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Many miles covered training horses and riders

JUNE 1

Last week we put in one more weir, so all our ditches now have headgates and weirs for measuring water. The heifers got out again, so we put them in the little pasture by the house overnight, then put them with the cows and calves in the field below the lane. A few days later Lynn walked the fence in the swamp pasture and found where someone had cut the wires where the fence goes through the brush to make a trail for deer. The person who vandalized the fence also cut the wires on one of the gates.

Andrea and I have been riding nearly every day to check gates and fences on the range and to put a lot of miles on April Sprout, the young mare we bought at the horse sale for Dani. We take turns riding her and our old dependables (Ed and Breezy). Sprout is interfering badly, however (hitting her right hind fetlock joint with her left hind foot), so we started using protective “boots” on her hind legs. These help; the bloody, raw area is starting to heal.

Michael spent a few more days hauling rocks and finished the surfacing on Andrea’s driveway behind her house. We had cold, windy weather, and a little rain, with snow in the high country. Rick went to cut wood and got his pickup stuck in 10 inches of new snow. Lynn and Andrea drove up there in our jeep and took him some chains and he was able to drive out.

Yesterday we went to Emily’s 8th grade graduation ceremony. That afternoon when Lynn was irrigating in the field above the house he found the carcass of a freshly killed deer. This morning Andrea and Rick saw a young wolf travelling up through the field but didn’t have a chance to shoot at it.

This afternoon we took Sammy and Dani for a ride, with Sam riding 26-year-old Veggie and Dani riding Sprout. I rode Rubbie for the first time since she injured her stifle joint a year ago, and she seems sound again (finally) on that hind leg. Maybe she will be sound enough for short rides this year.

JUNE 24

Andrea and I helped Alfonzo and Lowell move their cattle from the low range to the middle range pasture. Their friend Bob missed a bunch of cattle in the area below our 320-acre pasture, so Andrea and I moved them the next day. Two of Alfonzo’s cows had just calved (one calf was only about an hour old when we found him and his mother) so we left them behind — and went back a few days later to move them.

These past three weeks we’ve been riding nearly every day to put more miles and training on Sprout — checking (and shutting) gates and fixing water troughs, and fixing some fences that Alfonzo didn’t check. We put our cows and calves in our hill pasture above the house for a couple weeks.

Granddaughter Heather is busy training several young horses for various clients. She also spent a couple days riding Gus (the nine-year-old gelding that bucked off the fence posts during our packing project to build fence last winter). Andrea and I rode with her the first day, and Dani rode with the three of us the second day, on Sprout. She was delighted to be able to ride with her older cousin.

Michael and Carolyn went to several sales this month and bought some pairs, some pregnant cows, and a few yearlings. They paid reasonable prices at the Montana sales; that region has been dry this spring and short on grass, and some ranchers are cutting down their herds. We will loan Michael and Carolyn our two yearling bulls this summer to breed their cows. They will be using our upper place (the meadows, and the 320 and 160) for pasture. This past two weeks they’ve been rebuilding and adding to the little corral on the upper place, so they can brand and vaccinate the cattle, and Rick has been helping set posts.

Last week Rick and Andrea drove up into the 320 with her little Jeep and sawed out the down timber that was blocking the road. Rick also sawed out the brush along the fence in our swamp pasture so we could fix the fence where someone cut the wires.

I put front shoes on Rubbie so I can continue to use her on short rides without her getting tenderfooted. Andrea and I took all the kids for a ride over the low range, with Dani on Sprout, Emily on Ed, Charlie on Breezy, and Sam on Veggie. We made several more rides these past few days, and they are all doing better with their horsemanship.

Michael and Carolyn’s new cows are calving. One cow had twins and abandoned one of them. Michael found it the next morning, nearly dead, with its belly torn open by magpies that had been eating the navel cord. He brought the calf home, fed it colostrum by tube, gave it antibiotics and Banamine, and sewed up the belly. It’s doing much better now, and living in their basement until they fix a pen outside.

Yesterday Michael put new front shoes on Sprout, and new hind shoes today. She is getting much better about having her feet handled.

JULY 10

Michael, Carolyn and kids got their cows and calves branded/vaccinated, and moved them to the 320-acre pasture. Michael, Lynn, Rick and Lynn worked for several days putting in a new water trough in the fenceline between the 320 and 160. We had an old water trough there for many years, but after the earthquake in the early 1980s, that spring went farther underground and there wasn’t much water for the trough.

Lynn water-witched that location and discovered that the water is now seven feet down, so Michael dug down to it with the backhoe. They put in a new springbox and water line, and a new trough — and now it’s running about two gallons per minute.

A week ago Saturday young Heather, Andrea and I drove to Leadore and up Holly Creek to a cow camp to look at a mare for sale. She’s had several owners and her current owner had sent her to the range riders at the cow camp to put more training on her. She’s about seven years old and still very green. After the range riders realized how green she was (hasn’t been ridden), they knew they didn’t have time to work with her.

The price was cheap ($400) and we decided to gamble on her — and I am hiring young Heather to start riding her. So now “Angel” (the name Dani gave the mare) is at Heather’s training corrals as a pupil for the next few weeks. Heather has been saddling and bridling her, ponying her out in the hills, and has ridden her a few times in the round corral, and so far the mare is doing very well.

This past week Andrea and I took the kids on several rides. Then on Thursday we did a “picnic” ride six miles up into the mountains behind the ranch. Lynn and Rick met us up there with the food (in coolers) in the Jeep. This was a very special event, marking 12 years since Andrea’s burn injuries July 5, 2000 — and celebrating her survival and the fact she was able to go on with her life. We are grateful for being able to do this as a family, with three little grandkids that would never have been born if she’d perished in that fire. Our “picnic ride” was a fun and special day! †

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