Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home
It snowed, snowed, and then snowed some more.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Living on Willow Creek, Tough Life Out Here!!

Well winter arrived, we went from nice warm fall days to living in the deep freeze in one day. The time has come to start staying on the Creek in the 5th wheel, and let me tell you what a complete blast it has been.

At first it was ok, the water worked, the fridge worked, you didn't really need much heat, the cows didn't need to be fed and have the ice cut for them, no need for a coat, and you could ride the 4 wheeler to get around on....and then it started to snow, it snowed for 2 complete days. After it stopped snowing without any warning, it had gone from warm days to froze solid. There was no water, you could barely get around at all, the creek was froze, the fridge stopped working, you couldn't get enough heat, you were either frozen in the trailer or out of it, and the cows ate the hay that had been put around the trailer to stop the wind  and drug off the propane tanks - even turned on every valve so there was no gas left in any tank. Yep, it was a done deal, the trailer was froze up like a block of ice with the humans on the inside with no way to get out, and the cows on the outside doing their best to help in any way they could. It has been so much fun. It has gotten so cold that the highly trained border collie cow dogs won't even go with to help move the cows, and they love to herd cows!!

Now for the guys it isn't that big of a deal because their a man. Men don't really care if they take a shower every day, and they can use the bathroom outside without getting frost bite on their behinds. Then there is me,  I like my nice hot bath every night, and I am not using the bathroom outside when it is below the freezing mark. The first few nights and mornings were quite a shock to my system, I would wake up in the morning and my hair would be frozen to the window frame so when I would try to get out of bed to run for the heater, I would about break my neck. I have now started drying my hair before I go to bed to prevent any further damage to my neck. I have learned to bottle water when it is running, so that I can do the things in the morning that I am use to doing, such as brushing my teeth and washing my face. The bottled water is not completely frozen and is still in the slushy stage so this has worked out rather well so far, I have been told that cold water helps keep your skin looking younger. Not sure what freezing water helps with and I probably don't want to know. I have also leaned that if you keep the generator running at night, this helps with two of the biggest problems, the first is not completely freezing to death at night and second is so that you can use the blow drier to thaw out the doors in the morning so that the guys can get right out there to relieve themselves in the sub zero temperatures. Not me, I am waiting for the sun to come up.

We are now feeding the cows and cutting the ice for them. Our easy days have become days of struggles and problems. The tractor has froze up twice now, but of course I make Jay fix it while I sit in the cab all warm and cozy. The ice is about a foot thick already, so of course the cutting of the ice has become a mans job. I can't start the generator, so that is up to the guys. Actually it is Jay's job to stand out in the cold so he can keep the fire going below the hose so we can fill the water tanks - for my nice hot bath. I do switch the valve in the trailer and let him know when the tank is full. When the water pump is froze up, I will use the blow drier to thaw it out so it isn't like I don't do my part and help out! Oh, and as for the fridge...who needs it just put your food out side in the cooler during the day and bring it in at night, we will figure the fridge out when we can stand to be outside long enough to look at it.

I sure can't wait for the day when I have a nice big cabin to live in. The creek is such a pretty place but it is in need of some updating of the living arrangements. I get to stay in the 5th wheel, which is a palace compared to Jay's cabin. I have to say, Jay you sure are one tough dude to rough it the way that you do all the time.

Now it isn't like I am sitting on my behind and taking it easy....feeding the cows is a workout for this gal.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Don't look at me, I'm still here!!
Well fall is here and we are going into winter. The cows are on Willow Creek, of course there are those few that we haven't captured quite yet, but the calves are sold and things are suppose to be settling down now. Yep there is that word again 'suppose', and this is another one of those 'you have got to be kidding' stories. When you have cows that have just gotten rid of their calves and are feeling the freedom of being single again, then throw in 150 1st calf heifers, nothing is going to go the way you plan - NOTHING!!! Clay tells Jay and I that the DWR is coming to look at the meadows on the Creek before winter to make sure that everything looks up to par. The cows can only be on the DWR land from December 1st to the end of March, and they know it. I don't care how well Jay builds the fences the cows will lay on the fence line until they get through. The day before the visit I had went back up on Winter Ridge to catch some of our escaped 1st calf heifers who had slipped through one of Jays fences, and then we had planned on making a quick run down to Willow Creek and move the 5 cows that we knew were at Bull Canyon back down to the private land. We would just come back up Winter Ridge and haul the heifers home. That was our plan, but the cows must not have gotten the memo because they weren't having any part of it, we were going along as planned until we got to the private and then everything that could go wrong did. I often wonder if the cows get a kick out of watching us run around looking like fools.

Just as we got to the private with our 5 very fat and full of green grass cows, we were met by their very full of green grass friends coming the opposite direction in an all out stampede. Since we had went up the north side of the creek and then come back on the south side, the gate at the Pig house was still open - not a smart move. This was one of those 'hind site moments'. If the cows made it past there we were going to be in trouble!! We had only took the 4 wheeler because we knew that we would have no problem with the 5 cows coming back down so there was no need for horses until we met the rest of the cows heading the other way. At first it was 2 humans to stop 250 cows, but the cow count was growing by the moment so either a gate was open or they were crossing the creek which surely could not be happening since Jay had been fixing the fences in order to keep them on the private. One thing about working with cows you never have a chance to finish one thought before you are caught completely off guard again, this would be the glimpse of Jay coming towards us with the fence stretchers and roll of wire. Yep, we were in trouble for sure. It was about 4 pm and the sun was on it's way down and it is really hard to see black cows in the dark!!

I jumped off the wheeler and left Roger flying back and forth across the field at dusk, with no tread left on the tires and about out of gas. Jay was on foot running back and forth across the same field at dusk that Roger was flying across wildly with the 4 wheeler.  I had jumped off the the 4 wheeler and was on my way across the very cold creek in my not-so-waterproof winter boots, this was the first of many trips through the icy creek that night, but being a woman I sent Rusty through first to check how deep it was, not that it mattered because I didn't see anyone coming to take my spot. The only good tool that I had to try to stop the cows was Rusty, and lets face it although he has made huge improvements he is still a puppy and hasn't finished developing his 'listening ears' yet, but he will work his behind off for you until he gets bored. I sent Rusty on a 'way to me, way out', and he went, then he came back on a 'there', then turned and went back across the cows on another 'there'. I was seeing a miracle for sure, Rusty was working and listening, and he was turning the cows back. We had stopped them, the first surge anyway. Roger and Jay were pushing the cows through the gate on their side of the creek and they were coming back around on my side of the creek, so I yelled at Jay to get up on the road where they were crossing and try to stop them from crossing, but the cows only cut off of the bank of his side and crossed in front of me and behind Roger, so this meant that I was going to have to run back through the creek to stop them on the other side.  By this time it was pretty much dark, but there are a few sounds that you don't need to see what happened, you just know it has happened. There is no mistaking the sound of a gate being removed from the posts and drug down the road around a cows neck, and you can't miss the sound of a green grass cow running past you with the green grass squirts. You will have to use your imagination for this one, but here it goes. 2 very angry cow pokes running around and 1 crazed maniac on a 4 wheeler, trying to stop an entire herd of cows in the dark on a field that has just has a fresh coating of green grass poop EVERYWHERE, and you can't forget a pup that has an attention span of a peanut or maybe now a walnut!!!

The Pig House
I will be honest, sometimes I say a bad word or two. On this occasion I might have put a few of them in my next paragraph, because it registered with the guys, who have mastered the skill of never hearing anything I say to them.  Roger was now flying up the road on the 4 wheeler to get the gate shut at the Pig house and Jay was running towards the big hole in the fence line. I took off running for the south side of the creek to get the cows stopped before they made another big hole in the next fence line, only on this trip through the creek in the dark, I stepped into a hole that was as deep as my legs. Yep there was no more of a need to send Rusty through first or worry about getting more ice cold water in my boots because I now had my pockets full of icy water.  By this time Rusty was really bored with the entire process so he was just hanging out with me in the creek hoping that someone would come looking for me and none of these super stupid cows would come off the bank on top of me because there was no way to climb back out when you are a bit short on altitude.  I stood in the creek waiting to hear Roger coming back down the road, and sure enough after several minutes of standing in the creek up to my behind, he noticed that I was missing so he came looking on the wheeler. Now with his mastered art of never hearing me and the wheeler's engine, I didn't even try hollering for him, so I waited. Pretty soon I heard him calling my name and Rusty bolted out of the creek to go fetch him, so he comes over to the bank and drags me out of the water. I am not sure if Roger just likes to ask me stupid questions, but he came up with "What were you doing in there?" Well hell I was fishing!!! There just comes a time when you know that you need to regroup and try again in the morning, like in a few hours!!

The next morning we head out for the creek at 4:30 am. I left a note for Burt to see if he could go fetch our captured heifers from Winter Ridge, fed Ruffles and the chickens, and flew to the creek so we could get some hay on the truck and be in front of the cows before they made it any further up the creek. Just as we were coming around the corner into the haystack, Jay was already heading out with the fencing material and I think he was a bit shocked to see us roaring around the corner. I had decided that if we could find a horse we would use a horse behind the truck to push the cows back to the private. Of course there wasn't a horse to be found, so we loaded some hay on the truck and headed after our cows. Now usually we honk to get the cows to come to the truck, but no not happening, this is when Roger informed me that the horn didn't work in the truck we were using because he had needed it in his truck, so Jay became the horn, and since Roger had removed the horn he could be the herder. The cows followed us all the way to Main Canyon, Jay and I decided to reward them for being nice to us for once instead of making us look like fools again, so we fed them some hay up Main Canyon where we were hoping they would stay long enough for us to get the fence repaired from the stampede the night before. The hay idea worked so well that Jay wanted to know why I hadn't thought of it the night before, I told him that I had, but it only works if the cows can see the hay!!

The 3 of us went to work on the fence, we had the entire road blocked with our fencing material and looked like we had everything under control by the time the DWR came by. When Clay came by, we must have been looking at him like we had just gotten away with a really big one, but he didn't say anything until later. Clay and DWR go do their inspection of the meadows and they didn't see a single cow, maybe a few horses but horses aren't cows. Later that afternoon, Clay comes back and he said "I think I will go feed them a few round bales to settle them down." Jay, and I looked at each other, and I said, "settle them down, they are being angels today, you have no idea what we have been going through to keep them down here". He did say something about all the fresh poop on the Pig gate, but we acted like we didn't hear him and kept at repairing our fence line.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Something is very FISHY!!

Eggs, dead flies and fish!
As you all know, we are cattle ranchers. We know how to raise cows, we know what cows looks like from babies to old cows, let's just say that we know about cows.....not fish, but we figured it out by trail and error, mostly errors!!

Clay brings home this really big blue tank and a bunch of hoses. Then he tells us that he is going to raise some fish, well we were ok with is idea because he said that 'he was going to raise some fish', so it really didn't concern us much. It sounded like he knew what he was doing and had everything under control.

I kept asking him when the fish were coming, and he told me that it takes about a month to get the fish because you were on a waiting list. Now being me, my translation to this was, it must take a long time for fish to make their eggs. When I asked about a month later, I was told that he was on a waiting list, so I wasn't sure about anything at all other than there weren't any fish in the tank yet. That tank remained empty for almost 2 months, then one day Clay asks me, 'have you seen the fish'?

So I grab Sandra and we go down to see the 'fish'! There were only pink balls in this pitcher looking thing that had water running through it. We gave it a full examination and decided that the fish hadn't hatched yet, so we were sure that we would have to wait another month or so before we saw any fish. What we didn't realize was just how much work those little pink balls were going to be from that point forward. Let me just say that gravity flow water and raising fish isn't the best combination to have.

I think is was 2 or 3 days after Clay brought home the pitcher of pink eggs, the water stopped running. Now not being use to raising fish or even knowing how to raise fish, it took a few hours before we thought about the fish eggs not having any water running through them but when it did cross our minds Sandra and I were on the job, we grabbed our pitchers and started running water from the creek to the fish eggs. We had made about 20 trips when it struck us that we could just put the pitcher full of eggs under the pipe that was running into the creek, it took both of us to lift the pitcher full of eggs out of the fish tank and  then we almost dropped it. That afternoon the water started flowing again in the houses so we put the eggs back into the tank thinking that we had saved the day...maybe that day, but there was tomorrow.

The next day, Burt takes the track hoe up to the spring and starts to dig it out so all of the houses would have more water running into them. When he disconnected the pipe, it sucked all the baby fish to the top of their pitcher where the water was running into it at and even sucked some of the eggs out the top and down the drain. In a total panic, Sandra and I run down to the fish tank thinking that we would just see the eggs laying there in the bottom like they were the day before but when we got down there Becky was already pouring water into the hole, so once again we pack the fish pitcher back out to the pipe. We just knew that all the eggs were dead for sure. About that time Clay shows up, he was not to happy with our fish raising skills. He looked at the pink balls and told us that they were still alive, this was a relief and we took his word on it.

After the close call with Clay's fish, we thought that we had done a very good job and all the close calls were over. Water was flowing, the balls were churning and all looked good. I guess when you raise fish you should know something about the process in which fish develop, this would be very helpful for 2 women who think that fish will look like fish as soon as they are done being balls. After the ball stage, they look like dead flies, so being women when we saw all the dead flies laying in the tank we thought that we needed to clean out the tank. It was a very good thing that Sandra noticed that there wasn't as many pink balls in the pitcher so we closely examined the dead flies. We tapped on the bottom of the tank and the dead flies would move. Our dead flies were the baby fish, but they didn't look to healthy to us. We figured that it had something to do with being without water for to long, so things weren't looking to good to us. Clay asks me one day how the fish were doing, and I told him that they were all dying and laying on the bottom of the tank and looked like dead flies, he just laughed and said that it was ok. It turns out that they do that until the egg shell falls off, then they will start swimming. Swimming was another job all together!!

When the baby fish started swimming, most of them would all collect over the drain and plug it up, then the tank would overflow and the fish that weren't involved in the making of the plug would flow out with the water and be in the corner of the room flopping around waiting for either Sandra, or myself to come rescue them and put them back in the tank. Now we are not quite sure how, but some of the fish would even end up in the tub so we would have to scoop them out of there and return them into their tank,  sometimes this would happen once a day or several times a day. It  happens to be very difficult to pick baby fish up off of a floor, so we invented a fish retrieval system which you use sticky note paper to slide under the tiny fish, and with enough practice you can capture several fish in one scoop.

They actually survived us!!
Clay asked Roger, who is a master of never listening, to build a screen to put over the drain so the baby fish couldn't plug the drain. Roger translated that he wanted a screen to cover the entire tank, which only made it very difficult to get to the plugged drain when trying to save the lives of the fish. Then Clay tried to explain the screen idea to Sandra and I, he ended the explanation with, 'haven't you ever been to a fish hatchery'. Of course we had an answer for such a silly question, 'no, only the DWR goes there, not normal people', we wondered if that was where he had bought his baby fish because we couldn't ever remember seeing a store that sold baby fish. After we women decided that we knew what kind of screen was needed, we informed Roger that we wanted him to constructed another screen for the tank. This worked a lot better and the tank didn't over flow as much, but we would on occasion, still have a flash flood and we would be back to scooping up baby fish. At this point we informed Clay that we were sure that he didn't really know how much of a job raising his fish had become around here, but that there were still fish in his tank.

Last week, Clay put the baby fish in the pond. Yes, quite a few of them lived through the raising and became some type of trout and are now living in the pond.  I am not sure if we will be raising any more fish, but we will know what we are doing next time around.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Race Across Winter Ridge

Another wild story that you would never believe unless you were there.....Yesterday Roger and I went to gather up 2 pair of cows and calves, now we had seen them every night for a week so we figured that they were just waiting for us to come along and take them home. I was riding Fergie and Roger was riding Grimm, both colts - this means still under construction and not quite a horse yet!!

The cows see us unload from the horse trailer and leave, not just calmly walk off but in an all out run. By the time we get to the top of the hill we could see them rounding the bend at 3 pines and they weren't slowing down, since Grimm is the older of the two colts I tell Roger to get him going - Grimm doesn't like to get going and Fergie has never had to get going yet. I was not sure how she would do running through the brush and rocks in an all out run, but Fergie caught on really quickly!

Just as the cows were about to drop off into the spring and disappear down the canyon,  Fergie had caught up with them and we cut them off as they came thundering  out of the cedars. Roger and Grimm were just behind us so we thought that we had won the race, but this was just the first round. The cows then split up and ran back into the cedars, so we went in after them. My cow was running around a tree and she would moo to her calf, I could see the calf standing off to the side and then on about lap number 10 the calf was gone - as in disappeared, vanished, no where to be found!! Rogers pair had disappeared also. This was not a good thing, I knew that cow and the calves had to be in the trees so Roger took the one remaining cow out into the open and waited while I rode around and around and around back and forth, then I would stop and listen and not a twig snapping or moving sounds of any kind, so I go out and tell Roger that we will just wait them out. We each took a quick nap while the other kept an eye on the cow, who was waiting us out as well. This game lasted for over an hour.

I finally pushed the cow back into the trees and she went right over to where the other cow and calve were laying as flat as pancakes under the brush, I was quite surprised at how flat they were laying and they were both surprised to see us looking down at them, so they jumped up and tried to run off again but we were prepared this time. Now that I knew that we were not looking for a calf laying like normal cows usually lay, I started looking for another flat black pancake under the brush and after another 40 minutes had passed I found that little butt head. My successful moment didn't even last long enough to pat myself on the back because we were off on round 2 of our race across the country side. This time they took off full speed ahead towards Winter Ridge, and once again I was cheering on Grimm to catch them. I do think that Fergie thought this was rather fun because she really got into rhythm or clearing the brush in an all out run and only stumbled a few times in the race.

Once we got them turned back in the general direction of Whet Rock, we slowed down so they would slow down as well. This usually works with 'normal' cows, but these 2 cows were not normal cows because they didn't even slow down to see if we were still following them or not, no they just kept the pedal to the metal and they missed the Whet Rock sign and were now heading up the burn. Off we went again, this time Fergie had figured this game out and was going to show these cows that she was faster than them by a long shot. She passed the cows and turned them around and didn't let them back past her, now I am not making this up, she was doing it, she was upset and must have been tired of this game because she was biting the cows on their backs and behinds while she was using her body to push them around!! It took a minute for Fergie to calm down but the cows were once again headed back towards Whet Rock, but Roger and Grimm were in front of them and Rusty was on the side and Fergie and I were in the back. We marched them to Whet Rock, turned them down the canyon and off they went in race mode again. Roger and I were lagging behind because the cows could only go down to the ranch now and all we would have to do was shut the gate behind them, yeah right!

The cows and their calves ran through the gate, there is only one right turn that they could take and not one out of the other 200 cows that we have pushed down so far have tried to take this right turn so why would these 2 do it, oh yeah, normal cows and a large snorting bear might make the difference. We had not even made it though the gate and I was  watching as the cows were running closer and closer to the canyon on the right, then here comes a bear! A very large black bear comes trotting out of the draw towards our not normal cows and I yell to Roger, 'GO!!! They're heading up the canyon'. Yep here we go again, it is about a mile up to the gate and I had a pretty good idea that Grimm was not going to catch up to the cows, so I figured that I might as well start trusting Fergie to keep us up right so I turned her loose and let her go. Now for the record, that horse can move. She caught and passed Grimm in about the first eighth of a mile and then set her sights on the cows, we passed them and instead of running around them she plowed right through the middle of them and kept right on going. I think I made it to the gate in record time, not sure if there was a record but I know I have never gotten there that quickly before. I jumped off and shut the gate. I could hear the cows coming and I could only hope that Paulino's fence fixing would hold up as the cows hit the fence in an all out run. It stopped them!!!

It took another hour of Rusty chewing on the cows to get them to head back down the canyon again, but we finally did. This time we went back to the one in front, Rusty on the side, and one in the back. What should have been a short ride, about an hour and half, turned into a 5 hour ride that was only 3 miles from the ranch.  Like I have said before, there is never a normal day out here. Roger never says much, but he did have a comment about today, 'It's a good thing you didn't ride Donkey'.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Learning About The Birds And The Bees!!!

Ok, I have now thought about this for a couple of days and I don't even know how to begin this story. I try to keep this a G rated blog so I will be as creative as possible....here we go!

A few days ago we went down to Meadow Creek to gather some of our wondering cows that never seem to stay where we put them. We started pretty early, around 6:30 a.m. so we could get a good start before it got very hot, this was one of our 'planned' out moves, but like I have said before, nothing ever goes as planned when you are working with cattle. Especially when you have 8 bulls and 1 bulling cow, who I discovered has no morals, principals, or scruples at all.

We picked up the first small bunch while they were laying on the Willow Creek fence line, there were 2 yearling bulls in the bunch and they just went with the cows and were very well behaved. It is a short ride from that fence to the fence at the bottom of V Canyon, about a 20 minute ride, so I was thinking that we would be on our way up Kelly Canyon in about 2 hours, yeah right. We came to the next bunch of cows and 1 bull, now this bull was a 2 year old and in people terms I guess you could say that he was a smart butted teenager with a few girls who were stupid enough to hang out with him. This is where the morning went down hill like a rock falling off a cliff, we were only about an eighth of a mile from the V Canyon fence and this bull wouldn't let the cows go anywhere, he would run back and forth in front of them and bunt them if they tried to go around him. Our quick pace came to a halt, complete stop, couldn't get a single cow to go around this idiot bull and we couldn't get the bull to go anywhere with out his girlfriends. It was getting hot and the other cows were getting tired of having the air knocked out of them so they all wanted to go back the opposite direction.

Being the quick thinker that I am, I called Sandra on the radio and told her to go up to the corrals and we would just load him and haul him up to the top of Kelly Canyon. Now I know that Sandra is fairly new out here but she has helped us brand in Meadow Creek several times and I would have thought that she had paid attention enough to be able to get the horse trailer to the corrals......wrong again.

By the time we made it through the Meadow Creek gate and up to this little hill about 3 hours had passed, I kept thinking all we have to do is get this idiot to the corrals and then we will be able to move the cows again. Just about the time we got to the top of the hill I could hear an engine rev up and then it would stop, then it would rev up again, I asked Roger if he could hear it and he said no. Then I heard it again and this is when it hit me that Sandra was stuck, do you have any idea how deep a person can spin a truck down into the sand in 3 hours. I am here to tell you that when it is sitting on the bottom of the truck bed and the door is making angel wings when you open it, you just might want to stop digging. OH MY HECK it isn't like anyone is going to be coming along to pull you out!!!

Now I was already mildly upset over putting up with the idiot bull, I told Roger to go see where she was at. He takes off over the top of the hill and the engine noise stops, I figured that he was doing some digging and she would be off and headed up to the corral in just a few minutes. After all how bad could it be on a perfectly dry road, a rock maybe. Well I am certain that it took me another 30 minutes to get to the top of the hill, a short 100 yards, and I was not expecting to see what I saw. It seems that Sandra couldn't tell the road from the wash, the wash that ALL of the rain storms fill with silt not sand, but dust, like quick sand. The only thing that kept her from disappearing was the horse trailer, and even that was about to go under.

I am pretty sure that Sandra and Roger had already had the conversation about me being just a tiny bit upset, so I surprised them and didn't say a word and kept trying to push my cows. What they didn't know was that I had just seen a very large bear coming their way and I had the gun, so I rode past them and put my cows in the meadow where I was hoping they would stay unattended for a few minutes and went back to see if it was as bad as it looked, it was. Roger sweating up a river while he was trying to dig a hole under the buried truck so he could jack it up and put something solid under it, so he could fill in the hole and start all over again. I know that they were both expecting me to ask her what she thought she was doing, but instead I told her that the bear was on his way and I didn't care how she got it there, but this truck better be on top tonight when we get there around 10. I told Roger that I was going to keep going and he could catch up when he fetched the truck out of this hole. Then I handed Sandra my gun and some extra bullets and told her that if it got dark she probably otta say inside the truck, that we would be back sometime tomorrow to get her after we rode home all night. After all, we still had about 10 miles to move this idiot bull and then a 15 mile ride home and it wasn't going very smoothly so far.

This is where the other 5 bulls come into the day. I regathered my cows and managed to get them round the next bend to another batch of cows, so now I have the idiot, 2 yearlings, another yearling, a 3 year old, a very lazy red angus, an older bull,  and Bob the bull. It is hard enough to move a herd of cows with one bull in the herd, but you add 7 bulls and you ain't going anywhere.

Bob the bull is like a guy that hangs out in the fitness club, he lays around all winter putting on the body structure that a working bull needs to get him through June to November. I don't think I have ever watched another bull even try to take him on in a fight, that was until I came along with the idiot. Bulls can really carry a punch, but just from the looks of it Bob must really have a knock out blow. I am only guessing this because when he hit the idiot, he laid him out flat, I really thought that he had killed the idiot but within a 15 more waisted minutes he was back up staggering around like he was drunk. If I wasn't so irritated with the idiot I might have felt sorry for him, but I can't lie, I was very happy that he was finally going with the flow. I called Sandra on the radio and told her that I was leaving the canyon, and I was a little shocked by her reply, "So do you want Roger to go back to the house?" There are those questions that just don't need to be answered, I said, "NO!!! HE NEEDS TO CATCH UP WITH ME, I AM NOT DOING THIS ALONE TODAY".

Since I am not a cow I really have not a clue what makes the breeding cycle kick in or what a bull sees in a cow, but I found out that whatever it is can mess up your day worse than one idiot bull could ever think of doing. I had no sooner gotten the herd through the last gate and was getting back on my horse when I see the newly built pipe fence fall over right up to the gate that I had just closed, and on the other side of it was this cow and the entire herd of bulls doing some sort of courtship mating dance and her calf running around trying to get back with his mom. Since the gate was kinda jammed in the pipe pole now, I walked across the fence and go get the bulls and cow, this is where I decided no matter how sick Rusty is, he is never staying home again because Buddy just wasn't doing the job. I was just leaving Meadow Creek and it was already 1:30 p.m. and I was praying for clouds to show up.

The first part of Kelly Canyon has been pretty much cleared of brush by our wondering cows so it isn't really bad to push cows through, normally. I looked back one last time to see if Roger was coming, then turned to start up the canyon alone again, yeah I was feeling sorry for myself but I had my lunch and 3 bottles of water so I was prepared - not. I started the bull ball up the canyon first then went back and got the cows going, this is when the bull ball came back through the herd like a bowling ball and all of the cows turned around with them and started back to the freshly flattened fence. My feeling sorry for myself soon became, oh no I better get them stopped. For the life of me I don't know why other cows would even want to become involved in this mess of one cow and 8 bulls but for some reason they did. Now my entire herd of cows were running every which way for no reason at all, and Buddy was just sitting there watching. Some how I got them turned back around before they crossed the fence line again and we started off again.

It really was going well once the cows started up the canyon because every single one of them have been pushed out the same canyon at least 15 times this years already so they know the way. The bull ball was quite a ways ahead of the herd and just kept on going, it was easy to see where they were at because the brush was waving back and forth as they plowed through it. On occasion the bulls would get into a fight, but then they would realize that the bull ball was getting away so they would run off to keep up. I really didn't care what the bull ball did as long as they kept going, and I figured that the mass bull attack would stop because she surely had to be bred by now, because it surely don't take that much to get the job done, right. Wrong.....just as we started up Kelly Canyon there is a wash that was made by last years flood, it is only about a cow wide and cow deep, that is one that is laying on her back because the bulls have rode her in the wash.  I noticed that all of the bull were just standing in one spot, and when I rode over there I could see this cows feet, that is never a good thing, but the most amazing thing was that the bulls were still trying to poke her feet!!!

As I am standing there wondering how I was going to get her out of there, Roger finally catches up with me. I can't tell you what he said, because of my G rating, but it was very colorful. He was riding Donkey, I was riding Grimm who are both colts, never been roped off of or had a rope use on them before, so I picked Donkey...better Roger to be bucked off then me and mules are stronger than horses. I then put the rope on her front legs and hand the other end to Roger and tell him to dally it off and pull, he did and his horn snaps off of the saddle and about hits me out as it zips past my head. Back to my quick thinking, I tell him to put my saddle on Donkey and we will try it again, I was not going to pull that cow with Grimm. This was a mans job and a man was going to do it. It must have been a miracle because on the second try the cow was sitting on her behind which only gave more area for the bulls to be doing their poking. With some prying and pushing the cow was back on all fours and off running again. Roger said, 'What the heck'! I said, 'they were doing ok until just now'.

We were getting to the end of the canyon where the water was running so the cows could get a good drink before they climbed out of the canyon to the top.  We were sitting there eating our lunch and getting ready for out climb to the top and we here this crash, it sounded like a rock slide, but oh no, it was a bull ball slide. Once again all of the other cows come running back at us because I am sure that they hadn't ever witnessed a bull ball slide before and it did make quite a racked.

Since we didn't know that the cow has just been rode all the way down the side of the mountain by the 8 overly aggressive bulls, we started the cows back up the trail over the cow laying on her back with her feet up in the air again and of course the bulls were still poking away. I started feeling bad for this cow as I was removing the trees and rocks from around her, it wasn't as bad as the first time but she was stuck pretty good. Once she was back on her feet, she takes off again up the side of the mountain with her calf right behind her, then the bull ball. Now I am not joking, it hadn't been 5 whole minutes when we here another crash. This time she was stuck between 2 large fallen trees.

Now for all of you that don't know, bulls can break their wieners. I have ofter wondered how they do this and I have asked Clay, the only answer that I have ever gotten is that they get hit while ridding a cow. I call BS on this, they break those things by ramming them into whatever is around the cow, like trees, rocks, cow legs, cow ears, cow eyes, cow noses, cow belly while cow is upside down. They break those things by misusing them. Another thought that I had, was that this cows calf was going to have an ear from one bull, a nose from another, a tail from a total different bull, and I was sure that it would come out half red and  half black. Seriously enough was enough. As I was having all these thoughts, I climbed over the tree trunk and ripped my new jeans from crotch to the knee, which just happened to be my breaking point. I picked up a branch and started swinging at the bulls, they didn't seem to care to much they were just waiting for me to get her out of there so they would get back to the poking.

There were 2 more cow crashes after this one, and on one of them I didn't think we were going to be able to get her out. She was tangled up in the trees and headed down hill, of course the bulls were still going at her. I didn't want to shoot her now, so with the both of us we managed to get the trees moved off of her and then rolled her over. To our surprise she got back up and off the bull ball went again. By this time our cow dog Buddy had climbed up the hill across from all the activity and was watching like some fan at a sporting event, I would try to call him but I was out of water and nothing would come out. It was late and the bull ball was now standing in the bottom of the canyon doing their thing and neither of us had the energy to try to get them out of it again so we left them there.

Before we started our climb to the top, we went and sucked water off the rock where it comes out of the spring, dirt and all, it tasted and felt so good. Then we started the climb, hoping that we had a truck on top to go home in. It took us another 2 hours to ride back to the truck and the whole way I was trying to figure out why those bulls wouldn't give that cow a break. It must be like the new girl in school, all the boys chase after her. Males are the weirdest things ever made.

Just as I was thinking over the events of the day, Grimm spotted a bear and ran right over the top of me. This should not have shocked me because he is a male too!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Intorducing Armondo

Armondo would rather cook!
A few weeks back, Clay came out and said that he had a guy sitting down in Hay Canyon with a couple of flat tires. He handed me a bag of food and a 1/2 gallon of very warm milk, and I asked him, "you know this milk is warm?" He said, "well he's been sitting down there for quite a while now, so I brought his food up for him."

So Clay gets in his pickup and goes to get Armondo and his vehicle from the bottom of Hay Canyon on one of the hottest days we have had so far, I was thinking that I hope he is at least somewhere that has some shade. A few hours later Clay drives past our house with out the Vehicle, but has Armondo and his belongings with him. For some folks you might think this is an unusual arrival to your new job, but we are use to it because most try to get out here with street tires and no 4x4 so we almost always have to go fetch them.

The next morning Clay sends his hired man back down with the trailer to get Armondos vehicle, this was my first chance to meet Armondo. He seemed to be a polite and very quite man. I was hoping that he was patient and had a good sense of humor because you need it out here most of the time. When the hired hand got back with the vehicle, Armondo was laughing at the few rubber strings that were now hanging off of his rims, so the sense of humor was there!!!

We got in one of our gentler and bigger horses and put some shoes on him for Armondo, this was when he mentioned that he had never rode a horse before! I asked him if he had some form of balance, he said yes.....well there you go, you will be able to stay on just sit in the middle and you will be fine. He just sorta looked at me and laughed. The next morning came and the fun began.

Fergie I am getting on.

He watched me put Fergie through her morning routine, then we loaded the horses in the trailer and off we went. By the time we arrived down in Meadow Creek Armondo was completely lost and I think he was a bit worried, but we just did our thing and started loading the saddle bags and tied of jackets on the back of our saddles. I am sure that he was wondering why we were loading so much stuff on our horses, but he just watched. Then I handed him the reins to his ride and off we went, this is when he finally asked his first set of questions, "where are we, where are we going, are we walking, and why did you bring a gun?" I am not one for talking in the mornings, so I just replied, "no". After leading Fergie to the brush were it is safe to mount her, I told him to go ahead and get on...Armondo just stood there looking at us. I am sure that after watching me get on Fergie he was thinking that walking wasn't such a bad idea after all, but the hired man went over and helped him mount is horse, and then he climbed on Jason which is always taking your life in your own hands with Jason. Armondo just watched as we got our horses headed in the right direction, but I am sure he was thinking that this would be the death of him for sure, especially after watching Jason fling his passenger across the brush.

Since we ride several miles  everyday it really doesn't bother us any more, but for a new person it hurts like heck after the first few hours. Now I am not really sure why, but this always seems to quite humorous to us, especially the first few steps off of the horse for those  'oh so sore legs'. Armondo went along with us and stayed behind the cows, he did leave the gathering to us but he pushed the cows and stayed behind the 'swichie' things eating the dust and dirt while sweating like crazy. Once we got the cows headed up Rock Springs Canyon, I told Roger to go back and take the truck around and come back down from the top. Armondo is a very alert man because he really took in the conversation about which canyon 'I thought it was from the top' that we had had on our trip down to Meadow Creek. This got another question out of him, "Does he know where we are going?", I calmly replied, "I doubt it, but we should be able to find the truck". Armondo said, "I hope so". Then he took in the next conversation between Roger and myself about bullets, but never said a word until after Roger had left, then Armondo asked me, "why do you need bullets?". Not until I answered this question did I see fear in his face, "because we always see bears in this canyon and last fall we met a very mean bear that had just killed a cow up here, but that's why I bought that big white dog today".

About 20 minutes later all the cows stopped and was watching something in front of them, Buddy takes off with his hair standing up in his back, and I immediately call Button back and downed her. In all this new activity, I hear a thud beside me, I look over and Armondo is laying on the ground. Now since mounting Fergie takes all the skill I have, I really didn't want to get off to see why he was on the ground, but since I am a nice person I did it anyway. I asked Armondo, "what happened?", he said in is broken English, "I thought I needed to run, I saw that bear". Now for all of you that know me you should know that I busted out laughing - a pee your pants kind of laugh, I guess he thought he would do better on his feet than on the horse at out running the bear except for the fact that he forgot to take his feet out of the stirrups so he was hanging there next to the horse.

Up we go!!
After I got Armondo back in an upright state, I said told him that we could walk up the trail for awhile because it would be easier on the horses, I noticed that he was right on Fergies butt most of the time. Fergie don't really like things touching her behind and I was surprised that she didn't kick him, but she must have known that he was pretty much scared to death. By the time we made it though the thick trees, I had gotten Armondo to walk up one side of the canyon while I covered the other side. When we got out into the sagebrush I really wanted to get back on and ride, so I take Fergie back out into the brush and get on. Armondo was watching me and then he said, "you have to help me". What are you kidding, you want me to get back off of this firecracker to help you get on your horse!!! Once again being the nice person that I am, I climb off of Fergie saying some not so pleasant words under my breath and go help him get back on his horse. In my moment of being not so happy I didn't notice that he didn't put a reign on each side of his horses neck, but I helped him on and he rode the rest of the way with the reigns on one side of the horse.

He says they are amigos!
When we made it back to the truck which was a long ways from the canyon that we came up, I helped Armondo off of his horse and loaded his Bay and Fergie in the horse trailer. Roger wasn't there because he sorta misjudged the canyons and decided to wander off so we had to wait for him to come back. Armondo was snoring in the back seat by the time we headed home, he could barely walk the next day but was laughing about it all.....we were too!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Harley Meets Mr. Personality

I have to start this with some introductions......

1100 lbs of skin and bone
First there is Harley. I have mentioned him from time to time before, but you really need to get to know Harley. He is a 4 year old colt that should have been born as a dog not a horse. Harley does not have a mean bone in his body, but there are several stupid ones that hold him together. Not much bothers him, but he is afraid of fish - from a minnow to a 12 inch trout - it doesn't matter, if Harley sees a fish he won't go near the water at all, not even for a drink. Harley likes to stay around the house instead of going out in the meadow with the rest of the horses, I think he would come in and visit is you left the door open. He is a calm and gentle soul in a horses body and he is very far from the sharpest pencil in the box, Harley fits the saying, the lights are on but no one is home.

1600 lbs of solid muscle
Now for Mr. Personality, he is the orneriest, down right meanest bull I have ever been around. He hasn't spent a winter at home for at least 3 years that I know of, and I don't think he intends on coming home this year either. Mr. Personality will lay on the gate in the fall and wait for the cows to be pushed through, then he will ATTACK your horse so you will let him have his way with new batch of girls you just delivered into his trap. Harley was lucky enough not to have to deal with him last fall, but the rest of the horses and bulls try to avoid him all together. There must be a reason for it!!

I first met Mr. Personality out on the end of West Water in mid December the first year I was out here, and it was not a friendly introduction to say the least. Clay sent Roger and I out to get him with no warning other then 'don't get hurt', so out we went to find him. Thinking that this was going to be an easy capture because we could see him from the divide road, but when we got out to the end of the ledge were he should have been, he had disappeared, that was until Trotter and I came around the bottom side of the ledge, then I met Mr. Personality. It was like being T-Boned by a freight train. He hit me square on the side of my leg and it knocked  my sure footed Trotter about 5 feet down the shale hill. Before Trotter could get back on all four legs, he came at us again and was pushing us off the small ledge that we were on. I was trying to decide if I should take a chance on baling off on the downhill side and rolling all the way to the bottom of West Water or on Mr. Personalities side and trying to out run him on what I thought was for sure a broken leg. It was at the final moment that Roger came around the edge to see what had happened to me (Roger is never one to hurry to lend a hand), and Mr. Personality took his focus off of me and Trotter and turned to plant a square hit in the center of Bally's very broad chest. Trotter and I made our escape. After about 2 hours of fighting with Mr. Personality, I got him to chase me out to the top of the ridge were it would be even playing grounds for both parties. Behind Mr. Personality is the West Water Ridge where he first introduced himself to me, not a place where you want to be pushed off of.

About that time Clay sends me a text, 'r u ok?' I seems that he had been watching through the binoculars and waiting to see us come around with the bull walking ever so politely in front of us....not!!! When we were taking him up the backside of the hills, he was working us over, and when he would go down the front side, he would be going along like he was playing nice. I get another text from Clay, 'he seems to be doing good.' ..... whatever!!! When we got the bull back to the trailer, Clay struts out with some hay and a feed sack and starts talking to Mr. Personality. I was thinking that Clay surely was smarter than this, but he was still standing so we will just go with it. Clay got this totally jerk of a bull to follow him into the trailer by tossing him pellets. When he shut the trailer door, he said to him, 'there BEAUTIFUL'!!!! I couldn't believe what I had just watched, but my leg sure hurt. When I pulled up my pant leg to look it over, there was a dent in it and it was already purple.

We brought Mr. Personality home and he was missing by the next morning. That's Mr. Personality.

This spring we saw him up on top around the first of April, a sighting, that's about all you ever get. A month later we see him again, Clay said, 'we need to get him in', well we didn't see him again until one morning he was standing beside the road, I told Roger, 'we should just stop and take him to the corral'. We unloaded and went and gathered a few gals for him and by the time we got back, he was gone. I looked and looked all morning and couldn't find that bull.

The other day I got a text from Clay, 'the bull is laying on the fence by the corral under the tree, go get him and haul him to Ten Mile'. My very first thought was - oh my heck, we have Fergie and Harley, this ain't going to be easy, but ok. So I chose Harley, he is older and has more experience around cows, made sense to me until the bull stood up and started digging dirt and blowing snot at us. For the first time ever I think Harley was pay attention to what I wanted him to do and wondering 'why me'!! Roger was getting the corral ready and then he went out to stand in the middle of the road - not the best decision - but he never really thinks that I know anything, so I just went with it.

After a 10 minute warning from Mr. Personality, I sent in Button first to turn him around and around and around they went. I rode up to see if he would be willing to move, and he was, he charged poor Harley and pushed him around a while then he went straight for Roger, but this was a good thing because he ran like a chicken while screaming like a girl into the corral.....Mr. Personality was captured. It took a bit of convincing to get Roger back over to the gate to shut it, but he finally did it. He was a bit upset with me for laughing, but it was funny, and about to get funnier. Harley wasn't about to get on the inside of the corral with this monster, so I told Roger to get behind Mr. Personality and I would stay on the outside to keep Mr. Personality from jumping over the fence. 

This is where it really became comical, Mr. Personality was not happy about Harley guarding the fence line, so he sucker punched Harley in the lip when he noticed that Harley wasn't paying attention, then he charged Roger and gave him a ride on his head into the loading chute. I would have thought that Roger would have grabbed the fence as he zipped by and shut the gate, but it must not have crossed his mind because he didn't do it. As soon as Roger was delivered into the 6 inches of dust inside the chute, Mr. Personality was coming straight at Harley, who was still licking his bloody lip and wondering what happened. Harley was paying attention now and it was a good thing, Mr. Personality ran straight through the fence at Harley. I really didn't know that Harley could move that fast, but he got out of the way just as Mr. Personality came charging by. I will be honest, I was just praying that he missed all parts of me when the collision happened.

Now I was a bit concerned at this point because I knew that Harley would never be able to out run this bull to get him back, but when I looked in the direction that Mr. Personality was heading, things started looking a lot brighter. Just under the trees were some gals and Clay was coming up the road to help. Mr. Personality likes the gals so I gathered up a few of the gals and put them in the corral and Mr. Personality followed them in like the nice calm bull that he isn't, but it worked.

Mr. Personality is now over by West Water hanging out for the summer with the ladies, and Harley - I hope - learned something.

Harley stuck in a tree.

Mr. Personality looking at the gals.