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Lynn is slowly getting back in the saddle

FEBRUARY 23

Last Saturday Rick and Sam came down on the four-wheeler to help me feed the cows. Sam enjoyed riding around in the feed truck. Lynn was doing better that morning, so the heart doctor in Missoula released him from the hospital mid-day, and Andrea drove him home. He was very tired and went to bed early.

He had a little chest pain in the night but it eased off, and he slept almost all day Sunday. Andrea used the tractor to load another big bale onto our feed truck, and brought a couple of big bales around for the heifers.

Monday there was no school, so Charlie came down with Andrea and drove the feed truck for his first time. The snow was still deep and crusted (very cold that morning). Charlie had to go a little faster than he should have, to not get stuck. Andrea and I were feeding the big bale off the back, so we had to hang onto when the truck lurched through the snow.

It reminded me of when our kids were small and used to drive the jeep for Lynn to feed; he had to be very agile and balance himself over the bumps and lurches, and try to land on his feet when the kid popped the clutch and threw him off. We were a lot more agile back in those days! Our current feed truck (a 1973 Chevrolet) is an automatic, which makes it a little easier for a young driver. Charlie actually did very well driving it, considering the challenging conditions.

Wednesday we let Lynn drive the feed truck. He was starting to get restless and frustrated not being able to help with chores and feeding. But he’s not supposed to lift anything heavy or do strenuous things for awhile yet.

Thursday Andrea took Lynn to town to have a checkup with his doctor here. When they got home, Andrea took a big bale up to Carolyn’s place on our feed truck for their old horses, and Carolyn unloaded it with their tractor.

Then we noticed that our neighbour had put all his cattle in the little field right below our place. Andrea and I quickly moved our heifers because he still has bulls with his cows. We didn’t want bulls right through the fence from our heifers. Andrea and I called the heifers; they followed us up out of the field and we put them into the orchard and horse pasture.

That afternoon Lynn and I drove around to visit our new Amish neighbours and get better acquainted, and take them two sets of my dad’s books. They had found one of his old books in the local library and wanted to buy some — one set for themselves and one set for a relative. Dad’s little books of short sermons (he called them “meditations from the high country”) have been popular ever since they were first published many years ago. He used simple stories from the ranch and from his many other experiences to illustrate God’s love. A few years before my father died, I helped him get those books reprinted (By the River of No Return, Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails, Sagebrush Seed, and The Open Gate), and I still have some available for people who want them.

Carolyn was sick a few days with a nasty infection she picked up at the vet clinic where she works, after helping treat several young calves brought in with serious diarrhea. In spite of intensive care, the vet couldn’t save those calves. The young man who works there cleaning kennels also got sick, and had to be in the hospital for IV fluids. Yesterday Carolyn needed to go to town to pick up Michael’s prescription medications to send to him, but still didn’t feel well. So Andrea got the medications for her and packaged them up to send with one of the other truck drivers who is heading back to North Dakota today.

MARCH 3

Our neighbour finally moved his cattle (and bulls) out of the little field next to ours, so it was safe to put our heifers back. Andrea and Rick are still feeding our cows, and Lynn drives the truck. Last weekend Emily drove the truck, then helped with the fillies. She held Dottie while I trimmed her feet, then Andrea and Em led Willow and Dottie for a short walk to the end of the driveway and back. We need to start leading them again, now that the road is not so icy — and get back to their lessons.

Last Monday Lynn drove the tractor to load big bales, for the first time since his heart procedure. He also brought another big bale around for the bulls in the corral. He’s also been driving the four-wheeler around to check on things, especially where the snow is too deep for hiking.

Carolyn is doing much better. She talked to Michael a few days ago and told us he’d had some wild experiences with the bad roads in North Dakota. One shortcut the dispatcher told him to take was just a jeep track, and very slippery, steep, and narrow, but he managed to get safely down that hill.

Andrea took Emily to the doctor on Friday and discovered that Em is borderline diabetic. She needs to start watching her diet and get some regular exercise besides hockey (which is only a winter sport here).

That afternoon Em and a friend, Andrea, and I took the fillies for a long walk down the road and back, more than a mile. Yesterday we all went for a hike again. Willow and Dottie are feeling silly and frisky and need to get back into regular lessons and good manners again.

I was watching Breezy most of the day. She was dull, lying around. When I fed her in the evening she wasn’t interested in eating. She just took a few bites of hay, and lay down again. By dark she still hadn’t touched her hay. Andrea and I gave her an injection of Banamine and put her in the pen next to the house where I could watch her during the night — under the light on my hay shed. It shines into the calving pens by the house.

Breezy was feeling better within 20 minutes after the injection, and began eating hay. I checked on her several times in the night (looking out the window) and she was fine. This morning I put her back in her pen; she had no more episodes of discomfort.

MARCH 12

Last week Michael and other truckers in North Dakota were stranded at their truck yard in a blizzard, with four-foot snowdrifts. The man trying to plow them out made one pass but the blowing snow immediately filled that slot. So Michael stayed in his truck all night with the motor running; it was too cold to shut it off or it would never start again. He hoped he wouldn’t run out of diesel before they got plowed out. The wind quit the next day, so they were able to get the trucks free.

Andrea and I took the fillies for longer daily hikes last week. We went down the road a couple miles and back, then up the road 1-1/2 miles and back. We thought the mud had dried up in the jeep track to the low range, so one day we tried to lead them up that “road” but didn’t get very far. It was wetter and deeper than we thought, with gooey mud sticking to our boots, so we didn’t go very far.

Saturday Andrea and I took the fillies on another long walk up the road, then trimmed Rubbie’s and Veggie’s long feet when we got home. Those old horses’ feet hadn’t been trimmed since last fall. I trimmed off the extra hoof growth with hoof nippers and Andrea smoothed them with the rasp.

Our weather warmed up yesterday — the first time it hasn’t been freezing at night. The snow is settling, and if it stays warm we’ll have flooding. Lynn checked the ditch above our calving pasture and maternity pen to make sure the little headgates he put in last year were shut off. We don’t want those pens and pasture flooding just before we put the cows in there for calving! Our little herd is due to start calving in early April, but the bull we’ve been using sires calves with short gestation. His calves last year came a week to 10 days early, on average, so we’ll probably be sorting out the heavies to bring down here fairly soon. †

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