry so much about having stray cows break into the 320, but we still have problems on the other side of us. That evening about 120 cows broke into our Cheney Creek pasture—some of the same ones that were in there earlier, plus a lot more—because Mulkeys, Snooks and Jakovac simply pushed them up again instead of letting them go home. Michael and Carolyn saw the mob of cows in their pasture when they came home that evening, late and tired, after working on a fencing project all day, and hiked over there on foot to try to get those cows out. The cows kept running the wrong way, and they only got part of them out. They came across a lot of fresh bear poop in the brush and trees along the creek where bears had been eating chokecherries, and Carolyn was a little apprehensive crashing around through the brush, not too sure whether she would run into a bear. It got too dark to continue chasing cows so they had to give up.

The next morning at dawn when I went outside to do chores, the hill on this side of the Cheney Creek pasture (that I can see from our house) was black with cows and I counted more than 70 head. Michael and Carolyn had more time that day to get those cows out (on Sunday) and rode their horses—and managed to get most of them out. Then they went on another training ride with their filly, up into the Forks of Withington Creek, and saw a few cattle that Alfonso and Millers missed on their roundup. They hadn’t been up there for a while and were appalled at how every blade of grass and all the weeds had been eaten and the hungry cows had even eaten leaves off the trees as high as they could reach.

Andrea’s kids came from their dad’s place Sunday night (he had them for that weekend) and Dani was very sick with a high fever. It spiked even higher during the night and Andrea was up most of the night trying to get her fever back down—and took her to the doctor the next day and then to the ER for some tests. Her spleen is enlarged and her white blood count really low. The next day they admitted her to the hospital and had her on IVs and breathing treatments and got her temperature down a bit.

We moved the cows to the upper swamp pasture, and sorted out Cupie Doll and her calf (Cupricious) that has pinkeye. We brought that pair down to the little pen by the calving barn, put the calf in the headcatch, and gave her an injection of antibiotics. We also squirted a topical pinkeye antibiotic into that eye.
cloudy eye
Andrea squirting antibiotic into the eye
Since the painful, damaged eye needed protection from sunlight and anything that might bump it we also glued a patch over her eye to protect it from flies, sunlight and trauma (since she can’t see very well on that side). Lynn and Andrea applied a special glue to the edges of the eye patch.
putting glue around the edges of the patch
Then pressed they pressed it onto that side of the calf’s face firmly, so it would adhere to the surrounding hair and secure the patch. This is a very strong, long-lasting glue that will keep the eye patch on until the eye heals.
pressing the eye patch onto the calf's face
holding the eye patch in place and making sure the glue sticks
eye patch now securely glued on
Then we put Cupricious and her mom up through the main corral and on up to the swamp pasture to rejoin the herd.

Tuesday it started raining a little. Lynn and Stan finished building the doors for the meat room and got it finished, and put the air conditioner in its slot and turned it on. Andrea stayed in the hospital that night with Dani.
the finished meat room
Yesterday was cool and windy all day. I let the cows through the gate into the big field by Andrea’s house. Hopefully it will have enough grass to last until we preg-check the cows next week. Andrea brought Dani home from the hospital; she’s doing better but needs a lot of rest. I took care of Christopher all afternoon and evening when Emily went to work, and Lynn and Stan helped Andrea butcher and skin the heifer.

They used the tractor loader to lift her up for skinning and gutting. We were amazed at how big she was for being not quite 1½ years old; she grew a lot in the 3-plus months that we were bandaging her broken foot. She had plenty of fat even though she never had any grain; we simply fed her good hay through all that time. Our cattle are very efficient on grass and hay, and don’t need grain to finish nicely.
Lida rose carcass
Lynn, Andrea and Stan quartered the carcass and hauled it up to the new meat room and got the quarters hung inside—just before a major rainstorm. Here are photos of some of the quarters hanging in the new meat room.
quarters hanging in the meat house
The temperature in the cool room didn’t get as low as we’d hoped (just a little below 50 degrees) but that was low enough to adequately cool out the meat quarters. We may eventually have to get some kind of refrigeration unit for use during really hot weather, rather than depending on the air conditioner, but it worked well enough for now.

Andrea took Dani in for more tests and treatments today, but she is doing a little better. This evening it rained hard; we’re glad we have the heifer butchered and the meat safely in a sheltered, cool place.

SEPTEMBER 25 – Last Friday morning Andrea took Dani for another breathing treatment and she’s gradually been doing better.

The meat cooled out nicely in our new meat house and Andrea started cutting and wrapping that afternoon. Stan helped her bring the quarters into her kitchen. They used a 4-wheeler to transport the quarters to the house.
Stan helping Andrea with the meat
preparing to bring quarters into the house for cutting up
preparing to use the 4-wheeler to transport a quarter from the meat room to the house
Stan learned how to process meat, and they got one front quarter done that day. Lynn went to town for physical therapy; he’s been going twice a week for physical therapy on his hip and the therapist has been using acupuncture with electrical stimulation as well as special exercises, and he has less pain. We’ve also been using some CBD ointment on his back and hip and that seems to help, too.

While he was in town he got more freezer bags for Andrea, to put the meat in, and helped for a while with the cutting and wrapping. The next day he and Andrea and Stan finished processing another quarter.
cutting up meat
Stan helped trim some of the meat for grinding into hamburger
On Sunday they finished the hind quarters. Our relatively empty freezers are full again!
cutting meat
Andrea working on meat
I babysat Christopher when Emily went to work that afternoon, and put him in the baby swing (that we can hang from the archway between the dining room and living room) while I went outside to do chores. The swing is a safe place to leave him briefly because he is buckled in and he loves to swing. He’s just about ready to crawl, and scoots backward pretty well. Here are a couple photos of Christopher enjoying his swing (taken a few days later). All our grandkids enjoyed that swing when they were little.
Christopher swinging
On Monday Michael and Carolyn put their cows in the wild meadow and gopher meadow, with some protein tubs to augment the dry pasture. The green feed is all gone (thanks to not being able to irrigate since early June—with the watermaster shutting off their ditches too early, and unnecessarily, since there was still more than enough water in the creek to service the 1st right). They don’t want their cows losing weight or the calves not gaining/growing like they should. When they moved their cattle out of the little leased pasture below their place, however, they were short two pair—that might have gone through the bad fence into Alfonso’s field. They didn’t have time to go look for those cattle, however, since they had to get a bunch of materials purchased and loaded on the flatbed trailer and head down river to work on a huge custom fencing job.

That evening Lynn and I went to Andrea’s place for dinner.

Yesterday Andrea and Stan went to Idaho Falls. Phil Moulton hauled hay to the upper place for Michael and Carolyn and brought the last load of hay for us. Lynn and I put tarps on one of the haystacks in the stackyard, but it got too windy to put tarps on the other stack. The hay had nearly dried out after the last rain but we didn’t want to wait to start tarping the hay because it’s supposed to rain again this evening and possible snow by the weekend. Hopefully we can get the big stack covered (if it doesn’t get too windy) with Andrea and Stan to help us.

When we were putting the tarps on yesterday we noticed that the gut pile from our butchering was completely gone, and a bear had dragged the hide into the brush near the creek. The bear apparently tried to take the hide over the fence, but it got hung up and was draped over the fence. When I looked at what was left of the now non-existent gut pile, I found Stan’s pocket knife. The bear ate everything but the fold-up knife that Stan lost when he was helping butcher and skin Lida Rose.

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