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Mirror KB Ranch

Tales of the Twin Wranglers  

April 2008

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April 28, 2008

It appears that spring has finally arrived here at the Mirror KB.  While our nighttime temperatures still drop into the 20's our high yesterday actually topped out at 64 degrees. Though the pasture grass still stands lower 'n a snake's belly,  it's commencin' to turn green.  While the cows still have hay in their round bale feeder, they often leave the hay to nibble at the lush new sprouts of grass pokin' their heads up through the warmed soil.  A small herd of elk continue to hang 'round the ranch too...... snackin' on the young shoots of pasture grass.

The other day a couple local guys came out to buy two steers. After we'd loaded the steers into their truck one a the fellas spotted a lone cow elk amblin' through the south pasture. After the buyers left, more elk wandered into the pasture, 'till there were 'bout 10 elk. After grazin' a short while they all bedded down in the middle of the field for a spell.  Eventually they melted back into the forest trees up on the west ridge.

Today we made a run into town to take the money we got for the steers to the bank an' to leave the ATV to be fixed. It's been as stubborn as a cow in a corn field to start. Part of the problem is that the battery won't hold a charge, but there's more to it than that, so hopefully the guys workin' on it will find the problem, as easy as hopin' over a grasshopper so that we can get it back and in good time. The ATV is our work horse, up on the west ridge.  It packs our chain saws up the ridge for us so's we can cut an' skid Lodgepole trees that will be used as fence rails. 

With the beautiful weather we're finally havin' we've been workin' outside more. The past two days we worked at replacin' broken or rotten fence rails in the south corral. Seein' as how Sage is a workin' dog, she had to be involved.  Unfortunately her idea of work entails stealin' anything she can get away with.  Learnin' the hard way, we discovered that we can not drop our gloves on the ground while workin'.  If we don't want to wear 'em we must tuck 'em under our belts or stuff 'em in a back pocket, but under no circumstances can we lay 'em on the ground.  Not even for a short second! Otherwise our "little helper" will snatch 'em up quicker 'n a hoss can flick a fly off his ear, an will be off on a merry jaunt 'round the barnyard, gloves floppin' out of her mouth like a dead fish.

 Now this rule doesn't apply only to gloves. She'll run off with anything she can carry, includin' our hammers, jackets, an' even the measurin' tape.

Sage stealing hammer

Sage stealing measuring tape

Sage snatching up jacket

Hmmm, now who could have been dumber 'n a post to put this nice pink coat on the ground? Don't they know that anything within my reach belongs to me? Oh oh, it looks like they want my jacket. Well they'll have to catch me first!

Sage running with jacket



April 25, 2008

Life 'round here is like forkin' a hoss that swaps ends faster 'n you can sneeze. One moment we're ridin' slick an' pretty as we please, then all of a sudden we're huntin' leather tryin' our darndest to stay aboard. 

You might recall that we took our Kubota tractor to the dealer in Kalispell due to a bad oil leak.  Well, it turned out that the front wheel thingamajig was leakin' oil so bad that it has pretty much ruined the front wheel transmission or somethin' like that, so it'll cost us several thousand dollars to get it repaired.  Parts have to be ordered so we'll be without the Kubota for a good three weeks or more.

We thought our ride was a bit rough, but then the ol’ bronc we was forked on really started to pitchin’. We went out one mornin’ an noticed the Black Angus cow, Spooky, was sprung an’ actin’ as though she was ripe for calvin.’ We expected we’d soon have a new calf, but as the day wore on, with no new calf on the ground, we grew a might suspicious so called on old Mabel Beebee, our local brand inspector, who also happens to be the best cow wrangler in this part of the country.

Mabel an’ her husband have been growin’ Hereford cows longer ‘n any one in these parts can remember. When Mabel arrives, we snub ol’ Spook up to a stall post, an’ Mabel commences to grope ‘round...feelin’ out the calf an’ searchin’ for it’s legs. After a spell of gruntin’ an groanin’, by both Mabel an’ the cow, Mabel gives us the verdict. "This calf is breech."

Well, Mabel dives back in an’ went to fishin’ for the calf’s hind feet. Once she located ‘em she wrapped the pullin’ chains ‘round the calf’s legs an’ we all set to pullin,’ an’ haulin’ on the calf.

By an’ by we come to the conclusion that this calvin’ wasn’t goin’ to be at all easy, an’ we needed more help. Dad came to our assistance as did Spring Valley Ranch neighbors, John & Deena. Now we figure that we’ve got the man power, this calf will pop right out. Wrong!

The six of us, along with a ratchet, struggled for nigh on to an hour, when finally the big black heifer calf slid out onto the cold ground. She was a huge calf, well over a hundred pounds. It was too long of a fight for the heifer. She didn’t make it....so we turned our concerns to Spooky. Was she goin’ to survive the battle, or like her calf become a casualty?

The next day our question was answered. Spooky was bloated an’ in obvious pain. A well place bullet to her brain with dad’s huntin’ rifle put her to rest.

Now normally we’d hook the back hoe up to the Kubota tractor an’ dig a grave, but with the tractor out of commission we had to dispose of her body by other means. Since we have wolves in the are, leavin’ her body for nature to contend with wasn’t an option. If the wolves were to feed off her, they may well gain too much fondness for steak, which would mean an’ end to cow ranchin’ in our valley.

Our only alternative was to load her up into Ol’ Red, the dump truck, an’ take her to the landfill on the other side of Libby. Loadin’ a large cow into the truck wasn’t an easy job, particularly when we didn’t have use of that dadgum tractor. But we accomplished it in fairly good time so we begun to think our ride was goin’ to smooth out a might.

Well, you’d think that this ol’ hoss we got under us would be pretty much bucked out by now, but he was actually just findin’ his second wind.

As dad an’ the two of us got on the road, with the cow tucked up under a tarp, we notice that Ol’ Red was actin’ kinda nervous. He was wrinklin’ his spine an’ vibratin’ somethin’ furious, but after a bit he smoothed out a might so we all though it was probably just that there had been a bunch of mud in his shoes or somethin’ like that.

Ol’ Red still shimmied a little, but not so bad as long as dad kept him in a high lope ‘stead of a full out gallop. Just as we got to Whiskey Hill, over-lookin’ Libby.....Kapow!....clang, bang! "Cheese ‘n crackers, got all muddy," it sounded an’ felt like Ol’ Red had gone an broke a leg!!

Dad reins Red over an’ puts a whoa on him as we all bailed out fearin’ the worse an’ thinkin’ that now we’re gonna have to shoot Ol’ Red too. Bummed as we were we set to checkin’ him over an’ come to find that the right forefoot had lost a shoe. So things are lookin’ up for Ol’ Red.

The three of us pull out the shoein’ tools an’ worked at gettin’ Red re-shod. Soon enough we’re ready to get on our way again so dad takes up the reins as before, an’ said giddup, but Ol’ Red just stood there, makin’ not a noise or blinkin’ an eye.

What the heck is wrong now! Well, we’ve got luck on our side this time seein’ as how we’re perched at the top of a hill. Dad steps on the clutch an’ gives Red his head....we’re rollin’ down hill. Soon as we gain a fair amount of speed, dad popped the clutch an’ Ol’ Red is runnin’ fine again. When we get to the landfill, we dumped the cow then headed back to town to buy two new front shoes for Ol’ Red.

First it was the tractor, then losin’ the cow an’ calf, then havin’ to buy new shoes for Red.....seems this ol’ bronc we’ve been a ridin’ is costin’ us dearly. Reckon it’s time we climb down off a it an’ go pick out a gentle mount for awhile.




April 23, 2008

Dadgum we're gettin' mighty tired of keepin' company with ol' man winter.  Snow flurries continue to fill our days. Though most of the snow melts off, a light skiff might cling to the ground an' trees for a while. Grudgin'ly we got to admit that the cottony fluff of new snow in the tree branches, is as lovely as a spotted fawn wadin' through a field of wild flowers.

We really don't mind winter's annual visits here as he's a good sort of chap, but come the end of March it's time for him to be movin' along.  He's just over stayed his welcome this year.  Now if we could just locate ol' man winter's picket pin, we'd sure as shootin' pull it an' haze him on his way. As it is, that ol' polecat has us skunked.

Speakin' of skunks.  As of late, we've had a run in with one, not once, but twice.  Kim stepped out the front door the other evenin', Sage trailin' close behind her.  Barely out the door Kim was taken aback at the sight of a young skunk waddlin' toward her 'cross the front porch. The peril of the situation flashed into Kim's mind, but her reaction to wrangle a hold on Sage hung lightnin' by comparison.  Sage bolted past Kim an' took off after the skunk.  "Sage, no. Come....leave it. Sage quit."

The row of excited calls fell on deaf ears. Sage was much to busy barkin' an' harassin' the skunk to pay heed to our calls. Even a shrill whistle was ignored. Dang it Sage, you're goin' to be sorry when you come back sportin' that perfume de skunk, an' we won't let you come inside the house let alone sleep in our bedroom. Now way, nuh uh. 

We kept on pleadin' to Sage to drop the chase as skunk an' dog bounced across the west pasture. Not until the skunk slipped through the fence an' disappeared into the woods did Sage come to us.  Bracin' our selves for the expected onslaught of "skunk", we were shocked to realize that Sage hadn't been sprayed! She only like a dog! Whew. Good girl you can come back in the house, but no wait, you're a bad girl for not abidin' by our commands.

The next day us two wranglers an' Sage hiked out to get the mail. Snow was fallin' an' the breeze bellowin' down through the valley had a bit of a bite to it but it felt good to get away from the computers where we're workin' on an article for Horse Illustrated an' also puttin' together a couple photo submissions for Horses USA an' Popular Farming - Mules and Donkeys.

The mile hike out went as usual. Sage picked up twigs or fir cones to play with, then found an' old leg bone of a fawn that had obviously fallen victim to some predator. She packed it along, seemin' to look for a place to stash it.  As we walked she made one half hearted attempt to dig a hole for it then carried her prize over to a thicket of brush.  Nope that wasn't the right place either.

After a bit we knelt down at the side of the road, an' with a rock began to scrap away dirt. from the berm of soil created by the road grader in it's persistent battle to fill pot holes an' smooth the dirt road. Before we'd even managed to dig a cavity deep enough to bury a pocket knife, Sage walked over an' placed her trophy into our hole.

Takin' her cue, we scooped the loosened dirt to cover the fawn leg. Then we hiked the rest of the way out for the mail.  Headed back for home we watched Sage to see if she would remember where we had buried it. She did.  Unearthin' her prize she trotted up the road in such a manner that we could tell that we was feelin' mighty proud. But after packin' the fawn bone about a quarter of a mile, her "I'm so wonderful" strut began to ebb, an' it wasn't long before she dropped the leg an' left it along side the road.

Not too far past where Sage had left her prize, we'd noticed that she was intently eyein' somethin' just down off the road in the south pasture. Just as we caught a glimpse of what she'd been so focused on, Sage scrambled through the fence an' was off after the skunk.  Soundin' retreat as we rushed along toward home, our commands of withdraw from battle, "No Sage, come. Sage come. Dammit Sage leave it," went unheeded. Wonder if she'd had obeyed better if we had a bugle to actually sound retreat on.

Can you believe it?  When Sage finally decided to come, we found that the skunk had once again failed to shoot.  We're beginnin' to think that this skunk must have an empty gun.


April 17, 2008

We had a fun ride in Oklahoma City at the Cowboy Heritage Museum, but reckon it's nigh time to come back down to earth. When we slipped our hobbles an' left on our trip, all of the pastures still sported a good amount of snow, but four days later when we returned home, we were surprised to see that most of the snow had melted off.

The weather the afternoon we got home was beautiful. The sun was shinin' with a high of somethin' in the range of 75 degrees so we took advantage of the summer like weather by cleanin' out two pasture water tanks an' fillin' 'em with fresh water.  The followin' day it turned back to winter. Had a few snow flurries, though it melted off fastern 'n an ice cube would dissolve under a settin' hen. Then yesterday mornin' we woke to find a new skiff of snow on the ground.

Luckily the roads were clear since the two of us an' dad drove over to Kalispell. Plagued with a bad oil leak, the Kubota tractor needs fixin' so we dropped it off at the dealership west of town then headed on into Kalispell to meet up with the law wrangler who is handlin' our case from last years wreck with the drunk driver.

We signed some paper work then trailed back out a the lawyer's door feelin' lower 'n a hound dog a-settin' at the front door of a deserted cabin. Seems the law wrangler thinks we've got a better chance of comin' out ahead wrestlin' with a grizzly bear, than collectin' the restitution owed us from that dadgum drunk driver! We hope he's wrong as we've still not been able to replace our horse trailer, an' probably won't unless we're reimbursed by Mr. Drunk Driver.

At any rate, back at the ranch life is busy.

With the tractor off gettin' fixed we'll have to do chores without it. That meant that to feed out the large round bales to the cows, an'  the horses in the south pasture, we had to do the job a tad bit differently than normal. With a long length of chain wrapped 'round the bale an' hitched to the truck, we dragged it from the barnyard an' on out to the cow pasture, like a calf roped an' dragged to a brandin' fire.  Leapin' out a the truck we worked to cut the "bazillion" strings holdin' the bale together, all the while duelin' with the hungry cows for elbow room. Once we figured we had all the twine, we hazed the cows away an' hefted the round bale feeder up over the top a the bale. We did a repeat performance when we fed a second bale to the south herd of horses.

If'n only we could get a little warm weather, so's the stock could start foragin' on grass....but more snow is forecast for the week-end and on into next week.


April 14, 2008

We're back at the ranch! Sure had a great time in Oklahoma City, but we've got to admit that we're happier 'n a couple horses in tall grass to get back home again! This mornin' we woke to wild turkeys gobblin' in the barnyard an' the honks of Canada Geese as they flew over, instead of all those cars whizzin' by on the road outside our hotel room.

Our flight to OKC was a tad bit rough.  With all the bouncin' 'round in the air Kim began took look a little peeked, but since we hadn't had any food all day long her gun was empty so she only dry fired. Once on the ground we met up with a friend, Carol Bartlett, who'd traveled from Ohio, an' later met up with a second friend, Neebeeshaabookway.

Though most folks who attended the event stayed at the Marriot Hotel, as the lobos we tend to be, we decided to throw our bedrolls down at a little livery within walkin' distance to the Cowboy Heritage Museum. This way we didn't have to flag down a coach to get back an' forth each day, an' the livery was so close to the Museum that our dogs wouldn't get tuckered out neither.

Think the four of us were the only ones throwin' down our bedrolls at this place. With a new owner of only two months they were in a major re furbishin'  job on all of the rooms but kindly left one room alone for our use.  It was a decent sized room, but the built in "outhouse" was tighter 'n a noose on a horse thief's neck.

On Friday we all trekked over to the Museum with plans to meet up with two other friends - Tony Gill from England an' Atsuko Yamaguchi from Japan. We shopped in the Museum's gift shop for a bit then poked 'round the rest of the joint. When Bob & Jennifer Fuller arrived, Bob had the Museum folks give each of us a sticker to wear that allowed us to wander 'round the entire place - for free!...so we wandered, an' wandered, an' wandered.

That evenin' at the Jingle Jangle Mingle, Bob Fuller introduced us to a passel of folks, but for the life of us we don't recall who most of 'em were. We might be able to tell one cow from another, but get us tangled up amongst a herd of people an' they all start lookin' the same....reckon that's due to our shyness. We'd have a much better chance a rememberin' what their feet look like, 'stead of their faces, cause our eyes usually are set toward the ground, lookin' down at their boots.

On Sunday evenin' we threw on our go to meetin' duds an' hiked back over to the Museum. Since Neebeeshaabookway wanted to wear a fancy dress she decided to throw her garb in a bag with plans to change from her jeans to her dress once she got to the shindig. As we neared the gates to the Museum we noticed a bunch of other folks were arrivin' too - all by car.

We gotta tell yah, we're mighty glad that we walked, cause one by one these other folks would drive their rigs into the parkin' lot where a gang of fellas in yellow coats hazed 'em along to where they were finally told to stop, which was right out in front of the Museum.  At this point they were told to get out an' hand their keys over to one a the gang members who'd promptly take off with the car.  We got to admit that we were kind a shocked at the lack of security this quality function seemed to have.

Anyways, the evenin' made a turn for the better as folks headed on inside.  A red carpet led the way to the front door, but afore they were allowed to go inside everyone had to stop in front of a professional photographer to have their photos taken. 

Feelin' well out of the league of most attendees to this shindig, the four of us made an attempt to sneak into the buildin' without steppin' onto the red carpet, but we were summarily hazed back an' herded on to the red trail that led up to the front door.  Once we were caught in the headlights of photographer's spot lights we dutifully posed for photos....Neebeeshaabookway, who as you may remember was still decked out in her jeans an' a casual shirt.  Thinkin' quickly she snatched the dress out of her bag an' held it up in front of herself for the photo shoot.  Everyone watchin' got a big kick out of it.

Once inside, Neebeeshaabookway changed into her dress, then we all wandered 'round chattin' with folks.  Later we were all herded off to our tables for dinner an' the award presentations. Bob was the final honoree to receive his award. As everyone else did, Bob thanked those who were important in his life - recognizin' his wife Jennifer an' his son RJ who were in the audience. Then he mentioned others who came from all over the country to help honor him namin' us each in turn an' where we hailed from.

After the closin' remarks from the master of ceremonies everyone mingled 'round to congratulate the winners, an' many of us got our photos taken with Bob an' the award sculpture.  We haven't had time to roundup any snapshots that were taken durin' the shindig, so will have to share 'em later.

Oh yeah, we did get to meet Bob's son RJ. It's odd, we feel like we've seen him before somewhere, an' he felt the same way 'bout us, but we can't imagine where that would have been an' we know we never met formally. Anyway, he's a personable guy an' we're glad to have had a chance to meet him now.

RJ told us that as a kid he used to go to a friend's ranch over on the east side, in Roundup, Montana. When he was 12 years old he rode a buckin' steer at one a the small Montana rodeos. He said he that he took second place on that steer an' was mighty proud of it.  He keeps an old black & white photo taken of himself on that steer - saved  to his cell phone, so he showed it to us. We thought that was pretty cool.


April 8, 2008

Even though nearly every day we get some sort of snow flurry, what new snow we get melts off faster 'n a cat can lick cream off it's whiskered nose. Old snow still blankets a good 50 percent of our pastures, an' the ridges over lookin' our valley still hold pockets of deep snow while open areas are bare.

On Sunday, Sage an' the two of us hiked up the west ridge. Much of the time the old crusted snow held our weight, but on occasion we'd break through, sinkin' down to our knees. Each time we broke through the crusted top layer of snow we could a kicked ourselves for not havin' brought our snow shoes along with us. While we saw several antler rubs on many a young tree we didn't spot any shed antlers.

Many folks 'round here hunt horns to sell, but to us they're just neat treasures to us. We're thinkin' that we should figure out some way to teach Sage to hunt antlers for us.

Sage in snow

Wadin' through the snow

Sage on a game scent

Sage, find us a shed antler....good girl seek!


We're gettin' all geared up to head off to Oklahoma City on Thursday in order to attend the Cowboy Museum Heritage Awards. Though there are many deservin' honorees in various categories, we're reinin' in just to raise our hats to Robert Fuller. He's gettin' the award for best Western Performer this year. We've mentioned Bob in previous ramblin's, but if you don't know who he is, well then....in our opinion he is one of the best TV Western performers of all time. From 1959 to1963 Bob starred in Laramie, then later he played a scout on Wagon Train in 1964 an' 1965.

Anyway, dad an' Ruth will take care of the ranch while we're gone so we're tryin' to minimize the feedin' chores as much as possible for 'em. This means we're puttin' large round bales of grass hay out in every pasture which should last until we get back. That is if the elk aren't too greedy. This mornin' when we headed out to take care of our few chores we found 10 or more elk circled 'round the round bale feeder in the pump house pasture.

Even with the feedin' chores cut down to a minimum dad an' Ruth will still have to fork hay to the bull an' steers, plus feed an' old mare that requires special care ...an' of course they'll have to tend to the dogs an' cats as well.

Gosh darn, we'll only be gone 4 days - actually only 3 full days - but we'll sure miss the solitude of the ranch.  We're country kids so the fast pace bustle of cities kind of make us as uneasy as hunted elk....but to honor Bob, dodgin' bullets - that is, crazy people in cars, it'll all be well worth it.  Do wish we could smuggle our puppy on the plane with us, but don't reckon she'll fit in the carry on bags we'll be totin' with us.


April 1, 2008

It's been nearly a week since we last rode in to tally up the days doin's, so we'll have to back track a bit just to catch up. First off, our brother Kile crossed the border into another year - it's been 58 years since the day he entered the world.  Though Kile is a city boy, we generally get along with him right well....maybe 'cause we are so different from one another.  Growin' up at the edge of town - Bozeman, Montana - we rarely had reason to argue with Kile.

For one thing, the two of us were usually off chargin' our horses up the open hills of Bozeman or amblin' down the dirt tracks of country roads, while Kile stayed pretty close to the house. Fact is, he normally settled in his basement bedroom where he studied or listened to opera or classical music.  Ugh! we thought his choice of music was hideous an' we suspect he thought the same of ours, but still we didn't argue much. Except when it came to horses vs cars.

Just about every single mornin' durin' our grade school years mom would drive the three of us to school. On the way we'd  bicker with Kile on the merits of horses while he'd pay homage to cars. This would go on an' on 'till mom tired of it an' would tell us to quit fightin'. The three of us would protest that we were merely debatin' the subject. Kile went on to become a top competitor on his high school debate team while mom started sendin' us to school on the bus.

Anyway, Happy belated Birthday Kile!

Let's see, what else has slipped by us this week?  Ruth an' dad returned to the ranch an' will stay here for the month of April, then will head back to Delaware. The evenin' of the day they arrived home they were treated to watchin' at least 30 elk ghost their way out of the forest to eat hay with the horses....that is they pretty much ate all of the horses' hay.  We're pert near out of the Alfalfa/grass hay that we've been feedin' out all winter so are now feedin' timothy hay. Our remuda, sure did get spoiled on the bales of Alflafa/grass an' were more 'n disappointed in the bland ol' grass hay that we are now feedin' 'em. Initially they nibbled at the stuff, but then abandoned it to stand forlornly at the pasture fences lookin' for us to come back an' feed 'em proper.

With no competition, the large number of elk quickly devoured the forsaken grass hay quicker 'n a pup can clean off a dinner plate.  Next mornin' the horses actually seemed more 'n thrilled with the grass hay that we gave 'em...even if it wasn't up to their standards. 

We're still gettin' a few snow flurries, but by mid-day the new snow melts away leavin' us with a few bare spots an' the old crusty snow. It may be the first day of April but it looks more like February 'round these parts. That is except for the fact that the wild tom turkeys have begun to strut 'round the place all puffed out courtin' the hens an' Canada Geese have wandered into the pastures in search of spring grass to nibble on.

Tom Turkey

Wild Tom Turkey struttin' his stuff for the ladies

Canada Goose

Canada Goose - "Where's the grass?"


Sorry guys Mother Nature is pullin' an April Fools joke on us all...it's still winter here.




Ride the  March 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the February 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

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