Monthly Archives: July 2010

An Early Day of Rest

All I want to do is sleep. No, that’s not true, I want to do more, but I’m just going to spend the day sleeping.

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We’re Both OK

After a late evening trip to get checked out neither of us have any thing broken (I definitely don’t have osteoperosis). We’re pretty bruised and beat up but OK. The doctor wanted to give me a shot in the butt for pain but I told him that wasn’t necessary, but I do hurt.

The cause. 

First he ran me down in the corral (I’ve never really realized how big those heads are till it hit me in the chest). I was sure I was about to meet my Maker. All I could think was “1 in  6 people survive a bull attack”. (I guess there is still something here I’m supposed to be doing for the Lord or I’m sure I would be dead now). Then he went after my cowboy, knocked him down, and tried to rub him into the ground. Hurt as I was, I still managed to scare him off.

We were on foot, just trying to move him and another nicer old bull out of the corral and down the alley into the trailer, when he turned on us, hunting me then my cowboy.

I knew he was trouble. I hate those high headed bulls. I hate Charolais bulls. They are a problem every year, every year. Did I say I hate Charolais bulls? I hate Charolais bulls.

Them That Be With Us

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Alfred Lord Tennison

I pray a lot (maybe not as much as I should).

I often can’t imagine how I can get done what I need to do. Just the 2 of us ‘old people’ for 6 months manage around 3600 head (that’s cows and calves together) on 40,000 acres with very little help. We move herds often of 800-1000 animals, treat cows as big as 1800 lbs with no corrals, deal with 70 or so bulls from the 1st of June to the 1st of Oct. It is a daunting task.

It makes prayer almost a necessity. This probably sounds odd but when I pray for help I ask God for any old cowboys that wish they could do a little more of the work they loved and their good horses and if they have a good dog or two could they bring them too.

Where else can I go for help? We don’t have the money to hire it, we call on kids (thanks Crystal), and trade help with friends and neighbors but people have their own lives and their own work and can’t come as often as we need help. That is just the facts.

Cowboys pray. It’s easy for them to communicate with the Creator when they’re out there in the stillness of His creations. And I, personally, think that when they die, a lot of them continue their unrecognized service in the form of unseen angels that come as answers to my prayers.

I prayed for them today and they came. I didn’t see them but I knew they were there. I’ve rode with them lots of times before. I know how it feels when they come.

It reminds me of the bible story in 2 Kings 6 where the bad guys are sick of losing the battles and finaly discover that Elisha, the prophet, has been telling on them and they sent

 “. . . thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15. And when the servant of the man of God (Elisha) was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16.  And he answered and said, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17.  And Elisha prayed, and said Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Yup, them that be with us . . . I know those guys.

Sick Day

Oh my goodness, you can’t take me off the place. They fed us so well at the grazing school. Maybe it was just way more than what the coyote in me usually eats (or just a dang chocolate chip cookie, it’s horrible being allergic to chocolate, I knew better than to eat it but sometimes it is just too tempting). Salt is another bad one. Maybe it was a combination of things but I better be better tomorrow so we can pull the last of the bulls.

I missed hanging out with the cows today.

Grazing School

Back from Grazing School for Women in Milo, Alberta. It’s an annual event funded mainly by different environmental and government groups with other sponsors (Myers, Norris, and Penny) and held each year in a different place in the province.

I had such a good time (I even enjoyed the socializing like the ice breaker and the campfire; crowds aren’t my real forte) but I had someone good to go with. I always am braver when I have one of our girls with me (our other, other daughter). Actually one of my favorite things is getting to meet women who care about what I do.

We billeted overnight with a really nice, successful couple in their beautiful house (of all the times to forget my pj’s, but it all worked out) and some of the activities were in their lovely yard.

This time I came back with some very specific ideas and goals on using distribution tools ( eg. salt, supplements, oilers, troughs, etc. ) to better utilize the grass and protect riparian areas. It was my favorite class.

The stock dogs demo was excellent and I learned a lot. Got to watch a different kind of dog work. It’s part collie, part. . .  (I can’t remember all the fellow told us), but it’s short haired and a little broader bodied than our dogs. My cowboy has been talking about wanting some kind of dogs like this that are part Australian Shepherd, Collie, Catahoula, and Kelpie.

My cowboy had an appointment in the city today and was gone when I got home I went out to check on things and found this worrisome new hole in the tin siding on the barn. I freaked out and walked out to the horses to see if anyone got cut up when they kicked the hole in the barn.

It was hot and probably 1/2 a mile out and another 1/2 back. I sweat. I prayed hard on the walk out that it wouldn’t be anything serious. My prayers were answered. I could see a mark on Wilbur’s back leg but it looked OK, no cut, no swelling. Flies are so bad, I think that’s what caused this. I hate tin siding.

Heat Stroke Almost

It was a hot day out helping cows today. I got overheated, not heat stroke but close.

It was my own fault, chasing a bull through the brush on foot, the sneaky rotter. I never know when to quit. It was kind of like hunting Lions in Africa, quite a thrill to know something that big and dangerous is hiding in the brush. Good thing he was more scared of me than I was of him.

Treated a couple of big calves with foot rot (Here we are on C.O.W. TV) and a big cow with foot rot that out weighed my horse by 300 lbs. No pictures of her, I needed to be focused on the job not the camera.

Plus we found a dead black calf, unknown cause of death, to eaten up to figure out why. I hate when that happens.

I’ll be gone for a couple of days to more cow school, well mostly grass school this time. Have fun everyone and “I’ll be back” to quote the governor of California.

All the Horses I’ve Loved

First time I ever saw a horse, I was three. Something happened to me right then, like an old memory awakening or maybe it was the future stirring. For 13 years, every time I wished on a falling star, said my prayers, or was asked what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday I only dreamed of one thing, a horse of my own. For so long, I was the little girl with no horse.

I saved every cent from that moment on. It started with $5 in pennies, included all my Christmas and birthday money for 13 years, and every cent I made sweeping floors for my dad after school (starting at age 11) until the day before my 16th birthday. That was the day I bought my first horse.

Gypsy Lee, a potbellied (there was a baby in there) jugheaded, stubborn little bay mare with roaning up in her flanks and white hairs in her black tail. I can see her clear as if it was yesterday.

The baby was exactly what I wanted: a sorrel filly, no white on her legs, a pretty blaze face, Tama (short for Tamalina). I raised her, started her, and made a good horse of her.

Then I convinced my dad to buy a chestnut thoroughbred mare with a crooked blaze on her face, Dancer. She could run, taught me about trust, and that it was dangerous to lose my temper with a horse.

(I’ll have to find Mac’s picture)

It was a hard decision but I sold all three to get enough money to attend University. I became the little girl with no horse again till I fell in love and married my cowboy. He bought me a buckskin colt, 4 months old. We fed him a gallon of oats, a cup of cows milk replacer, a cup of flax seed, with a couple of tablespoons of children’s vitamin syrup poured on top, Mac. He grew into a big gelding and I got to start him.

We bought some mares, Holly, Candy, Missy, Annie, and an old stallion, Les, an actual grandson of the great Three Bars. He loved his colts and took care of his mares. It was a privelege to ride him. How can I say how awesome he was or how much I loved him? There are no words for feelings so deep.

I had a pretty bay mare, Sam, that all the kids in 4-H thought was a trick horse cause she could count and I could steer her with no bridle.

I had a miscarriage and my cowboy worked 3 weeks for some folks just to buy a pretty little sorrel filly with a flaxen mane, Susie. I started her and she became my daughter’s Junior Barrel horse.

Buzzard, all 16.3 hands of that big chestnut gelding has a special place in my heart. So many times I cried in his mane and told him my troubles. He kept me safe when I didn’t know how to do it for myself. He’s buried at the ranch after a long life of faithful service with us (even though he never quit bucking).

Buckwheat, we bought for the youngest girl but he became my best bull chasing horse, the little horse with a big heart. At age 22, he won me a buckle, himself a winterblanket, and enough money for me to buy a fancy Montana Silversmith’s watch. He never was real friendly with people but his best friend was an old gray gelding that had once been the Indian Rodeo Cowboy Association Champion’s calf roping horse. They are buried together.

Tom who was the horse my daughter bought with all her summer wages, sold to her dad, and I got to ride. I called him Tommy Holiday because riding him was so easy it was like being on a holiday.

The first time I moved bulls with Pic, he was so awful I got off and walked a mile and a half back to the trailer and swore I would never ride him again. You should see him do it now. He just needed me to understand.

Now there is Hooch,  a promise for the future.

My cowboy told me one day, out of the blue, “When you and Buzzard come for me, bring Trouper.” I immediately knew what he meant and I will.

Cowboy Tools

Heard an interesting story today.

There was a legendary (in my mind he was) old cowboy that used to live in this area. Some folks were riding down by the South Camp. They were going to cross the creek but it was really high and some one had strung barbwire across it not too far down stream from where everyone used to cross their horses. When someone hesitated, one of the fellows says: “What’s the matter with you guys, rode by, and jumped his horse into the creek.

It was so high and fast it started dragging horse and rider downstream towards that barb wire fence that was now submerged up to the top wire. Horses caught in wire, never a good thing (probably going to panic) and things were pretty tense. No one was sure what to do.

When out of the corner of the story teller’s eye,  up rode this old cowboy swinging his rope. It settled, first throw, around the horse’s neck that was struggling in the creek. The old guy dallied up to his horn and his horse was able to pull the other one out of the creek. A disaster was avoided.

That got me thinking about tools, cowboy tools.

Lets start with the modern: a sturdy old stock trailer and a flat deck pickup (that’s seen better days);
the most important: a cowy, dependable horse (especially one you can crack a whip on);

a stock whip (sure helps with cranky bulls);

a saddle you can spend all day in (tapederos, optional but handy for flapping in cattle faces while sorting, looking a little bigger and thus more intimidating to bulls, keeping feet warm and dry.); a leg rope or two (for tying up cattle legs); 45-60 feet of lariat; a place to carry medicine (cantle pack or banana bag);

a fence stretcher; fencing pliers (I can never find thus no picture);

a knife that will cut through rope (or leather) like butter (I like pretty things);

leather gloves;

boots; hat;

or two and sometimes with strings and various coloured silk scarves; there’s a hoofpick hanging there too;
a good hired hand (also known as a cow dog or collie);

or in lieu of an expert , a wife that can rope (she doesn’t have to be really good at it);

 and a place to start and end the day.
A well earned morning off today due to social obligations but I better to get to work now. Oh ya! We found out congradulations are due; sounds like we have another grandchild on the way. We’re pretty excited to have a new little cowboy or cowgirl in the family.
Dad said to say: “Love you Sweetie” 🙂

Our Angels

A day of fixing oilers, filling oilers, hauling salt. 

Note the nice salt boxes my cowboy made out of old corral boards

Washday for me, cleaning house, and fixing things too.

The little angels (one for each of my own daughters) might look like expensive crystal (which I really like, like the candle holders behind them) but they are just plastic ones that I picked up cheap at Wally World at Christmas one year (hence the need to glue the left arm and sheet music music back on the closest angel, gotta love crazy glue.) 
Our youngest daughters plays the violin, the middle girl- the clarinet (piano and trumpet),  and the oldest can really sing nice (along with play the piano, organ, flute, trombone, guitar, her little sister’s violin in 20 minutes the first time she picked it up, and is currently taking Cello lessons; and she speaks Russian, French-a little bit, and 3 different dialects of Philipino) so these little angels remind me of them every time I look at them.
I can’t do anything musical but play the radio so they don’t get it from me but I do like languages. Get this, an old cowgirl who has studied French, Welsh, Hebrew, Latin, and Cree. I hope that wasn’t bragging, just what I’m interested in.
I could have bought a heading angel, a heeling angel, and a barrel racing angel because they do that too (they are all good ropers, talents so wasted on those city boys they married) but these were what they had.
Then I wanted to frame a couple of wedding photos: one of our youngest daughter, 

(that little black, velvet covered bible is in Swedish and was inherited by my cowboy from his great grandmother; quite a treasure)
and one of ‘our other daughters’.

and the nice yellow mare, San Dee, she left behind when she moved to Australia, for the next few years, to be with her new husband (Robin she must really love you!).
Well, I better quite fussin’ with things and get some more work done. Hope you all have a good weekend.

A Happy Ending

“I  want to be loved, not just used!” That’s what I was thinking when I galloped home today. My cowboy brought the bull in himself (without a problem, he said), then announced he was going to town. Me, I’m still too crabby, so I stay home and fall asleep, when I had other plans (painting my toenails and all). This is what I wake up to.

Flowers, my two favorite bubble baths, and a really cute card with mushy stuff written inside. 
Now you know why women love cowboys.
All that, on top of a good nap, did wonders for my disposition.
 We went for a ride together to check the Charolais herd after that.
 It was cooler, a nice breeze, I didn’t see one bug ( I didn’t look), and we had a really good time.

My cowboy rode my colt, Hooch. 
We checked some of the few trees there, in a little hollow.
My cowboy says: “I hope there’s no moose in there. 
This colt’s gonna have a hard time bucking me off if  a moose is chasing us.”
I couldn’t help but laugh.
Bachgen got to come (and he found a rock to talk to which made his day).

 and I rode Trouper who was a perfect gentleman the whole time.

Yup, a happy me and a happy ending.