Friday, March 5, 2021

Diary from Sky Range Ranch - August 5 through September 3, 2020

AUGUST 14 – We’ve had more than a week of really hot weather, many days getting up into the 90’s. Dani helped Lynn irrigate while Andrea was in California visiting Stan, and helped me with the cattle. Last Wednesday after she finished irrigating she rode with me to the 320 pasture to check the fences and make sure no range cattle had gotten in. I took photos of Dani as we rode toward Baker Creek in the middle of the 320.

Dani riding toward Baker Creek
And through the meadow before and after we crossed Baker Creek. The grass is still nice and green in the 320, especially in the meadows along the creek.
riding through meadow in 320
Dani riding through meadow above creek crossing
We let the heifers eat the grass in the pens around the barn for several days, and I grazed Sprout morning and evening in areas around the barnyard where grass has gotten tall. She’s my “grass-powered lawnmower” and I can put her in certain areas with just a fake fence (baling twine tied to various obstacles or step-in plastic posts).

We moved the bulls to the back corral where they generally live (and where they will stay for the rest of the summer and winter) and Lynn helped me haul some of the coarse grass bales from my hay shed, to stack by their pen to feed to them.

A week ago we patched some of the old fence around the little pen below the bull pen—where there is a lot of brush and some tall grass—and let the bulls graze in there for a few days. Lynn went to down to get the mail and groceries, and to attend a special water meeting for our irrigation district. We still don’t have a watermaster this summer, and this meeting was to introduce Steve Adams (a semi-retired fellow who used to work for the County health department, and is now the watermaster for the water district on Wallace Creek) as a potential watermaster for our creek. 

We are hoping he will take on this job, too. He would be a more experienced and fair/impartial watermaster than the ones we’ve had during the past 6 or 7 years who were basically puppets for the bullies on the creek. 

The previous watermasters let our neighbor Alfonso get away with stealing water and delighted in shutting off the 4th right (Michael and Carolyn’s fields on our upper place) too early and leaving them shut off even when there was enough water in the creek to service their right.

Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent us some photos of some of their new foals that were born this summer.
young foal
one of granddaughter Heather's mares and foals
On Sunday Dani helped us move the heifers to the ditch bank pasture below the lane. The grass has grown back since they grazed it earlier. After she helped Lynn irrigate, she and Emily hauled garbage to the dump and Lynn and I took care of Christopher. He ate supper with us and I took some photos of him in his high chair.
Christopher eating with us
Andrea drove home from California that day and got here at midnight.

Monday Lynn went to town to do all the town errands and went up Carmen Creek to locate water for a well for the new manager of the Murdoch store, who bought some property up there and plans to build a home. Andrea, Dani and Christopher went down to the lower back field and changed water. Christopher loves to be outside and especially loves to ride on the 4-wheeler, making motor noises as he climbs on.

I went with them up to heifer hill to check on the cows and calves while Andrea changed water, but discovered one young cow and her calf had gone through the electric fence and were out in the short lush grass of the hayfield that needs to regrow for several weeks. So Dani took Christopher home (for Emily to watch) and came back to help us get that cow and calf back with the others. We found a tree over the hot wire and it was shorting out and not working, and that’s probably why the young cow and her calf went through it. After we got them back with the herd, Andrea and Dani changed water and I looked through all the cows and checked on the status of their pasture. It was about gone, and also I saw that 124 (China Doll) and her calf both have pinkeye, and several other calves have runny eyes. We needed to treat them, so decided to move the cows the next day and run those critters through the chute to doctor.

Dani helped Andrea reconfigure the electric fence below the lane—dividing the hayfield from the swampy pasture side—and get it working again. We had a very late lunch when Lynn got home from town and his water-witching job.

Michael and Carolyn left that afternoon with their flatbed trailer loaded—with materials, tools, skid steer, etc.—to go to Pocatello to do a major fence-building job that will take about 2 ½ weeks. They are taking their whole crew with them, staying in a motel down there. Andrea will do their irrigating for them while they are gone, and Nick (who is coaching the high school cross-country team) will be house-sitting and feeding their horses and dogs.

Granddaughter Heather sent us more photos from Canada, of some of their mares and foals, and young Joseph getting a kiss from one of the foals.
Canadian foal
mare & foal
Joseph getting a kiss
The next morning Andrea irrigated (and discovered Alfonso was taking our #8 ditch water at night). She also went with Lynn to the upper place to change water for Michael and Carolyn. That afternoon Dani and her friend Dakota helped us round up the cows and calves from the heifer hill fringe pasture; Dani rode Ed and the rest of us were on 4-wheelers to head them down the horse road and then down the driveway to the corrals. We sorted off the ones we needed to treat, including a calf with the beginning symptoms of foot rot, and put the rest of the herd in the pasture below the lane. We treated all the pinkeye cases and put eye patches on China Doll and her calf; they were the worst. The others just got antibiotic injections.

Then we put the heifers from the lower ditch pasture to the upper ditch pasture above the horse pasture. These little pastures only last a few days, but provide grazing for the heifers and enable other pastures to keep growing before grazing them again.
Wednesday was hot and windy all day. Cindy Yenter from Idaho Department of Water Resources brought Steve Adams up the creek to show him where all the ditch diversions are located, how to read the various weirs, and they measured the water. Even though Jack Jacovak at the bottom of the creek (with the first right) has been complaining that he is short of water, there was plenty of water in the creek to service all the rights, so no one is being shut off at this time; the creek doesn’t need to go into regulation. 

This was great news, because we suspected there was plenty of water in the creek, and it was nice to have it confirmed—and nice that our upper place does not need to be turned off just yet. This is the longest we’ve been able to keep irrigating on that fourth right since the 40 years that we leased the other ranches on the creek (one ranch that shared our 2nd right and one that has the 3rd right). Back then we didn’t have to fight with any neighbors for water, and didn’t need a watermaster because we always made sure that there was enough water going on down to service the first right. We only started having problems after Alfonso started leasing those properties and hogging the water.

It also is counterproductive to turn off the water on the upper place too early. There is actually more water in the creek through late summer if the upper place can keep watering longer, since it tends to store water in some of the swamps and wet meadows that continue to feed the creek.

Andrea took a few photos of Christopher playing in her livingroom and sent some photos to me, to share in my blog.
Christopher playing
When Lynn went to town on Wednesday for mail and groceries he got a new tarp for my small haystack next to Breezy’s pen. The strong winds we’ve had lately really beat up the old tarp we had on it, and it tore in two. I had to remove it that morning before the flapping pieces spooked Rishiam. He is fearful of flapping tarps and when they are right next to him like that, he tries to jump out of his pen.

That evening Phil Moulton brought the first two loads of big round bales that we are buying from him (for winter feed for the cows) and stacked them in the stackyard across the creek. A couple bales fell off the back end of the rows but we may be able to get them with our tractor and restack them.

Yesterday Phil brought the rest of the first-cutting hay and finished those stacks, and Andrea brought Christopher down to watch him unload and stack the hay; Christopher loves tractors!

Andrea helped me put our new tarp on the little stack next to Breezy and Rishiam’s pens. Then she and Lynn went to the upper place and she changed water for Michael and Carolyn on the wild meadow. Later Andrea, Emily, Dani and Christopher went to 4th of July creek to pick huckleberries, and Christopher had a lot of fun.

We got an e-mail from Steve Adams yesterday evening telling everyone to adhere to their allotted amounts, and to let him know which ditches they want their water in, for their various allotments (since he will be setting the headgates on the ditches this next Monday), and in his message reprimanded Jack Jacovak for his unacceptable language and actions. This is the first watermaster who has not allowed Jack to bully him! 

Today when Andrea was irrigating and hooking up the hot wire along the ditch pasture above the house so she could let the heifers into that strip, she encountered a huge rattlesnake that reared up like a cobra and struck at her. She didn’t want to leave it there, in the place where she was about to put the heifers (or they might have gotten bitten), but didn’t have her shovel to kill it. She’d left her shovel on the 4-wheeler over by the creek. There were no rocks nearby, so she took a long pole out of one of her irrigation dams and hoped the snake would still be there by the time she got back with the pole. It was, and she beat it to death with the pole. She brought the dead snake down to the house to show it to us.
the dead snake
Then she and I rode Willow and Dottie to the 320 to check the fences; it had been 18 days since Dani and I were up there fixing fence and we wanted to make sure no cattle have gotten into our pasture. We rode up the ridge to the gate and saw some cattle down in Baker Creek on the middle range, and some coming down off the hill to drink at a trough in the brush. As Andrea got off to open the gate she noticed what looked like a horse, drinking from the trough. I gave her the monocular I always carry in a pocket of the jacket tied to my saddle, and she looked through that and discovered that it was, indeed, a horse. Then we watched as more horses came into view—two mares with foals! This was highly unusual. There haven’t been horses roaming on this range since the early 1950’s when some of the ranchers used to run horses out here.

The two mares got a drink, then climbed back up out of the canyon and went over the hill, foals following. We rode on up into the 320 and when we got higher on the ridge where we had cell service, Andrea called Millers and got hold of Ruby, and asked if she knew whose horses these might be. She said those mares and foals were theirs, and she was surprised and alarmed to hear that they were out on the range. Alfonso was supposed to be pasturing them with his own mares and foals; Millers thought he had hauled them up to his 160-acre pasture (that adjoins our 160) a couple weeks ago. Andrea told her that we’d seen Alfonso’s three mares and foals in that pasture but had never seen Miller’s mares and foals in there.

John Miller recently had knee surgery and was unable to ride, and their son was in New York courting a wife, so they were not sure how to retrieve their horses off the range. John is currently in Montana at an Amish meeting but Ruby said she would call him and tell him about the horses. We rode on up through the 320 and into the high range and saw a lot of Alfonso’s and Millers cattle, but still no salt. Some of those cattle have been in there for more than a month (before they were supposed to be in that pasture) and have never any salt.

The one good thing is that Alfonso and Millers last fall finally replaced the old worn-out water trough in Baker Creek that hasn’t worked for about 5 years—a trough that waters about 100 cows and is very crucial to use of the high range. I took photos of the trough as Andrea filled her water bottle at the inlet pipe and let Willow drink.
Andrea filling water bottle at inlet pipe to trough
Andrea letting Willow drink at new trough
We rode home through the 320, coming down Baker Creek, and found cattle hanging on the gate, and one calf in our place, so we got it out. As we came on down the ridge below the 320, on the low range, we looked more closely for tracks. Even though it had rained once in the past couple weeks, we found some foal poop and some little foal tracks coming over the ridge from Gooch’s basin. Alfonso had never taken those mares and foals to his 160-acre pasture; he had taken them across the low country and put them on the middle range, where there is hardly any grass! What a dirty trick.

AUGUST 24 – The day after we saw the horses in the middle range, about a dozen range cows came over the hill off the low range early that morning and into Alfonso’s field (he always leaves his gates open so he doesn’t have to open and shut them when he drives in there). I watched the cattle come over the hill as I was doing my morning chores. A few had trickled into Alfonso’s field the evening before, and there was a bull bellowing in that field below us all night.

A little later that morning I was doing a phone interview for an article and happened to look out the window. I saw Dottie in her pen, looking intently at something this direction. I looked where she was looking, and saw our two bulls marching up the lane! I yelled at Lynn and we hurried outside and got on his 4-wheeler and roared up the driveway and down the road and were able to get around the bulls and stop them before they got to the main road. They didn’t want to turn around and I had to yell at them.

Andrea was irrigating and had hiked up the ditch by her house to see where all her water went—there was very little water coming down to our field. She had to shut off some of Alfonso’s taps because he was taking almost all her water. She’d just gotten back to our field and could hear me yelling (when I was trying to stop our bulls), so she knew something unusual was going on. She got on her 4-wheeler and roared down here, and got here in time to help us put the bulls back down the lane and into the main corral. 

Then she went to our back field below the corrals and figured out what happened. We’d been letting the bulls graze in the little grassy, brushy pen below their corral, and they’d been doing fine back there—until they heard that bull bellowing all night in Alfonso’s field below ours. Apparently they wanted to go fight that bull, and broke out through a weak spot in that little pen in the brush, into our lower back field, and it looked like they’d spent the night there. We have a really good fence between our fields and the place Alfonso is leasing; Michael and Nick built that for us a few years ago, just to make sure Alfonso’s cattle can’t get into our place, since those cattle are often starving and trying to go somewhere for grass—and also to keep his bulls from coming through the fence to get with our cows. Our bulls couldn’t get through the good fence, so the smart buggers had hiked clear up through our barnyard and were going the long way ‘round and up our lane—to go down the road to try to get to Alfonso’s bull! We were lucky to see them in time to head them off and get them back home again; if they’d ever gotten in with Alfonso’s cows to fight his bull, it would have been very difficult to sort them out and get them back again.

We left them in the main corral until we could shut the gate out of their own back pen (into the little swamp pen where they’d been grazing) and do a little reinforcing in a couple spots to make sure they didn’t try to get back into that pen.

Andrea finished irrigating while Lynn and I took some big poles to the back corral to strengthen the worst places. After lunch Andrea helped us put tarps on one of the 4 rows of round bales in the stack yard. We want to get that new hay covered as possible, before we have any rain.

We watched another big bunch of range cattle come over the hill and into Alfonso’s field, 
and then we saw Miller’s two mares and foals in Alfonso’s place, pacing the fence on the far side, wanting to get out and go home. 

That afternoon Andrea and Dani took Christopher over to visit Millers, to tell them their mares and foals were now in Alfonso’s place, and talked with Ruby and John, and found out more about what happened. John had called Alfonso to ask why the mares and foals were out on the range, and Alfonso told him that when he took them up to his leased 160 pasture a couple weeks ago they followed him out the top gate onto the high range, and followed him around through the high range to the middle range. I think John knew (as well as we did) that this was impossible. First of all, Alfonso hauled those mares over from Millers (he didn’t lead them with a horse). Second, he would not have ridden out that top gate at the top of that steep hill, up through the rocky cliffs, and if he did, he probably would have shut the gate. Third, those mares and foals would not have left the lush green feed in the bottom (or the company of Alfonso’s mares and foals) to climb that rocky hill. Fourth, if they’d gotten out onto the high range, they would have stayed there, where the grass was still pretty good. They couldn’t have gone around into the middle range, because that gate between the range pastures was shut. There’s no way they would have gone that far, through two gates, to get into a pasture that has no feed left in it. 

At any rate, Alfonso got caught in his deceitfulness and John must have told him go get those horses back—and he rounded them up that evening to bring home to his fields—and probably had to leave a gate open on the middle range to get the horses. That’s probably why all those cattle came out into the low range that night and ended up coming home to Alfonso’s field, too. That next day Alfonso hauled Miller’s mares and foals up to his 160-acre pasture where he’d been supposed to take them in the first place, and had to round up the range cattle out of his field and take them back to the range.

Last Sunday was hot again, above 90 degrees. Lynn and I put the bulls back into their own pen, and then used our tractor to get the two big bales that fell off the back stack near the creek, and brought them around by the bull pen; we’ll feed those to the bulls. Andrea and Dani helped us cover the other round bale stacks with the old black plastic we used last year on the big stack; we cut it in strips to fit over the 3 rows of bales and ties “ears” (with rocks wrapped into the plastic) to tie twines to the plastic so we could tie it down securely to the bales so the wind can’t blow it off. We got most of the hay covered and just had one small section left to do.

After lunch Andrea and Lynn drove up the creek to check on things and went on up into the Forest Range and saw some of Alfonso’s cows up there with French’s cows. That evening Andrea called Chris French to tell him about the stray cows on his range, and Chris called Alfonso—who became angry that someone had discovered his cows on the wrong range.

Granddaughter Heather in Canada sent more photos – of their grain harvest, and the two boys enjoying a peaceful moment.
Grain harvest in Canada
James and Joseph - happy brothers
Tuesday was really hot—95 degrees. In the early morning we covered the last section of hay in the stackyard, then Lynn and Andrea drove up the Creek to check on things and change water on the upper place (since Michael and Carolyn are working on their fence job in Pocatello). 

After lunch Andrea and I rode to check the 320 (even though it was very hot) and made a loop through the middle range (now that we knew the mares and foals were no longer out there and we wouldn’t encounter them and possibly have a problem if those mares came up to our horses; we didn’t want one of those foals to get kicked). We found a dead calf but it had been dead awhile and was too far gone to be able to see a brand, and the ears were gone, so no ear tag. We don’t know if it was Millers or Alfonso’s calf, but we wondered if it might have been struck by lightning, because its skull was split down the middle from top to nose.
dead calf with split skull
Then we rode over to the 2nd gully and found lots of horse poop and baby horse poop; Miller’s mare and foals had obviously been in the middle range a long time. We rode down the second gully to the lower boundary, to see whose cows were down there. We found one of French’s cows and her calf in a group with Alfonso’s cows, hanging on the fence. There is absolutely no grass left down there and those cows are very thin.
cows hanging on fence - no grass on range side of fence
Andrea called Chris to tell him where the cow was, and he was very grateful. It’s one of his wife’s cows. He told us that some of their cattle had gotten into the seeding pasture earlier this summer, and the guy who runs cattle on that pasture had rounded up a bull of French’s so they could come get him, but apparently just stuck this pair out on the range above his fence, to get rid of her. Chris and his wife hauled horses out to our range and were able to find their cow and haul her up to their Forest range pasture. 

While they were up there, they saw some of Alfonso’s cows up there. Chris’s father called Alfonso that evening to say that they’d gotten their cow out of Alfonso’s range, and now could he please get his cattle off their range. Alfonso was angry that we’d seen his cows on the Forest range and said that “those people should mind their own business!” 

Most ranchers are grateful to know where their cattle are, and Chris was VERY happy that we’d found his wife’s starving cow so they could go get her. Chris said he was very glad we were letting him know what was happening on the range. But Alfonso doesn’t seem to mind having cattle on someone else’s pasture and prefers to not have them discovered.

With all the hot weather, our creek dropped a bit more, and when Steve checked the ditches there wasn’t quite enough water to service all the rights, and he shut off the 4th right (the upper place). We called Michael and Carolyn to let them know.

The next day Andrea, Dani and I rode up the ridge and into the 320, and up the ridge to check the top gate.
Dani riding up the ridge
Dani & Andrea on the 320 ridge
Then we rode down into Baker Creek and found a couple of Alfonso’s calves in the 320. We put them out and found a hole in the fence where a couple wires had been cut. I held all three horses while Andrea and Dani patched those wires back together and repaired the fence.

Then we pushed the low-hanging range cows up Baker Creek a little ways. There is no grass at all down in the bottom and we don’t want more cattle trying to come into our 320 pasture.
pushing the cows up Baker Creek above the 320
We took them to where they can grade out over the mountain to better grass, and I took a photo of Dani next to the huge old tree that blew down a few years ago—a tree that was probably 600 years old or more when I started riding range out there as a kid.
Dani by the big tree that blew down a few years ago
The next day I took off Dottie’s front shoes. They’ve been on quite a while and her feet were getting too long, and the shoes were worn out. Andrea held her for me while I put new shoes on her. I’ll have to redo her hinds at some point, but right now her fronts were more desperate to be replaced.

Lynn drove to Carmen Creek to locate water for a guy who needs a well. Andrea and I hauled two old pole panels (from below the old barn, that were stored along the fence) with the flatbed truck, taking them up into the stackyard. We used them to create a fence to partition off the upper end, so we could put the heifers up there to graze. The temporary fence will keep them from getting into our haystacks. We put the panels across the narrow spot between the fence and the old beat-up swather of Jenelle’s that’s parked in there, and moved the heifers into their new “pasture”. 

After Lynn got home from his water witching job, he took our tractor around to the pen by Shiloh where we’ll be stacking the rest of the hay we are buying—some second cutting alfalfa for winter feed for the heifers. Phil was going to start hauling that hay that evening, but we had a horrendous cloudburst-thunderstorm and he postponed hauling until the next day.

Steve Adams came up the creek that day (before the storm) and checked/adjusted water again; there was enough water in the creek that he turned the 4th right back on. So Michael and Carolyn have water again for now. This is a first. No other water master has ever turned the 4th right back on, even when there was adequate water in the creek (such as after a lot of rain, or when weather cools off toward fall); every other water master we’ve had in the past has been influenced by Jack Jacovak and Bob Loucks, who seem to delight in shutting the upper place off as soon as possible and leaving it off.

So that evening Andrea and Lynn went up the creek to change water again on the wild meadow, and I babysat Christopher (Emily was sleeping, so she could be ready for her night shift at work). Andrea and Lynn had to get one of Michael’s heifers back in; she’d crawled through the fence at the top of the field, up by the cattleguard, to eat on a big bale of hay that Yoders left there for their horses across the road.

The next morning Andrea and Lynn took 4 steel posts up there and patched the fence; some of Michael and Carolyn’s cattle had gotten out again. Their bull was down in the stackyard by the bottom of their field, and they put him back in with the cows. 

That afternoon Phil Moulton brought three loads of big round bales—the second cutting hay—and stacked it next to Shiloh’s pen in two diagonal rows. It got pretty wet before he hauled it, from the rain we had the day before, so let it dry a bit before we put tarps over it.

On Friday we spread out the rest of the roll of black plastic (that we didn’t use last year) and cut it in strips and covered those hay stacks.
haystack covered with black plastic
covered haystacks
Dani and her friend Kendall rode Shiloh and Ed to the 320 to check the gates and fences and make sure no cattle had gotten in. There were no cows down hanging on the gate in Baker Creek that day, and none in the 320. Our fence-patching a few days earlier probably helped.

When they got back, Ed’s front shoes were getting loose. It’s been a long time since I put those on, so I took them off and trimmed her feet. I reset the shoes the next day; they weren’t very worn, because Dani hasn’t ridden her very much this summer. Those shoes will last her for the rest of the riding season.

Lynn and I took a few more bales from my hay shed, on the feed truck, to stack by the bulls. We are feeding them some of the coarser hay that the horses don’t like, and mixing a little good first-cutting alfalfa with it. Then Andrea helped us move the cows from the pasture below the lane, and put them down in the post pile pasture.

That evening we were watching Christopher so Em could nap before work, and Andrea went up the creek to change water for Michael and Carolyn—and noticed a heifer was out again. She discovered a big gap under the fence at the ditch, that she and Lynn didn’t notice when they repaired the hole in the fence nearby. So we put a pallet in the back of the pickup and took Christopher with us to go get the heifer in and fix the hole in the ditch. Lynn and Christopher stayed in the pickup while Andrea and I put the pallet down in the ditch and secured it to the fence. That should stop the escapees! It was dark by the time we finished.

Yesterday I started letting Sprout graze in the barnyard area by the gas barrel and sick barn for a few hours morning and evening. There’s a lot of tall grass around the edges. Even though there is some old machinery and junk in that area, Sprout is pretty good about not getting herself in trouble (she grew up on a ranch with lots of junk). Also, she is retired from being ridden—due to the old bone chip in her right knee that made her lame and unsound. She can be useful to eat all the grass that grows up around the areas we can’t graze with the cattle, and reduce the fire danger and weeds.

Andrea and I rode for 3 ½ hours to check the 320 again and went on into the high range. We discovered the reason there haven’t been any range cattle hanging down on our fence for the past few days; there was a dead calf just a short distance up from our pasture, killed within the last 3 days, probably by a mountain lion—from the looks of the kill (clean surgical slice through the abdomen, to pull out and eat some preferred organs). The cattle probably got spooked and cleared out of that area.
calf killed by cougar
It was a young calf (no brand or ear tag) born out on the range, which means it was one of Alfonso’ calves. His cows calve all year round (some are too thin to cycle and breed early) and many are born out on the range, whereas Millers have all their calves born before their cows go to the range (and their calves are all branded and tagged).

We rode on up Baker Creek and out to the big salt ground (still no salt out there; those poor cows have been without salt for more than a month) and over into Basco and saw very few cows. Most of those range cattle must have drifted over into Withington Creek to try to find something to eat; the grass is almost all gone on this side of the mountain in the high range pasture.
Andrea riding over top of Baker Creek
Checking the gate at bottom of Basco - grass all gone
Later that day Andrea went up the creek on her 4-wheeler to change water for Michael and Carolyn, and drove on up into the forks. A bunch of French’s cattle were down in “no man’s land” below the Forest Service cattleguard; it was clear full of rocks and dirt from the latest cloudburst storm, and French’s cattle had walked over it. 

On her way home, Andrea stopped to visit with Nick, who was housesitting and doing chores for his folks, and he showed her his new pistol and they did a little target practice.

Today was hot, and smoky. We have several fires around us and a lot of smoke drifting into our valley. Andrea irrigated and then we moved the cows from the post pile pasture to the back field down below; it has grown quite a lot since we harvested the hay from it, thanks to all our irrigation efforts. The heifers have cleaned up the upper stackyard and we put them down into that field with the cows.

This is Charlie’s birthday; he is 19 years old today. He came out briefly to visit and we gave him a birthday card and gift. I took photos of Charlie with his grandpa and with Andrea and Lynn.
Charlie and Lynn
Andrea, Charlie, and Lynn
Later that day while Charlie was up at her house, Andrea took a photo of him and his oldest sister Emily.
Emily & Charlie
Charlie has been busy working two jobs this summer, spending much of his time with the Forest Service youth employment, camped out in the mountains clearing trails and building fences.

This afternoon Andrea and Dani drove to Idaho Falls for her orthodontist appointment to have her braces adjusted. She is looking forward to finally having them off in a couple more months; she’s had braces now for almost 2 years.

SEPTEMBER 3 – I’ve been letting Breezy graze above my hay shed for an hour each day; the grass has grown back there lush and green after being grazed off earlier this summer by Ed. Breezy is nearly 30 years old and showing her age; she doesn’t eat very well and has lost weight. For a while she was eating a little grain, but she doesn’t like the new grain we bought (and I can’t find any quite like the old grain we had) and refuses to eat grain anymore. So I’ve been letting her have a little green grass. In her younger years we didn’t let her graze much because with her metabolism she was always at risk for founder on lush green grass. But now, she needs all the nutrients we can get into her, and she’s doing a little better having some green grass every day.

The Forest Service took a backhoe up to the forks and cleaned out the cattleguard so now the range cows stay on their proper sides of the fence. Some of Alfonso’s cows are still up on French’s side, however. He never did go get them.

It’s been a really bad year for flies and pinkeye. When we put the cows down in the lower back field I noticed that Magdalena’s big steer calf had pinkeye, but we didn’t have time that day to get him in for doctoring. So that next day Dani, Andrea and I brought that pair (and Zorra Rose and calf with them for company) in from the field, to the corral. By then, Magdalena had pinkeye, too, so we put both mama and calf down the chute and treated them for pinkeye and glued eye patches over the bad eyes. We also put insecticide on them to get rid of the flies, then put them back down in the field.

The interesting thing is that the next day when we checked on them, the cattle were bedded down along the edge of the field in the brush, and there were hardly any flies on the ones bedded next to the cow and calf that we treated. Perhaps the smell of the stuff we put on them deterred all the flies in that general area.

Michael and Carolyn got home that evening with their crew and tools, after finishing the big job in Pocatello, but had to go back again the next day to get their skid steer; it wouldn’t fit on the trailer with all the other stuff they were bringing home. Their fence project down there turned out really nice; Carolyn sent some photos of their landscaping and fencing.
M&C Pocatello fence & landscaping
M&C Pocatello fence project
Last Wednesday Lynn went to Diamond Creek to locate a couple more wells. Andrea and I rode for a couple hours—making a fast ride to the 320 just to make sure no range cows have gotten in. I took photos as we rode up the ridge and Andrea stopped to look at some elk in the top corner of the 320.
Andrea looking at elk with binoculars
going up the ridge
We chased a few cows up Baker Creek that were hanging down on our gate, and noticed that the dead calf above the 320 was almost entirely eaten. We had to look hard to find what was left of it.

Sometime that afternoon two of our big round bales (in the new stacks we’d covered) fell off, dragging the black plastic with it and uncovering most of that whole stack. There were 4 top bales on that end of the row that weren’t centered very well, and apparently those two shifted enough to fall off. It was late in the day and we didn’t try to remedy the situation, but we should have. That night it rained HARD and got those bales soaked again. So then we had to wait a few days to let them dry out before we did anything with them or re-covered the stack that had been exposed to the rain.

The next morning I took advantage of the muddy conditions and took off Willow’s front shoes and trimmed her feet. Generally her feet are so hard that it’s difficult to trim them, but with the rain and mud they had softened enough to make it a bit easier. Andrea held her for me and I got the old worn-out shoes off and trimmed her feet and put new shoes on her. The hinds can probably go another few rides and then I’ll have to put new shoes on them also.

The next day I took off Dottie’s old hind shoes (completely worn out) and put new shoes on. Her feet were also a little easier to trim, having her pen a little wet for a couple days to soften up her feet.

Andrea and Lynn drove up to the 160 and discovered that Alfonso’s cows or horses had knocked down a panel of fence next to that cattleguard across from Rocky’s new house, and there were foal tracks and poops on the wrong side. Apparently some of the critters must have pushed the fence over, but they were all back on the proper side of it. Andrea and Lynn propped it back up and tied it to the posts by the cattleguard.

After lunch Lynn went to town for mail and groceries and to locate another water well for some folks from Oregon who bought property here. Emily’s car is finally repaired (her little red car that hasn’t been running for more than a year). It has been in the repair shop for several months and was a frustration to the mechanics because they couldn’t get it to run right after putting a new motor in it. But finally they were able to figure out the problem, and she has her car back again! She’s been driving our old Chevy Lumina (the one she named Luna when she was 2 ½ when we got it to drive back and forth to Salt Lake when her mom was in the burn ICU that summer), but it has some problems, too. We’re just glad it held up for her to drive back and forth to work while her car was being fixed.

Andrea took Emily to town to get her car, and we babysat Christopher. He hadn’t been feeling very well and had a fever, and is maybe also getting some new teeth.

Saturday morning another bale fell of the haystack of 2nd cutting bales, so after Andrea finished irrigating she helped us fix that problem. Lynn used the tractor take the other bale down that was precarious and might fall off, and we made a new row of bales (only one bale high) next to the bigger stacks, and Andrea helped us put the black plastic back on the long stack. We dug out an old tarp (that I used last year to cover one of my horse stacks) that was several years old, with a few mouse holes in one edge, but good enough to cover the new little stack we made. I took a photo of the new little stack with the old green tarp on it, and the bigger stacks with the black plastic on them.
new little stack covered with old tarp
black plastic on hay
We were feeling good about having our stacks salvaged and recovered, and then late afternoon we had a sudden gust of wind that was like a hurricane. It spooked the horses, and tore the black plastic off one side of the northernmost row of round bales in our new stacks. The stacks across the creek were not affected because they are more out of the wind, but the sudden blast hitting the unprotected stack ripped all the “ears” out of the black plastic and sent it flying off the other side.

Andrea had taken Christopher for a ride down to Baker on her 4-wheeler to visit some friends, so it was up to Lynn and me to fix the problem. I didn’t want to leave the hay unprotected in case we had another rainstorm, or more wind that might take the rest of the tarp off. I had to get up on top of those bales with a ladder and pull the tarp back up over the row of bales, and we made new “ears” (with rocks tied into the plastic) and tied it back down again. Here is a series of photos showing how to create an “ear” in a tarp or plastic that won’t pull out—to secure a rope or baling twine to it, to be able to tie it down.
using a rock to make an ear
folding the rock into the plastic
rock covered with plastic
tying the twine around the plastic-covered rock
tying the twine to the bale to hold down the tarp
There wasn’t much wind (just a breeze) after that one big gust, so we were able to do it without too much problem. When I did chores that evening I also secured the whole thing a little better, with twines going clear over the top in several places, to tie it down even more. I was able to throw the twines over the stack (with a small rock attached to one end of the long twine “rope”) and then tie it down on both sides. Eventually we’ll get to where we can outsmart the wind!

Sunday we were going to ride and check the 320 again, but the wind started pretty strong by mid-morning and we decided to just catch up on more things around here and ride the next day. Andrea irrigated and gathered up more of our temporary fencing (the step-in posts and electric poly wire that we used for splitting the field below the lane) and we walked through the cattle in the lower back field to check on all the cows and calves. A couple calves had runny eyes and we realized we might have to doctor them for pinkeye if they get any worse.

Monday we had a little rain and it was cold and windy all day and we didn’t ride. Andrea irrigated and we checked on the cows and calves and discovered that Mini Mag’s heifer calf has pinkeye, too. We also patched the broken jackfence in the brush where the bulls broke through the old rotten poles and got out of the little brushy pen where they were grazing. We didn’t want any of the cows and calves going into that pen through the broken fence or they would be right next to the bull corral.

That afternoon Lynn and I went to town and he did all the town errands while I went to the eye doctor. I hadn’t been to town since early spring (to see the school play) before the coronavirus pandemic. Also hadn’t been to the eye doctor for a checkup for 3 years. My eyes still have a focus problem (seeing double if I try to look up very far, or to the side very far—but just fine looking straight ahead) ever since my “crash” accident last October when Dottie fell down and somersaulted over the top of me while we were trying to outrun a wayward cow down the mountainside. I can live with this small hindrance. The bigger problem is that I have the beginning of cataracts, and some loss of clarity. They won’t be bad enough to need removal, for several more years, but I probably need to have some correction now, with prescription glasses. I probably won’t wear them for my general work, but will have them when I need them.

On Tuesday we got the cows in from the lower back field and sorted off the ones we needed to treat for pinkeye. We treated four calves (and put an eye patch on the worst eye, that had a blue spot in the center) and put a pour-on insecticide on them to control flies, also ran their mothers down the chute and put it on them, too. The flies have been really bad this year, and the face flies spread pinkeye from one animal to another.

After we put those cattle back down in the field, Andrea and I made fast ride to the 320 to check the fences. I took photos as we rode up the ridge and into Baker Creek.
checking 320
heading into Baker Creek
No range cattle have gotten in since we patched the hole in the fence in Baker Creek, but there were a lot of cattle hanging down on our fence, wanting to come in.
cows hanging down on our fence
There is NO grass left on the high range in Baker Creek, so we moved those cattle up a ways, hoping them might grade out higher and find a little grass on the far ridges or over in Withington Creek.
pushing the cows back up Baker Creek
Andrea in Baker Creek
On our way home we came through the top ridge gate into our 320 and rode along the south boundary fence and propped it up in a few places where the elk are going over it and bending over the steel posts.

Yesterday the cows were bawling and upset in the early morning when I did chores. Andrea and I walked through them and they were all there and seemed ok. Maybe a predator went through them and got them stirred up. We also checked the jackfence and discovered a couple of poles off it—and put them back up.

Then we took some photos of our tarps and making “ears” in the black plastic –to illustrate a “how to” article I wrote about it.
rock in plastic
string around rock in plastic
string around rock - tying to bale
secure tie
Lynn’s old cat insisted on helping us so I took photos of her, too.
Lynn's cat
Lynn's cat rubbing on Andrea
Our stacks are now very securely covered with tarps and black plastic.
all stacks covered securely
After lunch Andrea and I went for a short ride over the low range, and Dani and her friend Kendall also made a short ride on Shiloh and Ed. It’s nice that Dani has a friend who likes to ride. I took a couple photos on our ride, of Andrea and Willow, and the view from one ridge looking down on the field below where the neighbors were baling and hauling straw after harvesting grain.
Andrea on Willow
view from ridge on low range
We’d just gotten back from our ride when Lynn’s older sister Edna and his cousin Susan (Edna’s oldest daughter) came by to visit. We hadn’t seen Susan for about 25 years. Later that evening we all went to dinner (with Lynn’s sister Jenelle) and had a great time. Andrea took some photos of us.
Edna & Jenelle with me & Lynn
Edna, Susan & Jenelle with us
family photo at dinner - get together
Today Andrea, Dani and I rode to the 320 to check fences and gates and make sure no range cattle have gotten in. There are several hunting seasons open now, and we have to check our gates frequently, to make sure no one has tried to drive through that mountain pasture and left gates open. The neighbor’s range cows are restless, out of feed, and wanting to come home, and we don’t want them getting into our place. I took photos of Andrea and Dani riding up to and into our 320.
going through the 320
We rode on up into the high range and made a loop through Baker Creek and out onto the big salt ground and then back to the 320 ridge gate.
Dani in Baker Creek above 320
Dani riding up Baker Creek on high range
riding through old salt ground on range
We came down into the 320 at the ridge gate, and saw a bunch of range cows just outside our place at Witteborg trough (that has no water in it). Those cows were starting to go on around toward Withington Creek to try to come down into Alfonso’s leased 160. Those hungry, thirsty cattle have been pressing our fences really hard.

So this evening Andrea and Dani drove up into our 160, took some salt to Michael and Carolyn’s horses that are pastured there, and hiked on up to put more staples and clips along our top fence to try to keep the range cattle out. The wildlife and cattle have been pushing the fence, knocking staples out, loosening the wires, and it needed some repair.
working on fence