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Poor Weather For Shipping Calves

OCTOBER 24

We took care of Andrea’s girls when she went to Salt Lake last week for some tests for Charlie and for assessment of severe graft contractures on her arms. The shortened scar tissue has pulled the little finger of her right hand off to the side, and pulled her shoulder and spine out of line. She’s finally reached a point of pain and disability that she can’t put off corrective surgery any longer. It’s scheduled for December 15. She’ll have to stay in the burn ICU at least five days after the surgery, since it will involve more grafting to cover the areas after surgical release of the contractures. We’ll take care of her four kids during that time, and help her for quite awhile, since she won’t have use of that arm and it will need wound care. Eventually she’ll have the other arm repaired, also, but not until the first one heals.

Our calves were supposed to ship last week, but the buyer postponed; they won’t go until October 28. We weren’t happy about that because the weather is getting worse. Michael and Carolyn had their cattle all gathered onto the Maurer place, with enough good pasture to last until the calves were sold, but with this delay they’re scrambling to figure out enough feed. They’re fixing fences and panelling off the back road and haystacks so they can utilize all available pasture on that place. Lynn used our big tractor to load jackfence panels (from our field below the house) onto our flatbed trailer, to haul over to Maurers to help make an instant portable fence.

Andrea went deer hunting last Friday and shot a nice buck. Lynn helped her hang it in a tree at her house, where her dogs couldn’t reach it, until she had a chance to cut and wrap the meat. She went hunting again a few days ago with a friend and saw a large black wolf on our range. Hunters saw another wolf that same day in our upper fields.

After entering the internet world of blogging with my every-other-week installments on Storey’s website: my other book publisher, Oak Tree Press, set up a site to tell about my book Beyond the Flames and how I came to write it. That website is and I will be periodically updating it with new installments, too.

On Sunday we moved the five bull calves from the field below the lane and put them in the corral. Monday we moved heifers to that field; they ran out of grass in the pasture above the house. I have them trained to come when I call (I gave them hay hand-outs from my wheelbarrow when we weaned them) and it was easy to move them — just opened the gate and called them in from the pasture.

Our cows on the 320-acre mountain pasture are still doing well but grass is very dry and mature. We bought tubs of protein supplement and Lynn took those up in the jeep. This will help keep the cows eating that rough feed so they can stay there longer — if it doesn’t snow under too soon.

NOVEMBER 3

We had a storm the day after Lynn took the lick tubs to the 320 — rain that turned to snow. We were glad he got up there when he did; there’s no way he could have driven up there again for several days. Now most of the snow has melted except on the shaded north-facing slopes.

The storm hit just before we shipped our steer calves. It was still windy and nasty the day we rounded up those pairs from heifer hill. Lynn wasn’t feeling well that day (a stomach “bug” and diarrhea — probably the same thing Andrea’s kids had; they all missed school for part of a week) so it took us awhile. We lured the cows in with the feed truck, locked the little bulls in a side pen so we could use their pen for sorting and holding pairs overnight, sorted off three pair (two red steers and a small one that won’t go on the load) and put them in the post pile pasture. One of the biggest steers was dull, with ears down, so we put him in the chute and took his temperature. It was 104F. We gave him injections of antibiotic and Banamine and left him and his mama in a different corral — and called Michael to tell him there’d be one less steer than planned, for his load. We fed the pairs hay in the hold pen that evening, and put Shiny (the orphan steer) in the pen by our house.

Early the next morning we got the cattle in before daylight, sorted off the steers in the dark, and were ready to load them when Michael came with his trailer. I used a bottle of milk-replacer to lure Shiny around to the corral. He was weaned a month ago, but followed my bottle in the dark, and nearly knocked me down in his eagerness to suck it. When we loaded them in the trailer Shiny was the first to jump in, leading the others.

Our steers helped fill one of Michael’s loads and weighed well (ours averaged 588 pounds) considering they’re only six months old and one was raised on a bottle and grain. The price was $1.05 for these. Michael’s load of bigger steers averaged 617 pounds, at $1.01. Stormy weather nearly halted their departure to Oklahoma, however. The three truckers debated whether to go or not, with roads closed in Wyoming due to heavy snow. They finally left with the calves and took an alternate route, but they ran into bad roads and had to off-load the calves for a couple of days in a big hayfield until roads were open again.

We kept the steers’ mothers in the swamp pasture above the corrals a few days until they quit bawling. The big steer that was sick (Ursala’s calf) was feeling better by the next day (Thursday) but we still gave him another round of antibiotics on Friday, and moved him and his mom to my horse pasture.

We sent the three other steers on a trailer load of calves to the auction at Blackfoot. The two smallest ones averaged 438 pounds (they were only five months old)

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