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Wolves Disturbing The Cattle

APRIL 23

Last week Andrea, Lynn and Rick worked on the new fence nearly every day. On Wednesday it started to snow. They were soon soaked and cold, and had to quit for the day. It was snowing hard by afternoon. Maggie (a nine-year-old cow) was calving, and we put her in the barn to calve. She had a nice bull calf. She’s had seven heifers and we were hoping she’d have another heifer because we’re short on heifer calves this year. We need to start increasing our small herd again, but most of our calves are bulls!

By Saturday we had all the posts set for mile of new fence, and Andrea helped Lynn make braces. Rick helped finish the last of the braces a few days ago, and they started stringing and stretching wire. It’s a race to get the fence finished before the range cows are turned out (May 1). We don’t want them in our fields.

Sunday evening, just at dark, our neighbour Gordon Binning called to tell us a wolf was bothering the yearlings on the upper place; they were all jammed against the fence. It was too dark to get a good shot at the wolf, but Gordon shot just to scare it away.

Early Tuesday morning, our smallest young cow (a second calver) had her calf, out in the orchard. She calved quickly, between my spotlight checks. Even though it was cold and windy, the calf managed to nurse before he got too chilled.

Andrea brought Dani out several times last week, picking her up late morning after kindergarten, and on the nicest day we took her for a ride (her first ride on Veggie this year). I rode Rubbie, Andrea rode Ed, and I led Veggie from my horse.

Yesterday I put front shoes on Rubbie. Her feet aren’t as tough as Veggie’s. He can go all summer being ridden without shoes, but Rubbie’s feet get chipped and tender if I ride her more than a couple times without shoes.

The past several mornings have been cold (-10 C) and we’ve had more snow. Yesterday evening LillyAnn started calving and we put her in the barn. She had a heifer calf and was aggressive when we went in to iodine the navel cord. Lynn had to fend her off with a stick.

This weekend granddaughter Heather is home for Easter. Two of her HAB (Human Animal Bond) classmates came with her, and one of their professors. They were interested in seeing how ranch horses live and work, so Michael, Carolyn and Heather took them for rides on our ranch and range.

MAY 8

When Lynn drove up the creek yesterday he saw cattle on our high range, above the upper place. He went back with binoculars and realized they were yearlings, so he told Michael. They had more wolf problems. The day before, some of their yearlings crashed through the pole panels at the creek water hole and many were on the wrong side of the creek in another field. Others ran through the wire fence on upper end of the field and got out on the road. Apparently 13 of those had gone on up the road, through an open gate, and out to the range. That afternoon Michael and Carolyn gathered them back down to the field.

MAY 20

We’ve had more rain, snow and cold weather. A few days ago we had to scrape snow off the windshield of the feed truck. But we’ve also had some warm afternoons; the leaves are finally appearing — and grass is growing.

We managed to brand our calves and vaccinate the cows (and vaccinate and tag the yearling heifers) just before the corral got too muddy. We’d planned to do it a few days earlier, but we had more than an inch of rain that day and had to postpone.

Our new neighbour, Alfonzo (who is renting the Gooch place and lower fields that we — and then Michael — leased for 40 years) put a large group of cows in the lower fields for a few weeks before he put them on the range, and left 10 of them there after he turned out his cows. There’s not much grass, after being heavily grazed, and those cows are reaching through the fences. The fence between our two places, which we built 44 years ago, is old and tired, so Andrea helped Lynn set 29 new wood posts (with our tractor and post-pounder) in the weakest areas, and restretched the wires. That afternoon they set 16 new posts in the sagging fence above heifer hill, on our upper boundary.

The grass has finally grown enough that we put Chance (granddaughter Heather’s old horse) out in the pens below the calving barn to graze, and Molly (Carolyn’s old horse) up in the ditch pasture. Even though Chance’s teeth are so bad he can’t chew hay, he’s able to graze green grass. I dewormed and vaccinated all our horses.

On Monday Andrea came out early morning and we rode Rubbie and Breezie over the low range to check gates and fix fence, and on the way home Rubbie was hurrying down a rocky hill to cross a gully, and twisted her left hind leg. She was immediately very lame, not putting any weight on it. I led her the rest of the way home, a couple miles, and put DMSO on her stifle joint when we got home. She was so lame I put her in a small pen, instead of with Veggie — so she won’t have to move around. Her fetlock joint started to swell, so she apparently injured both joints. Our vet came to examine her, and there’s nothing broken, but it may take awhile for the pulled/ sprained joints to heal. I’m still putting DMSO on those joints, and giving her “bute” orally, to help reduce pain and inflammation. Today, four days after the injury, she is still very lame, but at putting some weight on that leg.

Yesterday Andrea helped Lynn put an electric fence across the field below our house. Today we’ll put our cows down there, on the side that gets too boggy to cut for hay, and we’ll let them graze it. They will be happy to finally have some grass and we can quit feeding hay!

HeatherSmithThomasrancheswithher husbandLynnnearSalmon,Idaho.Contact herat208-756-2841

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