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Family Gathers For Final Tribute

OCTOBER 30

Last week I rode with Michael and Carolyn to look for their missing bull — the only animal that didn’t show up on our range this fall. The last time he was seen was when we were moving cattle from the middle range to the high range. He was fighting one of Alfonzo’s bulls and when Carolyn tried to bring them with the cows, Alfonzo’s bull charged at her horse. The bulls wouldn’t quit fighting and we had to leave them. Later, one of the neighbours found Alfonzo’s bull, but we didn’t find Michael’s bull. Andrea and I rode through the low and central area of the middle range pasture in September but didn’t see the bull nor any tracks.

All the gates have been left open by hunters, so we thought the bull might have travelled to a different range, but last week an elk hunter mentioned he’d seen a black bull on our middle pasture. So we rode out there and found fresh tracks, and manure. We spread out, and Michael found the bull in a grove of chokecherry trees. The bull was quite happy where he was, and didn’t want to leave, fighting the dogs and threatening our horses. We’d hoped to take him up over the mountain to our 320-acre pasture, to put him with the cows there, but realized we couldn’t drive him uphill or he’d just try to fight us. We decided to take him the long way home — down to our corrals — on a more level grade around the mountains.

Grandson Nick did well at the district track meet that week, placing fourth in the 5,000-metre run (his time was 17 minutes, 35 seconds).

On Sunday my mother passed away. The care center called my sister at 5 a.m. to say mom had a stroke and was unresponsive. My sister drove to town to sit with mom, and called me. I went in to town after doing my chores early (in the dark), to sit with mom while my sister went home to do her chores. I’d only been with mom about 30 minutes, and she slipped away. I was glad I was able to be there with her. My brother and his wife drove up from Boise, through snowstorms, to help make plans for the memorial service. They stayed a couple of days.

It was a busy time, as we contacted relatives, and Lynn helped Michael rebuild part of a corral at Maurers (in preparation for shipping calves), and we helped Andrea with her kids. She was ill with diarrhea for about a week and finally got so dehydrated and ill that she had to go to the emergency room at the hospital for IVs and anti-nausea medication. She’s doing a little better now.

NOVEMBER 9

Last week I scanned some old photos and emailed them to my brother; he is putting together a slide show for mom’s memorial service.

Twelve-year-old granddaughter Emily took a hunter-education course this fall, and went on her first deer hunt. Her dad gave her a rifle for an early Christmas/birthday present, and Emily did some target practice with it. Andrea took her hunting last Sunday afternoon, and Emily shot her first deer — at about 300 yards. She’s a good shot, just like her mom.

Michael and Carolyn sold their calves last Monday, sending three semi-loads. Their calves weighed the best ever, thanks to better grass this year on the range. The load of big steers averaged 660 pounds and the smaller group averaged 585. Their heifers averaged 558.

On Wednesday I was planning to ride again with Michael and Carolyn to bring their cows down from their leased ranch on Sandy Creek, and went out before daylight to feed the horses, so my mare would have time to eat some hay before we left. Andrea’s old mare Snickers whinnied at me strangely, and came walking slowly to the hay rather than galloping and bucking like she normally does. Even in the darkness I could see that her tail was raised. After I finished feeding, I went into her pen and checked her more closely and found she had a piece of wood jammed into her hindquarters, under her tail. I grabbed hold of it and pulled it out, discovering that it was a foot long — and most of that length was embedded into her. It was the broken-off end of an old pole that had been underneath the fence. Snickers had apparently pawed it out into her pen, and must have fallen on it or rolled on it, breaking off the end, which jammed into her hindquarters.

I cancelled my ride to help move cows (some other people were helping and Michael thought they could manage without me), and called Andrea and the vet. They both arrived at sunup and the vet examined Snickers. We feared we’d have to put her down, but the vet sedated the mare and examined the wound. She pulled out more wood slivers and felt the extent of the hole and said it missed Snickers’ abdominal cavity — so she would not get peritonitis. We flushed it out and gave the mare two kinds of antibiotics and Banamine, and continued with those daily injections for several days. By the second day of Banamine she was feeling a little better and eating more normally, but still having a lot of pain when trying to pass urine or manure. Thursday was Danielle’s birthday (six years old) and we had a birthday party for her — and gave her a little saddle. She was very excited about that, and had to try it out the next day, on old Veggie, when Andrea came out to help give Snickers her shots. Michael and Carolyn are on a trip to Montana and Wyoming looking at ranches. They hope to find something they can buy — that they can afford, that will accommodate enough cows. Ranches in our valley are priced too high to ever pay for them with cattle. Lynn and I are checking on their cows on our upper pasture while they’re gone.

NOVEMBER 18

Last week we weaned our heifers, sent two bulls to market, and our steer calves. The bulls brought 51 cents and the calves brought $1.19 and averaged 600 pounds (born in April and May) so we felt they did very well.

Friday we had the memorial service for mom, and it was very nice. We three children, and some of her grandchildren, gave our remembrances, and afterward we had a wonderful visit with relatives, sharing old memories.

We had more snow the past few days, and a cold wind. We are no longer giving Snickers any medication and she’s healing, but the vet thinks she may need some surgical repair now that the swelling has gone down.

HeatherSmithThomasrancheswithher husbandLynnnearSalmon,Idaho.Contact herat208-756-2841

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