Wind, Frost and Sun

Long time no post…..I’m just battling to stay on top of things.  We still have three cows left to calve.  We had a set of twins last night and another the night before that.  Twins are a ranchers nightmare most of the time.  Often a cow will have one….move a few feet away and have the other and the one that gets up and sucks (in the case of the first one, it might not find her until it’s too late) will be the one that she takes.  You can sometimes coax them into feeding them both but these range cows will most always do a better job on one and not two.  Last night the heifer calf had been up and sucked and the bull calf was breech so when we pulled him we stole the heifer calf and left her with the bull……more money in a steer calf come fall.  There’s a young guy that works at a dairy across the river that’s coming tonight to get the two heifer calves……his wife is feeding a pen full of them so at least we won’t have a job all summer.

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Miss Mia bringing up the rear.

My garden is in….I think I forgot to mention that the last time I posted.  I finally got the pump in the dugout the day before yesterday…’s awful dry here.  I also got the lawnmower out and cut the yard…..I think it was the first time ever that I haven’t either had to change the oil (I did that last fall) or charge a battery or some other silly thing.  I just hopped on and mowed.  We try and keep the grass around the buildings cut so it isn’t such a fire hazard. Branding’s have started…..I missed the one last night and went and got my bedding out plants instead….I don’t get a job there anyway and I’d just as soon not sit on the fence (they think I’m old or something😦 ).

We had two nights of ten degree frost…the leaves on the oak and ash trees are black and crispy….I hope they come back.  I’m not sure what will happen with the berry and apple trees yet.  It was hot yesterday and looks a little rainy here today and the local weather guy (the Bossman’s cousin) thinks it will freeze on the next full moon..I rather doubt it so I’m going to put my plants out next chance I get.  I can always cover them if it comes to that…..and it’s been windy still…often after a hard frost like that the weather will change for the better.

Lee Stevens doodled this up….it’s about perfect too….WINDY!

Miss Mia……is doing well.  Her one ear tipped back down but I hope the other one stays up….it makes her look rather rakish and she is!  She has been in more trouble than you can shake a stick at lately.  She has taken it upon herself to patrol the yard and keep the cows out from around it…sometimes TOO fast.  The Bossman has quite an arm on him and the baseball player comes out….the other day she wouldn’t listen when I told her “down” and just went faster….he pitched a horse turd at her…..hit her in the ribs and it didn’t even distract her and she kept at it so he literally leaped the five foot+ plank fence and ran her down to give her a lecture and a shake….it helped with the selective hearing that’s for sure…..pretty funny to watch too.  Her feelings were hurt but she’s listening again.  She reminds me of a toddler some days…cranky at night…..always in need of attention….won’t take no for an answer some days….wants her independence too.13198560_10154759706075476_8131259445856416266_o.jpgI’ve been writing and rewriting this post for four days now but I’m hitting the publish button before things change again. We actually got in the house and had supper before 10:00 P.M. and I’m going to read my book now…..night all.

Keeping Up

Several excuses are always less convincing than one. ~Aldous Huxley

That’s me……lots of excuses but really I’ve just been trying to prioritize and get the important things done….apparently blogging, commenting and getting back to people is slowly losing ground.

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The Chokecherry trees are blooming.

Since last time…..thing are going good.  As I type this our last heifer is getting ready to calve….all of them done in 30 days!!  I guess there is still one left but it was one the Bossman bought so she doesn’t count in the ranch tally.  There can’t bee too many left in the cows either….15 at most.  We fixed the power pole.  “Mickey Moused” it as the Bossman would call it but we ended up putting a 9 foot tie in the ground five feet deep right beside the old pole and bolted them together as trying to get an electrician out here is almost an impossibility this time of year and we didn’t need the thing blowing over in windstorm.

Expensive Ladder’s.
I get to run the Toolcat and should really wash the window’s😉
My co-pilot.  She likes my seat better than her own but isn’t a lot of help making it work.

We also tore out an old fuel tank and put a new stand in and when the other one is empty we’ll do that one too….in between those jobs we check cattle and move pairs south.  We had our hot water tank in the house replaced this week too.  I’m finally caught up on my book keepers duties (AGAIN) and the house is fairly clean for  the first time in a long while.  My friend showed up one evening in need of her dress pants hemmed for a horse show the next day……I hate hemming pants……especially when they have to be “that” exact but she won her class so they must have been okat.  I had a barrel racing jackpot that I photographed on Thursday and went into the cousin’s kid’s (one of the tribe) graduation ceremony last night.  The Bossman opted to stay home…….he hates that kind of thing. 

You’ve probably all heard the news about Fort McMurray burning……well, my brother works north of there for Suncor at a place called Firebag where a lot of people evacuated to.  It’s a huge camp with it’s own airport and he told me they had 29 flights of people go out of there on Wednesday…….he hadn’t a wink of sleep in well over 24 hours but was so proud of his team for pitching in with getting them all fed and a bed for the time they were there…doing whatever it took.  He got home at 1:00 Friday morning and it sounds like the camp will be shut down until they get things sorted out up there.  It was devastating!

Miss Mia is four months old today.  She’s becoming quite a big part of our lives around here.  She’s not much of a pup anymore but a young dog.  We rode through the pairs in the south field one morning last week and my garmin said I’d made a ten mile circle…if I rode that far she must have done twice that.  The only time I had issues with her was the first time we took her with us to the cows……she got distracted buy a meadow lark and I couldn’t whistle her back…..I finally rode her down with my horse and gave her a good lecture about taking off like that.  I let her drag her leash (which she hates) for the rest of the ride.  I don’t know who disliked the rattle the most…..Mia or Snick.  She loves to play with her boomerang outside and now has a frisbee.  She need all the excercise she can get.2016-05-01 at 19-07-21.jpg

2016-05-01 at 19-08-37.jpgShe likes to sit on your knee too every chance she can.2016-05-07 at 14-50-45.jpg

Moisture At Last

Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses.  ~Proverb

We finally got some moisture… started out as rain on Sunday morning but it was white by noon and continued until late yesterday morning.  The rain gauge says and inch and eight tenth’s.  Sunday morning we had kicked the replacement heifers out of the feedlot and into the jingle field planning to let them get them get the run out and trail them over to the Anderson place on Monday morning…..the snow was so heavy we couldn’t even see 50 yards in front of us so we just rolled out part of a bale for them instead and tended to the business of snowstorm calving instead. the temperatures were just at freezing or above so it melted as it came down and them accumulated at night. 2016-04-27 at 11-30-17Calving in snow isn’t a very fun thing.  You get soaking wet, cold, you’re up in the night checking and then there are often calves that get cold and don’t get up and suck and you have to bring them in, warm them up, feed them and then take them back to their mother.  We were talking about the “good old days” when you didn’t have forced air heat, washers and driers, vacuum cleaners, hot boxes, four wheel drives and none of this high tech fabric and fancy rainproof coats and pants we have nowadays.  If you could have afforded them you might might own one pair of wool mackinaw pants to keep yourself warm but they always got wet and had to be dried out in front of a wood stove.  I’d hate to have had to pick up cold calves with a saddle horse or a team either or be out in all that wet stuff without cover for hours on end……I like the heater in the truck and the side by side is so fast and easy to get around in.  I like that we have a dryer too…..and not having to deal with wet wood for the stove.2016-04-27 at 11-29-05.JPG

Yesterday was a chaotic day here….the snow was still coming down pretty heavy and we had to take feed out to three bunches of heifers (remember….I’m married to the Bossman whose Indian name if Chief Many Pens).  I wanted to finish up some skirtwork in the house (I needed to do dishes and clean the mud out of the porch) so he said he’d get the tractor out and he wanted to get the big round bale off the well in the other yard.  I finished up and jumped in the Gator to open gates and wondered what was taking him so long… he had opened the grapple fork and forgot the power line that runs to our house and the shop.  It busted the pole off but didn’t tear any lines apart.  It’s probably a blessing in disguise as the pole was rotted off and the base and if the wind had hit it on a hot day it might have caused a fire under the right circumstances.  At any rate, we did a quick fix and used the other tractor to prop it up until we have some time to do it right.  We managed to get the heifers fed and rolled out some in the jingle field for the yearlings……of course they were scattered all over and we thought he could chase them back to feed with the Gator, wife and dog.  Muck boots are not made to run in!!!2016-04-27 at 15-24-51.jpg

After lunch the Bossman went and saddled horses…….he had to clean copious amounts of mud off first.  I took the truck and went to open gates……found a calf out on the road that I had to get back in and then got the truck stuck and barely made it out without having to call the cranky man. 2016-04-27 at 15-30-06.jpgIt looked like it might rain so we made sure we had the rain gear on and got behind our replacement heifers and took them over to the Anderson place.2016-04-27 at 16-19-11.jpgWe rode home through the cows.  We had a lot of calves born during the storm they all got up and sucked but there was one calf that seemed a bit weak so Terril trotted home for the Gator and calf sleigh and I started bringing the cow and calf.  We thought maybe her teats were plugged but I’m not sure that’s the problem.  She did suck when we got her home and the cow doesn’t appear to be kicking her off……at least she’s where we can keep an eye on her for now.2016-04-27 at 17-54-32.JPGToday has been nice.  We rode though the cows, marked about 14 calves and then loaded a couple of horses to take over to the farrier to get shoes put on.  I stayed home and got some more mud cleaned up.  It’s too wet to work the garden but I think I’ll go plant my Dalia bulbs….or at least find them and get them ready.

Missing In Action

The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post. ~L. Thomas Holdcroft

We’ve been busy….early in the morning until dark……and by then I’m too tired to think…let alone post.  Calving has been going great for the most part.  We’ve had to pull a couple of backwards calves out of heifers and then in the past two days we’ve had a couple of huge calves in the heifers that had to be pulled……other than that it’s been pretty easy.  Good weather….or at least warm weather.  The wind has been howling almost every day and we really need some rain but at least we haven’t had any of those miserable, keep you up all night spring snowstorms.  In 2003 we had a spring somewhat like this and on May 3rd we had a three day blizzard and got two feet of wet snow that we weren’t prepared for… still sticks in the back of my mind with the weather we’re having this year. 

The trees are starting to leaf out, most of the perennials are up and I need to get the garden worked but we’ve had way too much on our plate this past couple of weeks.  We sorted the registered replacement heifers out yesterday and took them to their breeding field…..tomorrow we’ll pull the pin on the commercial heifers and let them out into the jingle field and trail them over to the Anderson field on Monday.  The Magpies are already nesting and I have a yard full of Robins.  Mia is growing like a weed.  Her ears are standing up……a bit crooked yet and sometimes she looks like a miniature German Shepard in black and white.  She listens better every day and some of the things she did that drove us to distraction she’s got over.  I can go through the horses without worrying about her taking a run at them or them taking a run at her.  I was cleaning the barn the other day and had left the gate open into the heifer calves so I could go back and forth and a bunch of calves came into the corral there…..I told her to lay down and she stayed by the door and just watched them…..when I was finished she helped kick them back out.  “That’ll do” is part of her vocabulary now.  Speaking of cleaning the barn……I mean I’m actually doing a huge 15 year purge.  I’ve started in the oat bin…..which had a barrel of grain, a bag of horse crunch…….and a bunch of rusty nails hung with old crap tack……not good enough (15 years ago) to use but too good to throw away…….well……I pitched most of it.  I also took my shop vacuum out and cleaned up all the dirt and cobwebs and found a lidded garbage can for both the crunch and another for the grain.  I was tired of standing on my head in the old 45 gallon drum every morning.  I want to get in the tackroom next.  I need to find a way to hang the 20 saddle pads so they aren’t in a pile like they are now.  I asked the Bossman to weld me up some horseshoe hooks for bridles too…….if he doesn’t I’ll just find some coat hooks in town……I have that organization bug and I might as well get at it.2016-04-18 at 19-14-25.jpgI haven’t had my camera out in a while….these were Mia’s 14 week photo’s.2016-04-18 at 19-14-25.jpgI really shouldn’t be letting her work but she listens well and lays down when I whistle.  She’s developing a really good outrun and hasn’t gripped anything yet (other than that one swing on a Peso’s tail). She’s really good on her “come by” and “way to me” whistles too.2016-04-18 at 19-19-17.jpgThat’s it for me……time to go read and comment on some blogs I haven’t been to in awhile….sorry I’ve been away so long…..but as the Bossman says “It’s April…and it’s calving time.”Mia 14 Weeks 19152.jpg

Just Some Thoughts

“If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.” Robert X. Cringely

I missed Sunday Stills just wasn’t still around here AT all.  We rode yesterday morning, I took Snick as we had a lot of calves to catch.  The wind was cold and it seemed to take forever.  I think Carhartt needs me to design a woman’s calving jacket.  I’d make it out of anything but canvas duck……..something that is windproof, waterproof but still breaths.  I have an old Carhart jacket that is made with this in mind but it’s not lined.  I want my jacket lined and big enough to accommodate a vest underneath…for days like yesterday…..AND it needs good pockets……one on each side of the inside…….low enough not to interfere with the two on the upper half of the outside….these all need zippers.  One for my phone (inside), one for my camera (inside), one on the outside for my dehorning past and tape…the other side for my lip lube.  Then it needs to big pockets (lower half) that have flaps and so when you stuff your gloves in they don’t work their way out (I’ve lost tow gloves and a wild rag this spring already)….I need flaps to keep my tagging pliers in and I don’t want to lose those expensive RFID tags either.  I want to be a riding/walking purse!  I also don’t want ANY velcro…….it just catch crap like hay…and crap.  I want a nice band around the bottom so the wind doesn’t blow up my address either and the same on the cuffs…..NO VELCRO!  Well that’s one thought.

We had a heifer calving yesterday afternoon and a bunch of the heifers calves to mark.  I wanted the Bossman to use George to rope off……he’s been a little “scotchy” with me lately and I wanted to see what he was doing so I didn’t get the nap I’d planned.  When we got in from that little chore I made coffee and we’d just settled in to drink it and the neighbours dropped in.  Of course they made a big fuss over Mia and I had to lock her up.  I need people to NOT let her jump up, bite hands and lick…….they didn’t…..the only good thing about them coming was they brought their big mutt……Mia wanted to run her off but the mutt (a big black lab) made her play nice…..if only her owners knew that.

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My other thoughts are mostly about the dog too.  We’ve had a few issues.  She is always “thinking” of bossing a horse when we ride.  So far I’d been able to keep her focused on other things.  A couple of days ago I saddled the Peso horse up with my “new” old saddle.  He was fresh!  So was Mia.  He’s a very feely kind of horse and he’s quick…..I was riding him like he might “do” something and I didn’t want Mia in his road…..I told her (sharply) to “get out” which means to stay back……she decided to try biting heels and growling…….”playing” like she does when we walk across the yard.  The more I yelled the wilder it got, I was looking over my left and right should and Peso was jumping this way and that…..Mia finally got distracted and we all got home in one piece……I slept on it……and decided the worse thing I could ever have done was get loud (my nervousness was VERY evident).  Today I rode Peso again…first to the cows with no dog and when we got home the Bossman let Mia out of the kennel and her and I went and looked at the heifers.  I made up my mind that I wouldn’t open my mouth…..AT ALL.  I didn’t look at the dog or for the dog…I just whistled for her to come with me…..she didn’t do a thing……neither did my horse.  I whistled her “down” a couple of times and did tell her to “go swimming” at the slough.  When I started back north toward home Mia came running at me flat out, I just ignored her and let Peso lay his ears back and lower his head…….she veered off and didn’t do it again.  I learned a lot keeping my mouth shut.  

Then there’s the stealing thing…..she takes whatever she can find and tries making a toy out of it.  I’ve been missing socks from the laundry basket and just hope she doesn’t find a pair of granny panties and drags them to the living room when we have company😉

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She loves to go swimming…she went out in that freezing water and actually swam this afternoon……..then had to warm up by tearing around the waterhole.2016-04-11 at 17-08-53.jpgHer one ear stands up most of the time and I think the other one will join it in time.  She’s getting pretty gangley and is finally starting to she the puppy fuzz.2016-04-11 at 17-02-50.jpg

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

Who needs to plan a walk when you have a dog?  Maybe that’s the reason I haven’t been posting much.  I HAVE posted though… my head……everyday and then by the end of it I still have 14 things to do and I still have to take Miss Mia out….AGAIN.  I’m enjoying it though…the busyness of the season….what I’m not liking much is this horrendous relentless wind day after day after day.  It reminds me of the year we got married… almost changed my mind.  It was breezy again this morning and we saddled horses, fed calves and then it started gusting again.  It was so bad I had a headache from having my ball cap tightened down too much.  We didn’t ride.  Mia and I took the side by side around them instead.  They were all in bunches in low spots….trying to get out of the wind.  There were a couple of new calves and I felt a little sorry for them trying to get a suck and stay standing up at the same time.

I ride three horses…..Peso is small…about 14.2…….Snick is a mid size model in every way at 15.1 and George is big girthed and 15.3.  I can ride Snick and George with the same cinch but I do have to pull my short or offside latino up a couple of holes to make it work but if I’m going to ride Peso I have to change my cinch…..I can still use the same back cinch but it’s still a pain in the butt having to go back and forth.  I’ve been threatening to order a tree and make another saddle for myself but there’s a two year waitlist at my tree maker and I swore I’d never make another one.  I’ve been looking at light barrel saddles and thought maybe I’d pick up a used one but I’m not fond of skirt riggin’s and so far that’s all I’ve found.  I would still like something that I could use to rope out of too.  Monday the Bossman suggested I start using his old saddle.  I made it about 25 years ago and he just keeps big stirrups on it and uses it in the winter.  I made him another one a few years ago and had started making myself another one after that.  He liked it better so now he’s has three.  I can’t just shorten the stirrups on one of his because my legs are too short and I went hunting around the shop and found that I’d actually cut a set of fenders and stirrup leathers out and all I had to do was rivet the Blevin buckles in and stretch them out.  I hauled the old saddle to the shop to use the compressor to blow the dirt out of it…..on the way there Mia saw the latino hanging down and proceeded to run around me with it in her teeth………effective hobbles….that’s for sure.  Lee doodled this up after I mentioned it on FB.  Pretty much what it looked like…..Her “come-by” wasn’t being heard either.12967404_565662810277171_5063419094820100980_o.jpgRemember the llama incident?12916737_566538210189631_3072886519468198844_o.jpgWe’re starting to get quit a few calves, the garden needs worked, we need to go pay our income tax, I finally took some time to go get my hair done before I scared somebody and other than that, not much is going on.  Until next time…..have a could one.

Oh……..Miss Mia had her three month birthday yesterday.  Her idea of a birthday cake.2016-04-08 at 15-45-41.jpg


Training Miss Mia

Be decisive.  Right or wrong, make a decision.  The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.  Unknown.

I should have used THAT quote for yesterday’s post but saw it on Facebook today and it gave me a chuckle.

We had our first calves yesterday…one in the heifers and two in the cows…the new year has begun for us.2016-04-05 at 13-52-10.jpg

Jill asked me how I taught Mia to sit and I told her I’d post about it.  I’m NO dog trainer BUT we’ve had more than our fair share of dogs around here…..all of them working dogs, some better than other’s and all this got me thinking about obedience and how it all relates to how good a dog works for me.  Most Border Collies have a desire to herd cattle but not all of them will work them the way I want them too.  When we got married we had a BC we called Peggy…..she could get cattle going and keep them in a bunch but she didn’t have a single command that we could use on her….you just prayed she didn’t get you in a bind, she came whether you wanted her along or not….if she heard cattle…….she investigated…..if someone was moving a herd down the road…..they had “help” whether they wanted or needed it or not.  Most of the time she was worth it but it sure would have been good to have her go the speed you wanted or been able to tie her up or kennel her……it just wasn’t done.  When she died we missed her a LOT.  The Bossman had a decent dog he called Rip after that, that his uncle gave him…….he had a couple of commands……get behind (a horse) and here (or come back) and that was somewhat better but he would only listen to Terril and never to me.  Then I got Sally.  She was given to me from the same people as I got Mia from and she was my first “pup” at three month’s old.  Chris, the guy I got her from, talked me through a lot of things……like teaching her down for starters.  Since then I’ve had a few more pups and kind of do my own thing with each of them as individuals but the one thing that I want is for me to be the alpha dog….I NEED them to listen and be obedient….it could save their lives.  SERIOUSLY!  I’m digressing here but I hate it when I see out of control, spoiled, disobedient kids OR dogs and it’s not the kids or dogs fault…’s the parents.  I think of myself as Mia’s parent or at least I think I have that sort of responsibility towards her, especially at this stage.

The first day home, or rather the second, I taught her to sit.  It’s simple.  I had some tasty pieces of roast beef (she’s SO worth it) and as she followed the scent and looked up at me I placed it in a position that it was easier for her to sit than stand and at the same time gave the command to sit…..we did it six or seven times and by the third time I just said sit and she did….it’s so simple and they are so smart.  Since that day, every time we go our for a walk I’ll have her sit as we go along…..she just knows it.  I do down the same way at first…..with food and telling her the command down as I lower the food. 

Other commands she’s getting really good at are “here” which is my “recall or come to me” command and “get out” which is something I use when I’m in the barn saddling a horse and don’t want her underfoot.  “That’ll do” means (for me anyway) stop what you’re doing and look at me.  She was a terrible brat about biting hands and feet and we finally had to roll up a newspaper and smack her butt for it.  I won’t let someone that won’t discipline her play with her at this point….Katie (our neighbour) stopped in to give her a Parvovirus booster and I was so pleased when Mia tried to jump up to “visit” and Katie gently kneed her and told her “no” in a firm voice.  I want her to like people but she doesn’t have to “like” them without manners and now is so much easier than when she’s six months old and a terror.

She’s been going out to the calves on a string and wants to work but I don’t let her get too close yet as she’s not old enough but I DO want her to know that we can make them go where we want to.  I use the “come by” command when I take her clockwise and “way to me” or just “way” when I circle counterclockwise, she’s even understanding that now at 12 weeks.  I want her to be brave and confident but at this point I’m the one that has to be responsible.2016-04-03 at 08-43-27.JPGAnother command she know is “go swimming”…….so important out here on the prairie when you have hot days and need your dog to go (sometimes on her own) to the nearest dugout or slough to cool off and drink……she looks for water when I say it and it’s a sort of playtime for her too.2016-04-03 at 09-48-19.JPGWe’ve also introduced her to horses and I’ve been taking her with me around the heifers.  She didn’t know what to think of me up on that big beast at first and thought she might want to bite or at least bark but she’s finally decided it’s a nice jaunt and she’s paying attention to where the horse is and knows that she can’t run at the heifers without permission either…….just walk though.  I’m pretty confident that when the time comes she’s going to be pretty aggressive on cattle but it’s too soon yet.2016-04-05 at 13-51-42.jpg

Sorry to be so wordy 🤓