Sunday, March 9, 2014

November - December 2013

NOVEMBER 22 – Last Saturday weather was mild and Andrea brought Sam down to help us get the horses ready to ride and Lynn took Charlie and Dani up to ride Carolyn’s horses (Gus and Thelma).  Granddaughter Heather helped them get those horses saddled, and she rode Romeo, the horse she’s training. 

We’re giving Ed the winter off because she gets too frisky and goofy when she’s only ridden occasionally, and we don’t want Dani to become scared of her.  They’ve made such a good team.  We’ll just have Dani start riding Ed again next spring after Andrea or I have written her a few times.

Andrea (on Sprout), Sam on Breezy, and me on Dottie rode up the creek to meet up with Carolyn, Heather and the other two kids.  We went for a ride over the low range.  It got windy and threatened to snow, so we cut it short and made it home to our place before the storm hit.

But Carolyn, Heather, Dani and Charlie had to ride 3 more miles back up the creek to put their horses away.  The blizzard hit them just before they got there, with snow hitting them in the face.  We were glad they wore heavy coats and warm hats!

That afternoon Andrea drove to Idaho Falls (170 miles) for her appointment with her pain doctor and refill her pain meds, and while she was there she bought hockey gear for the kids—since all 4 of her kids are playing hockey this year.  I fed the kids supper that night, since Andrea was very late getting home.

On Sunday Andrea and I made a short ride on Sprout and Dottie in the wind, still trying to ride every day that we can.  When we got back, I took off Dottie’s front shoes, since they are worn out and her feet are getting long.  The worn-out shoes had no traction and were dangerous on slippery, frozen ground or ice.  I’ll take her hinds off at a later date.  For several days I rode with Carolyn and Heather; Andrea was busy the rest of the week helping some friends put a new roof on a local church.

Carolyn and Heather sorted their cows, keeping some and sending the rest to a bred cow sale at Butte, Montana.  They are selling those to pay off the loan on their cows.  Bred cows have been worth quite a bit so they hoped the cows would bring a good price, but that particular day there weren’t very many buyers at the sale and most of their cows were sold at cull cow prices, which left them a bit short for paying the loan.  We helped them make up the difference and they can pay us back later.

Monday morning Heather came down and worked with Willow for awhile, teaching her to drive in long lines, and doing more ground work with her.  We may start riding her a little next summer when she’s two.

Tuesday afternoon our vet come out and checked Breezy’s left eye.  The back corner (white part of the eye) has been red and irritated for quite awhile (we had a vet look at it a couple years ago), but now there’s a growth in that corner and we are afraid it’s cancerous. 

The vet took a scraping of the growth to check under a microscope, and found mostly epithelial cells (normal tissue), a lot of bacterial cells and only a couple cancerous type cells.  She prescribed an antibacterial ointment, to put into the eye twice daily for two weeks, and then will check it again.  We’re hoping it’s not a malignant growth because that would mean the eye would have to be removed.

Breezy doesn’t like having the ointment put in under her eyelid and it takes two of us to do it—to have enough hands to hold the eyelids open and put the ointment in.  These last couple days the weather has been cold; the ointment wouldn’t come out of the tube.  I have to put it in a bottle of hot water when I take it outside to medicate the eye.

This afternoon we moved Freddy and the 4 weaned heifers to the field below the lane, where we can plug in the tank heater—and not have to break ice out of their water trough every day.  It was too cold to ride today, so Dottie got a day off from training.

DECEMBER 1 – Last Saturday it was still cold, but Heather and I rode our two trainees for a short loop over the low range.  Dotty was grumpy and frisky in the cold weather but I was able to keep her from bucking.  That evening Alfonzo brought all his cows down to the lower fields (weaning his calves and leaving them in the corral at the Gooch place) so the cows were all trying to come back through the fence between us.  He still has bulls with his cows, so we didn’t want them right next to Freddy (since she’s not pregnant and might come in heat).  To avoid the risk of having bulls crash through the fence, I lured Freddy with a flake of hay and led her up to the corral below the barn.  Now she’ll have to be fed hay until we butcher her.  The 4 heifers will probably be ok in that field because they are too young to be breeding yet, and won’t attract the bulls.

The next morning, some of Alfonzo’s cows (after trying all night to get through our fence) crashed over his fence along the road—which is in worse shape than our fence—and trooped back up the road to the Gooch place to try to get back to their calves.  Later that morning Alfonzo and his son brought 7 of those cows down again (including one that had a small calf with her, that apparently crawled out of the corral to join her), and a couple hours later brought 2 more back down. They put some steel posts in the broken-down fence.

Andrea, Carolyn, Heather and I rode that afternoon, making a long loop over the low range, since Dottie needs more miles to settle down her goofy attitude on these cold days.  As we came back over the ridge to come home we saw 3 cows of Alfonzo’s trying to get out again, crashing the newly fixed fence.  One cow got stuck in the fence and struggled and bellowed, and flipped over backward.  She tried again, and made it over the fence.  Apparently 8 or 9 cows went right back up to their calves, and this time Alfonzo gave up and left them up on the Gooch place.  This was a relief to us.  We don’t like our place being used as a buffer zone for his weaning—with his cows trying to come through our fences.

Carolyn sent a package to Michael in North Dakota by Fed-Ex, to deliver to the truck shop where he’s located.  He’d run out of prescription meds, including his blood pressure pills, since his job demanded him staying longer back there than originally planned—and wasn’t able to come home for Thanksgiving.  The package arrived the day before Thanksgiving, as planned, but was delivered to the wrong place, and wasn’t located until a week later.  It sat outside during that time and the medication froze—reducing the effectiveness of the blood pressure pills.

Andrea and crew kept working on the church roof and finally finished it the day before Thanksgiving.  Those days I rode with Carolyn and Heather.  On Wednesday Dani rode with us, on Thelma—Carolyn’s old horse—and Sam rode Breezy.  After our ride the two little girls filled our woodbox, to help Grandpa, since he’d taken Andrea’s snow tires to town to be put on her car while she was at work.

When Lynn got home he started his tractor and brought 2 big square bales around to my stack yard—to augment my dwindling hay.  He also took a bale below the lane, so we can start feeding Freddy (until we get a chance to butcher her) and our young heifers in the adjacent field if the snow covers their pasture.  We put tarps over those big bales to protect them from snow and rain.

We had Thanksgiving dinner here for Andrea and Emily (the other kids were at their Dad’s) and Carolyn and Heather.  Michael wasn’t able to come home, nor Nick (too far, from college in Iowa) but they will both be home for Christmas.

The next day Andrea rode with Carolyn, Heather and me, glad to be done with the roofing project.  Our plan is to keep riding Sprout and Dottie as much as possible this winter.

Today it rained and we didn’t ride.  I started feeding our heifers a little bit of hay, just to get them used to coming to me.  This evening we had a second Thanksgiving dinner up at Andrea’s place after her kids got home from their Dad’s, and invited Carolyn and Heather to join us.

DECEMBER 10 – Last Monday it was rainy off and on but Andrea and I managed to make a short ride between storms.  It turned out to be our last ride of the year.

When we got back, I took off Breezy’s shoes for winter, and then it started to snow.  I still need to get Ed’s shoes off, and we need to either take off Sprout’s shoes or reshoe her, depending on whether we can keep riding through winter as planned.  Our weather became suddenly very cold (below zero) and we haven’t ridden now for more than a week, so I’m not sure if we can continue riding and training Dottie and Sprout.

Lynn was supposed to go to Missoula for a checkup (heart doctor) last Tuesday but postponed because of snowstorms and bad roads.  He’s rescheduled for this Thursday.  It got so cold that it became impossible to put ointment in Breezy’s eye morning and evening, so we quit.  It had been nearly 2 weeks of treatment anyway, and the vet is coming out again to check her eye.

With the snow and cold weather I started feeding our heifers a little alfalfa hay.  We haven’t started feeding the cows yet; they still have some rough feed left.  We bought a little protein supplement to encourage them to keep grazing, and hope we won’t have to start feeding hay for a few more weeks—unless the last of our grass snows under. The creek froze over and Lynn is chopping ice daily on their water holes.

Carolyn and Heather took the shoes off the rest of the horses they’ve been riding, and turned them out on pasture for winter.  They brought Mr. Peabody (the orphan twin calf they raised on a bottle) down from the upper corral so he wouldn’t be all by himself up there.  Heather led him down the mile down the road to the corrals by their house, using one of her mom’s old show halters with a chain under the chin, and he was broke to lead by the time they got down to the house.  After Michael gets home from North Dakota for Christmas they plan to castrate that big calf, and then he can live with our heifers for winter.

Heather has been doing chores for Suzanne Nebeker—one of our local doctors who lives across the valley from us.  She has horses, and raises and shows Tennessee Walkers.  This past week she went to Salt Lake City, Utah for surgery and will be gone awhile, so Heather has been taking care of her horses.  Thursday afternoon when Heather went over there to feed the horses she discovered a herd of elk had gone through the pens and pastures and scared the horses.  The elk were still there—about 30 of them in a frightened group—huddled in a fence corner in a neighbor’s field.

One of Suzanne’s mares had jumped over a fence and injured herself and couldn’t get up.  She was lying on the ground and very cold.  Heather had a wool horse blanket in her car and put it over the mare and called her mom and the vet.  Carolyn, the vet and a couple neighbors worked with the mare into the night, building a shelter of panels and straw around her and covering her with blankets.  The vet gave her fluid and medication to ease the pain and inflammation.  After the mare warmed up she tried to get up, but her hind legs wouldn’t work.  The injury seemed to be in her pelvis.

She made it through the night and was perky the next morning, eating and drinking, but shortly after noon she suddenly died.  The vet came back out and thought that she probably split her pelvis in the accident, and in one of her later attempts to get up the bones shifted and severed an artery and she quickly bled to death.  It was a terrible tragedy—a sad end for a very nice (and valuable) mare.

The elk are still in the neighborhood.  They spent 3 days huddled in the neighboring field—a plowed field—with nothing to eat.  We are assuming wolves drove them down out of the high country (a pack of 6 wolves left tracks across the road only a few miles above the neighborhood where Suzanne’s horses are).

Friday morning Emily and Andrea drove to Bozeman, Montana for Em’s hockey tournament.

The weather was bitterly cold (40 below zero) just over the hill from us in Montana.  Andrea and Emily got back home Sunday evening.  We moved our cows to Heifer Hill and the little field below it that still has some grass, and Andrea helped Lynn move their protein tubs.  Three of the yearlings wouldn’t cross the bridge and didn’t want to cross the creek ice, but Lynn and Andrea were finally able to herd them across the creek.

Carolyn and Heather came down to get a pickup load of firewood.  We’ve been burning a lot of wood these days to keep our houses warm.  This morning it’s not quite so cold—it didn’t go below zero last night.  It’s supposed to storm again, so we’re hoping the roads won’t be too nasty for Nick driving home from college (from Iowa) tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


NOVEMBER 1 – Last week when Andrea’s kids were taking showers getting ready for school, the pump quit working and they ran out of water.  Andrea took jugs of water from our house to have enough water to get through the day--for drinking water, toilet flushing, etc.  We called a pump repairman and he discovered that the starter unit had gone bad and had to be replaced.  Having water available in our homes is something we take for granted!

It’s been freezing hard at nights but not too cold during the days, so Andrea and I continued to ride Sprout and Dottie most days, getting more training rides on Dottie.  Some days we meet up with Carolyn and young Heather who is riding the horse she’s been training. 


Lynn put power service in our diesel tractors so the diesel won’t freeze up if the weather stays cold—in case we have to use a tractor to plow snow or load hay.

Last weekend Dani and Sam rode with Andrea and me for a couple hours.  Sam is doing very well now riding Breezy.  Old Veggie at age 27 is retired for the winter.


On Saturday our Amish neighbors invited Lynn to come up the creek where they were getting out their winter firewood with their draft horses, dragging the trees down the hill to the road.  They filled our pickup and a couple other neighbors’ pickups with firewood.  We took the load of wood up to Andrea’s house because she doesn’t have any wood yet for winter, and the kids helped unload and stack it next to the house.

We had such a bumper crop of tomatoes in our 2 little trough gardens in the back yard that we’ve given away a bunch of them to Carolyn, and some to Andrea to make salsa.  Andrea and Em made a lot of salsa when they got back from the World Burn Congress in Rhode Island.  We’ve frozen many packages of stewed tomatoes and are still eating on the last ones; we picked all the green ones in September before they froze and they keep ripening.


Sunday night the wind took all the leaves off the trees.  We had new snow on the mountains Monday morning.  The weather turned cold, so Lynn shut off the irrigation water that was still running down our ditch from the Gooch place above us, where Alfonzo is still trying to irrigate—with some ice building up across his fields.

Tuesday afternoon I did the chores and fed the horses early so we could get to town by 6 pm to attend the Salmon Idol singing contest at the high school.  Charlie entered the junior division and was the only boy amongst a dozen girls.  He chose to sing “I’m in a hurry and I don’t know why” (an old song performed by the group Alabama, and one that he’s heard since he was a baby).  He won third place for his performance and we were really proud of his courage to get up and sing in front of a big audience.  Andrea took a photo of him in his hat and tie just before he went on stage.

The next day Lynn took his chain saw up to help Carolyn and young Heather cut poles for the dog houses they are building—to make some better shelters for their old dogs this winter.  They’ve also been making steps up behind their house, putting in some nice rockwork around the steps.


Today 6 of us rode; Andrea took Charlie up to ride Gus (one of Carolyn’s horses) while Dani and Sam helped me get all our horses ready.  When Andrea got back, we rode up to meet Charlie and young Heather (riding Romeo—the horse she’s been training) and we all went for a ride several miles up the creek.  It was very cold in the canyon, since the sun doesn’t come up at all in some places during winter.  We rode about 3 miles in the deep shade, with several inches of ice on the puddles and slippery footing on the frozen road.  The kids enjoyed the ride, but decided they needed warmer footwear the next time we ride on a cold day!

NOVEMBER 7 – Last Saturday Charlie, Sam and Dani rode again with Andrea, Heather and me, and this time we stayed in the lower country and rode over the foothills—where the sun was shining. 



On Sunday it snowed and we didn’t ride.  Andrea and kids went to church but Lynn and I stayed home and got our 2 yearling heifers in from the field above the house where they’ve been living with Freddy (the old cow that’s regaining weight after her mysterious illness this summer) and our weaned heifers.  Our vet stopped by on his way home from preg-checking at one of the neighbor’s places, to check these heifers again.  They were both pregnant but will calve later than the others.  They probably got bred just before we took the bull out of the herd.  When the vet checked them last month it was too early to tell if they were pregnant or not.  We vaccinated them and put them up with the rest of the herd; we had planned to sell them if they’d been open.

That afternoon we went to town for Dani’s birthday party at the pizza place.  She’s 9 years old!  Our littlest granddaughter is growing up.


We skipped our training rides for a couple days of stormy weather then rode briefly on Tuesday with Carolyn and Heather.  The hillsides were frozen and slippery.  Andrea and I rode again yesterday out over the low range, and came around a hill and nearly ran into a big herd of elk—about 50 animals.  We hurried home and put the horses away, and then Andrea and Lynn drove our pickup to the end of the jeep road toward coyote flat.  Lynn drew an elk permit for the cow hunt but hadn’t tried to hunt because he didn’t want to waste several days looking for them.  Knowing where this herd was, he decided to try—so he and Andrea hiked a couple miles out over the flats, tracked the elk, then saw the herd a mile farther away.  The 50 had been joined by another group and there were more than 100 of them.  These are the elk that have been traveling back and forth into a neighbor’s alfalfa field at night and up into the mountains during the day.

There wasn’t much cover and they had to crawl most of that mile, so the elk wouldn’t see them.  It was starting to get dark by the time they got close enough to try a shot.  Lynn missed the first time, which spooked the elk, but also confused them because they weren’t sure which direction to run.  They milled around and came back toward Andrea and Lynn and this time he got a better shot and killed a young dry cow. 

It was dark as Andrea field dressed the elk with Lynn holding a cell phone for a bit of light (they hadn’t taken flashlights). 

Then they had to hike 3 miles home in the dark (overcast, with no moon), with only their cell phones for light.  It took them more than 3 hours to get home and they were exhausted.  Lynn and Andrea did a lot of hunting together, before her burn accident 13 years ago, but Lynn hasn’t hunted since.  It was a major effort for him now, at age 70.

The next challenge was getting the meat home.  The elk was on a hillside much closer to our neighbor’s place than ours, so we got permission from him to go up through his place.  Andrea and Lynn and a couple friends drove over there and hiked a half mile up to the elk to start skinning and cutting it for packing, and Carolyn and Heather hauled horses to the neighbor’s place, to ride up on the hill and pack the meat.  They were relieved to see that the only predators on site were ravens, eating the gut pile (they hadn’t started pecking on the carcass yet), and no wolves.  Carolyn and Heather made two trips up the hill with the pack horse to retrieve the meat. 



NOVEMBER 16 – Last Friday the kids rode with us again and we had a good ride over the low range, with Sam leading the way on Breezy.  Dani and I were following her, with Charlie behind us, followed by Andrea and Heather.

 Charlie loves riding Gus, and that big horse takes good care of him, not getting upset if Charlie is goofing around or not hanging onto the reins (just looped over the saddle horn). 


That day Charlie was trying acrobatic stunts on the way home.  He was leaning way out to the side as far as he could, pretending to be a trick rider.  Suddenly his saddle turned sideways and he plopped down on the ground.  He didn’t have far to fall because he went off the uphill side, and it didn’t hurt him a bit. 

But the sudden loss of ride--and the saddle practically under his belly--spooked Gus and he took off down the hill.  He probably had a fleeting memory of packing posts two years ago when we were building fence on the 160, when he got spooked and went bucking down the mountain with posts banging and he bucked them off and ran down to the gate with pack saddle under his belly.

He didn’t go far this time, however, and Heather grabbed him and reset the saddle, and Charlie climbed back on.  It didn’t scare Charlie a bit; he rode along on Gus with one leg cocked over the saddle horn, taking his boot off to get the dirt out of it!

Heather worked with Willow (the yearling filly) a few days this week, putting a big tarp over her back, held in place with a surcingle, teaching her to drive with two long lead ropes attached to the halter.  We’ll do groundwork with the filly periodically through the winter and maybe start riding her a little bit next summer.

Andrea spent several days cutting up the elk meat, and it’s now in the freezer.  We rode briefly every day, trying to make every day count—until Andrea started helping some friends with a roofing project.  I want to keep riding Dottie because she’s still a bit goofy (and sometimes gets mad and tries to buck when she has to follow other horses), and I don’t want to give her a lot of time off just yet.  I rode with Heather for a short ride on Tuesday (the first day Andrea was busy with the roofing project) and we had a good ride until the very end, when we came home about the same time Alfonzo was bringing his cows home up the road, from some pasture he’d leased a few miles away. 

We rode over the hill and saw the cows coming up the road, and got ahead of them so we could stand at our driveway and block the herd from coming down our driveway.  Dottie did fine, watching the cows, until they passed our driveway to go by us, and then she got goofy and jumped straight in the air and tried to buck a few times, and pranced and danced.  She’s been around cows before, but she doesn’t like big herds going by her.  I guess she needs a lot of training sessions with cows!

On Thursday we moved the weaned bull calves around to the main corral for winter; they ran out of grass in my horse pasture.  That afternoon Carolyn and Heather rounded up the two 2-year-old bulls they borrowed from us this summer, and hauled them home; they’ll live in the back corral this winter.  They rounded up their cows and calves to leave in the corral overnight, and got some little bales from us to feed them.

Andrea worked all week on the roof project (rebuilding the roof on a church).  They got half of it done this week and hope to get the other half next week.

Yesterday morning Carolyn and Heather sent their calves to the sale at Butte, Montana, sorting them off the cows at daylight.  We were glad it wasn’t raining or snowing, or the upper corrals would have been too slippery for the truck and trailer.  Then they vaccinated the cows they plan to keep.  They will be sending the others to a bred cow sale on Monday.

Sam rode with me on a short ride on Breezy while I rode Dottie.  Sam enjoyed riding with grandma, just the two of us, and she picked our route over the low range.  She likes our secret “Indian trail” that goes up a little draw parallel to Baker Creek.  When we got home, Charlie and Dani came down on the 4-wheeler and had a late lunch with us, and the 3 kids filled our woodbox while Lynn was still in town.  Carrying in the wood is hard on Lynn’s back so they decided to help grandpa.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


SEPTEMBER 28, 2013 – The kids are back in school and enjoying their classes, but also enjoy the weekends they get to be home, here on the ranch.

The calves we sold through the auction at Butte, Montana a couple weeks ago did fairly well, considering they were only 5 months old.  The biggest steers averaged 480 pounds and brought $1.78 per pound and the smaller steers averaged 420 pounds and brought $1.82.  The heifers were smaller and brought $1.88.  That night it rained, the first real rain we’d had for quite awhile.  The heifers and 3 bull calves we weaned that day got cold and wet, but didn’t get sick.  The didn’t want to graze the wet grass in the little pasture below the barn, so we fed them some hay in tubs to keep them from wasting it, and they ate the dry hay more readily than the wet grass.

Andrea and I have been riding Sprout and Spotty Dottie nearly every day and their shoes were worn out.  Michael put new shoes on them, and reshod Ed and Breezy before he went back to North Dakota for another stint driving trucks.  Last weekend Andrea and I took Sam and Dani for a ride.  Veggie was colicky the night before—and we had to give him a shot of Banamine—so Sam rode Breezy instead of Veggie.

On Sunday Andrea and I made a ride through the low range, taking Dottie some new places she’d never been before, and discovered a dead cow belonging to our neighbor Alfonzo.  It looked like she might have died this past spring, possibly while trying to calve.  That afternoon we moved the weaned heifers to the little field above the house to live with Freddy (the old thin cow that nearly died a few weeks ago, now regaining weight), and put the 3 bull calves in my old horse pasture.

Last Monday Andrea and I made a short, fast ride on Dottie and Sprout.  Carolyn and Heather made a loop through the low range, too, with Heather on a gaited horse nicknamed Romeo—one she’s training for some people in Montana. 

Carolyn called Andrea on her cell phone to mention they were going to move their cows.  We hurried home so I could change horses and ride Ed to help them gather and move their cows down from the 320-acre mountain pasture before the weather got bad.  A snowstorm and cold weather were predicted.  If the north slopes freeze or gets snow-covered, it will be harder (and more risky) to gather those cattle.

The next day was cold and stormy but Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie down the road a ways, not wanting to skip Dottie’s training ride.  Both horses were goofy in the wind and spooked at birds and other “normal” objects.  By afternoon it was raining hard—and snowing in the high country.  We skipped our training rides for the next 2 days during stormy weather.

With the rain and snow the creek has risen a little, and we had a little more irrigation water.  Lynn is trying to water a couple of our dry fields before the ground freezes up.  Yesterday it was cold but not raining, so Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie for nearly 4 hours.  It was too muddy to take Dottie out in the hills so we went up the road about 6 miles, almost to Mulkey Creek, and back again.  Today we rode again, this time with young Heather, riding the horse she’s training, and rode more than 3 hours—up the right fork of Withington Creek to the top gate on the jeep road through our high range

OCTOBER 5 – Last Sunday Andrea and Lynn butchered Opie for Michael and Carolyn.  He’s a big yearling that had a very rough start in life.  Born a twin, his mother abandoned him when she had the second calf, and he never had a chance to nurse.  Carolyn found him after the calf was at least half a day old.  He was chilled and unable to stand up, and magpies had eaten his umbilical cord and pecked a big hole in his belly.  Carolyn brought the calf home on her 4-wheeler and called Michael, who was helping a neighbor.  When Michael got home they tubed the calf with colostrum and tried to clean up the gaping hole and sew his belly back together.  They had to leave a gap for him to urinate through, since his sheath had been eaten by the magpies.

The stitches didn’t hold very well and they treated him with antibiotics.  He was soon able to nurse a bottle, but still had an infection in the umbilical area.  A few weeks later, they lost a big calf that got knocked into a water trough on its back and drowned.  They brought that cow home and grafted the orphan calf onto her.  She was high strung, however, and kept trying to crash out of the corral.  Even though they still needed to keep treating the calf with antibiotics, it wasn’t going to work if they had to keep the pair confined any longer.  So they gave the calf a final dose of antibiotics and let the pair out in the field with the other cows, and Michael said, “Hope he lives.”  The person he was talking to didn’t hear quite what he said, and thought “hope he” was “Opie” so that became the name of the calf.

Opie survived and grew big, in spite of the hole in his belly.  He couldn’t be sold with the rest of the calves last fall, so they planned to butcher him.  Andrea volunteered to do that, and cut up the meat for them.  It was interesting to see how the inner wall of his belly had healed, with a lot of scar tissue on the outside to protect it.  Opie also had unusually big joints, probably from septicemia (similar to navel ill or joint ill)—the infection that nearly killed him as a baby.  Otherwise he was a nice big healthy yearling.

On Monday I took off Rubbie’s shoes and trimmed her feet.  I probably won’t be riding her any more this year; I only rode her on short rides when Sam rode Veggie.  The rest of the fall and winter Sam will probably ride Breezy.

Tuesday Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie up the right fork again, in spite of the cold windy weather.  We picked a sample of the strange new weed that appeared all over our range this year, since our county extension agent was unable to tell what it was from the photos we took.  Andrea took it to her, and she was finally able to identify it as Elk weed or deer ears.  The variety on our range looks like the type that’s called Monument Plant.

Elk season is open now in our area and we’ve had a horrendous amount of traffic up and down our road, and 4-wheelers going all over the range.  On our ride Wednesday we met 5 4-wheelers coming down out of the middle range.  That afternoon I went to the eye-doctor because my vision has suddenly become blurred in my right eye.  The doctor says I’m starting to get cataracts. 

Andrea finished cutting up the meat for Michael and Carolyn, but slipped with the knife while cutting through a leg joint, and sliced her forearm.  Emily helped her bandage the spurting wound.  They put butterfly bandages across the cut to hold it together, and it looks like it will heal ok that way without stitches.

That evening Lynn and I lured the cows out of the lower back field and brought them up to the little pasture above the corrals for overnight so we could preg check them the next morning.  It started raining at midnight and rained all night.  The next morning it was snowing when Duwayne Hamilton brought his truck and trailer to load our big bull to haul him to the sale.  We decided to sell him because he will be 5 years old next year and is starting to get too aggressive.  We have some younger bulls coming on.  The old bull was belligerent and angry when Lynn tried to bring him out of the back corral, and Lynn had to grab a pitchfork.  Andrea and I helped herd him through the main corral to load him, and it was a good thing there were 3 of us; the bull thought about charging at us, but we had him outnumbered.  It was a relief to have him safely in the trailer!

It was still snowing when Lynn and I brought Freddy and the heifers around from the field above the house, and the 3 little bulls from the horse pasture.  We locked them in side pens.  When the vet came to preg check, we had all the cows in the holding corral to preg check and vaccinate, then vaccinated the bull calves and heifers.  Carolyn and Heather came down to help.  Then Andrea went up to their place to help vaccinate and preg-check their herd.  A couple of neighbors (the ones Heather has been riding range for all summer) also came to help.  All of their cows were pregnant.  Our cows were also pregnant (except for Freddy, who was sick during the time she should have been with the bull).  Two of the heifers where questionable.  They are either open or just recently bred, so we may check them again later.  It was a wet, miserable day with the wind and snow, but we’re glad to have the cows worked.

Yesterday was clear, so Andrea and I rode Dottie and Sprout, in spite of the deep mud.  We made a loop over the low range; a good experience for Dottie in learning to try to keep her footing and balance on the slippery hillsides.  She’s come a long ways in her training in the last 2 months.

Today Andrea finished grinding the hamburger from Opie.  Lynn and I moved the cows down to the lower back field, holding back the two questionable yearling heifers.  We put them above the house with Freddy and the heifer calves.  We may check them again to see if they are pregnant; we don’t want to sell them unless they are truly open.

This afternoon Andrea and I made a short ride on Sprout and Dottie, and I changed Dottie from the broken snaffle (a training bit) to a Pelham—using the snaffle reins on the Pelham.  Now I can eventually transition her into the curb.  A Pelham is actually a curb bit (with shanks) and snaffle rings.  I can now use 4 reins and gradually get her used to the curb bit and finish her training.

OCTOBER 14 - Last Sunday afternoon after church Emily rode with Andrea and me.  She rode Sprout and Andrea rode Breezy. 

That evening Andrea took Sam’s turtle out to Mark’s place (those 3 kids were with their dad that weekend) so Sam could say good-by to the turtle.  Andrea turned it loose by the ponds where Sam found it this summer, so it could hibernate for winter.

Monday it was warm, so Andrea and I rode and Sprout for 3 hours—up the ridge to the 320-acre mountain pasture to check the gates and make sure they were still shut with all the hunter traffic.  It was the first time I’d ridden Dottie in very much snow.  Both the top and bottom ridge gates were shut and we decided not to ride down into Baker Creek to check those gates because the snow was very deep on that timbered slope.

We were expecting a check in the mail that day from the bull we sold, but all we got was a note saying the check was being held for lack of proof of ownership!  We were flabbergasted, because the bull had our brand on him (branded as a calf, since we raised him).  We called our local brand inspector, who knows our cattle, and he called and talked to the saleyard’s brand inspector and got it straightened out.  We got our check a few days later.

When Lynn went to town that day for mail and groceries he talked with a person who saw 7 wolves a few days ago--in the field over the hill from us, just through the fence from our low range.  That’s way too close for comfort!  I just did an interview with a ranch family a few miles the other side of town who lost a horse to a pack of wolves earlier this fall.  The horse was in a pasture with several other horses and a herd of cattle, and the wolves singled out this horse and killed it.

Michael drove home from North Dakota; their job was shut down for a week and he decided to come home and get caught up on some things rather than stay there in the truck.  He got home in the wee hours Tuesday morning—the morning Andrea and Emily were going to drive to Boise to catch a plane the next morning to fly to Rhode Island for the World Burn Congress.

We’d planned to put down the 4 old horses before winter (Chance and Molly—Heather and Carolyn’s old horses—and Andrea’s Fozzy and Snickers) the next time Michael was home, so we quickly decided to do it now.  The weather was still decent; a nice time to do it instead of in the cold and snow.  Andrea and Em postponed their drive to Boise until afternoon.  Early that morning she came down and we took photos of Fozzy (her crippled 23-year-old gelding) and Snickers (the 29-year old mare that was Andrea’s best cowhorse in earlier years).

After she’d had a chance to say good-by to each of them, Michael came to help.  The kindest final gift a person can give a beloved animal is a merciful release from pain and infirmity.  Fozzy had been unsound for several years.  More recently he’d developed several cancerous growths up under his flank and they were getting worse; he was losing weight and didn’t have any fat under his skin for insulation.  He was shivering and miserable during cold nights.  Snickers was becoming unstable on her feet and her vision was failing.  It was time to let them go.

A well-placed bullet to the brain is the most instant and merciful death, quicker than the veterinarian’s sedation and lethal injection.  Michael did this act of mercy for his little sister’s beloved horses, and then used our backhoe to dig a grave for them beneath some trees along the stackyard across the creek—a nice final resting place.

Andrea and Emily drove to Boise that afternoon, on the first leg of their journey to the World Burn Congress, a special event that would help Andrea fill the void and ease the pain and grief of loss.  Early the next morning they flew to Chicago and then on to Providence, Rhode Island. 

On that day, Michael performed the same kindness for Chance and Molly.  Chance was 30 years old and has had bad teeth for several years, unable to chew hay very well.  He spent a couple winters here while young Heather was in college, and I fed him grain, alfalfa pellets and senior horse pellets, and cut fine grass hay into inch lengths with scissors--a couple buckets per day.  He did ok on soft green grass during the summer, but needed help with his winter diet.  This past summer he was losing weight even on green grass, so Heather fed him a special mush every day—soaking the pellets so they’d be easier to eat.  He’d become extremely thin by this fall, in spite of the pampering, and his eyesight was failing. 

Molly, 31 years old, was one of Carolyn’s first horses growing up. After she married Michael her kids both learned to ride on Molly.  It was hard for them to say good-by.  Michael dug their grave below the big fallen tree along the edge of the Wild Meadow on the upper place, and set a big rock—with the backhoe--to mark the spot.

Later that afternoon Heather rode down here on the horse she’s training, and I rode Dottie.  We made a loop over the low range.  Riding out there on these young horses was good emotional therapy after the morning’s sobering finale for the old horses.

When we got home I helped Lynn make a dividing fence (using two electric wires) for Rubbie’s pen.  We put Veggie on one side and Rubbie on the other.  I’ve had Veggie separate from her all summer in an adjoining area—so they could be next to each other but fed separately.  For winter we need to be able to drive through that area to feed cattle, so we just divided their old pen.  Veggie, who will be 28 years old in the spring, eats slower than his sister who is a year younger, and we don’t want him to lose weight during winter.  Last winter she got too fat and he became thin, just because he eats more slowly and she got more than her share.

Andrea’s younger kids are spending this week with their dad while she and Emily are at the World Burn Congress, and Lynn is feeding the dogs and cats while everyone is gone.  Andrea and Emily arrived at the WBC the first evening in time to go on the walk of remembrance—a special time of remembering friends and loved ones lost.  She and Em walked in remembrance of Jeff Allen (son of Bill and Diz Allen—friends of ours here in Salmon) who died fighting a forest fire 10 years ago, and Sara who died after suffering burns over 100% of her body in an accident in Yellowstone Park, the same summer Andrea was burned.  She also walked in remembrance of the team of firefighters who died this year in Arizona—all of whom Andrea met last year when she was working at the Halstead fire. 

Andrea and Em enjoyed reconnecting with people they met last year, and some that Andrea and I met at the WBC in 2008, including George Pessotti.  Em wants to help start a support group for children of burned parents.


While Michael was home he borrowed our flatbed trailer and hauled big round bales (purchased from a neighbor) for Heather’s horses, and a load of small bales.  While Andrea was gone, Heather rode with me so I could keep training Dottie.  Our second ride out through the low range, Dottie got mad and grumpy at having to follow the other horse on the way home and she bucked up the hill and passed him, and I had to spin her around to stop her.  That’s the most she’s ever misbehaved!  She did better the next few rides.

While the younger kids were staying with Mark, the deer season opened, and Charlie (age 12) shot his first deer.  He was very proud of that accomplishment.

Lynn took down some of the old tangled electric fence around Snicker’s pen, and put up new ones before we put Dottie in that pen.  I picked some of the big rocks and moved them, and dug out some of the noxious weeds that Snickers didn’t eat—that Dottie started eating.  After we moved Dottie to the bigger pen, we took down the temporary divider fence in Willow’s pen so she could have her whole pen again.

On Saturday Michael drove back to North Dakota to resume his truck driving job.  Lynn turned off our irrigation water.  With it freezing hard at night we don’t want ice flows across the fields.  I helped him cover our woodpile with tarps, in preparation for winter snow.

Yesterday morning Andrea and Em flew back to Chicago and then to Boise, and drove home late last night.  They had a wonderful time at the WBC and met a lot of new friends.  Nearly 1000 people attended, from 7 countries.  They hope to keep in touch with some of the special people they met.

 This morning Andrea and Em were sleeping after their late drive home, so Lynn took the kids to the school bus.  Carolyn and Heather rode down here late morning and I rode Dottie and went with them for another training ride.  Later after Andrea had a chance to catch up on some sleep she wanted to ride, so we took Sprout and Ed for a short loop over the range.  I fed everybody supper this evening.

OCTOBER 23 – After Andrea and Emily got home from Rhode Island we had some nice weather for awhile.  Last Tuesday Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie up the creek to meet Carolyn and Heather, and we rode with them about 6 miles up the creek.  They brought along two of their cowdogs, and it was the first time Dottie had been around dogs.  It was good for her, to get used to the dogs.  We also met a lot of traffic on that narrow little jeep road in the canyon, with hunters coming and going.

The next day Andrea and Lynn drove to Idaho Falls for Andrea’s monthly appointment with her pain management doctor, so I rode with Heather for Dottie’s daily ride.  Andrea and Lynn got back in time to get the kids off the bus, and Andrea took Charlie to town that evening for singing practice.

On Thursday Andrea and I rode for 3 hours, making a loop through the low range and stopped to take a picture of a rattlesnake—unusual for them to be out this late!

The next day, with no school, Sam and Dani rode with us on Breezy and Ed for a short ride over the low range.

Lynn set tall posts to make a capped gate into Veggie’s end of the pen he shares with Rubbie.  Andrea helped him put a pole across the top.  It’s handy to have a gate there; I no longer have to climb over the net wire fence to get into that end of the pen to break ice on their water tubs, and it will be nice to be able to bring Veggie in and out without having to go through the division fence between him and Rubbie.

On Sunday we took Dani and Sam on a much longer ride, into the middle range, with Carolyn and Heather.  We decided it was safer to ride out there in the mountains than on the creek road, with all the hunting traffic.  We rode past a couple water troughs and the dogs enjoyed cooling off in the water.

Monday I had a severe nosebleed after I got up in the morning, and couldn’t get it stopped for several hours.  Lynn helped me do my morning chores.  By afternoon I was doing better, and managed to make a short ride on Dottie.  Our weather has been so nice I hate to skip any days with her training. I know there will be a lot of days this winter we won’t be able to ride.

Yesterday Andrea and I made a much longer ride, through the middle range and into the high range, to see where the elk might be, since Lynn drew for an elk tag in the cow hunt next month.  We checked the gates on our 320-acre pasture on our way home, to make sure hunters haven’t tried to go through. There’s some snow on the high range and the ground was frozen and slippery in places; we led the horses down the steep slope off the ridge, down into Baker Creek, in case they fell down.  Dottie managed fine and led nicely down the steep, slippery mountain.  I’m glad I led her a lot last winter during her early training and groundwork.  Coming down Baker Creek through our 320 there were dozens of big trees blown down and broken off from a recent storm, with some trees down over the trail.  The horses had to jump over some and plow through a bunch of downed tree branches.  Dottie didn’t hesitate to go over and through the obstacles.  She’s coming along very well in her training.

Andrea’s kids are looking forward to Halloween and Sam and Dani gave us a preview, posing for us in their costumes.