Saturday, June 4, 2022

Diary from Sky Range Ranch – March 16 through April 20, 2022

MARCH 22 – Last Wednesday we started barn training the heifers. I put some bedding hay in a couple of the stalls and a little alfalfa hay on top—something they’d like to eat. I called the young cows into the calving pen, where I had some hay for “bait” and all the first calvers and a couple of second-calvers came in. Andrea and I took the little group to the pen by the barn; it helped to have the second-calvers to show them the way, since they’ve been in the barn before.  They all went into the barn without need for persuasion and stayed in there eating hay while we finished the other chores and got ready to feed cows. We gave those young cows 5 daily sessions, taking them to the barn, and they eagerly went into the barn each time. For the rest of their lives they will be easy to put into the barn if we have bad weather when they are calving. 

Thursday morning was cold, down to 20 degrees. When we fed the cows, Andrea and I put a hot wire across the lower end of the horse pasture to fence them out of that end where there’s a ditch we don’t want them lying next to.  It is always risky having heavily pregnant cows (clumsy!) lying very close to a ditch because when they reach around to lick and itch themselves they may overbalance and end up on their back in the ditch. Also, that corner of the horse pasture is impossible to see from the house, making it harder to check on them from the window. Ironically they seem to know we can’t see them, and they like to “hide” over there, which means we have to walk outside to see them all and to know if any of them might be calving. 

Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent an e-mail and some photos. Their cows have already started calving. She sent a picture of some of their new calves, and of Joseph sitting in the hay next to one of their pens.

new calves in Canada
Joseph in the hay
Friday morning I loaned Dani money for gas and she and her boyfriend Roger headed to Oregon. Roger’s younger brother was in a serious accident a couple days earlier and was life-flighted to a hospital in Portland, where he has broken ribs, broken jaw, and a head injury and is in a coma, so Dani and Roger are driving out there. 

After Andrea and I fed the cows that morning we loaded the truck again, and also brought some round bales out of the stack yard—putting one in the feeder in the main corral and another one over next to the bull corral for Babe. After lunch Lynn and Andrea went to town and did all the town errands, and then went to Carmen Creek where Lynn located some sites for wells. Andrea is practicing (apprenticing!) and is able to locate water, too—and learning how to determine the depth as well as the location. 

The next day we brought the yearling bull out of the bull corral and put him in the main corral to live by himself. He needs to be separate from Babe. The young bull needs more feed and Babe needs less; Babe is getting much too fat and the young bull is thin—partly because the young bull is still growing and needs more “groceries” but also because he’s not as feed efficient. Babe is an easy keeper and doesn’t need much feed, and that’s one reason we want to keep any daughters he sires, because they will eat less than our bigger, less-efficient cows. 

Andrea did the town errands (getting the mail and groceries) and got some things at Murdoch’s (the farm supply store). She had Christopher with her and he spent some time looking at the baby chicks. He loves chickens and is fascinated with the chicks. 
Christopher and chicks
Later that afternoon we started our “fertilizer” project. We have some big piles of old manure that Michael piled up when he sorted out the debris when he cleared off the junk and burned the big piles of strings, old fallen-down sheds, etc.  and we need to spread the manure on some fields. Heifer hill needs fertilizer the most, since we haven’t been able to feed the cows on it enough (for them to spread their own “fertilizer”) but it took a day to get everything ready. 

Lynn and Andrea greased the big tractor, took the harrow up to the field by her house where we’ll start harrowing, then took the hay fork off the tractor and put the loader bucket on—for loading manure. Then they had to get the little tractor started, and hooked up the old manure spreader (that Stan worked on last year and got functional again). When Lynn started loading the manure, the pile he started on in the main corral was still frozen, and Andrea had to break up the frozen chunks with a bar, and also sort out some rocks that might damage the manure spreader. It was late in the day when they got the first load ready to try, and they were afraid to take it clear up to heifer hill. Lynn spread it in the field below the lane where the heifers are—somewhere close so that if anything broke and needed fixed, it wouldn’t be so far from home. It all worked fine, however, and we were able to forge ahead the next day and take several loads to heifer hill. We need to do it while the weather is reasonably dry and the field isn’t too muddy to get around on. Andrea took photos of the first load being spread on heifer hill.
spreading manure on heifer hill
Sunday was cold and windy, but no snow, so we fed the cows early, and Andrea hurried home to cook breakfast for Sam and her boyfriend Colton (who drove over here the night before from Twin Falls, and stayed at Mark’s place). We all had a chance to visit with them briefly before they had to head back—for college and work the next day. While they were here, Colton helped Lynn and Andrea change the drawbar on the little tractor so it would be a better angle for pulling the manure spreader, and Lynn got it loaded again. 

Emily brought Christopher down here on her way to work, and I took care of him all afternoon while Lynn and Andrea made a couple trips to heifer hill with manure and got it spread, then loaded it again before they had to change the loader bucket and hay fork so we could take a big bale to the heifers. It was chore time by then, so Lynn watched Christopher while I did chores and Andrea took another load of manure to spread on heifer hill. 

Yesterday we didn’t get any manure spread—just fed the cows and got caught up with other things. Lynn went to town to do all the town errands and to put more money in Dani’s account for gas money so she could drive home. Roger’s brother is doing a little better and starting to respond to things even though he is still in a coma. 

Today was a little warmer. Dani and Roger got home at 2 a. m.  this morning. Jim started harrowing the field by Andrea’s house, pulling the harrow with his side-by-side. It actually does a better job than using the little tractor. 

Granddaughter Heather sent us some photos of the boys –Joseph and little brother James, and James with his doll baby. The real baby brother was probably napping!
Joseph & James
James and his doll
We had our first calf today—about 12 days early—but it was almost a disaster. One of the older cows (number 113, named Outlandish) was probably in early labor this morning when I did chores because she was standing by the gate into the calving pen, which is a bit unusual. Sometimes the cows want to come into the calving pen when they start early labor, and this can be a sign they might calve within the next 12 hours. She wasn’t doing anything else that might give a clue, so I didn’t put her in the calving pen. Andrea and I fed the cows after breakfast, and I kept watch on old 113 through the rest of the morning and early afternoon, from the house windows. She seemed a little restless. 

Then at 4 p. m.  I noticed she was lying down at the top of the horse pasture, next to the fence, and was lying flat out. This looked a bit suspicious, and when another cow came up to her and sniffed her (curious, sensing something was wrong), the old cow kicked with a hind leg, and I realized she couldn’t get up. 

She’d lain in a slight depression (a shallow ditch) and was a little on her back. I yelled at Lynn to help me, and gave Andrea a quick call to let her know we had trouble—since a cow can’t be on her back very long or she’ll bloat and suffocate—and ran out the door. Lynn grabbed a halter and rope in case we had to try to pull on the cow to get her upright again. I sprinted to the top of the horse pasture and yelled at the cow and poked her with a sorting stick, startling her so much that she tried a little harder to get up. She flailed her head and legs and didn’t make it the first try, then as I kept at her she tried again and lurched to her feet. It was a relief that she wasn’t too badly bloated yet and that we didn’t have to try to shove and pull her upright. 

Andrea arrived about that time; she’d grabbed Christopher and brought him down with her on the 4-wheeler, not wanting to leave him alone in the house. Lynn watched him while Andrea and I brought the cow down to the calving pen. She had a membrane bubble emerging when she lurched to her feet, but it went back in when she got up. She was very upset and aggressive, not grateful at all for having her life saved—just angry that we were moving her away from the spot she’d chosen to calve. 

She settled down after a while, and calved very quickly at 6 p. m. I did chores and the calf was soon on his feet and trying to find the udder. He got the job done by 7:15 and was ready to be moved. Andrea, Dani and Roger came down after supper, just before dark, and we took the cow and calf to the second day pens where he’d have a windbreak corner to sleep in. We needed to move the pair out of the calving pen in case another cow calved. Andrea took photos as we moved the pair to the second-day pens.
taking the cow & new calf across the driveway from the calving pen
Dani pushing the calf into the 2nd day pens
moving the pair into one of the pens
After we got them moved we put a hot wire across the top of the horse pasture so no cows can lie in that shallow ditch again.

MARCH 29 – We had some nice warm weather for several days, up to 60 degrees in the afternoon, and even up to 70 a couple days ago. It was perfect weather for spreading the rest of the manure, and also nice weather for calving. Spring break started Friday, so Dani didn’t have to be in school for a week, and she and Roger were able to help. 

On Wednesday I took care of Christopher all afternoon after Emily went to work, and Roger helped Andrea till Dani got out of school—sorting rocks and old hay twines out of the loads of manure being taken to heifer hill. Christopher and I had fun. Emily brought his new “tent” when she dropped him off, and he spent time playing in it, filling it with some of his toy “critters” and popping in and out of the little door saying “Cuckoo!” and I realized that at some point he must have seen a cuckoo clock.
Christopher popping out of his tent
saying cuckoo!
Jim harrowed two more fields that day. We needed to finish spreading manure and picking rocks (some rocks inadvertently ended up on the field from the manure piles in the corrals) before we can harrow heifer hill. Thursday Roger helped again, picking up twine and rocks, and Jim harrowed a couple more fields. 

We’ve been putting the cows most ready to calve in the orchard at night, where we can see them easier than in the horse pasture—easier to see them from the house window with spotlight and binoculars, and easier to walk through them. We are checking them fairly often during the night; Andrea usually comes down about midnight or so, and now with spring break Dani likes to check them once or twice during the night because she doesn’t have to go to school the next day. I tend to wake up every couple hours and look out the window with my spotlight, but it also helps to have someone walk through them and get a closer look, to see if any of them might be in early labor. 

Friday morning after we fed the cows, Andrea and got all the fallen branches (from the old elm tree) out of the side pen next to the house, and scattered a couple bales of coarse hay in there for bedding. On nice days we can let a cow calve there, instead of having to put her in the barn. Dani and Roger replaced a couple burned-out light bulbs in the calving barn. 

We finished hauling manure to heifer hill, and Dani and Roger picked rocks. Jim used his metal detector and a magnet on a handle to gather up old nails and other metal debris that ended up in the manure piles that Michael scraped up from the clean-up project—to make sure none of that was left on the field to puncture a tire or end up in a hay bale to be eaten by a cow. 

Saturday morning just as I finished chores, Michael called to tell us that Allan Probst was on his way with his dump truck and excavator to haul off the big pile of non-spreadable manure/debris that contained old metal and big rocks. He dug a trench in the post pile pasture and then hauled 5 dump truck loads down there to bury, then smoothed out the space that was once an old shed and huge piles of debris and baling twine. The space we’ve gained can become another corral, or a place to stack hay or park machinery. 

On his first trip down to the post pile pasture with the dump truck, however, he got stuck after he dumped the load; the ground has thawed a bit and part of that pasture is a bog in the summertime. Luckily Michael came by about that time and was able to help him get unstuck; he drove the dump truck while Allan pulled it with the excavator. 
Later that day Andrea and Lynn went to locate another site for a well for some folks who bought property the other side of town, while Dani and Roger picked more rocks on heifer hill. They put the rocks in one of the ditches that has become too deep; the rocks will keep it from eroding more. Jim harrowed that field as they finished getting rocks off it. 

That evening they gathered the branches in the front yard (that the wind blew off the elm tree during the fall and winter) and Dani mowed the grass and tall weeds so we can see the adjacent calving pen better from the house window. Now if a cow lies next to the fence as she calves, we can see what she’s doing. 

Sunday we parked the manure spreader back in its slot in the barnyard; we’re done spreading manure for this year. Andrea and Lynn did another water-witching job then stopped in to visit Cope and Terrie and show Cope another article I wrote about him; we’ll make a copy to give him the next time someone goes to town. 

I took pictures of our oldest calf and mama up in the field above the house.
Outlandish and her calf
I also took photos of the new gate posts in our corrals—that Michael set very deep after making the posts much taller by bolting railroad ties together.
railroad ties bolted together to make deeper taller gate post
Dani and Roger washed the outsides of the windows on the side of the house next to the calving pens so we can see through them better, then they rolled up the deer netting we had around the haystacks, and folded up the black plastic we’ve taken off the hay we’ve used, and gathered up some of the twines, branches and debris around the barnyard. We’re trying to clean anything that might impede grass growing, since we hope to graze every bit of this place during the summer. It looks like it might be another dry year and we want to make sure we have enough pasture for the cows and heifers. 

That night just before I went to bed I looked out the window at the cows in the maternity pen (the old orchard) and noticed one of the young cows (third-time calver) was restless and in labor, so I went out and put her in the calving pen and turned on the yardlight that illuminates it. She calved an hour later—a heifer calf.  

Yesterday at chore time we put that pair in one of the 2nd day pens by the barn and fed the cows. Another young cow started calving and we put her in the side pen and she was very restless and trying to get out. She finally settled down and calved swiftly, just before noon. After the calf nursed, we put them in a 2nd day pen, in case we need that calving pen for another cow.
young cow with new calf
new calf in 2nd day pen
Charlie came out after work and went with Andrea to check on the water she’d turned on in two of her ditches, to follow the water through and get debris out of the ditches. If it’s going to be a dry year, we need to get some irrigation water going and get the fields growing as soon as possible, even though the creek is quite low; the weather hasn’t been warm enough to melt the high snow and start our high water. 

Today was windy and cold; it rained a little in the wee hours of morning. After we fed the cows, Andrea and I put up a hot wire around the calf houses in the pasture above the house, and put some coarse hay for bedding into those little houses so the calves can have a sheltered dry place to sleep if the weather is bad—and the cows can’t get into that area and eat the bedding out of the houses. The hot wire also keeps the cows from rubbing on the houses; they’ve just about take the tin off the roofs, rubbing on them. 

Allan Probst brought 4 dump-truck loads of dirt/small rocks for the cleared-out area next to the new loading chute Michael built. Eventually Michael will bring his skid steer and smooth that out so it won’t be low spot, and it will have a good base for a corral or hay shed. I took a photo from our livingroom window of Allan dumping a load.
dumping a load next to the corral
After lunch when I looked out the window I noticed my blind cow (Capricious, AKA Blindy) was calving in the horse pasture. I went out there to bring her to the calving pen, but she didn’t want to get up. She’s very mellow and almost a pet; even though she’s blind in her left eye (from a bad case of pinkeye when she was a calf) she is totally trusting but also very independent. I had to poke and prod her to get her up and bring her to the calving pen, then Lynn and I put her in the barn because the weather was windy and cold. She was mad at me for putting her in the barn and stalled off on calving for a little while, then lay down and calved swiftly—a nice bull calf. 

Later this evening old Blackhead (the stubtail cow who lost part of her tail to a coyote as a calf) started calving so I put her in the calving pen. She calved swiftly, and the calf got up and tried to nurse but was getting cold in the wind. So Andrea and Dani helped me put the calf in our calf “sled” and pull it to the barn with the cow following. 

She’s an aggressive mother and didn’t appreciate us taking her calf; I had to clonk her on the head a couple times so she wouldn’t walk all over Dani and Andrea. She wasn’t quite as ornery as last year, however, when she calved in the middle of the night in the orchard and Dani and I had to sled her calf to the barn. I really had to get rough with her that time to keep her from charging over Dani who was trying to pull the sled as I tried to keep the calf in it. Our cows are good mothers but some are just a little too aggressive and have to learn to respect us when we have to handle their calves. 

We now have 5 calves, even though the herd wasn’t due to start calving until April 2nd. These babies have arrived a few days early (about 8 or 10 days ahead of their due dates) but being a little small they are born quick and easy, which is nice. We hope we won’t have to pull any calves this year. Babe (the new bull) is supposed to have easy-born calves, and so far they certainly have been easy.

APRIL 8 – Last Wednesday (March 30) was Christopher’s 3rd birthday but Emily waited until the weekend to have a little party for him. The party was at a game store downtown, with a few other little kids, including Christopher’s older half-sister Lillie that he dearly loves. Lynn and I stayed home in case we had any cows calving, but Andrea took photos of the party—of Emily showing Lilly & Christopher a video game, and the birthday cake.
Christopher & Lilly at his party
Christopher's birthday cake
After the party Andrea and Emily took Christopher to AJ’s house (Emily’s boyfriend) where he opened his birthday presents.
opening his gifts at AJ's house
To make sure we don’t have any more cows start calving (or calve unobserved) in the horse pasture, we locked them all in the orchard on Wednesday, where they will be easier to see. All of them were getting very ready to calve. That evening Pimples started calving so we put her in the barn; it was another cold night, with a nasty wind. She calved at 1:30 in the morning. The calf got a little chilled and took a while to get up and nurse but finally got the job done. 

That day the power company had a planned outage to replace a couple of power poles below us on the creek, so we were without power for 6 hours. We made sure we had all the cows watered and some extra water collected for the house so we wouldn’t need to have the pump running during that time, and had some pots of water on the wood stove so we’d have plenty of hot water. The biggest inconvenience was no power for my computer and phone recorder so I couldn’t do any interviews or type any articles. 

We put some of the young calves and their mothers up in the pasture above the house with the other pairs, and I took photos as we took “Blindy” and her calf up to the pasture, past my hay shed and horse pens, and Andrea opened the gate for them.
Taking Blindy & calf up to the pasture
Andrea opening the gate for Blindy & calf to go to pasture
Every time we put a new pair up there, the darn cows have to fight each other again. Even though they haven’t been apart very long (only a few days, in some cases, as the calved-out cows leave the maternity pen and go to the pasture with their babies), some of them still want to fight and re-establish who is boss. As we put Blindy and calf up in the pasture, she was no exception. As another cow came to check her out, Blindy pawed the dirt and woollied her head on the ground in threat posture, ready to fight.
Blindy pawing the ground & threatening to fight the other cows
Then we put Pimples and calf out of the barn but that young cow was a bit messed up. Even though it was her 2nd calf she not acting very motherly; she was kicking at it the calf when it tried to nurse, and she wanted to fight the heifers on the other side of the fence (in the field below the 2nd day pens). She also was not liking the water in her tub (slinging it around with her head instead of drinking). 

The power company trucks were fairly close by, where they were putting in a new pole, and their equipment was making lots of noise, with people talking loudly. That young cow was so buzzed up and nervous that we put her and her calf back in the barn and left them there another day until she mothered the calf better. 

The next day was warmer and the wind finally quit blowing. With no wind, Andrea was able to safely burn some of the tall grass along the ditch to the back lower field; the grass has really clogged up the ditch. She wanted to burn it while there was some water in the ditch so she’d have a way to put out the fire if any sparks got away. Then Jim helped he burn some of the grass of the lower ditch, as well. 

When Andrea and I fed the cows, I took photos of some of the cows and calves in the pasture and as Andrea was preparing to feed. 
Andrea feeding the cows
some of the cows with their babies
After we fed I took a few more photos, of the cows eating hay, and some of the babies running around and racing each other. Their mothers got worried and were trying to catch up with their babies. 
cows eating hay
calves racing around
Meanwhile, Sam had a bad day—with a serious nosebleed that wouldn’t quit. She wasn’t able to go to work. Instead she went to the ER, where a doctor cauterized part of the inside of her nostrils to try to halt the bleeding. 

That afternoon we had another cow calving; I put Zorra Rose in the calving pen and she calved swiftly just as we finished supper. It wasn’t bitterly cold; the calf nursed ok before dark and we were able to leave them outside in the side pen instead of having to go to the barn. 

Sunday afternoon we had two heifers calving—Sweet Pea and Pandemonium (Panda’s last daughter). We put them in the calving pen, and when they were more serious in their labor we put them in the barn, in adjacent stalls. They calved easily, within about 15 minutes of one another, and both of them were good mamas. It’s nice to have the heifers calving this easy, without having to pull their calves! Babe gets an A+ for calving ease on the babies he’s sired so far. 

Andrea sent me some pictures of Christopher trying out some of his new machinery he got for his birthday—a backhoe, tractor and trailer. The weather has been a little too nasty for him to use them very much outside, but he did take the tractor and trailer out for a test run in their driveway.
Christopher trying out his new backhoe
tractor & trailer
Monday was very cold and windy—with a horribly strong wind. We’re glad we have good windbreaks in the 2nd day pens so the new calves can nestle down in those corners in the hay and be able to stay warm. Old Magarite was calving but it was too cold and windy for her to calve outside so we put her in the barn. Soon after that, her half-sister started calving and we put her in the barn also. By evening it was snowing, and China Doll was calving, too, so we put Magarite and calf out in a 2nd day pen to make sure we’d have enough barn space if anyone else calved that night. 

There were only 5 left in the orchard by then, and it was snowing so hard we couldn’t see them very well. The spotlight merely lit up the flurry of snowflakes. So we just put them all in the calving pen next to the house, where we could see them easier under that yardlight. 

By the next morning it stopped snowing, but was cold and windy all day. The heifers were out of hay in their feeder when I did chores, so I took a couple small bales in the sled to put in their feeder, to give them something to eat until we could start the tractor and bring a big bale, after we fed the cows. 

Two more were calving—Lillianni, nicknamed Alligator Eyes (our most aggressive cow when she calves, but easy to handle at other times) and her daughter—a first-calf heifer named Lilligator. We got all the other cows and calves out of the barn (except China Doll and her new baby that wasn’t quite ready for the nasty weather outdoors yet) and put new bedding in the vacated stalls so we could put these two new ones in. To make sure we didn’t run out of barn space, we also put bedding in the front half of the big roadside aisle that we haven’t had to use for several years—not since Michael and crew set new support posts in that old barn and remodeled the panel doors between stall aisles. 

Lilligator (the first-calver) calved first and it took a little while because the calf’s legs were hung up at the elbows and a bit jammed, but then the birth went swiftly after the heifer worked at it a bit. The calf was up within a few minutes, and trying to nurse, and the new mama was a bit confused. She was licking and loving it and mooing at the calf, but kicked viciously when it tried to approach the udder. Fortunately she didn’t connect with the calf and just kicked the barn wall! She soon settled down, however, and the calf was nursing. 

The older cow wasn’t as far along in labor yet, so Andrea went home to rest for an hour. When she came back we went out to check on old Alligator Eyes. She got out to the barn first; I was a little slower getting my boots and coat on, and when I went out the door I could hear her yelling for help. I ran out there and found her up on the partition panel (where the cow couldn’t get at her) trying to get the sac off the newborn calf’s head with an old pitchfork handle (that we use as a weapon in the barn when necessary) because she didn’t dare get in with that cow. The calf had just been born as she went in the barn, but the sac and fluid were still around its head and it couldn’t breathe yet. 

This is a cow that will eat you alive when she first calves; it always takes two people if we have to do anything immediately with the calf. So I jumped in there and clonked the cow a few times with the pitchfork handle while Andrea grabbed the calf and pulled the membrane away from its head and got it breathing. 

Then we put some new bedding in China Doll’s stall and gave her calf a shot of antibiotic because he was coughing a lot. He may have aspirated some fluid at birth the night before, or got some milk down the wrong pipe when he nursed, because he had signs of pneumonia—breathing fast and coughing. He’s a really nice calf that we plan to keep as a bull, so we don’t want him sick!

Before Andrea went home again to go to bed, we checked on the cows and calves in the pasture above the house, since they had been running and bellowing like there were predators in amongst their young calves. We discovered that they’d broken down the electric wire around the calf houses and some of them were in that space eating the hay bedding out of the little houses.  They’d broken not only the hot wire, but also one of the big old wood corner posts that holds the hot wire. We had to make an instant temporary repair, tying the electric fence back together and rearranging the step-in posts to hold it up and try to brace it a little at that corner. 

The next day was very cold and windy. After we fed the cows Andrea and Lynn helped tag and band some of the young calves and move pairs. We could only feel one testicle on 105’s bull calf, however (the other one was up too far, above the scrotal sac) so we didn’t band him. We will castrate him when we brand the calves next month, hoping that the missing testicle will descend by then. 

We put China Doll and her bull calf out of the barn to a sheltered 2nd day pen and Andrea took a photo of her and the calf.
China Doll and bull calf
We left Alligator Eyes and Lilligator and their calves in the barn and watered the cows in their stalls. The weather was too nasty to put their new babies outside that soon. 

Our last heifer (Kimona, a daughter of China Doll) started calving and I put her in the calving pen with the other two cows—the only ones left to calve—and watched her there from the house until she got more serious in labor and had to go to the barn. Andrea was home tending Christopher so Lynn and I put her in the barn, in the fresh stall that we’d bedded in case we needed it. 

Meanwhile, we noticed that China Doll’s bull calf was panting so fast and really struggling for breath so we took his temperature. It was 103. 6 so we gave him another shot of antibiotic.  

The heifer we put in the barn (Kimona) was taking a while and very upset when her labor pains hit, trying to get out of the stall or throwing herself to the ground. She was still at it after supper, with no obvious progress after breaking her water. It looked like we might have to put her in the headcatcher and check her to see if the calf was coming wrong. 

Dani was at her dad’s house and not feeling well and didn’t want to come help us, but Charlie offered to come out. By the time he got here, Kimona had progressed enough in her labor that the calf’s feet were emerging (and the nose showing) so at least it was positioned properly. But it was a big calf, and jammed up (elbows back, front legs not protruding much past the nose) and we realized we’d have to pull it. By this time Kimona was down and straining hard, and we didn’t have to put her in the headcatch. Andrea sneaked up behind her and got chains on the calf’s legs, and then Charlie and I quietly climbed into the stall and helped pull the calf. It was a big calf (from our smallest heifer) and needed help with the birth. We got it safely born, the mama loved it, and all was well. It was a girl, and we named it Charlotte (pronounced like Charlie, since Charlie helped save it). 

Yesterday was warmer and a nicer day. We put several pairs from 2nd day pens up to the field with the other cows and calves, and got Alligator Eyes and Lilligator and their calves out of the barn. We left the new calf in the barn a little longer. 

Andrea took Christopher with her on the 4-wheeler to check on her irrigation ditches that she started a few days ago. She took a photo of Christopher on the 4-wheeler waiting for her to check one of the ditches.
Christopher waiting on 4-wheeler
Andrea discovered that the diversion at 7 A (the “ghost ditch”) was washing out. So she brought Christopher down here for a few minutes so she could decide what to do to fix the ditch and take some material up there to stop the erosion. I took photos as she brought Christopher to our house on the 4-wheeler.
Andrea bringing Christopher
While she told us about the ditch problem, Christopher petted one of our old cats.
Christopher & cat
He also wanted to see a calf, so we told him that if he was very quiet he could look at one of the calves in the 2nd day pens, so I took him to the alley to the barn where he could see into the pen and look at the calf.
Christopher looking at the new baby calf in 2nd day pen
Then he played in our front yard while Andrea figured out what she was going to do, to repair the ditch. He enjoyed playing on the swing set—especially the slide—and went down the slide multiple times after trying out the various swings. He went so fast down the slide that I couldn’t take a photo fast enough to actually catch him on the way whizzing down.
trying out the swings
climbing up to the slide
ready to go
starting down
second trip down
Then Andrea took Christopher home and Lynn went up to her house to take care of him while she hauled some concrete blocks up to the ditch on her 4-wheeler to stop the eroding leakage of water. She sent us before and after photos of the leak and the fix.
all the water running under the diversion
water running properly after the hole was plugged
After chores I put the remaining two cows in the calving pen for the night where I could watch them, and by midnight one of them (Starfire) was calving. We put her in the barn to calve. When she got serious about labor I sat out there in the barn to watch her, hiding behind the old stove in the next stall where she couldn’t see me. She got up and down a lot, but it was a good thing I was there because when she finally lay down to have the calf, her butt end was jammed against the stall panel. The calf’s feet and head were coming out but there was no room. This is the biggest disadvantage to calving in a barn; sometimes the cows lie too close to the wall or a stall divider. So I had to make her get up. She lay in a better spot and had the calf at 2:40 a. m. It was ok so I went to bed. 

Andrea came down this morning after chores and we fed the cows and checked on the new calf and it looked like it nursed. We moved the heifer and her calf out of the barn. Andrea took photos of the calf (Charlotte) and moving the pair out of the barn, and mama and baby in their new place in a 2nd day pen.
Charlotte nestled in the barn stall before we moved her out
mama going out of the barn
mama & baby out in the sunshine in 2nd day pen
Today was the first day of the annual mule sale and horse sale, and Jim took his horse trailer down there to sell it, and also had a booth where he sold some of the jewelry and bolo ties he’s made in his shop—with the cut and polished stones that he’s been working with. He was able to sell his trailer. 

Later in the day Andrea went in also, and Emily took Christopher in there, to look at the horses and mules. On her way to town, Emily stopped her to show us Christopher wearing his T-shirt that we gave him for his birthday. It has a John Deere tractor on it, and the saying beneath it says “There Will Be MUD”. I was going to take a photo of him wearing it, but he took off running around her car and I couldn’t get a photo of the shirt!
Christopher running off
After they got to the horse and mule sale, he got to see some of the mules. Then he checked out some of the things in the booth where Jim was, and later had a can of pop.
Jim & Christopher
Christopher having some pop
With all the cold weather the upper snow hasn’t started melting yet and our creek is very low. Jack (on the place at the mouth of the creek with the first irrigation right) was short of water today, so when Andrea came home this evening she turned off a couple of her ditches.

APRIL 20 – Last week I took some photos of cows and calves in the pasture, including Malulalmae and her young calf, some of the calves running and playing, and one of the mamas worried about a couple of calves fighting.
Malulamae & calf
calves running and playing
mama trying to referee a kid fight
I also took a photo of Pandemonium (one of the first-calf mamas) nursing her baby Panther, and some of the cows grazing. They are so hungry for green grass, and there is a little new green grass starting to grow up through the old grass in that pasture. The last photo I took was of Outlandish and her calf (the oldest calf) playing peek-a-boo around the power pole.
Pandemonium & calf
cows grazing
Outlandish & calf
After those few nice days in late March, it’s been cold and windy most days, and the grass hasn’t grown very much. We had really nasty weather 10 days ago, when our last calf was born. Andrea, Jim and Christopher all had bad colds and Jim slept all day. Andrea helped me feed cows and put a few pairs up to the pasture above the house with all the other cows and calves, and we took a big bale to the heifer’s empty feeder. I took photos as we brought Kimona (China Doll’s daughter) and her baby Charlotte out of the 2nd day pens and up to the pasture.
Kimona and calf
Kimona and Charlotte heading across the driveway toward the lane to the pasture
Charlie came out that afternoon to help us tag and band the youngest bull calves (Alligator Eyes’ calf and Lillilgator’s calf) since it’s getting harder for Lynn to kneel down on the ground and work on calves. Andrea, Charlie and I can do it more easily; he helps put the calf on the ground, I hold the head and front end while Charlie holds the back legs and Andrea applies the rubber band with the elastrator tool. 

Charlie arrived just as Lynn was parking the big tractor after taking a bale to the heifers. He parked his truck behind the tractor. 
Charlie's truck
After we got the calves tagged and banded, Charlie helped Andrea put a couple of elk panels on the upper gate out of the pasture above the house—to keep any coyotes or other animals from coming through. The fence around that pasture is predator-proof and tall enough to keep out anything that can jump, but deer, coyotes, wolves and dogs can get through and under the gate. We don’t need anything coming in and harassing the cows and baby calves. 

The Fish and Game released a bunch of turkeys all around the county (planning to have some turkey hunts) and we have 12 of them—all males—wandering up and down our creek. Andrea took photos of them a few days ago, in our swamp pasture just across the creek from the cows.
turkeys released by Fish & Game Department
male turkeys in our swamp pasture
They really upset the cows when they come through their pasture, and the cows run around bawling and trying to find their calves and they all stampede around the pasture, with risk of running over a calf. The panels on the gate will also keep those darn turkeys from getting into that pasture. 

While Charlie was here he also helped Andrea put an electric fence across the top part of the field below the lane where the heifers are. I called the heifers into the lane by the calving barn, where there’s a little grass and I also gave them some hay. It’s nice to have those yearlings trained to come when I call them! We locked them in there for a couple hours so Charlie and Andrea could put up the electric fence to divide that pasture for later (to graze the creek side and leave the other side to grow for hay) and across the top to keep the heifers in a small area by their feeder, so the rest of it can grow. They’ve been so hungry for green grass that they’ve been eating it off as fast as it tries to grow. 

The weather was bad and snowing and blowing before they got the fence finished. Their hands got cold so they came in to warm up by the wood stove. About that time our last cow (Magnolia, a second calver) was obviously in labor and I’d put her in the calving pen. She was pacing around trying to get out and trying to crawl under the gate into the orchard, so Andrea and Charlie tied a couple poles under that gate. She was in early labor for a while so I kept watching her, and Andrea and Charlie went home to her house to warm up and relieve Lynn of babysitter duty taking care of Christopher. Andrea fed Charlie some supper, and Lynn helped me put Magnolia in the barn after she got more serious in labor and broke her water. By then it was snowing hard. 

Andrea came down again soon after, and we watched the cow until she calved (very swiftly, once she got down to business), to make sure everything was ok. I checked on the pair later that evening before we went to bed, and the calf had nursed. We were done calving!!From start to finish, our calving took only 20 days. That was our shortest calving season ever; all of the cows bred on their first heat cycles. Nice to have it over with quickly and not have to get up in the night to check cows!

The next day was also cold and windy with snow flurries. We put a couple more pairs up to the field when we fed the cows, and put the last pair out of the barn—into the 2nd day pen that has a little roof over one corner so the calf can get out of the wind and snow. Lynn went to town to do all the town errands after locating a site for a well, and got it accomplished just before it started snowing and blowing a lot worse. 

Andrea started the tractor and brought some bales around to the hold pen from the stack yard, in case the snow got worse, since we no longer have chains on the tractor and it can’t get around very well in snow or mud. We got several inches of snow that evening and Emily had a hard time coming home from work at midnight with the snow blowing across the road, with bad visibility. 

The deer hit our haystacks pretty hard, and the bales Andrea set in the hold pen, by morning, so we put elk panels around those bales and shut the stackyard gate. Up until then the deer had been chasing green grass, but with it snowed under, they were like a hoard of rabbits eating on our hay. The elk panels will keep the deer from eating on those spare bales.
Andrea tying elk panels together
Andrea putting elk panels around the spare bales
elk panels around the bales
Thursday morning was cold and I had to break ice on all the horse tubs and the cow’s water tank. Winter just won’t release its grip! I took photos when we fed the cows and calves. Some of them were trying to eat the hay off the truck.
feeding in the snow
trying to eat hay off the truck
feeding cows
A few of the calves were still in the calf houses, where they stayed dry and out of the wind during the stormy, cold weather. After they came out they were frolicking around and many of them were happy to lie down in the hay.
calf in calf house
out in the snow
snug in calf house
lounging around in the hay
Andrea took Christopher to town with her again, and tried to find some irrigating boots her size, since her old ones are worn out and leaking. She went to all the stores that carry boots but couldn’t find any her size. While she was in Murdoch’s Christopher remembered where the baby chicks were, and spent time looking at them again.
Christopher looking at baby ducks
Michael and Carolyn had birthdays (April 14 for Carolyn and April 15 for Michael) so I made cards for them, using some old photos that I took when they were gathering and moving cattle on the range. Going through the old photos to pick some out for their cards, I was struck by the fact that the range looked so good, back then. There was lots of grass, and plenty of grass left when we rounded up in the fall. By contrast, fter we sold our range permit and the new neighbors took it over, it’s been eaten into the ground and their cows come home skinny. 

It was fun looking back through the old photos to find some to use for the birthday cards, and Michael stopped by to pick them up. It was nice to have a chance to visit with him for a few minutes, though he had to hurry to town to take his pickup to be fixed; the 4-wheel drive had quite working. It’s been a good old truck; he’s put 200,000 miles on it in just a couple years, with his custom fencing business. 

There was still snow on the ground when we fed that day.
still snow on the ground
But by evening chores it was melted and I took more photos of cows and calves when I watered them.
Old Blackhead and calf & a buddy
Alligator Eyes & calf
curious calves
comfortable cows
With mud from the snow melting, we had to start early the next day to load hay and take a new bale to the heifers before the mud thawed out. We managed to get all the hay moved around before it got too slippery. Speaking of hay, our neighbor Alfonso didn’t feed his cows the day before, and they got out on the road looking for something to eat. We shut our driveway gate that night to make sure they didn’t come into our place and get into our haystacks. 

Charlie came out later after work, and helped Andrea and me tag and band the last calf (it was a bull calf). We put Magnolia into the next pen while we did it, so she wouldn’t attack us while we did the calf. Even so, she tried to come through the fence to protect her baby. Andrea took a photo of the cow and calf in their sheltered corner after we put them back together.
Charlie and the cow calving
That evening Charlie stayed, and Andrea fed him supper. He enjoyed playing with Christopher, who later wore out and went to sleep on his bunk bed.
Christopher sleeping
Easter weekend Sam and her boyfriend Colton came up from Twin Falls to visit her family and his. Andrea and I fed the cows early Saturday morning so we’d be done when they came out here. She took photos of the cows and calves from the feed truck.
calves following truck
China Doll's bull calf
calves checking out the truck
Sam and Colton came out here briefly that afternoon before they had to head back to Twin Falls. It was fun to see them. While they were at Andrea’s house, Andrea took photos of them with Emily and Christopher, and Sam helping Christopher with his backhoe.
Em, Sam, Andrea & Christopher
Em, Sam& Colton
Sam helping Christopher
Easter Sunday was cold, but warmed up a bit in the afternoon. Charlie came out and helped Andrea move a little of her irrigation water. She still has a bad cold but tries to keep doing a little every day. 

That afternoon granddaughter Heather in Canada called us. They are about done calving, and just started foaling. The first foal arrived the evening before--a big colt. They had to help deliver it—a bit of a pull—but it seemed to be doing ok and was able to get up and nurse. But by the next morning (Easter Sunday) it had diarrhea and was wobbly and not nursing. Heather was unsure what could have caused this problem so quickly. We discussed possibilities and possible treatments. There are no large animal vets in their area that work on horses, and it would be difficult to get hold of any vet by phone on Easter Sunday for advice. 

So she opted to give the foal an antibiotic (in case the infection was bacterial) and Banamine (an anti-inflammatory) to ease the foal’s pain and hopefully enable him to feel well enough to try to nurse—since it would be difficult to try to give the foal fluids by stomach tube or IV. When she went to treat the foal he was very dull and weak, lying on his back and rolling around with colic pain, and sweating behind his ears—which could have been a sign of pain and shock. She gave him the penicillin and Banamine, milked the mare and tried to feed him by bottle (which he refused) and by syringe into his mouth, but he fought and spit most of it back out again. The situation didn’t look very good. 

When she went out again later to check on him, expecting him to be worse or dead, he was perky and feeling better, actually trying to nurse. She gave him more penicillin in the middle of the night, and more Banamine early the next morning, and he was trying to nurse the mare a little. 

We took photos again when we fed cows, and some photos of the calves frolicking and lounging around.
feeding cows
Charlie came out again Sunday afternoon and helped Andrea change a little water and move one irrigation dam. He’d like to help irrigate this summer after work and on weekends, so Andrea plans to buy him some irrigating boots. 

Monday we started gathering up any hay that we could feed the cows—a couple little bales by the 2nd day pens, some bales in the barn that we didn’t use for bedding, etc. We may run out of hay this spring, so we are making sure there is none wasted. 

Christopher went with Andrea to irrigate and had fun splashing in the water and floating leaves and twigs in the flowing water.
Christopher playing in the water
Jim (and his dog Ezra) harrowed the orchard and horse pasture, pulling the harrow with his side-by-side. That dog loves to be the co-pilot whizzing around the fields! Now we are done harrowing until we move the cows and calves out of that pasture (after the grass in our other pastures grows tall enough for grazing!) so we can harrow it.
Jim harrowing the orchard
Jim & Ezra harrowing with the side-by-side
whizzing around the orchard
Jim's dog Ezra loves to help
done with the orchard & heading for the horse pasture