Tuesday, December 9, 2014

November/December 2014

Last Monday morning Lynn and Michael hauled the 2 open cows and one of our yearling bulls to the saleyard at Butte, Montana. We kept 3 bull calves last year, but it turned out that we only needed 2 of them, so we sold the extra one.

Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie that morning, and met Carolyn at the upper place. She had already gathered the cows into the corral, just before we got there. We helped her prop up and tie together a fallen-down fence and brace post for the gate next to the road (that the neighbors’ cows crashed into earlier this fall when they brought their cows down the road after they rounded up off the range). Ralph the goat helped fix the fence, and at one point tried to climb up on the prop Andrea set against it.


We took our cows up the road to our 320-acre mountain pasture to spend the rest of the fall. The grass is really good this year, with the rain we had earlier in the fall, with new green regrowth amongst the tall mature grass. I took photos of Andrea and Carolyn as we moved the cows into Baker Creek, and Dottie got her head in one of the photos.




After we got back home, Andrea and I made a shorter ride—on Rishiam and Dottie—since this will be the last time she has a chance to ride him until she gets back from the World Burn Congress in California. She and Emily spent the evening getting packed and ready for their trip.

At chore time I gave the weaned calves a little hay, mainly to start gentling them and get them used to people. Our calves are already pretty gentle because they’ve seen us a lot, but Michael and Carolyn’s calves spent the summer on our mountain pasture and are not used to seeing people up close. The next morning when I fed them again, our calves came eagerly to the hay and others were not so scared and followed them.

That morning it started raining. It was a downpour by the time Andrea and Emily left here to drive to California. It rained most of the day. Carolyn and I had planned to ride and check the cows we’d put on the 320, and Lynn was going to take some salt up there on his 4-wheeler, but it was too wet and slippery. During a brief let-up in the rain, Michael and Carolyn went up on 4-wheelers just far enough to get a look at the cows and make sure they were doing ok and hoping none were trying to come home to their calves. Thanks to the nose-flap weaning of their calves, and the cows already drying up, none of them were very upset about being moved up there and they were doing fine.

Wednesday we moved the weaned heifer calves into a larger pasture. They are gentling down and were easy to move. It was still too slippery on the mountainsides to safely ride up to the 320 to check the cows, but the jeep track wasn’t bad, so I went with Lynn on the 4-wheeler when he took salt, and we checked the cows on foot. Andrea and Emily made it to Anaheim (for the World Burn Congress) by late afternoon, in time for the Walk of Remembrance. They were among more than 4000 people doing the walk to honor friends, relatives, firefighters and others who have perished in fires. Later that evening they met up with many friends they met at earlier WBC gatherings and talked with some of the firefighters.


Yesterday Lynn took Sam for her appointment at the hospital for an ultrasound of her abdomen to check her old hernia repair (the doctor wanted to check it because she’s been having discomfort). Later that morning he had to drive to town again to pick up all the kids. There was a gas leak at the school and they were closing school early and sending all the kids home.

Carolyn and I rode to the 320 to check on the cows. It was still muddy and slippery from the rain 2 days earlier, but not as bad. When we started up Baker Creek, a young cow and a yearling heifer were bawling and coming down the creek. They were quite upset, and when they saw Carolyn’s dog they ran on past us and down to the bottom. I rode down to get them, and took them back up the fence along the ridge while Carolyn rode up Baker Creek to see if there were any more cows coming down. There were no cows up there—just a bear! He was in the timber above the jeep road, and scared her horse as she rode by. The rest of the cows were out on the mountain. Apparently they’d all come in to water at the upper end of the pasture, and then gone back out—except for these 2 that must have gotten separated from the others and scared by the bear. Hopefully he won’t stay in our pasture. Dani and I rode this morning to check on the cows and move them again, since Carolyn has to work at the vet clinic.


NOVEMBER 1 - Andrea’s kids cleaned their rooms and cleaned up the house to surprise their mom when she got back from the World Burn Congress in Anaheim, California. Andrea and Em had a wonderful experience. The first evening, they participated in the walk of remembrance. The next 3 days were filled with inspiring speakers, other burn survivors sharing their stories and the struggles and high spots of their various journeys.

Featured speakers included Mark Nepo--a cancer survivor, poet and philosopher who talked about finding inner courage. Robert David Hall (who stars as Dr. Al Robbins in the CBS series CSI –Crime Scene Investigation) inspired the audience by sharing his journey as a burn survivor, after being seriously burned—and losing both legs--in 1978 when an 18-wheeler struck his car, which exploded. Another speaker was Justina Page, a delightful person that Andrea and I met at our first WBC in 2008 in North Carolina. Justina was severely burned some years ago, dramatically changing her plans for life. In her speech she used extraordinary humor and wisdom, challenging her listeners to live bold, purposeful lives filled with hope, faith and compassion.

Various workshops throughout the 4-day event focused on dealing with stress, alternative healing and self-care, self-compassion, reclaiming your life after a burn, etc. One workshop focused on choosing happiness (pain is inevitable after a burn but misery and happiness are optional). There are ways of make healthy changes to find happiness. Andrea and Em spent most of their time reconnecting with friends they met at earlier WBC gatherings, and meeting new ones—the WBC is one great big support group in which they help one another and celebrate life after a burn.




After the WBC was over on Sunday, Andrea and Em started their trip home, but made several stops along the way to visit friends and relatives. They made one detour down to San Diego to see Emily’s friend Eduardo. Emily met him at an earlier WBC when he was a new burn survivor, struggling to adjust, and they became good friends.

He had planned to drive to the WBC this year but his car broke down and he didn’t make it. So Andrea and Em drove down to San Diego to see him.


Then they drove north to Sacramento and visited with Ray (my cousin Kit’s husband; Kit is my twin cousin, who died earlier this year). He was glad to see them, and delighted to finally meet Emily.


They left his place late Monday night and drove as far as Reno, Nevada to stop for a few hours of sleep before heading on home.
During the week they were gone, we helped take care of the younger kids and Robbie took them to and from the school bus on his way to and from work. On Saturday Lynn took another block of salt to the 320 on his 4-wheeler.



It was too foggy in the morning to ride and check the cows, but the fog lifted a little by mid-afternoon so Dani and I made a fast ride on Ed and Dottie to see the cows.
On Sunday Lynn shut off all our ditches—before the weather gets colder and they start freezing up. The next day we let the weaned heifers into the little pasture above the orchard, where there is a lot of green grass regrowth.

Tuesday I rode Ed up to the 320 to check the cows and most of them were down on the low end so I moved them back up to the top. It was a little tricky, with the ground frozen and the steep hillsides very treacherous (no traction). Ed and I had to gather some of the cows in lower Baker Creek and it took awhile because I didn’t want to risk having my horse fall down on the steeper slopes where there’s no trails.

That afternoon we went to town and picked up the kids at school—and took Charlie’s good clothes for him to change to before his performance at the Salmon Idol. Andrea and Em were driving home and hoped to get here in time to hear Charlie sing, but arrived a bit late. Charlie did a great job, singing the convoy trucking song. Robbie made a video of his song, however, so Andrea and Em got to hear it. They stayed for the rest of the program but Lynn and I came home before the senior performances, to feed the horses and bulls (in the dark). Robbie gave Andrea a nice bouquet of roses when they all came home after the concert ended.


Andrea was exhausted after the trip and we didn’t ride the next day; she needed some sleep. We rode again Thursday, and Rishiam was pretty good. This was his 65th ride after 9 days off. We rode up the ridge to the 320 and found most of the cows down again. We moved them up Baker Creek and out through the timber at the top. Rishiam hasn’t had much experience yet moving cattle, and he got upset and worried when we first started, but then became more at ease. At one point Andrea left me holding him from my horse (Dottie) while she scrambled up the steep, frozen hillside on foot to move a few cows that were not wanting to follow the herd.

After we crossed Baker Creek and started up the little jeep track through the timber, some of the young cows—that haven’t had much experience being driven by horses—tried to go down across Baker Creek and up the other side of the canyon. Andrea and Rishiam held the back end of the herd (so they wouldn’t turn around and go back down the creek) while Dottie and I charged across the creek and up the other hill to turn them around to get them back to the herd. About that time some of the others headed up the bank on the other side, trying to go out through the timber, and Dottie and I had to hurry over there, lunge up the bank, and turn the cows the proper direction. She’s getting better about working cattle (and likes it!) and Rishiam is becoming less nervous. We got the herd back to the top area where there’s a lot more grass.

After we got home, I took Dottie’s bridle off and was just starting to lead her across the driveway to tie her up to unsaddle her when she suddenly fell forward into me. I thought for a second that she’d tripped and fallen down, then realized that her front leg had gone through the driveway surface into a deep hole—up past her knee!

The old culvert that Lynn put under the driveway more than 40 years ago (for the ditch) had rusted out and water eroded a big hole alongside it. There was a small cavern down in there, and Dottie just happened to step on the right spot to fall through. Luckily it was her (and not Rishiam, or a vehicle tire), and I was just leading her and not on her. It was a good thing she was just walking, and not trotting, or it might have broken her leg. Andrea and I put an old tire over the hole so no one would step in it or drive over it.

Yesterday Lynn drove past Gibbonsville to locate water for a well, for people who are planning to build a house on property they purchased there. On his way through town he ordered two long lengths of culvert, which were delivered in the afternoon.

Andrea and Robbie (on Sprout) rode with me on a 3 hour loop over the range (into the middle range) where we again tracks and fresh manure from Alfonzo’s bull that is still out there. Sprout was a bit naughty after several weeks of not being ridden, and tried to buck. Andrea had tied her head up fairly short (halter rope tied to saddle horn) before Robbie got on her however, and Robbie was able to keep her from bucking hard.
Charlie, Sam and Dani went trick-or-treating for Halloween, and had a great time.




They stopped along the way at Jade and Anita’s place, with their kids, and saw the huge pumpkin they grew. We gave them several trailer loads of manure for their garden this spring, and they had a little pile of manure left over; they planted a few pumpkin seeds in that pile and grew some huge pumpkins.


Today Andrea, Robbie and I rode again, this time up the ridge to the 320 to check on the cows. Some were down again, so we herded them up the ridge, taking them along the fence. Rishiam is figuring out the following-cows job and is actually enjoying it now instead of being nervous. Sprout behaved better today for Robbie than she did yesterday, and didn’t try to buck—even when it started raining. We rode home in the rain and a lightning storm. This is very late in the year for lightning!

NOVEMBER 7 – Last Sunday and Monday Michael helped us take out the old rusty, broken culvert in our driveway.


He dug it out with the backhoe, then he and Lynn placed the new culverts (coupled together to be long enough) and realized we needed 10 feet more. The old one was always too short, leaving a deep ditch that people sometimes drove into unexpectedly when turning around at our place (the ditch that Rishiam fell into after Andrea got on him, on one of their early rides). We put the new culvert 10 feet farther that direction thinking we could just fence off the ditch on the other side, toward the barn, but realized that would create problems on the barn end. Trying to save money on the length (the whole project was an unexpected expense that was definitely not in the budget!) was going to leave us with a situation we wouldn’t be happy with, so Lynn went to town Monday morning for another piece of pipe.

Michael hauled 3 dump-truck loads of dirt from his place to bed the pipe and smooth out the driveway, and also filled a dip in the gateway toward the lower field. It was a major project, taking till dark both days. There is still a small dip in the driveway on this side of the culvert and Michael hopes to bring one more truckload of dirt to finish smoothing that out. The material at his place makes great road surfacing because it packs beautifully and makes a firm surface that doesn’t get muddy.

Andrea and I didn’t ride Sunday while they were working on the culvert, but needed to ride on Monday to check the cattle on the 320. Rishiam was nervous about the machinery and noise, and didn’t want to be caught, so Michael shut off the backhoe. Andrea got him saddled, but when she tried to bridle him he was still upset and reverted back to his earlier phobia—raising his head up and stepping backward. I tried to help her, like we did earlier, holding his head down while she bridled him, but he was too upset to cooperate. She finally had to resort to our earlier trick, taking the bridle apart and putting it over his ears first. She felt badly that he regressed so much, after all the progress she’d made, the past couple months, on that aspect of his phobia.

The good note was that after we finally got past that situation and rode to the 320 to check the cows, Rishiam did really well. We had to move the cows higher again, and he did a great job. He’s becoming more at ease around the cattle and Andrea was able to go up one side of Baker Creek while I went up the other, and he held up his end of the move without becoming nervous about the cattle. He is going to be a useful cow horse. The ground wasn’t frozen that day, and we were able to safely scramble around on the steep hillsides to head a few wayward heifers. Our two green horses are getting better at moving cattle, and the young cows are learning how to behave and stay with the herd.

November 4 was Dani’s birthday. That morning Lynn gathered up all his irrigation dams before they snow under, and Andrea and I rode again (her 69th ride on Rishiam since she got him a few months ago). She is still having to take the bridle apart to get it on him, but at least he’s standing still for that and not trying to rush backward. It’s just going to take time to regain the ground she lost. We made a short ride that day—a loop around the low range—since Andrea had to go to town to get things ready for the birthday party.


I drew horses on T-shirts for Dani, and a Garfield cat for Charlie. They had friends for a party at the pizza place in town. We celebrated their birthdays together because we never did have a party for Charlie; the kids were at their dad’s that week.



My first shipment of books arrived that afternoon (Horse Tales: True Stories from
an Idaho Ranch) so I was able to give one to Dani for her birthday. She was delighted to discover that she is in 3 of the photos in a couple of chapters. The other kids will get their copies for Christmas. This book will be our Christmas gift to several friends and family members. It will give a bit of insight into our lives as well as that of our horses.

On Wednesday morning Andrea and Charlie got up at 4 a.m. to drive to town and go on the school bus for the choir trip to Shelley, Idaho. Andrea was one of two parents who traveled with them on the bus. Five schools sent their best singers for this regional meet.


The kids practiced all day and put on a concert that evening. Charlie was chosen as one of 3 soloists from the 5 schools, so we were proud of him. It was a long day for them; they got back home at 11 p.m. that evening.

That same day Lynn and Robbie helped Michael on a custom fencing job all day, leaving here at daylight and getting back just before dark. Michael wanted to get it finished that day because he was leaving the next morning for Wisconsin. He and Carolyn and Fred the dog left early yesterday morning for the first leg of their trip, making it as far as Bismarck, ND to spend the night. They’ve never had time to go to one of Nick’s track meets or cross-country competitions while he’s been in college in Iowa, so they wanted to go to his final regional meet (in La Crosse, Wisconsin) and surprise him. They called his coach earlier this fall to see if it would be alright if they picked up Nick after the meet, to take him back to college (rather than him riding the bus with the track team). The coach kept everything a secret, and helped them make motel reservations.

Andrea and I rode to the 320 again yesterday, and there were only a few cows down low. We moved them back up to the high grass, and Rishiam did very nicely; he now enjoys herding them. When we got home we dewormed the rest of the horses, and picked bot eggs off Willow and Veggie. It was such a warm fall that a couple more bot flies hatched out last week and attacked the horses. Hopefully there won’t be any more!

Today I moved the heifers to the little field above the house. We let that grass regrow after grazing it mid-summer, and the green grass is about 8 inches tall. We saved it for the weaned heifers this fall.
Andrea came at noon and took the shoes off Breezy, with a little help and advice. She’s helped me trim feet, but has never taken shoes off, and wanted to practice on some of the other horses before she tries to take the shoes off Rishiam later this year.

We talked to Michael and Carolyn this evening. They made it safely to La Crosse and got there in time to meet up with Nick as he and his teammates got off their bus. Fred the dog went to greet Nick and it was a wonderful surprise! He’d been very homesick and having his family come to his track meet really lifted his spirits.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

OCTOBER 2014

OCTOBER 7 – My publisher sent me the final proofs last week for my new book Horse Tales.   It looks good. [this book is now available; see the end of this month’s diary]
            
We had a little rain for a couple of days, and after the rain Andrea took a picture of a rainbow behind her house.

            
With the cooler weather we built a fire in our stove for the first time this fall. It’s been a long summer and a very mild fall this year. Last winter we only used the one stove (in the kitchen area--our really old stove that Lynn’s parents had when he was a child) because the chimney was completely plugged on the newer stove in the living room. Last Tuesday Michael helped Lynn take the stovepipe apart and they cleaned out the packed soot and debris above the firebox. We bought a new section of stovepipe and got it put back together, so this winter we can use the stove. It heats the house much better when temperatures drop below zero.

On Wednesday it wasn’t raining so Andrea and I made a short ride on Dottie and Rishiam—her 50th ride on that horse since she started working with him 2 months ago. It was a bit muddy and slippery, with a lot of puddles in the jeep road over the low range. Rishiam is finally starting to get over his phobia about walking through water, since he had to walk through some of the larger puddles.

Michael helped Lynn reset the gate post between the 2 fields above the house. It’s been leaning more the past few years, to where it’s almost impossible to open and shut that gate. They dug a deeper hole for the post and added a brace wire to help hold it so the post will stay upright and support the gate better.

The next day we moved our cows to the field above the corrals and sorted off the cows with steers, to leave in the holding pasture, and left the yearling heifers and cows with heifer calves in the larger field. Carolyn got their cows into the corral on the upper place and the brand inspector came and looked at their steers and ours. That afternoon Dani rode with Andrea and me on a short ride over the low range. We went up and around our hillside pasture where Mable—the young maple tree that Dani named—has suddenly turned from green to golden. Mable was just a 2-foot high sprout 26 years ago when we fenced that pasture, and now she’s grown into a small tree.



We fed the steers and their mothers a little hay that evening, and then got them into the corral before daylight on Friday. Andrea and her friend Robbie helped us sort off the steers (with flashlights) and put them in the main corral about the time Michael and Carolyn came down with their 5 steers in the trailer. We loaded ours with them and they were on the road by 7 a.m. (just as it started getting light enough to see) and took them to the sale in Butte, Montana.

They got there as the sale started at 10 a.m. but there were more than 1500 calves at this feeder sale and ours didn’t sell until 2 p.m. But they sold well and brought more than $1400 apiece. The yearling steer, Peabody, the orphan twin that Carolyn found last spring abandoned by his mother, and raised on a bottle (and he then spent last winter with our heifers) brought more than $1800. He was definitely worth saving!

Later that day Andrea and I rode up through the 320 acre mountain pasture to check all the gates. On Sunday Robbie and Andrea helped Carolyn and young Heather get a load of small bales that Heather bought for her horses. They used Andrea’s pickup. That afternoon Andrea and I made a longer ride up through the 320—Rishiam’s 53rd ride.





Yesterday afternoon we made a loop through the middle range and came down the Second Gully canyon. The weather was quite hot (very hot for October!) and Andrea took off her shirt; she has trouble dealing with hot weather because her grafted skin cannot sweat, and if she gets too warm she is at risk for heat stress.



Today Andrea went to Idaho Falls for her pain medications, so I rode Dottie up to meet Carolyn and we made a short ride up through the middle range. On our way home we met 2 men setting little wood posts along some of the cow trails; they are marking out numerous routes for bicycle trails crisscrossing our low range and middle range pastures, and setting posts as trail markers.

The two retired gray horses, Rubbie and Veggie (age 27 and 28) are now in their split pen for winter. We have to keep them separate because she eats faster than he does and would eat more than her share of the hay if they were still together.



OCTOBER 14 – After a ride last Wednesday (55th ride for Rishiam) we dewormed Rishiam and Dottie. He probably hasn’t been dewormed in his life, but was pretty good about it. We will deworm the rest of the horses soon, but are waiting for the weather to get colder so there will be no more bot flies. We usually don’t have any, but with all the horse traffic this year (people riding by our place, and the new Amish neighbors and their buggies) there were probably a few bot larvae shed this spring in the horse manure along the road; a few bot flies hatched out on warm days this fall. A couple weeks ago we picked about 100 bot eggs off Rishiam and Sprout.

The fall colors have been beautiful this year, as the trees along the creek have been turning gold. Lynn took some photos last week, here and on the upper place.





Andrea has been diligently handling Rishiam’s feet and trying to get him over his fears. He’s become fairly tolerant of having his feet cleaned before and after every ride, but he is still fearful about use of nippers. So Andrea is trying to get him used to the sound and feel of them, clanking them around, pretending to use them like she would do for pulling a shoe or trimming a foot. It’s going to take a lot of time. He is so phobic that we are sure someone tried to trim his feet at some earlier point in his life and beat on him with the nippers.

On Saturday we brought the cows down from the field and Michael helped us put nose flaps in the heifer calves.





We’ve wanted to try this weaning method for several years, so this fall I ordered enough nose flaps for our heifers and Michael’s. These small plastic “paddles” fit into the nose and hang down over the calf’s mouth, making it nearly impossible for the calf to get a teat into the mouth. The calf can still eat grass or hay, and drink water, but can’t nurse mama. It’s the least traumatic way to wean calves because they can stay with their mothers and have her companionship and security (which is the biggest thing they miss at weaning time). Since the calf can’t nurse, the cow dries up her milk. It’s a wonderful way to wean calves without the emotional trauma.



After we put in the nose flaps and turned the cattle back up into the field, we made a short ride—this time with Robbie (on Sprout) and Sam and Dani. Sprout hadn’t been ridden for 3 weeks and was feeling goofy, and started bucking after we’d gone about a mile. Robbie was able to get her stopped but we could see that Sprout was in a really bad mood and might try it again, so Andrea tied her halter rope up to the saddle horn with only a little bit of slack—so Sprout wouldn’t be able to get her head down far enough to buck very hard. She’s a really smart horse and knew she couldn’t buck much, so the rest of the ride went smoothly and Robbie didn’t have any more problems with her.



Our friend Danny Ashenbrenner arrived that afternoon from north Idaho, to hunt elk. Andrea went with him up the creek, to show him how to get up the big draw and over the top into the head of Baker Creek. It got really windy and stormy, and a couple of bull elk came out of the timber just before dark—and Danny was able to shoot one of them. About that time it started raining hard, turning to snow and hail, with lightning striking all around them. They left their guns (which might attract lightning) on the hill and went down off the ridge a little ways into a swale and waited out the pounding rain under a plastic rain poncho. Then they quickly gutted the elk with flashlights, put the rain poncho over its antlers to try to deter wolves and bears from approaching the carcass, and hiked back over the mountain in the dark (grateful for flashlights) to their 4-wheeler.

The wind was horrendous that evening; it ripped the tarp in two that was over my small haystack, and blow a big tarp (the one that earlier covered our trough garden) out of the backyard, over the fence and into the brush along the creek. We worried about Andrea and Danny up there on the mountain in the lightning storm, but Andrea was able to call us from the ridge with her cell phone to let us know they were ok, had got an elk, and were coming home. They finally got home at 10 p.m. They wanted to go back up and retrieve the elk with 4-wheelers but it was much too dangerous in the dark with the wet conditions. The hillsides and jeep track would be too slippery.



The next morning at daylight Andrea, Danny, Robbie and Sam took two 4-wheelers up through our mountain pasture into the high range and were able to get fairly close to the elk, quarter it, and bring it down to Andrea’s pickup at the bottom of the mountain. Fortunately no wolves or bears had found it yet.

Yesterday morning Andrea and Robbie helped Michael and Carolyn put nose flaps in their heifer calves on the upper place.



Then Andrea and I went on a short ride. On our way home, as we were coming down off the hill toward the road, several vehicles went by (lots of hunters!) and a couple of them were really noisy. One pickup and trailer went rattling by very slowly, coming up behind us, and the incessant noise upset the horses and they both started jumping around and bucking. We realized we didn’t want to end the ride on that note so we trotted and galloped them up the hill and make a longer loop to come home a slightly different way, and they were settled down again by that time.

Michael has been using our backhoe and dump truck to move a lot of dirt from behind their house and make a loop driveway and also enough room to park several vehicles. It’s looking really good.

This morning we had a beautiful sunrise when I went out to feed the horses at dawn, and I went back inside, grabbed my camera, and took a photo from our porch.



This afternoon young Heather had a serious accident and we are thankful she wasn’t hurt worse. She’s been working with two very spoiled Quarter Horses that someone brought her to train. They are about 5 years old, barely started under saddle a few years ago and not ridden since. One of them isn’t too bad, but the other one is nasty. She has ponied both of them several times and started riding them. Today she was riding the undependable one and had just started up the trail over the hill from their place when the horse just lost his mind and started bucking. He spun around and bucked straight down the hill toward a 5-strand barbed-wire fence. Heather was trying to stop him but he’d gotten her partly out of the saddle and was pounding her against it. She went off the side away from the fence (or she would have been catapulted right into it) and landed on her face. The horse ran back toward the horse pens but was on the outside of the range fence. Their dog Fred barked, and Michael (who was working in the backhoe) saw the horse running back, and Carolyn came out of the house and they both realized Heather had been bucked off. Michael jumped over the fence and caught the horse, but as he grabbed the reins the horse wheeled and struck at him. Michael realized this horse had bucked people off before and probably got beat. This horse was a total nut case with a nasty attitude.

He and Carolyn started hiking around the hill to go find Heather, but she was hiking home down along the road and saw them. She is pretty sore and stiff tonight and can hardly walk. We are thankful that she didn’t hit the fence or break her neck.

OCTOBER 20 – Young Heather was really sore for the past two weeks (badly bruised and some pulled/torn muscles) but nothing broken. She started riding again a couple days after the accident, working with the other horses she’s training (the bronc is going back to its owner). It was painful, especially getting on and off, because her left leg wasn’t working very well and she couldn’t raise it much. It’s doing better now.

Last Friday Charlie played his trombone with the band in the Homecoming parade and at the football game. He didn’t have his music but wasn’t worried about it because he plays most things from memory.

When Andrea and I rode up through the 320-acre pasture to check gates, we found another tree blown down across the little road up through the timber. Fortunately it was broken off partway, leaving 5 foot space between it and the steep bank, and we were able to get around it with our horses. The bank above and below the jeep track was too steep (and covered with old branches and trees) to go around it that way. This was her 61st ride on Rashiam. He’s becoming much calmer about obstacles and scary things than when she started riding him. We went out through the gate at the upper end of our place. Andrea is able to do the gates now that Rishiam is more accustomed to her getting on and off, and standing patiently as she opens and closes them.



We heard a bull elk bugling in the timber above us, as we rode on up into the high range. We rode on up Baker Creek and then out to the big salt ground.





As we came back down the ridge we startled 2 bull elk that went crashing down through the timber. Rishiam and Dottie startled a little at the noise, but they are getting more accustomed to seeing elk and deer.

On Saturday Michael worked all afternoon with the backhoe, fixing the eroded ditch channel below the old barn—eliminating that ditch (which we no longer use) and repairing the creek channel. Andrea and I made a longer ride that day and came home through the middle range. We found very fresh tracks--Alfonzo’s bull. We saw that bull the end of July after Alfonzo and Millers moved their cattle to the high range, and told Alfonzo about it, but either he never rode out there to get the bull or didn’t find him.

Sunday morning Michael and Carolyn hauled their heifers down here, and then hauled their cows down. We got our cattle in to the corral, and the vet came that afternoon to preg check for us and Bangs vaccinate the heifers. We took the nose flaps out of the heifer calves and put all the heifers in the little pens below our calving barn. There’s green grass there and they happily went to grazing—already weaned. There was no bawling, no stress.

One of Michael’s old cows was open. They bought her 4 years ago as a “one-timer” older cow, and she’s had several good calves; her latest calf is a nice big heifer that will replace the old cow. We had one open cow, too—Maggie—our oldest cow. Dani is sad because that cow was her favorite pet, and now we have to sell her. She started making friends with Maggie several years ago when she was only 5 years old and Maggie was a middle-aged cow that was curious about this small child.



My new book, Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch can be ordered through any book seller, or from the publisher - A.J. Mangum ( thefrontierproject@gmail.com 719-237-0243 ).



Autographed copies can be ordered directly from me by calling 208-756-2841 or by e-mail at hsmiththomas@centurytel.net

The price is $24.95 plus shipping.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

SEPTEMBER 2014

SEPTEMBER 15 – We did Yoder’s chores for a week (feeding their horses) while they were gone to Montana, where Rosina had her baby—a little girl they named Shana Fern.  Yoders are our neighbors (a young Amish family) in the little house a mile down the creek from us.  They moved here from Indiana last winter.

We had several nights of cold weather, well below freezing, so we covered the garden, and then picked all the green tomatoes.  Michael hauled 5 dump truck loads of gravel for Andrea’s driveway to cover up the bigger rocks, and smoothed it out with our backhoe, to make a better all-weather surface.
            
Andrea drove to Idaho Falls Friday to her appointment with the pain specialist and the doctor put 6 cortisone shots along her back—to try to relieve the neck pain and migraine headaches caused by her graft contractures pulling her spine out of line.
            
The next day we made a fairly long ride—her 29th ride on Rishiam—up a steep ridge in the middle range and into the high range. 

      
We made another ride the next morning on the high range, and rode through some cattle.  He’s starting to be at ease with more things, making good progress.


                     
He still has a serious phobia about his feet, however.  Andrea has been handling them every day, using a hoof pick to clean out mud and rocks, and he’s more at ease with that than when she first got him, but he must have had a really bad experience at some point in his life with hoof trimming.  Michael was able to put shoes on him the first time (after young Heather started his training, ponying, and first rides) because his feet didn’t need any trimming.  When he and the black mare arrived to be trained by Heather, their feet were very long and breaking; the hoof walls broke away and wore down during all the early groundwork and ponying out through the hills, and there was barely enough hoof left to put shoes on.  All Michael had to do was take a couple swipes with the rasp to try to level the feet, and nail the shoes on.  Rishiam was very nervous, but Michael is patient with inexperienced horses, and got them on.  That was 8 weeks ago, and his feet were getting long, and the shoes were wearing out after all the riding Andrea has done.  It was time for a new set of shoes.
            
When Michael came here last Monday morning to reshoe him, Rishiam was not at all cooperative about having the shoes pulled off and his feet trimmed.  We discovered he has a serious phobia about hoof nippers, and realized that someone in his past must have tried to trim his feet, had problems, and beat on him.  It took awhile to get his front shoes off (the horse was terrified and wouldn’t stand still), and even longer to trim them.  Nailing the shoes on was the easy part.  But after that ordeal we opted to wait and do the hind feet another day. 

Andrea and I rode that afternoon--a fairly long ride, over the top of the mountain at the head of Baker Creek.


We then rode down Withington Creek, where he had to follow Dottie across 2 creek crossings and down a long stretch of wet, muddy road that part of the creek runs over. This was a good start at getting him over his phobia about walking through water. He did really great at that new thing, then got scared when we had to meet a bunch of traffic (hunters) going up and down the jeep road, and some of them going too fast and not wanting to slow down when they went by our horses. I finally had to use Dottie as a roadblock to make some of them slow down. One pickup slowed down nicely, but there were 2 small children in the back, and as they went by us they started hollering, and their unexpected shrill voices scared him badly.

Andrea is diligently handling his feet more each day, trying to get him more at ease with this aspect of training. On Thursday, after a long ride through the middle range, she picked up his hind feet multiple times rather than just cleaning them and tapping on them with the hoof pick, and hopes to extend his tolerance level. We also worked with Willow (the 2-year-old Morgan filly) briefly, and I trimmed her feet.

The backhoe had a flat rear tire, so Lynn and Michael took it to town to get it fixed. We have a lot more dirt work to do this fall.

The publisher who is doing my next book “Horse Tales – True Stories from an Idaho Ranch” sent me the proofs to check over. It’s looking good –and as of this blog posting it is now available for purchase.

Saturday we made a long ride in the high range for several hours.


After we got home, Andrea worked with Rishiam’s hind feet and rasped off some of the clinched nails to make it easier for Michael to take the shoes off. The horse is starting to trust her more. Michael came down to reshoe him that afternoon, and the shoes were fairly easy to take off, but Rishiam then panicked when Michael started trimming the feet with hoof nippers. Michael finally got the left one trimmed and the shoe put on, and then the gelding was even worse about trimming the right one. 

Michael thought that another ride might help settle him down so Andrea saddled Rishiam and took him on a very fast loop over the low range, trotting and galloping up some steep hills and around and back down the road, but this horse has too much endurance to ever wear him out. He was still nervous and objected vigorously about the trimming. We tried putting a Stableizer on him (a restraint tool that utilizes pressure points behind the ears and under the top lip to release endorphins, which tends to relax and sedate a horse, similar to a lip chain) and even though it relaxed him a little, he still wouldn’t stand still for the shoeing.


Michael just had to doggedly work at it little by little, in spite of being jerked around when Rishiam would struggle to take his foot away. In his panic he’d nearly run over us. This poor horse has been seriously traumatized at some point in his past history.

Eventually Michael got both hind shoes on, and Andrea has resolved to work more with his feet and try to get him used to what’s involved with trimming and shoeing so he’ll realize that nobody is going to hurt him. He trusts her more than anyone else, so she wants to learn how to do more of the shoeing. She’s trimmed feet, but has never done any shoeing, so maybe this will be a good time to learn. She hopes to have Rishiam trusting enough (by the time these shoes have to come off for winter) to let her take them off and trim his feet. Then she plans to keep working with his feet through winter so he’ll be easier to shoe next spring.

Yesterday we made a short ride, not wanting to bruise his newly trimmed/shod feet in the rocks, because he was a little tender after the fast ride she made the day we were trying to shoe him (with one bare foot). She put iodine on the soles of his feet before and after our ride yesterday and today, to help toughen them up.

Yesterday after our short ride, Andrea changed horses and rode Sprout, and we met up with Carolyn on the upper place. She and Michael had just finished rebuilding part of the fence where the neighbors spooked some cows through it last year, and she rode with us through the 320 to the high range. We found the long piece of wire that Dottie got tangled in a few days ago. The cows had dragged it another 100 feet down the hill and into the timber. Andrea rolled it up and put the roll under a nearby water trough where no critters will get into it. Then we rode over the top and down Withington Creek.



Today Sam and Charlie went back to school. They are in the same math class; Sam was one of two 6th graders who got to skip 6th grade math and take the 7th grade math course. Dani’s school doesn’t start till tomorrow so she rode with Andrea and me on a long ride—Andrea’s 38th ride on Rishiam.


We rode through the high range and stopped to let the horses drink at Lower Cat trough.


When we got home and put the horses away, Dani climbed up on a big tire to get on Ed bareback to ride her around the barnyard before taking her back to her pen. She loves riding that mare bareback.



Our range neighbors on the east side of the ranch started gathering their cattle today, and Carolyn rode Captain to help them. The cows were hard to gather; after the rain we had last month the grass is green and the cows didn’t want to come down out of the mountains. They only got part of the cattle, and will have to ride again tomorrow.

SEPTEMBER 29 – Last week Michael and Allan Probst made a road and dug the foundation for my brother Rocky’s new house (on his 13 acres at the upper end of the ranch). 

        
     
Rocky has planned for several years to build a house there, and had hoped to start it this spring, but had several setbacks. The worst problem was a local bank that does construction loans (temporary loans until the house is built and then they pass the loan to another bank). The financing was in place with another bank for the long-term loan, and the local Summit Bank assured Rocky that everything was in order, then kept coming up with more questions. They stalled on the construction loan for several months. He couldn’t start the dirt work until the construction loan was in place. This local bank is new in town, but already has a bad reputation for stalling on loans, too eager to foreclose on customers, etc. (and has foreclosed on several ranchers and local businesses).

Finally Rocky realized that the bank officers had been lying to him, and were not going to make the loan--after costing him several thousand dollars and several months delay on starting his house. So he “fired” that bank and found another lender who could make construction loans here. Now the preliminary excavation and road work is accomplished, but it will be a race against the weather to get the foundation poured before winter; the contractor might not be able to start the building before next spring.

Carolyn rode daily for a week to help our range neighbors round up their cattle, and Michael rode with her a couple of days when he wasn’t working for Allan Probst. It was a tough roundup this year and they wore out their horses.

Last Wednesday Andrea and I rode—Rishiam’s longest ride so far—through the middle range and into the neighboring range on the other side. Andrea wanted to scout out more country to see where the elk have been going back and forth, since she and Emily both drew cow permits for later this fall.

We rode into Mulkey creek, down the steep draw from our side of the mountain, and headed up the main trail in the creek bottom, planning to travel up Mulkey creek and back onto our high range at the head of it. But before we got very far we discovered some huge trees blown down, completely blocking the canyon and obliterating the trail. We had to get our horses turned around on that nasty steep hillside and scramble back up the way we came down. Both horses did well, considering the terrible terrain.

Emily flew out of Running Creek with 2 hound dogs and a cat, done with that job for this year. She enjoyed the summer there, but is glad to be home.

Friday, Sam and Dani rode with us through middle range and high range.



    

We found 3 pairs of Alfonzo’s that got missed the day before in their big roundup. Coming down through 320 Sam found a nice deer antler and I carried it home for her on Dottie. She rode Dottie again briefly after we got home—her second ride on that mare.



Young Heather spent 3 weeks visiting a new friend in Canada, who has a grain farm in. She learned how to run a combine and enjoyed helping with the harvest, and also enjoyed meeting his family.

Last Saturday Emily rode Sprout and went with Andrea and me on a 5 hour ride. Lynn took photos of us as we headed out the driveway. Even through Sprout hadn’t been ridden for quite awhile, she behaved nicely for Emily on that long ride.





The next day Andrea’s friend Robbie rode Sprout and went with us on another long ride. He’d never seen our range so Andrea wanted to show him the high country.


We took a lunch and ate it by the Basco trough. Sprout grazed while we ate, and we held onto Dottie and Rishiam and they just stood patiently and relaxed. This is good for both of them, coming along in their training.

It rained a little that night, and early Monday morning two range bulls were hanging on the fence behind Andrea’s house. They got missed when Carolyn and crew were rounding up cattle off the neighboring range. Carolyn was helping those neighbors again that day; they trailered their horses higher up in the mountains to try to find more cows and wouldn’t be able to come over this way to get the two bulls. So Andrea and I offered to round up the bulls and take them home to Jack Jakovac’s sorting pasture.

By the time Andrea took the kids to the bus and we got our horses (Ed and Sprout, since Dottie and Rishiam are too inexperienced to chase bulls) the bulls had disappeared. We tracked them up the big draw about a mile, to a water trough. We took them a couple more miles around and down toward the bottom end of that range pasture and saw fresh boot tracks along one of the trails. Probably a hunter, since archery season is still open.

We took the bulls a little farther and Andrea saw a large elk horn sticking up above the sagebrush. She trotted closer—and found a freshly killed bull elk. I held her horse while she got off and examined it closer. There was a bullet hole through the ribcage right behind the shoulder, and he hadn’t been dead very long; the inside of his mouth was still warm and his eyes hadn’t turned dark yet.



She had cell service in that location, so while we followed the bulls on down toward the ranch they needed to go to, she called a friend (retired Fish and Game officer) to ask if there were any rifle seasons open for bulls and he said no, and gave us the number of the local Fish and Game office so we could call and report this poaching.

  They wanted to investigate, so Andrea offered to show the conservation officer where the dead elk was located. We took the bulls on around to the hill pasture where they were supposed to go, put them through the gate, and then hurried down to the back road, and trotted home 6 miles. Two F&G officers drove up to the ranch just as we were getting home, so Andrea went with them to take them to the dead elk and I led Sprout home and put both horses away. The F&G officers were able to salvage the elk, thanks to the timely report, took photos of the boot prints, questioned the nearby neighbors, and were able to figure out which person illegally shot the elk and left it lying there. We don’t know if that person was going to come back for it later or not (there was a lot of activity in that area not long after he shot it—with us bringing the bulls, and an hour later Carolyn and the other ranchers bringing a herd of cattle right past the carcass), or if he planned to come back for the trophy-size antlers. The F&G officers brought Andrea home after they field dressed the elk. It looked even bigger, in their pickup.



It was a very busy day, and we almost didn’t have time to ride our green horses. Not wanting to skip a day, however (since we are running out of nice weather this fall for training horses), we made a short 1 ½ hour ride on Dottie and Rishiam that evening just before chores—Andrea’s 43rd ride on the gelding.

We had a hard rain that night but the weather cleared by morning. We moved our cows from the field below the lane and put them in the big field on the backside of the creek next to the neighboring range. It was an easy move. I simply opened the gate and called them and they all came running. We moved them through the pens by the barn and Andrea led them down across the bridge and to the lower field and they followed her, while Lynn and I brought up the rear. Our cows are very well trained! Then Andrea and I rode for 3 hours (Rishiam’s 45th ride), up into the high range above our 320.




We got back just in time to get the kids from the bus.

The next day Michael put new shoes on Dottie for me. Hers were nearly worn out, and her feet were getting long. Then he helped Lynn make repairs on our old dump truck, and Andrea and I made another ride through the neighbors’ range, taking Rishiam and Dottie this time, into some areas they’ve never been.

This was Rishiam’s 46th ride and he’s come a LONG ways in his training, these past 2 months. He trusts Andrea a lot now, and they are becoming a good team.





She no longer has to take the bridle apart to put it on because he is no longer headshy, and he is comfortable with having it taken off. He walks through water and bogs with less reluctance, and keeps his wits about him in spooky situations. He doesn’t hesitate very much now, to cross the boggy crossing in Baker Creek as we ride through the 320-acre mountain pasture.



Now we’ll just keep working on making more progress with the foot phobia….

Sam and Dani spent two evenings after school helping Rosina (the neighbor with the new baby) and enjoyed folding clothes and entertaining the two little boys. Then on Friday they rode with us (Andrea’s 48th ride on Rishiam) for 3 hours. We had to stop partway up the ridge from the house, however, and have Andrea change the length of Sam’s stirrups.



When we changed them after Robbie used her saddle, we didn’t get them quite right, and we had to adjust them. We took a lunch and had a little picnic up Baker Creek on the 320—and saw several elk, then headed home.







When we got home, Sam rode Dottie again. This was her 3rd short ride on Dottie around the barnyard. She and that little mare will eventually be a good pair.



My new book, Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch, is now available.  If anyone would like to read about some of the special horses in our lives, starting with my first horse—old Possum—that my parents got for me when I was 9 years old, or purchase books as Christmas gifts, ordering information can be found in my August diary.