Mirror KB Ranch
Tales of the Twin Wranglers
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April 30, 2009
Our pastures may be beginnin' to green-up with spring grass, but last Friday, the 24th, the landscape was once again blanketed in white, under four to five inches of fresh snow. It didn't last long, in fact it was mostly melted off by the next mornin'. Three days later snow fell once again, but this time it melted pert near as soon as it hit the ground. That night it snowed a tad bit more so that the next mornin' we had a new skiff of white on the ground.
Last week we decided to move our chicks into their new chicken house - the old horse stall that we'd converted to a chicken house. All went well for a couple of days then one mornin' we found the chicks massacred. Some ornery critter - which we're more'n darn sure was one of our neighbor's dogs - had managed to get to our helpless chicks. A good number of the chicks were missin' an' the rest we found dead on the straw floor.
Sage solemnly checked each dead chick while we commiserated over our loss. Sage continued her quest as we began to busy ourselves collectin' the feeders an' the water pans, an' then took down the heat lamps. As we prepared to bury the dead chicks there came a commotion from the chicken coop. From their hiddin' place, Sage had flushed out three survivin' chicks - two Ancona an' one Gold Sex Link! We knew Sage wouldn't intentionally kill 'em but were worried that she'd hurt 'em by accident so called her off, an' hastily captured 'em.
Once we'd caught the chicks we placed 'em back in an old pasture water tank once again an' put 'em back under a heat lamp in the cabin. The three were very subdued from the frightful attack, but they were alive! For now we'll keep 'em in the cabin 'til we can sufficiently fix the chicken coop so that it will better deter any more maraudin' dogs.
The remainder of this past week we've kept busy, fillin' badger holes in the pump-house pasture an' then created a couple new Montana "fishing" designs for our line of casual wear an' gift items. We also drove over to Kalispell to purchase pasture seed, a few fence posts, an' a small four foot gate.
While in the big town of Kalispell we looked at new models of ATVs. The past two years our old Bayou Kawasaki has been as stubborn to kick into action as it is to talk a lazy burro into leavin' the shade of a tree. We looked at the Sportsman 400 Polaris an' also the 350 Yamaha Grizzly. We wanted to check out others but needed to get back to the ranch.
Yesterday we drove back into Kalispell. Our first stop was at Big John Chainsaws where we bought ourselves another Stihl Chainsaw...another small saw to match one we already have so that both of us will have a small saw to cut fence rails up on the west ridge. Then we drove over an' checked out the 420 Honda Rancher. It was a nice machine, but only had it in a bright red or would be able to give us the same machine in camo if we'd be willin' to wait 'till 5:30 pm to pick it up.
Figurin' that we might end up goin' back to get the red Honda Rancher we drove back over to look at the Sportsman 400 Polaris...an' ended up purchasin' a forest green model. Not bein' all too savvy with anything that doesn't burn hay, we'll just have to hope that the machine we settled on is the right one for our needs.
April 21, 2009
Winter is finally on the run an' it's green-up time once again. We've been busier 'n an ol' cow tryin' to rub off her winter coat on a fence post an' that leads us to what we've been doin' the past week or so. Not the rubbin' our hair on a fence post bit, but repairin' fences that had gone down durin' the winter from the heavy elk traffic through the ranch. We've repaired two gaps in fence lines in the east pasture so far, but with thoughts trailin' toward forkin' a horse, yesterday we worked at fixin' up the small horse trainin' pen. Hopefully we'll soon have time to get to work on a few of the green-broke ranch horses.
More pasture fences still need our attention, which we'll eventually get to by n' by. Yesterday pert near all the cows climbed through a section of fence to gain access to the east pasture. We ignored 'em since we figured that they'd climb back through the fence by late evenin' so's to head to their usual beddin' ground...but they didn't, an' Lady the big old Hererford cow was a tad bit put out that her calf had chosen to bed down with the group of defectors rather than rejoin her.
It was long 'bout 1:00 am when we came to the conclusion that with Lady bellowin' for her calf all night, gettin' any quality shut eye was as likely for us as us winnin' the sweepstakes. Makin' a logical decision, we rolled out of bed, pulled on our jeans, slipped into our jackets an' boots an' trekked out into the dark starry night to round up the cows. We found 'em bedded down up near the large horse breakin' corral, but as we approached - our flashlights bouncin' 'round like a pair of disconnected wanderin' eyeballs - the small herd of cows bolted to their feet an' stampeded into the blackness of the night.
Knowin' that they wouldn't go far we left 'em to nervously mill 'round while we headed off to open the gate between the east an' north pasture, then carefully we circled 'round the herd an' eased 'em toward the fence. Our year old English Shepherd pup, "MKB Laramie Rimrock Sage", is really beginnin' to get the hang of herdin' cows. She still makes a fair number of mistakes, but she's quick to come when we call her so that we can position her on the herd in a way that will usually have a favorable outcome. Last night she did a bang-up job an' even seemed to understand when to push aggressively toward stubborn older cows, an' when to calm down to move the younger jumpy stock in a quiet manner.
Today we went out to find the section of fence where the cows had crawled through an' did a fair amount of repair. We'd found that the elk had taken out two fence posts an' pert near leveled a whole section of fence so it was obvious to us now that last night we could have easily pushed the cows north through the open fence line rather than mess 'round herdin' 'em west through the gate that we'd taken the time to open.
We really haven't spent this past month just fixin' fences. In fat we've spent a fair bit of time on a few smaller projects for which we enlisted the help of visitin' kinfolk from Seattle, Washington. While Gordon helped dad sort through an' clean out the house storage room us Twin Wranglers kept the two boys busy.
The first day after their arrival, the two of us split firewood, while we had the boys climb up on the roof of the bull's shed to tighten down loose panels of the metal roof. Our second order of business was to get the boys to help us convert one of the old horse stalls into a chicken house for our growin' chicks. Usin' several beat up - hay combo grain feeders, we all worked will drill an' screws to fasten the feeders at varying heights to the stall walls then filled 'em with straw for future nest boxes.
Once we got the work projects out of the way, the boys played in the hay barn a fair amount of time - jumpin' off the hay stack into a soft landin' of piled loose hay. One day Linda, the boys, an' us took a jeep ride 'long one of the still snow covered forest roads to have a remote picnic of sorts. Thirteen year old Tim drove the jeep out to our picnic sight, then eleven year old Jon took the wheel so's to chauffeur us all back to the ranch.
Tim an' Jon ready their 22 rifles
Kari, Tim an' Jon take aim
We spent a good deal of our time sightin' down rifle barrels with the boys, shootin' the 22 rifles at targets down in the north cow pasture. One day Gordon an' Tim accompanied us in a jeep ride out the forest road to do a bit of skeet shootin' with the 410. We're not too shabby with the 22 rifles but we've go to admit that we're a might sorry when it comes to throwin' lead at a flyin' object, but Tim sure has a good eye for it. Reckon if survivin' ever comes down to shootin' birds on the fly we'll go hungry 'less Tim does the bird huntin' for us. Poor Gordon rarely got a chance to pull the trigger on the 410, as he seems to be the only one that can launch the disks with our - not so nifty, manual hand launcher. Think we're goin' to have to invest in a mechanical disk launcher.
Tim sets his sights on a flyin' disk
launched by Gordon
Kim sights down the barrel of the 410
April 5, 2009
It snowed an' snowed, an' snowed right on up through the very last day of March, an' its still snowin'. On the 26th of March dad was scheduled to fly into Glacier International Airport in Kalispell. The day started out with fresh snow on the ground, but the clouds had begun to break apart so it looked as though it was goin' to be a beautiful day. Leavin' right after we finished with our mornin' feedin' chores we made the long trip to Kalispell in good time. We didn't have to meet dad's plane 'till 'bout 2:30 in the afternoon but we wanted to compare prices of laminated flooring at Home Depot an' Lowes plus stop at Costco to purchase a few bulk items.
As the day wore on, a wicked wind with the bite of grizzly bear blew in an' soon it was once again snowin'. As we pulled into the airport visibility had dropped considerably an' we were beginnin' to wonder if dad's plane would arrive at all....but of course it would, this is Montana! It has to do more 'n snow a bit - or even a lot - to make Montanans cower! Enterin' the terminal we headed over to check out the arrival schedule when we heard our names called over the PA system. Now we may be a tad bit shy in the brain pan, but we know which end a cow quits the ground first an' also know that hearin' our names over the PA system at an airport ain't a good thing.
Saunterin' over to Horizon's counter we learn that dad had missed his connectin' flight so was stayin' the night in Seattle then would be on the next available flight the followin' day - which was expected to arrive the same time as the one he'd missed. Seein' as how we have stock to take care of we couldn't lay over in Kalispell to wait for his new flight so we trail out into the snow storm an' start on our long trip back to the ranch. The next day we made the trip back to Kalispell, an' this time dad climbed down off the turbo prop plane to greet us. It's good to have him back at the ranch even though it will only be for a three week visit. We're just sorry that Ruth couldn't accompany him for the visit.
As we rounded the corner into April we continued to get a new dustin' of snow each day up through the fourth. Though we still have a fair amount of old snow draped over large areas of our pastures, the fresh snow rarely sticks to the ground longer 'n a grasshopper would survive in a chicken yard. Speakin' of chickens. The other day, we drove into town to get our (twenty) one day old chicks at Homesteader's Feed an' Farm.
This year we decided to raise a few layin' hens so bought ten Ancona chicks as well as ten Gold Sex Link chicks. They ended up only havin' nine Gold Sex Link chicks so we took one Ameraucanas chick as a replacement.
next six weeks we'll keep the chicks in an old water tank under a heat lamp in
the log cabin.
Then will introduce 'em to a sort of makeshift chicken coop which
we plan to convert from a horse stall. Eventually we want to let our chickens
range free with hopes that they'll return to the horse stall/chicken coop to lay
their eggs in a series of wall horse feeders which we'll make into layin' boxes.
Years ago we raised free range Leghorn an' Rhode Island Red chickens. It
was a bit of an Easter egg hunt to track down all of their eggs each day, but a
large number of 'em chose to lay their eggs in the horses' feeders or hay racks.
Our only problem was to find the eggs before the horses did! Our top
Appaloosa show mare, "Tacita Trio" grew to love eatin' raw eggs so beatin' her
to the egg was a rare occurrence. However, we've got to admit she had a sleek
shiny coat the show judges couldn't miss.
Years ago we raised free range Leghorn an' Rhode Island Red chickens. It was a bit of an Easter egg hunt to track down all of their eggs each day, but a large number of 'em chose to lay their eggs in the horses' feeders or hay racks. Our only problem was to find the eggs before the horses did! Our top Appaloosa show mare, "Tacita Trio" grew to love eatin' raw eggs so beatin' her to the egg was a rare occurrence. However, we've got to admit she had a sleek shiny coat the show judges couldn't miss.
A young Gold Sex Link chick
Our English Shepherd "bird" dog, Sage is flyin' high with enthusiasm over the new arrivals. Ever since she was a small pup she's been fascinated with birds - particularly when they're in flight. Though these chicks are too young to take to the sky, Sage seems to realize that they are birds. When we go into the cabin to get pellets for the horses - our cabin doubles as a feed room an' a tack room - we have to keep an' eye on Sage. She wants to get close to the chicks so bad that she pert near jumps into the brooder. When we gently hold a chick in our hands for her to look at, she'll nudge it with her nose then will give the chick a lively lick with her tongue. We know that Sage wouldn't intentionally kill the chicks but her enthusiasm could prove deadly.
A bird in hand an' a dog who wishes that she had hands
Sage watches over the chicks
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Mirror KB Photography & Gifts
1132 Arabian Lane
Libby, MT 59923-7982
Phone: (406) 293-6586
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