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Bulls Can Be A Headache

JUNE 1

The cows were happy for green grass when we moved them into a portion of the field below the lane. The grass is finally growing, now that the weather has warmed up. Lynn took our tractor and post-pounder to the upper place and helped Michael set posts to repair and add onto the little corral. Michael borrowed our big tractor to feed his yearlings; his tractor had a flat tire.

That weekend Nick ran at the state track meet in Boise, and did very well in the 800-metre run. Our little high school took third place overall in state competitions.

Rubbie is still lame after her accident last month. I put DMSO on her leg for several days, and gave her bute (pills dissolved in water, with molasses added, given orally with a big syringe) for 10 days.

We vaccinated and semen-checked our bulls, and Michael put his bull with heifers on the upper place. He’s not going to turn any cattle out on the range for another month, breeding the heifers in home pastures.

The grandkids are out of school now, and enjoying summer vacation. On Friday Lynn and I were planning to go to Nick’s high school graduation, so I did our chores early while Lynn finished irrigating. When I went out to do chores, I discovered one of the range bulls on the road above our driveway. Lowell, our new range neighbour, hauled a bull over here that morning and unloaded him just through the gate—where about 40 cows and three bulls belonging to the other neighbor (Alfonzo) were hanging on the fence. The four bulls fought all day, and tore the fence down.

When Lynn got home from irrigating, he and I herded the bull down the road to a gate, and then I chased all the cattle and bulls over the hill, away from the fence, while Lynn patched the fence. We couldn’t go to Nick’s graduation until we got that situation resolved, or the bulls would have torn up more fence and the range cattle would be out on the road and coming into our place. We hurried to town and made it to graduation 30 minutes late, and finally ate supper late that night after we got home.

Yesterday Lynn’s family had a nice memorial service for his mother, Virginia (who died in February). Many relatives came, and we had a dinner the day before, with a chance for everyone to visit. We also had a dinner after the service, with many people bringing food. Andrea made eight salads and baked beans for the two dinners.

We moved our cows to the lower end of the swamp pasture, and patched the fence where wildlife knocked it down. The old brace posts were leaning over and Lynn pulled them upright with the tractor. Michael helped him set new posts.

We had more rain for several days (snow on the upper place), and the creek is really high. The calves were glad for the calf houses in their new pasture — to get out of the rain. There was too much water coming down the ditch above the house, and washed out the ditch bank. The high water also washed out one of our ditch diversions and Lynn spent several days trying to get water in the ditch, putting big straw bales in the creek.

There’s still a lot of snow on the mountains so we’ll probably have a lot of high water. The rivers are flooding. Last week a young woman was walking with her dog along the river that goes through town — and tried to save her dog when it went into the water. The woman was unable to get out of the swift current, and washed away. Her body was eventually found 125 miles downstream.

JUNE 13

Andrea went to Idaho Falls again for another appointment with the pain specialist. The doctor is trying to figure out ways to help her deal with constant pain and problems caused by the shrinking scar tissue (from the old skin grafts) that’s pulling her shoulder, back and neck out of place.

Lynn tried for several more days to get water in our ditch, driving steel posts into the big straw bales he put into the creek—hoping the posts would hold the panels and dam material (with cement blocks tied to the dam material to try to hold it down in the swirling water). He finally got a little water running into the ditch, but had to be careful to not fall into the raging flood.

He then spent several days helping Michael, Carolyn and kids set more posts around the corral on the upper place, making a new pen next to it, and rebuilding the old runway to the chute. He took our backhoe up there and hauled rocks to fill in a mudhole so they can get their stock trailer in and out without getting stuck.

Michael and Carolyn vaccinated and hauled 60 heifers to rented pasture on another ranch. They spent the rest of the day branding and vaccinating more of the steers and heifers they bought last winter. The next day they hauled 100 yearlings to a ranch at Leadore for summer pasture, and put some steers on our 160-acre mountain pasture.

Veggie (25 years old) was a little thin this spring so I’ve been letting him graze green grass in the pen by the calving barn. Nick and Heather took old Molly and Chance to the upper place to graze with the rest of their horses for the summer. Lynn put up an electric fence in part of the barnyard so Veggie can be on green pasture for a while.

We moved our cows to the hill pasture above the house, pumping water for them into several tanks from the ditch in our field across the road. There’s a culvert under the road, and we put a big PVC pipe through the culvert, hooking our hoses to it on both ends for pumping.

I put front shoes on Ed (the mare I got from Michael and Carolyn) between rainstorms. She has tiny, narrow feet, and Lynn shaped the shoes to fit perfectly. I can’t leave any part of the shoe sticking out, or she steps on the shoe with another foot and pulls it off.

On Thursday Michael, Carolyn and Heather rode for all morning in rain/snow to help the range neighbors on the south side of our place move cattle to the next range pasture. That afternoon they moved cattle on our low range to the middle range. As Michael and Carolyn brought the high cows around to the gate, Heather rode down the ridge to meet me, and she and I checked all the low country and gathered everything we could find down there.

While moving cattle on the south side, Michael saw the young black wolf that’s been harassing his yearlings. The wolf came after his dogs — two of which ran back to Michael’s horse. But Fred, the young pup, wanted to tangle with the wolf. Michael charged at the wolf with his horse, yelling, and the wolf finally left.

On Saturday Andrea rode with me to move one cow and calf that got left on the low range, then checked gates between the middle range and high range. We shut one of them just before we got caught in a hailstorm.

The weather cleared by the time we got home, and we saw a bull pacing up and down our fence on the other range. He got left behind when the cattle were moved. He was rubbing on the fence, wanting to fight our bulls. So Andrea and I rode across our field and out that side, and took that bull two miles to where he was supposed to be, in a different range pasture. The bull was stubborn and threatened our horses because he didn’t want to go. But with two of us we were able to change his mind and keep him going the right direction. By the time we got back home, we’d ridden all day and the horses were tired. I put hind shoes on Ed, because she’d worn down her feet too much for any more rides without shoes.

JUNE 30

Michael, Carolyn and Heather rode and shut all the other range gates that were left open all winter by hunters. Some of the neighbours’ range cattle had already gotten into the wrong pastures.

We’re now well started on Andrea’s new house, on the hill next to the field above our corrals. The basement floor and concrete walls have now been poured, and the carpenters can soon start on the main structure. The kids are excited about moving to the ranch. They’ve been coming to ride Veggie and play with the new kittens. Last week Andrea had a serious kidney infection and went to the hospital for IV antibiotics, fluids and pain medication, but she’s doing much better now.

She rode with me on Saturday to check range gates and water troughs and we rode again on Sunday (after I put shoes on Breezie)—a much longer ride to check the rest of the gates and fix the fence on top of Mill Mountain where someone keeps cutting the wire every year to take the fence down.

Michael and Carolyn had the vet spay about 50 of their smaller yearling heifers (some of the ones they bought, that they don’t plan to breed). They’ll be worth as much as steers that way, when sold this fall.

On Tuesday Andrea and Lynn went to Missoula, so Andrea could drive him home after his appointment with an eye specialist. About three weeks ago he suddenly had a shadow in one eye, and the local eye doctor couldn’t figure it out. The specialist checked the eye more thoroughly and discovered the blank spot in his vision is due to a stroke (occluded blood vessel) in that eye. He was fortunate it was in his eye and not his brain. So now he has to be more careful about his blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and take a small aspirin daily to help prevent any future strokes.

Yesterday we moved the cattle back down from the hill pasture and put them in the field above the house, and put the bull with them—so we will start calving the first of April next spring.

HeatherSmithThomasrancheswithher husbandLynnnearSalmon,Idaho.Contact herat208-756-2841.

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