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Mirror KB Ranch

Tales of the Twin Wranglers  

January 2009

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January 24, 2009

While the country, as well as the world, was eager to witness the first black man - ever - to be sworn in as the President of the USA,  the past week here at the Mirror KB has slipped by with very little excitement.  Today we got a new dustin' of snow on the ground.  We're glad for it, as it throws a veil over the old snow which has lost it's original luster....particularly those areas where the livestock congregate an' have dually sullied.  The only problem we have with the newly dusted landscape is that we now have to remember where the slick areas are.  The new snow is dry, so rather than stickin' to the icy spots like a tick to a mule's ear, it merely cloaks the existence of the slippery stuff. 

Elk an' deer continue their regular visits to mooch hay from the horses an' cows. Yesterday mornin' we had a herd of 'round twenty elk in the north pasture with the cows. Tracks tell us that a few elk have found our stack of hay in the open shed row of horse stalls. Even with a pipe fence panel in place, the elk have managed to reach in an' get some of the hay.

Still, most of the elk come in to snitch hay from the horses in the south pasture. They are an audacious bunch.  When we take the tractor out with our first load of hay, either the elk an' deer are already there waitin' for us, or as soon as they see the hay bein' doled out to the horses, they hastily file down off the west ridge - somewhat remindin' us of a mountain stream that's in an awful big hurry to get out to the ocean.

Once we've distributed our first load of hay, we head back to the barnyard for the second load. We try to put out just enough individual piles of hay so that all eleven horses in the south herd have hay to eat an' won't have to argue with one another over a pile.  When we return with the second load we add more hay to each of the previous piles then we like to put out one or two scrap piles of hay for the elk.

horse and elk

Is there a horse in there somewhere?

two elk

 "Hay - where's our's?"

On a few occasions Sage has tried to scare off the elk.  In a facade of courage she'll march toward 'em, barkin' out orders like a ranch ramrod, but they usually bow their necks an' mirror her bold strut to challenge of her authority. Yikes, their after me!... an' Sage will run for the safety of the tractor, still barkin' out orders - or maybe she's just tossin' out a string of obscenities...doggie version. The deer on the other hand spook quite easily an' will high-tail it for the ridge when Sage barks orders at 'em. Once we've taken our mouthy little dog back to the barnyard to load up hay for the cows the deer reappear in the pasture to eat their share of the hay.


whitetail deer

Yikes, here comes that bossy little English Shepherd dog again

The other day while we were feedin' hay out to the horses, 'long with the menagerie of our regular extra critters, we noticed that a moose cow an' her calf were busily browsin' on the tender branches of trees that line out along the meanderin' stream that cuts through the ranch. We'd wished we'd had thought to bring our cameras along with us - as we often do - but we'd left 'em in the house. Had we had the cameras with us, we'd still likely not have been able to get a decent shot of the two moose anyway.  The evenin' light had already begun to wane, an' the clouds that had blocked the sun all day remained stationed in the valley makin' it seem much later than it actually was.


January 19, 2009

This past week, while a good portion of the country has been in the deep freeze with subzero temperatures, we've experienced rather mild weather. Fact the thermometer appears to be stuck in the mid to upper twenties with clouds, but no new snow.  Every place that we had plowed - barnyard an' down our lane plus the mile drive out to the highway is still a ribbon of ice.

When we had that rain a while back it created hazards for the livestock.  The rain water an' meltin' snow naturally ran to the low areas of the pastures, but since the snow was so deep it didn't form regular ice skatin' rinks.  Instead, the water hid beneath a layer of snow. Then when the temperatures dropped back into the twenties the rain water froze an' so did the snow on top of the ice.  It looks white like snow, but when a horse or the elk steps out onto it you'd think they'd been feedin' on fermented hay or gotten into corn squeezin's for all of a sudden they lose the art of walkin'. Their feet just quit a trackin' in a proper straight line - goin' ever which way - an' never movin' in the same direction, together.

We sort of look the same on our daily hikes out to fetch the mail, but have found that if we charge down the icy road in a sort of shufflin' jog we don't slip. Watchin' the horses we've come to realize that a few of 'em have also become fairly skilled at usin' this same shuffle jog to get across the icy patches. 

Yesterday we decided to take off on a short cross country ski trip to investigate the ranch ponds, cricks an' the Fisher River.  We headed out through the north pasture, crossed the crick via the little bridge we had build to train our horses on, then out across the northeast field  to the river.  Then we pointed our skis south an' inadvertently hazed a whitetail doe an' her two fawns out across the pump house pond, while we headed off toward the cricks an' ponds that are at the south end of the ranch. There we found that the beavers have build a new dam a short distance from their old dam that had been washed away from one of the spring floods. Our return trip back to the ranch house brought us west then north up through the south pasture.

 Skiing wasn't too bad, though not ideal. All of our snow has compacted down to about a foot deep - maybe a bit more - an' has a hard crust on top so the skis pretty much skidded along on top of the snow - barely left a track in the snow.  With very little traction it was slick, an' particularly fast goin' down any kind of slope...or along cricks, the only thing keepin' us out of trouble were our ski poles.  Though it wasn't the best of conditions for skiin', it was a peaceful trek an' we'd wished that we'd thought to bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy down at the river. Maybe we'll do that another time.

When we got home we found that Bob an' Jennifer Fuller had called an' had left a message on our recorder....so of course we were happy to give 'em a return call.  Had a nice chat. They said that the weather in Texas has been rather mild this winter so Jennifer gets to ride nearly every day. Bob has been spendin' time in sportsman's shops buyin' buyin' up new fishin' gear - lures an' such - with plans to get out on the local lakes an' fish as soon as he can.

They still say that one of these days they plan to visit us, but we know that it ain't all too likely since their summers are always so busy with attendin' all the various cowboy festivals an' such. Bob asked us if we'd make it to FOTW this year but we told him it wasn't likely since that's 'bout the time our cows will be calvin'.

After we hung up we got to thinkin' that maybe we should invite 'em to visit us in the winter instead. We know that Jennifer likes to cross country ski an' maybe Bob would like to see what ice fishin' is like. 'Course it'd be our luck that If they ever came, we'd probably end up with a dry warm winter with no snow an' thin ice on the lakes. Oh well.

Oh, yeah....A couple of days ago fog enveloped the valley an' with it hoar frost.  We couldn't resist goin' out with our cameras to take a few photos of all the white fuzz, so thought we'd share a few shots we got.

frost on chain

Left: hoar frost on the chain of a pasture gate.

Right:  shot of the ornamental crabapple tree in our front yard.

Below is a shot of hoar frost that appears to be growin' out of a piece of wood.  Actually the frost has sprouted out on the tail hair of one of the horses. The hair had been pulled out of the horse's tail sometime when the horse had scratched it's rump on the post an' rail fence, an' left the hair danglin' there, trapped by a sliver of wood.

frosty scene

frost on horse hair

Nature planned winter as a time for rest....a time to relax, to regain strength. Take a tip from Mother Nature an' kick back for awhile.  If that's not possible, then try to make the best of the wintry conditions.  Focus on the frosty beauty that is winter, not the drudgery of it.



January 10, 2009   Happy New Year!

Just as the old year wound down, old man winter eased up on us a tad. Our thermometer began to point to warmer temperatures - above zero degrees.  As the new year took life we continued to get more snow, then on the seventh day the arrow on the outdoor thermometer shifted toward the mid thirties.  We'd have enjoyed the balmy temperatures had it not been for the rain that accompanied it. 

The rain reduced  the snow pack - easily in half.  And now our lane to the house an' barnyard - every where we had plowed - is now a sheet of ice....as is the narrow road that takes us out to the highway. The UPS driver called us one day to tell us that he'd leave a package for us out at the highway.  We usually like to hike or ski out to fetch the mail home but we knew that it would be a long arduous walk - even wearin' our trusty YakTrax on our winter boots - so we decided to take the van.  It was a slick trip out an' back.  On one particularly slippery section, had it not been for a berm of snow, we'd have plunged into the little crick that follows along side the road.

A couple of days later we needed to rush out to the mailbox before the mail was delivered. This time we wanted to ship off a package so as soon as we'd finished with our mornin' chores we hopped in the van an' once again skidded down the road to the highway. Just as we pulled up to the mailbox a UPS truck swung off the highway. The driver asked us how the road was. "One long skatin' rink," we answered.   A frown of dismay crept across his face for he had a delivery for the folks that lived at the ranch on past our place.  We knew that the UPS truck had a very slim chance of makin' it safely all the way up the road to make his delivery an' then back out to the highway, so we volunteered to deliver the package for him. Right then his spirits seemed to rise like a cob of corn in a boilin' pot an' he handed the package over to us - which actually turned out to be four heavy parcels. 

Now we'll bet a nickel that you expect us to recount a hair-raisin' story of our trip to the neighbor's ranch to deliver the packages.... well it ain't  a goin' to happen for we didn't spin out or off the road nary once, but rather completed the delivery without a hitch an' we found the neighbors down workin' in the barn so stopped to chat a spell...mostly 'bout the local wildlife.

Speakin' of wildlife, the deer an' elk come in - as they do every winter - to snitch what hay they can from the horses.  So far we've had 12 to 15 elk an' a fair number of deer come in for hay. Most of the elk are cows with calves, but we do have a few young bulls too.  The other mornin' a nice sized bull meandered through the pastures then headed up the west ridge...unfortunately we didn't get a photo of him, but he was a nice one that any horn hunter would be proud to get. We just hope he manages to evade 'em for a good long while. Of course the two legged hunter isn't the only one these guys need to worry about.

young bull elk

All of the deer an' elk that survived the autumn hunt  are now in a struggle to not only survive the hardships of winter, but also predators of the four legged variety.  The deep snow has made it difficult for both deer an' elk.  We have found several deer kills along our mile jaunt out to the highway.  While we don't know which predator actually made the kills we do know that a small pack of wolves, as well as a number of mountain lions hang out here.

Our neighbors - the ones that we delivered the package to - said that early one morning on their way to town they saw a young mountain lion on one of the kills. But there are both wolf and lion tracks around the kills so it's hard to tell who actually made each kill.  They did say that they found a dead coyote that looked as though a wolf had killed it.

We often think of life in the wild as a nonviolent existence - a peaceful life - but it really isn't that way, at least not in some respects.  Reckon life can be tough, no matter who or what you are, or where you may live.  We'll still choose country life over livin' in the city,  an' we bet that the elk an' deer would chose livin' in the forest over life in a zoo too!


Ride the  December 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  November 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  October  2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  Aug-Sept  2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  July  2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  June  2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  May  2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  April  2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the  March 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

Ride the February 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers

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