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Mirror KB Ranch

Tales of the Twin Wranglers  

February 2008

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February 28, 2008

Yesterday we put an ear tag on the little heifer calf, Icy, that was born on the 19th, then turned 'mama an' baby out to pasture with the rest of the herd. Icy now wears a pink tag in her right ear with the number 58 on it. The "5" denotes which cow this calf was produced from, while the "8" signifies the year of it's birth - 2008.

calf with ear tag

Black Ice Rose sportin' her pink ear tag

It was 35 degrees this mornin' an' a misty rain was fallin' as we went out to take care of our mornin' chores.  But as we worked the mist began to wane an' pretty soon the sun was doin' it's best to sneak a peak out between the cover of clouds. Thoughts of sittin' back on our pockets an' soakin' in the day's sunshine knocked around under our hats, but right now we had to finish our chores.

When we got to the cow pasture we realized that we were missin' a cow.  It was our red baldy cow, Onoki.  As we rushed to feed hay out to the rest of the cows our eyes scanned the far corners of the pasture hopin' to spot her....though had no luck.

Once the hay was fed out, an' we'd not yet spied the missin' cow, we decided to drive the tractor through the deep snow to where we could get a look down into the slough where a stream slowly winds its way through a stand of aspen an' cottonwood trees.  But she wasn't there. Where the heck had that darn cow got off to? Then Kari caught sight of her, an' over the rumblin' engine of the tractor indicated that she'd glimpsed our missin' cow out in the northeast field down near the river.

Wheelin' the tractor around as swiftly as we could we headed back toward the cows, then turned to follow the trail that would take us across the stream an' out  to where we'd seen the wayward cow. As the tractor slowly struggled through the dense blanket of snow we sought sign of a calf with the cow, but couldn't see one. Hurry up you dumb tractor...can't you go through this snow any faster?

Onoki was standin' in the shelter of a pair of Douglas Fir trees where snow was scant an' to our relief she'd not yet calved.  Though she was obviously ready to drop a calf we could tell that we had time to finish our feedin' chores, so after offerin' her a couple horse pellets we remounted the tractor an' headed back toward the barn yard.  We figured we'd make better time goin' back than we did on our way out since now we could drive through the deep snow in our previously made tracks. 

Course we should have known better. Usually when we're cock sure 'bout the out come of things, as a rule, that's when we stumble over our own spurs. Anyway, we were movin' along pretty good 'till the tractor bogged down on a little bitty knob of a hill.  Unable to muster enough forward movement to gain the little hump of ground, Kim had to shift into reverse, backin' down for a second run at the bump. This time we made it an' had no further problems.

Once we'd finished the chores we stopped at the house for a few towels then headed back out to the cow. Just as we got to Onoki a bald eagle flyin' down the river, swooped in to land in a leaf bare cottonwood tree on the other side of the river. At that same moment, the cow dropped her solid black bull calf.  To us, seein' a Bald Eagle predicts good luck, so we're thinkin' this calf's name should be somethin' along that line. Maybe we'll call him, Wa' pi (the Lakota word for Lucky) or maybe Wa' piya (another Lakota word that means to make fortunate.) Reckon we'll have to search 'round in our brain pans for just the right handle, but for now he's just Onoki's calf.

Though we were anxious to get her an' the calf back to the barn we held back, allowin' her to clean an' mother him for awhile. Once he was up on his feet the towels were brought into play as we rubbed the little guy down, then together we picked him up an' carried him to the tractor bucket.

Kim climbed into the bucket with the calf while Kari cranked up the tractor an' began backin' down our old tracks. We'd decided to make for the barn in a rearward fashion so that Onoki could keep sight of her calf in the tractor bucket as she followed along behind. As our plans often do, they go along well for a while then quickly fall apart. 

We were thrilled when the tractor successfully scaled that hump of a hill which we'd previously bogged down on, but our revelry didn't last long. Another little bump in the trail, which had not stymied the tractor when driven forward proved to be a problem goin' backwards.  Kari elevated the bucket high over Onoki's back so that we could back up - no, go forward - down the incline to where we could make another backwards run at the little incline. This time we made it an' we were on our way again. Onoki was even movin' down the trail faster than we were so by the time we got to the gate near the barn she was no longer behind us but in front or that is behind the tractor. How's that for confusin' ya?

Well, Onoki was confused too. We'd barely had time to dismount our iron horse when that dumb cow went to bawlin' an' began to trudge back through the snow in the direction from which we'd just come. Knowin' it was no more use than settin' a milk bucket under a bull, we called out to Onoki..."Your calf's right here.  Onoki, come back. We have your calf."  She looked back a time or two, but held to her determined course.

Givin' up convincin' the cow that her calf was safe with us, we lifted the black calf out of the tractor bucket an' watched his mama lumber all the way out to where the tractor had bogged on the hill...where Kari had lifted the bucket up over the cow's back. We suppose that Onoki had lost sight of her baby at this point an' was convinced that we had somehow dumped it back where she'd last seen it. Once she was satisfied that the calf wasn't lost in the snow drift she plodded back toward us an' the barn. "Come on Onoki, we have your calf here." 

We waited for her to rejoin us then we hefted the calf into our arms an' carried it through the gate an' into the old log barn.



February 24, 2008

A while back we mentioned that our gelding, Hoot is a jumper.  We've tried to get good photos of him jumpin' the fence, but rarely are ready with our cameras to catch the action. However, we got this series of shots this mornin'.  They ain't all that good but at least they sort of show what natural talent he has. 

Hoot starting his jump

Hoot takin' flight

Hoot finishing his jump

Hoot comin' in for a landin'

Just to offer a little background on why we named this colorful colt, Hoot...actually his full name is Mi T Hoot.  The "T" represents his maternal grand-dam Tacita Trio. Trio was our beloved show mare who crossed the Great Divide a number of years ago.  The "Mi" comes by way of Hoot's paternal grandsire, Mi Glory Star. Now speakin' of stars, Robert Fuller has always been our favorite television cowboy, so when Hoot was foaled we decided to name him after Bob's own horse "Hoot," which he rode in his first western television series, Laramie. 

Now our Hoot an' Bob's Hoot look nothin' alike, but this was goin' to be our last foal crop so we figured it was now or never.  Seems we roped him with the right name as he's always been a character an' he truly does crave attention. Think our Hoot would enjoy starrin' in his own tv show an' maybe a few select movies as well. Maybe we should look for an agent for him ;-)

Anyway, Hoot shares a pasture with another gelding an' our blind mare, Kootenai Song, who was born with full blown cataracts.  We know that she can see some things, but we're not quite sure how much or to what degree. In any case she gets along quite well out in the pasture an' has scared the dickin's out a us on numerous occasions when she gets to runnin'. But she's never crashed into anything....that is until just recently.

Each winter we have a herd of elk come in to feed on hay they snitch from the horses. Hoot has never been at all aggressive toward the elk, though he doesn't appear to be afraid of 'em either. Song however has always refused to share her hay with the elk, so would defend it with flattened ears an' a sudden charge.

One evenin' 'bout four weeks ago a large group of elk had come in to mooch hay.  We had fed hay out to Song an' Hoot then had gone on to feed more hay out to the other pastures. While throwin' hay out to the east pasture of horses we noticed there was some sort of commotion goin' on over what we call the Pump house pasture where Song an' Hoot stay...well, okay where Song stays...we've already established that Hoot does not stay in any particular pasture if he doesn't want to.

We continued to work but our attention was mostly roped to what was goin' on in the other pasture. We could see that the elk had taken possession of all the hay an' that somethin' had happened to Song. Hoot an' the other gelding were hoverin' 'round Song as though they were troubled 'bout her for some reason. Spurrin' the tractor to get our job done we hurried back to check on Song an' found that she was very lame in her right front leg. It looked to us that the lameness was up in her shoulder. To get a good look at her we pulled her from the pasture. Course tryin' to get her out through the gate an' away from her two concerned buddies was harder 'n tryin' to sit a horse that's gone an' swallowed it's head an' is boilin' over. 

After lookin' Song over an' not findin' any open wounds, swellin's or abrasions we gave her a dose of Banamine an' put her in the corral. Then we had to chase off the elk an' collected what was left of the hay to give to Song an' the boys. Since we didn't see what happened we can only make a guess, but think that when Song charged at the group of elk, she more 'n likely didn't realize the power pole - that goes to the old irrigation pump house - was in amongst the elk. She probably crashed right into it.

Ever since she was injured she has lost the incentive to keep the elk away from the hay.  In fact she seems to be afraid of the elk now. When the elk show up she heads for the safety of the corral, Hoot an' the other gelding glued to her tail. For this reason we started feedin' their out in the corral, then the other day saw that a couple real cheeky elk had actually come into the corral to mooch what they could, so we had to chase 'em off.

We'll add a couple shots of some of the elk that we took just the other day.

horse and elk

Whisper, Hoot's dam, with hungry elk standin' nearby

elk fight over hay

Two cow elk argue over a pile of hay


February 19, 2008

Dang we're ready for spring.  It was just ten above zero this mornin'.  Looked out at the cow pasture as soon as it was light enough to see, we found that we had a newborn heifer calf out in the snow.  The poor little gal's black coat was as icy as a froze over lake, an' she was a shakin' so hard you'd a thought the earth was quakin', but she was on her feet an' lookin' healthy.  Smudge, her mama, hadn't shown any signs to warn us of her impendin' birth so we hadn't expected it quite yet.  Had we known she was gonna calve we'd have stuck her in the old log hay barn for the night. 

Since we didn't want to take any chances of losin' our new baby from the cold weather, we decided to move Smudge an' her calf to the barn. For a part Dexter (a miniature breed of cow) she sure is a hefty little bugger. Kim tried to pack her while Kari parted the sea of nosy cows, but after 20 feet or so she had to put her back on the ground. 

Our next plan of attack was to let her walk on her own while we pushed an' shoved her along in the direction we wanted her to go. This worked to some degree but as slow as we were movin' we begun to realize it'd be summer afore we made it to the barn, so Kari picked up the calf's front end an' Kim hoisted the tail end an' together we lugged her the rest of the way with mama cow softly mooing as she trailed along after us. Once we had 'em inside the barn, we fetched a couple towels from the house an' gave her a good rub down to dry her off an' to get her blood circulatin' with the hopes that she'd warm up afore the chill got the best of her. Then we went to work takin' care of our feedin' chores.

After feedin' alfalfa/grass hay out to the south herd an' the horses in the pump house pasture, Kari trekked back to the barn to check on the calf, while Kim prepared  to pull another bale down for feedin'. She was restin' in a bed of old hay, but  was still shiverin' so Kari took a pile of loose hay an' covered her with it for a blanket.  After finishin' our chores we again checked on the calf.  She hadn't moved from under the blanket of hay Kari had given her, but this time when we slipped our hands up under the hay we felt the icy coat had given way to a touch of warmth.  With the encouragement that she'll make it, we decided to name the new calf, Black Ice Rose....Icy for short. We added the tag of Rose to her name in remembrance of our Gramma Baker. She was born this day back in 1902.  Think she'd be honored to have this calf named in tribute to her.


February 17, 2008

Woke last night 'round 1:00 a.m. We could hear a horse stompin' round up by the house an' new that Hoot was out again.  Hoot is our 4 year old Appaloosa geldin' who is harder to keep corralled than it is tryin' to hold on to a lively trout. Hoot makes a habit of jumpin' the fences when ever he has a yearnin' to do so...an' our stack of alfalfa hay out in the barn yard is ample reason for him to jump. His usual rout is to first jump the rail fence into the neighboring south pasture of horses, then  jumps their fence to gain access to the barnyard an' hay. Hoot has become rather adept at pushin' the tarp off the open bale an' manages to scatter it all over just so he can eat all the fine alfalfa leafs. He seems to think he's snookered us, cause by mornin' he's back in his own pasture actin' all sweet an' innocent. But we know its him since he often jumps the fences durin' the day to come up to the house to stand on the front porch to visit us.

Since today is Sunday we decided that instead of trekkin' out to get the newspaper, we'd take a cross country ski trip 'round the lower 100. Sage of course tagged along.  We took our cameras with us with the idea of tryin' to get winter farm scenes for a hobby farm magazine....but mostly we got photos of Sage.  She's just so darn cute an' photogenic. 

With our skis clamped to our ski boots we climbed over the rail fence into the north cow pasture. This wasn't much of a challenge since the snow is up to the middle rail.  Just for fun we looped 'round so that we could ski down the little hill on the west side of the pasture, then headed eastward toward the Fisher River. There we stopped to let Sage investigate along the water's edge while we took photos.

ES pup at river

Sage at river

After playin' at the river we skied on through the east river pasture crossed over the iced over pump house pond then back toward the river at the south end of our ranch. Again we stopped to take in the beauty of the country an' let Sage investigate more of the river.  In retrospect, we should have moved on...but like most folks we ain't all that good at payin' heed to hindsight seein' as how it ain't happened yet, an' foresight is by and large ignored. 

Here we spooked a flock of ducks up off the water. This section is actually an offshoot branch of the main river, what we call the riprap.  In the spring an' times of flood the river is a hungry monster so the bank is steeply lined with huge rocks to prevent the river from eatin' at the bank in it's natural quest to devour more land.

To get closer to the water's edge Sage had meandered down the steep bank.  We saw her slip a little an' knowin' it of no use we told her,  "be careful."   We could see, on her little puppy face, that she herself realized that she was in trouble so she turned to clamber back up the bank.  Too late...Sage plopped into the water with a splash, an' disappeared from our sight.

Since we were busy shootin' more pictures of Sage we'd both dropped our ski poles. Now if you know anything 'bout cross country skiin' you know how hard it is to remove the skis from your feet without the use of a ski pole.  In a panic we punched at the release buttons on our skis with our thumbs, which turned out to be as useless as settin' a milk bucket under a bull.  In rescue mode Kim was ready to slide down the bank head first when Sage resurfaced an' scrambled up the snowy bank. She was wetter 'n a fish, but she was okay.  With enthusiastic hugs of our soggy pup we decided it was time to head for home....across then up through the south pasture.  In the house Sage curled up on her bed, an old saddle blanket, placed next to the kitchen stove.


Sage in ranch kitchen


February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!  Life is repetitive here at the Mirror KB, each day is pretty much the same as the day before.  Every mornin' before day light we wrestle our way out of bed, turn on the computers to check emails for orders or important messages, then have breakfast. Now this is where our day might vary a little. Every other day we have a bowl of cereal - usually Grapenuts - then on the off days we'll stoke up the fire in the wood burin' Monarch kitchen stove to  either have eggs - sunny side up - an' bacon, or flapjacks an' sausages. If egg day happens to land on Sunday we splurge an' make scrambled eggs with bacon. Today we had cereal. 

Then we head out to take care of our feedin' chores.  First we head to the small two room log cabin which we converted into a horse tack room.  This is also where we keep feed barrels of pellets for the horses an' cracked or whole corn for the wild turkeys. Sage has learned that every mornin' we'll usually find a mouse or two in the corn barrel.  This really excites her.  Now we have to admit, that when we first started gettin' mice in the corn barrel they were cute little young mice so we had a hard time with the idea of killin' 'em.   Instead, we'd just catch 'em then take 'em outside to let 'em go.  Yeah, we knew they'd come right back...so we do it all over again the next mornin', an' the next, an' the next an' we get so we enjoy the routine. They're adult mice now but  still we can't kill 'em.  However, Sage feels no affection for these mice and will try to catch 'em as we let 'em go.  We don't interfere with Sage though actually hope she doesn't succeed, but she's mighty fast so it probably won't be long before Sage is a better mouser than our best barn cat.

After takin' care of the mice an' throwin' corn out to the turkeys we take Sage back into the house to wait for us to finish our chores. Since she's still just a little pup we worry that we'll be too busy with chores to keep track of her an' make sure that she doesn't get into any trouble. While feedin' the stock this mornin' the radiator idiot light on the tractor lit up. Now we ain't no more mechanical minded than a mule walkin' ahead of a plow, so we just peek in at the radiator an' see water....seemed fine so why's the idiot light on?

Just 'cause we can't figure out anything else to do we check the oil...good gosh the dip stick is nearly dry! So's we trek back to the house to find the maintenance book on the tractor. Pull it out an' skimmed through it. Found that the tractor takes 10 w - 30 w oil durin' these winter temperatures, so we slog out to the shop through the ice an' snow to get three quarts of oil an' a funnel then head back to the tractor. Once we've taken care of the oil situation we're stuck. Our brains still can't throw a loop on the problem with the radiator so we park the tractor back in the shed an' leave an oil pan underneath it to see if we can tell if we have a serious leak.

Once we're finished with chores we head back to the house in hopes that the tractor will miraculously be well again by evenin' chore time.  Sage greets us with a doggy smile an' we let her go out to herd the turkeys off of the front porch, then head to the office to put together a photo submission for one of the national equine publications that we lease photos to.

As noon rolled 'round Sage an' us hiked out to get the mail which is a two mile round trip.  We'd have rather skied out but the packed snow on the one lane dirt road had melted from the thaw two days before so is mostly ice.  We'd have put our ice skate on an' skated out to the mailbox, but knew from past experience that ice skatin' down the road wasn't as bright an' idea as we had thought. So we strapped on our Yaktrax an' walked out for the mail.

Come evenin' chore time we check the oil pan an' find a scant showin' of any leak under the tractor so that's one problem we don't have to worry on.  Then we rev up the tractor an' immediately the idiot light pops on, dang! So what the heck is the problem?  We look 'round an' decide that maybe the radiator filter is plugged up with hay chafe an' dust so's we unlatch the filter, but then realize the front grill on the tractor is in the way.  So's next we remove it's screws an' pull it out of the way.  Satisfied that we've got everything in good order we begin to remove the filter again, but found a new road block when the filter runs smack dab into the arm of the tractor's front end loader.  We can see that no matter what position we were to put the bucket in, the arm would still be in the way so we're stumped. Inspectin' what we can see of the filter we decide it ain't in bad shape anyway so start puttin' all the parts back where they belong. Just as we're finishin' up an' beginnin' to wonder what else we can do to fix the problem Kim spots the radiator reservoir sittin' there plain as day on the right side of the tractor engine....an' its empty! Well, shoot how the heck did we miss seein' it before now? We fill the reservoir an' start up the tractor...no idiot light this time.



February 11, 2008

Howdy an' welcome to our blog. In the past we've had many a folk say that we should write a book of the happenin's that go on here at the Mirror KB, but since a book is such a tricky ride we decided to throw our loops out as a diary, or that is a blog instead.

Since this is the first ride on this sort of mount we're not quite sure how to begin so will just have to kick this ol' horse an' see where it takes us.

Today is the first anniversary of our wreck with a drunk driver. We were haulin' a sick mare to the vet in Kalispell when only six miles from the ranch we met head on with a driver of a pickup camper who was returnin' from a long week-end at an ice fishin'  derby - think he must have been drinkin' more than fishin'. After crashin' into us, the smashed driver kept a goin' for another mile and a half when he finally realized his rig had gone lame for he'd left his right front tire an' axel at the scene of the wreck.

While Kim survived the tramplin' with a bump on her head an' sprained ribs, Kari suffered a broken thumb on the right hand, a compound fracture of the middle finger on the left hand, an' a very severe injury to her left eye when the other driver's camper jack crashed through the windshield.  The good news is, is that the horse endured the whole event with nary a scratch, even though she had fallen to the floor of the trailer an' had scrambled under the stall divider an' back to her feet in the adjoinin' stall.

We pretty much spent the summer tryin’ to heal physically, an’ emotionally from the wreck.  It was a mighty rough trail, but it's beginnin’ to smooth out a tad. Kari’s fractured finger an’ broken thumb have healed an’ though they don’t work quite as well as they once did, Kari is able to handle all the ranch chores with little difficulty...that is concernin’ the hands, but the eye is another thing. Even after goin’ through a second eye surgery in September - to put an artificial iris in an’ replace the damaged lens - she still has no real useful sight in the injured left eye...so chores that require accurate depth of field have proven to be a bit of a challenge. The doc continues to be optimistic so reckon we’ll have to try an’ rein down that trail ourselves.

We’ve managed to replace our crew cab pick up truck that was totaled in the wreck, but as yet have not replaced the horse trailer. Hopefully we’ll be able to get restitution from the drunk driver so that we can get a trailer this past summer.

Chores kept us busy as our work focused on fixin’ fences, irrigatin’ pastures, an’ takin’ care of calvin’ cows, but we still managed to slip our hobbles a fair number of times so that we could step over a horse for long restorative trail rides that we were critically in need of. Unfortunately we didn’t get ‘round to workin’ with many of the younger horses, though did introduce Southern tempo to trail ridin’ - she’s the young mare that survived the wreck with us.

We’re now down to 15 horses...our 27 year old AQHA mare crossed the Great Divide a few days before Christmas. She was a sweat gentle mare which we will miss, but she lives on in our memories as well as two fillies which she produced an’ that we have kept.

Fact is it seems that all our critters are gettin’ old. This fall our Border Collie, Flint, passed on at the ripe old age of 17 years - so we’re now left with Quiver - Flint’s daughter. She too is up there in years (15) an’ with her heart murmur, her time with us probably won’t be a whole lot longer.  With this in mind, we decided that it was time to add a new puppy to the family. This time - though we love our Border Collies - we decided to get an English Shepherd. 

Our new puppy is a dark sable female, sportin' the long handle of MKB Laramie Rimrock Sage. MKB stands for Mirror KB - our outfit.  Laramie is the name of our favorite western show of all time, starring Robert Fuller, an' Rimrock is the name of her breeder's spread down in Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  Since MKB Laramie Rimrock Sage is more'n we can wrap our tongues 'round, we just call her Sage....or Dumbo, or twerp, monster, or what ever else we might fancy at the moment.

In actual fact, Sage is a quite the rascal.  Fact is she's wilder 'n a bobcat with its tail on fire.  In order to get any rest ourselves its imperative that we wear her out durin' the day so that she's good 'n tired enough to let us sleep at night. So in between feedin' chores we either do a bit of cross country skiin', snow shoein' or hikin'. This all worked out well in the beginnin', but seems she's growin' bigger, gettin' stronger, an' more fit, while we've come to draggin' our feet like a couple a wore out mules.  

Reckon that’s ‘bout all the words we aught to corral for now.

Reinin' out,

Twin Wranglers



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