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Spring coming as water begins to run

It's a good time of year to do some fencing and clean up around the corrals

February 23

Last Tuesday Michael, Nick and Robbie started replacing the old, falling-down fence along our lane. Michael used the backhoe to dig out chokecherry trees and old fence posts. Lynn went to town for a doctor appointment to have his hip checked; the doctor wants him to have an MRI to try to figure out the problem.

The next day the guys got the rest of the posts set, but weather was terrible on Thursday, with wind, rain and hail, and they didn’t work on the fence. The storm abated by Friday and they put up net wire. They got that project finished, and started sawing out brush in Fozzy’s old pen by the creek, so we can move Sprout into that pen. She’ll have more room, and trees for shade. We can then move Rishiam into Sprout’s pen. We need his pen again for calving.

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Yesterday I cooked lunch for the fence crew again. They burned the big pile of brush/trees they sawed out of the creek pen, and began re-establishing the hot wire around the old jack fence to keep Sprout from chewing on the fence. Today they finished, hung the gate, and I fed them lunch again. Andrea helped me trim Rubbie and Veggie’s long feet. In the afternoon Lynn drove to town for his MRI.

March 5

Last week our second load of oat/barley hay arrived, and Michael unloaded the truck at the upper stackyard with his tractor. The mud made it difficult for the truck to get out of the stackyard but Michael was able to pull it partway, then push it the rest of the way out to the county road.

The next day we worked cows. Michael and Carolyn vaccinated theirs early morning, luring them into the corral with their feed truck. They were able to get Alfonzo’s wild heifer captured. She came into their field last fall when Alfonzo and friends rounded up his cattle off the range. Although Alfonzo rode through the field and tried to get her out but she just wouldn’t come. Michael and Carolyn told him they would bring her home the next time they had their cattle in the corral.

The heifer lived with their cattle all winter. The first opportunity to capture her was when they put the herd into the corral to give their cows pre-calving vaccinations. Knowing she would try to crash the fence or jump out, the first thing they did was put her and another cow in the trailer. The old gentle cow led her into the trailer and then turned around and came back out, enabling them to slam the door and contain the wild heifer. After they vaccinated their cows, they hauled the heifer home to Alfonzo’s place.

Meanwhile, we rounded up our two groups of cows and were ready to vaccinate them by the time Michael, Carolyn, Nick and young Heather finished with theirs and came to help. After vaccinating ours, we vaccinated, deloused and tagged the 16 heifers, giving them their permanent brisket tag numbers, dehorned the two that had horns, then vaccinated the two yearling bulls from the back corral.

Saturday Andrea and Robbie used chain saw and brush nippers to cut off all the little stumps in the new pen. They put Sprout into that pen, and moved Rishiam into Sprout’s old pen.

We had several days of snowstorms and colder weather, then melting snow and mud. Andrea moved some of the big bales (with the tractor) to a drier area of the stackyard. She did it early one morning while the mud was a little frozen, so she wouldn’t get the tractor stuck.

Michael has been miserable with an abscessed wisdom tooth. It needs to be pulled, but the dentist put him on antibiotics for a week. Yesterday the guys finished setting posts and hanging new gates to replace the old wood panel and broken aluminum gate that we used to drag across the driveway to block it when we moved cattle back and forth from the calving pen to the barn. I fed everyone lunch, but Michael was limited on what he could eat, with his tooth bothering him.

This evening we went to Andrea’s house; she cooked a lasagna dinner to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It was fun to reflect back over the many years here on Withington Creek — through good times and adversities — grateful for our wonderful family.

March 15

Last Sunday was warm. Snow continued melting. When Andrea, Robbie and I fed cows there was water coming into the irrigation ditch from the big draw behind Andrea’s house, overflowing into the lane by the creek, starting to wash out the road. We had a shovel in the feed truck and diverted the water. By midday there was a lot of water running down the draws on the other side of the canyon, filling ditches along the Gooch place. Water was coming down into our ditch and flooding across heifer hill — starting to create a gully. Andrea, kids and Robbie had gone to town for a friend’s birthday party so we called Nick, who helped Lynn put a dam in the ditch and divert the water to the creek.

Monday Michael, Nick and Robbie finished rebuilding the fence in the little crowd pen at the end of our running chute, setting gateposts in concrete and hanging a metal gate to replace the old broken pole panel.

Michael, Nick and Robbie started a custom fence job near Baker. Michael is now on a stronger antibiotic to try to clear up the tooth abscess (he had an earache and fever). On Wednesday the dentist pulled it, but he was still miserable and unable to eat — trying to subsist on a liquid diet and still work. He’s doing a little better by today.

We all had supper at our house after Andrea got the kids back from Mark. I was finishing chores as they got here, so Sam and Dani helped me feed heifers with the new cart Robbie made. He bolted one of our hay sleds onto a little four-wheeled cart. It’s easier to pull than a sled, now that the snow has melted, and holds more than our wheelbarrows. Lynn went to the doctor today to get results from his MRI. Good news! He doesn’t have arthritis nor a worn-out hip socket — just damage from an old injury. So he doesn’t need a hip replacement. The doc thinks physical therapy may help.

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