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Bulls, Machinery Present Challenges – for Sep. 6, 2010

JULY 23

Andrea and I rode through the middle range this week to check water troughs. Lynn took our big John Deere tractor over to the Mauer place for Michael to use. The next day Andrea brought Dani and Sammy and we took them for a ride on the low range. Dani rode double on Breezy with Andrea, and Sammy rode Veggie, led from my horse. Halfway through the ride, we stopped and changed kids — putting Sammy on Breezy with Andrea, and letting Dani ride Veggie. Thus both girls got to ride “solo” as well as with their mom.

In mid-July it froze again. The hose I water horses with was full of ice. After he finished cutting the Maurer place, Michael brought his swather and cut several fields for us. He and Nick helped Lynn take our stackwagon motor apart, and took the damaged piece to a mechanic. Meanwhile our neighbour Jack Jacovac borrowed a chain off our stacker so he can keep his going.

Lynn baled part of our hay, until the baler sheared a bolt. By the time he replaced it, the day was too hot (with the air conditioner not working in the tractor cab) and he waited until sundown to finish. The next day Nick helped Lynn set eight steel posts in the post-pile pasture fence so we could put 30 heifers in there for a few days.

That evening Nick and Michael brought the repaired part for the stackwagon and got it put together, and used the backhoe to lift the tilt table so they could put oil back in it. The next day Lynn hauled hay and filled my hay shed. Andrea drove to Salt Lake for her appointment with the lung specialist, and Em went with her. The younger kids stayed here, and went in the jeep with us that evening to pick up the last of the bales that Lynn didn’t get with the stackwagon. The kids enjoyed riding Veggie the next day, and helped me do chores.

Yesterday Lynn was about to start cutting the hayfield above our corrals and discovered the new neighbour had turned water on again, and our field was too wet to cut. So we decided to pasture it instead. We’ll be short of hay for our cows this winter, but right now we won’t worry about that. Michael is short on pasture and we’ll let him use this field with his cows. Haying is hard on Lynn’s back — especially the action of the baler and getting in and out of the tractor and haystacker. It was a relief to him, not to have to do any more haying this year.

AUGUST 6

Last Sunday we moved the 30 heifers from the post-pile pasture to the field below the lane, since it’s grown enough to be grazed again. As the heifers crowded through the gate they snagged the electric fence wire and tore it down, pulling it apart where it hooks on to the wire from our barn — high on the power pole next to the gate. To fix it, we had to use an extension ladder, with Lynn climbing up the ladder and me steadying it at the bottom so it wouldn’t fall down.

That afternoon I rode Rubbie to gather our cows from the upper swamp pasture, and Lynn rode his four-wheeler. The bull didn’t want to come, and challenged Lynn. For a moment it was a standoff, then Lynn roared toward the bull with the four-wheeler, and the bull gave ground and followed the cows. We locked him in the back corral.

Lynn and I had colonoscopies that Tuesday, and Andrea drove us home from the hospital. Lynn had a pre-cancerous polyp removed from his colon, and the doctor said we should be checked again in five years. The “clean-out” fluid we had to drink beforehand irritated Lynn’s intestines; he continued to have diarrhea for four days afterward. He was glad he wasn’t in the middle of haying! Nick and Heather stopped by each day to feed the bulls in the corral, and Nick changed Lynn’s irrigation water.

Last Friday Michael, Carolyn and kids rode and chopped larkspur on the high range in Baker Creek, then moved some cows into the high range. It was dark before they got home. I put new front shoes on Rubbie; her feet were too long to be safe chasing cows. I rode with Michael and Carolyn a few days later to move more cattle. We didn’t find very many; Alfonso had moved some. He’d left one of his bulls, however, and when Carolyn approached the bull he charged her horse. The only thing that saved her from being knocked down was that the horse spun away and took off, just as the bull hit the horse’s hindquarters. Otherwise the bull would have hit them broadside. We didn’t try to bring that bull.

It got dark as we put the cattle through the gate into the high range. We rode home four miles in the dark. There was no moon, and we couldn’t see, and had to trust our horses to see the trails, rocks, brush and gullies. Michael took the lead and let his dogs and horse seek out the proper direction and trails. We had to feel our way through the brush in the gully crossings, and be careful to find the gate between middle range and low range, and not hit the fences. With no depth perception, and unable to see our surroundings, riding that far in the dark was an interesting experience. We had to concentrate hard to keep from getting dizzy, and Michael said he nearly fell over when we finally got off our horses. It was like being carsick or seasick, so Carolyn called it “horsesick.”

AUGUST 18

Nick helped Lynn fix more fence in the post-pile pasture, and we moved two old mares, Ed and Molly, down there; they’ve run out of grass in the little pen where they were grazing.

Last Tuesday we rounded up cows from the fields above the corrals and helped Michael, Carolyn and kids sort them. They took 18 pair three miles up the creek to our 320-acre mountain pasture and left 23 pairs (first and second calvers and some old cows) with ours. A storm hit after they started up the road, and they got drenched. Lightning was popping, so they didn’t come home the short way down the ridge. We learned later that the storm killed the son of one of my old school classmates; he was working on a ranch south of town, and lightning struck and killed him and his horse as he was helping move cattle.

The creek is dropping and there’s no longer enough water to fill all the water rights. We’ve been juggling water around, but now it’s so low that Lynn shut off the ditches on our upper place yesterday. We’re grateful the water held up longer than most years, thanks to all the early moisture this spring.

HeatherSmithThomasrancheswithherhusband LynnnearSalmon,Idaho.Contactherat 208-756-2841

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