Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cowboy Eating

The upside of the LONG days working cows is the food.  There are a few folks that will cook for the crew and it is worth every working minute.  Most of it is dutch oven cooking, which a culinary art in itself.  Nobody has to be asked twice to get in line for a plate!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Preg Checking Preview

The Rancher and the other Curlew Cowboys have spent three days preg checking cows.  It went down a lot better than last year.  The Rancher didn't accidentally hot shot his horse (and end up on the ground) and we didn't have to lift a cow out of the alley with a loader.  Yes, it was a few days of pregging cows...

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Rancher's Wife is Being a Little Spontaneous

If you know me you can attest that I really like to have a plan, with whatever I am doing.  I do like a little spontaneity but I like the dance-to-the-radio-in-the-parking-lot kind of spontaneous. 

Last night we had a Young Famer and Rancher meeting where they did their annual district discussion meet.  When we got there the man in charge was looking for more people to participate in the discussion meet that night.  The Rancher and I told him that we would do it, only if he was desperate for people jump in.

After two rounds of questions that we didn't have any answers for or any examples prepared we were done.  I thought it was something we would just get to chalk up it up to experience.  I was more excited for the door prizes they were passing out than the results.  But then they finally came to it. 

And I got 3rd place!  I was so shocked when they called my name I just turned to The Rancher to make sure it was really me.  The greatest part of all this means that we have a free trip to Sun Valley for the state discussion meet.  It also means I have a lot of work to do... YAHOO!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A New Pipeline

One fine morning The Ranch Boss found that we had a leak in one of the pipes that fed into a few water troughs.  The men got to digging, found the leak, and patched it up.  And guess what they found the next morning?  Yep, another leak...

Their patch job worked great but they discovered that this pipe was so old and so brittle that leaks just seemed to keep coming.  This actually started last year when they found a pipe broken that watered the first calf heifers pen.  They did have quite a time getting it taken care of because it ran under the main highway.  It was quite a project to get a new pipe through.

With these last few issues, they just decided to replace the whole thing rather than to continue to fix leaks as they come.  It took a few days to get everything dug, put out, and all hooked up.  That also meant a few hours of having the well turned off each day.  I swear that every time I went to do dishes they had just turned if off again.  Maybe next time we will be in better sync with each other.

I don't think The Rancher was ever bothered that he could spend a few days playing in the dirt.  And when they had finished The Rancher just replied that they shouldn't have to do that again in his lifetime.  That is what we call looking on the bright side.  He has to dig and replace 300 feet of pipe and he is so happy to do it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Better Than a Roping Dummy

There are so many benefits to having a gentle old milk cow.  Of course we get the milk (by that I mean Rancher Sr., we don't milk her too often).  She also comes in handy when we have bum calves that need to still suck.  But a little less obvious is that she is a great roping buddy for a three year old boy.

On a morning walk The Rancher's Sidekick had the clever idea to rope Jersey.  And she, like a good friend, stands there while he torments her.  He grabbed her tail, pulled her ears, and poked her belly as he tried to put a rope anywhere he could manage.  Think of Nana from Peter Pan, but instead of a dog, we have a cow.  And with a cow like that, who needs a roping dummy?

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Cenex Man's Fence

Oh, my dear friends, I have been slacking.  There are pictures that I haven't put up from some of my ranch adventures! 

But I will make it right and show you, don't worry...

So waaay back when we ventured up to Montana to visit my folks I posted about a trip that we took with my dad, The Cenex Man.  The truth is that I only told you part of the story and now I am here to give the rest.

For quite some time he had been working to deliver supplies to a fencing crew that was putting in miles and miles of fence.  He loved working with them and wanted The Rancher to have a chance to meet the guys and see their work.

 These men (well young men, really) were a very hard working, well experienced crew.  They were all from a Mennnite community from the Gold Creek area and had been working since they had finished school when they were fourteen.  I was impressed at how well done these boys did.  It was all done right and timely.  They didn't take time to mess around or waste time.  A lot of this good work was do to a good boss that set high expectations for them.

I love to see good, hard working men that choose to do it right.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pick Photos for a Photo Contest

In November the Idaho Cattle Association has an annual event of meetings and greetings for its members.  The few days there are filled with all types of information to help cowboys and ranchers keep making it year after year.  I recently learned that they also have a photo contest for its members, perfect for me to enter a few shots in. 

Once again I want your help in picking some to enter. 


Please, please comment below the posts of your favorite pictures.  Its folks like you and me that are voting, not an actual judge so I want YOUR opinions. 

Thanks, Friends!

The Last of Working the Calves

With so much going on, I missed putting these pictures up.  We have had so many days of working the cows and calves.  Most days are hot and sunny but we did have one day that was overcast and rainy.  Of course you already know that rain at any time is beautiful and happily received. 

 The Rancher's Sidekick found creative ways to stay busy, dry, and warm.  It DID include commandeering his sister's stroller and blanket.
 The Cowpuncher was willing to come on a day that he didn't ride and was cold and rainy.  That's a pretty dedicated cowboy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Ranching Family

When we find people that have a similar purpose, passion, and experiences we create a sort of brotherhood. We find comfort and friendship with those that can relate to us.  In our ranching family we recently have dealt with detrimental losses. 

You may have seen in the news about several ranches in South Dakota that have lost more than 80 thousand animals.  At the beginning of the month a freak storm came along, a storm of several inches of rain, feet of snow, and winds up to 70 MPH.  Had this storm come during the winter, when ranchers might have been better prepared, there still would have had incredible losses. 

But it wasn't at a time when ranchers were prepared.  Even the cattle weren't prepared.  These cows hadn't grown their winter hair.  These ranchers hadn't brought them in where they could have been better protected from the wind and rain.  Some still had their calves that were weeks from being sold. 

And so thousands and thousands of cows and horses walked aimlessly in the blizzard until they dropped to the ground from exhaustion.  Here they were covered and smothered by the snow, causing them to suffocate.  The rain caused inches of deep mud to stop them in their tracks, leaving them only to stand as they were buried by snow.  For some that survived the actual blizzard and freezing temperatures, they later drowned in the runoff from the rain and melting snow.  Many are still dying from effects of the cold and may continue to die from any sickness or infection spread by the dead.

These are real families that spend day after day working to raise cattle just like we were are.  Can you imagine if this happened to you or me?  I hope that you are because so many ranches won't be able to bounce back from this loss.  Not only did they lose calves that would be this year's pay check, but they lost the cows that would bring in money for years to come. 

Ranchers all over can understand, even if only a fraction, what these families must be going through.  A sickness runs through the herd, fires blaze through the summer rangeland, or there is one of those freak storms.  From experience I know that there is nothing worse than watching your animals dying as you strive to do everything you possibly can.  Every minute you are willing them to live.  You almost feel silly praying for cows or horses but praying is about the only thing left to do. 

I don't know if there is anything any of us can do, but I wanted to bring this up just so you can be aware.  That you can realize what a loss our ranching family has had.  We are already in the midst of an uphill battle to keep our lifestyle.  At every turn it seems there is another fight that will bring one more ranch down.  But please, help our ranching family keeping fighting.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Logan Canyon

With having a semi and bull wagon, the cowboys will sporadically haul cows for other ranches.  Its usually the spring haul out and the fall haul home.  Last week The Rancher took the afternoon to haul cows from up Logan Canyon to Snowville.  Being the wonderful husband that he is he asked if I would like to come along.  He knows that, first, I love trees, and second, I love trees in full fall colors.  This was the trip for me.

And he was so right!  With every turn there were new colors intermixed with incredible cliffs and ambling creek.  It was literally breathtaking.  Every year the same thought comes through my mind- God has to be an artist to create such amazing colors.  I may have told The Rancher that we needed to move our cows this way so that I could live in the midst of all that beauty.  Yes, he just smirked about it... (For the record I do find it beautiful here, just a rugged beauty, not a take-your-breath-away beauty.)

So if I can't have it out my window, I had better have a picture of it.  These don't come near the vivid colors that we saw, but at least it reminds me that the fall beauty is out there somewhere.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Calves

Any rancher's wife will tell you that the fall is a stressful time.  You have to get the calves weaned, vaccinated and occasionally some other fun stuff (tags?).  In the mix you still have bulls to pull out, cows to preg check and get settled into fall pasture, and other fall clean up.  Of course every ranch has their own process to but there is one common thing-stress.

There is an incredible tension that comes home with the semi loads of calves when these cowboys wean them off.  Tension from thoughts like we hope we found all of the calves... We hope that they have grown over the summer... We hope that none of them are sick.  And then we pray every night that they will keep growing and that none will get sick.  The day that we sell those calves is the day that we can heave a sigh of relief. 

In the meantime we are doing everything we can to fatten these babies up!  We took our nightly spin through them and so far we are quite pleased with our crop of calves.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Real Fireman

The Rancher is very involved in volunteer programs in our community.  He is with the Search and Rescue, Fire Chief of our local community, and runs with the EMTs.  There was a point that I thought he was crazy but we had a good talk about why he does it.

He explained that when we are wanting to live away from the city for the space needed to run a ranch (or to stay sane), we are giving up the luxury of being close which equals taking on the risk of being so far from certain conveniences, or necessities.  And when we take on the risks, we also must take on the responsibilities. 

So The Rancher has taken on the responsibility to be the local fire chief.  And with that comes some pretty fun perks- like visiting the local elementary.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Cowboy Kings

Following The Rancher around has had some fun perks that I had never considered.  Probably the most rewarding one has been the opportunity to get to know some of these other cowboys.  The nature of the cowboy is to be hard working, rough and tough but looking at these men a little closer I have been able to see another side.

There is the tender side that I see- when they are helping a sick calf, a quick but gentle pat and word to their tired horses, and then when they take a minute to hug and talk to my babies.

These men are very humble, something I have learned with taking their pictures.  They always say things like, "I'll break your camera" or "Find someone better looking to take a picture of."  This is just one way they are humble. They aren't looking for any fame or glory when they do something, even if it is cool. They just ride because they love it. 

They also have a silly side, and not always alcohol induced. They will sing as they ride down the road. They tease back and forth constantly. One of my favorites is to hear their hilarious stories of days in the past.  

There is so much to these men, living and working out here in this rough country. These men rule this land like kings, The Cowboy Kings. Riding because it is their fortune, working because its their legacy, and loving it all because it is their destiny.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Favorite Cow Hand (or Paw)

When I gave you a look at our preg checking day I neglected to tell you about some of our best men.  Well, they aren't men at all.  They are dogs. 

After a few days of working calves through the alley and squeeze chute, The Rancher said, "Those dogs are worth two men working out there!"  And he is right.  These dogs run along the alley, sticking their nose under to bite the heels of the cows.  Then they will nip at the cows in the chute to head them out.  It sure saves a guy having to always run back and forth trying to get the cattle to move.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Rancher's Wife Chicken Chase

The day started out ordinary and beautiful, and typical of a ranching day, that was sure to change.  The cowboys were gone so something was bound to go awry. 

After coming home from getting my hair cut I had a call from The Rancher's mom across the way.  She was somewhat in distress because the chickens were out.  You may not think that this is much of an issue but I assure, it is.

I wish that we had the picturesque Little House on the Prairie farm where the chickens and bum calves ran around free... Lovely pets that nestle and come at a melodic call.  But that isn't what we have here folks.

We have wild calves that in their wild roaming they roam into the chicken coop.  They reek all sorts of havoc on that little coop, like dumping out the water, turning over the feed and ruining the feeders.  Of course this inspires more chaos as the chickens have been terrorized and set free.  Chickens wandering free is problematic- first because it means we have to hunt them down and get them back in.  But also because there is someone else hunting after the chickens... the ornery dog.

As good rancher wives we dedicated ourselves to finding the lost chickens, saving them from being dinner, and safely returning them to the coop.  It was a darn good thing that we were dedicated because it took FOREVER to wrangle up those chickens.  Have you ever herded chickens?  I think it is worse than cats.

They had scattered all throughout the sheds where the old junk has collected, the new tractors are parked, and everywhere in between.  We climbed under and over nasty, dusty, dirty, grimy... I actually don't know what most it stuff was (but I did find a few treasures that would look lovely with flowers planted in them).  But we suffered through it and slowly, but surely, we gathered the chickens one by one back to the coop.

The real hero of the story is The Rancher's mom, who by the way needs a better "Rancher Wife" blog name than that (if anyone has any great ideas).  She is so brave!   I don't really do chickens.  I will chase them, cluck at them, gather their eggs, and occasionally squeal because of them but I won't touch them (read pick them up in ANY sort of way).  But this lady scoops them up without the blink of an eye.  When she can't just scoop them up she has a handy hook that snatches those chickens, just as if she was fishing.  And as she walks them back to the coop she sweetly reminds them that it is much better to stay in the coop, gives them a pat and lets them gently down.  I was so impressed at one point that I almost told her she was one good hooker lady, but I didn't think that was very nice...  She has some sort of chicken super powers that any nasty chicken had better beware.