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Mirror KB Ranch

Tales of the Twin Wranglers  

June 2008

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June 26 2008

Tuesday we worked at cuttin' an' splittin' more firewood an' got it stacked on the west side of the house.  It was a full day's work, but we did manage to sneak in a ride out to get the mail.  Kari rode Solo - a chestnut 14 year old mare an' Kim forked Lakota - a brown roan 17 year old mare. 

We'd planned to work with some of the younger green-broke mares but the job of firewood took up so much time, an' by the time we got all the firewood stacked, we were so wore out we felt like a pair of old boots, so we ended up not workin' with any of the younger horses.  Since we'd let the east herd of mares loose to graze 'round the yard all day, an' we needed to take 'em back to their pasture for the night,  we each hitch a ride.  Kim got on Lakota bareback an' Kari stole a ride on one of the green-broke mares, Alibi. The rest of the young mares trailed along behind us to the pasture gate.

Early yesterday mornin' we had one of the Kalispell vets come out to look at Bo-k's eye.  Bo-k is our 25 year old few spot leopard gelding. This spring we noticed some sort of pink cyst in the bottom part of his right eye an' since it appeared to be growin' larger we thought that a vet should look at it.

Right off the vet threw a name of some sort of cancer at us but we didn't catch anything but the word cancer.  At the start, Dr. Genovese expected that it wasn't goin' to be too hard to take care of since most times this type of cancer is in the third eye lid, thus easily cut out....but when he examined Bo's eye a little closer he realized that against the odds this one unfortunately involved the cornea.

vet examines Bo-k's eye

Dr. Genovese prepare's Bo-k's eye for examination

For now, since Bo-k still has a fair amount of sight in the eye, we're goin' to see if a Cortisone ointment - administered once a day - will inhibit the growth of the cancer....but eventually Bo-k will likely have to have the eyeball removed.

After the vet left we set to cuttin' more firewood an' split enough to bring in one Kubota load to stack on the west side of the house. Still had more to split, but we wanted to get a ride in so saddled up two older mares an' ponied the young gelding, Hoot, out to get the mail.

It was gettin' late in the afternoon after we got back to the house an' took a break so decided to leave the rest of the job of splittin' the firewood for another time.  Instead we went to work fillin' three orders for t-shirts an' a sweatshirt.

By the time we finished with the orders it was 8:30 pm. Most of the south herd of horses had headed back out to their pasture - they'd been out grazin' in the yard all day.....but Flicka an' Banner were still in the front yard so we hopped up on their backs an' without the use of bridles or halters we rode 'em back to their pasture.  We each used a stick to direct our mounts in the direction we wanted them to go by tappin' their necks (right side to go left, left side to go right).  Of course knowin' that they'd willingly head back to their pasture helped our chances of gettin' the right responses.


June 23 2008

Spent nearly the entire day yesterday cuttin', splittin', an' stackin' firewood on the west side of the house. No, we're not in need of it now that its summer here in the northwest corner of Montana, but we wanted to clean up the older logs that we'd stacked in the barnyard 'bout two years ago, before we trekked out into the forest to cut more.  So far we've only cut into 'bout a third of our stack, so will probably have another two days of work ahead of us.

Kim cutting firewood

Kim cuts a log into  lengths suitable for the woodstove.
Once the logs are cut into decent lengths we use the mauls
 to split an' quarter the logs into more manageable sizes

Dogs playing around the tractor

Otter an' Sage play around the tractor while we work

However, today we had to go into town. Sage was due to have her sutures removed an' we needed to go to the bank to deposit a check. Of course we had to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things too. Since it was too late to get started on cuttin' more firewood after we got home from town we saddled up Tempo an' worked her in the round pen a little while. Lately she's been actin' so goosey for some reason so we decided that she needed renewed work in the round pen. It seems to be helpin', so we'll try to work with her a little every other day or so.


June 22, 2008

Been horsin' 'round the past few days. Pert near every day we ride a couple of the horses out to get the mail - one mile out to the highway - but we've also been workin' with some of the younger green horses.  The other day Kim worked with Tempo in the round pen. She's one of our young green mares, though she's had some experience ridin' out to get the mail and has beein doin' real well.  But, for some reason she's recently become ticklish when somethin' brushes against her left side an' though she hasn't swallowed her head over it she gets a tad bit jumpy an' scoots 'round a bit.

So Kim decided to work Tempo in the round pen saddled an' with the saddle bags tied to the saddle. Kari killed time by  trimmin' an older mare's hooves, then rode the mare out in the south pasture - crossin' the crick in a couple of places an' then rode out to the far south pasture to check on the quality of the pasture, an' also to see if the little apple tree we planted last spring was thrivin'.  The apple tree was lookin' good, but the pasture could use some reseedin' as a portion of it is nothin' but cheat grass.

Kari trimming Flicka's hooves

Kari trimmin' Flicka's hooves

Upon returin' back to the barnyard Kim was ready to mount the young mare. We noticed that Tempo didn't mind bein' touched while she stood still, but became ticklish if anything brushed against her as she was walkin', so while Kari ponied her off of the older horse Kim sacked out the filly with her hands an' body payin' particular attention to the area on her side where she reacted to touch the most.

Besides Tempo, we've been workin' with several other young mares as well as Alibi, an' older mare that we've not spent much time in trainin' on due to lameness problems. Two years ago Alibi came close to throwin' Kari when she turned "snuffy" an' went to pitchin'. We took her back to the round pen an' worked her under saddle with tarps an' such. All was goin' well, but then that winter we ended up in a wreck with the drunk driver so weren't up to workin' with any of the young horses last summer. It may not have been the best decision for the horses, but it was for us.

Anyway, day before yesterday we'd planned to take the ATV up the west ridge with the chainsaw an' loppers to do some trail clearing...but the ATV didn't want to fire up in the cool mornin' air so we pushed it out in the sun - it starts up better when it's warmed up - an' we put the battery charger on it too. With our plan botched with a stubborn machine we decided to work with more reliable horse power so spent a good portion of the day workin' with the young green mares we have in the east pasture.

This is the first chance we've had to work 'em this summer so took each in turn an' did basic round pen stuff. Also put a tarp down an' had 'em work 'round the pen with it to cross over. They all did very well.

Kim working a young mare in the round pen

Charmer hesitantly crosses the blue tarp

Kim praising a young mare standing on a tarp in the round pen

Kim rubs Pocket's forehead while she stands on the tarp

Today after trimmin' Cash's hooves - our 23 year old mare -  we rode out to get the mail on our two oldest horses - Banner a 24 year old mare an' Bo-k a 25 year old gelding.  Just to give him the experience of seein' the world beyond his pasture we ponied Hoot, a young geldin'.  We were a little concerned 'bout tryin' to pony a young horse as the past few times that we've ridden out to get the mail, Sage has managed to give 'em a bit of a fright by grabbin' hold of a fallen branch then draggin' it along down the road with her .

The first time she did this she came in behind the horses we were ridin', which so happened to be Banner an' Bo-k.  Hearing the branch scrappin' along the dirt road Banner was wild-eyed an' ready to bolt for home while Bo-k never seemed to make notice of it at all.  It kind of makes us wonder if Bo-k is goin' deaf in his old age.  Sage didn't drop the branch 'til Banner let out a respectfully loud snort. Startled by the odd behavior of the horse Sage let go of the branch.

The next day Sage spooked our two mares - Lakota Vision an' Solo Request. This time Sage was ahead of us so at least she wasn't comin' up behind the horses but both mares were definitely uneasy at the sight of the branch doggin' the dog, for they each gave a snort. Again Sage looked quizzically at the two mares an' let go of the branch, "what's with these crazy horses"?  Before we headed on down the road, we made each mare step over the dreadful branch that had been badgerin' the dog just moments before.


June 20, 2008

We forgot to mention that the other day after we returned to the ranch from our expensive trip to town, we were trompin' through the north pasture when right under our feet came a gawd awful shriek. At first we thought it was some sort of bird screechin' at us cause we'd walked to close to it's nest, but then saw that it was a gopher (ground squirrel) kitten.  It appeared that it was draggin' it's hind legs as it scurried through the tall grass so we set out to catch it.

Sage helped us keep track of where it was leapin' here an' there as the little squirrel scuttled through the grass. Kari finally caught the little guy by throwin' a shirt down on top of it like a net. We took it into the house an' put it in Sage's puppy crate with the idea that we'd try to help it if it was hurt, but as soon as we let it go in the crate we could see that all four of it's legs were workin' like they should, so took it back to the pasture where we'd found it. There was a gopher hole close by so we dumped it out of the crate so's it would go right down the hole. Then we found a second kitten a short distance away so caught it too an' sent it down the hole also.

Though Sage was excited an' chased after the kittens she seemed to hold back at actually catchin' 'em but when Otter got into the act we felt that he was in it full bore an' would have killed 'em if we'd had let him catch 'em. Maybe we should have, but we're too soft hearted when it comes to baby animals, even ones that become pests as adults. Once they're adults we do have to control their ever growing population by shootin' 'em.  Even then we feel rather sad when we hit our targets....but that will be another day. Today we made sure two kittens were safe and sound back underground where they belong.

Later that evenin' just after we worked a green mare in the round pen an' had taken her back to the east pasture, we heard the horses in the south pasture snortin' so went to take a look. Right off we saw what they were disturbed about. A bull moose had showed up an' he seemed to be unsure of where exactly he wanted to go.

Eventually he jumped the fence into the pump house pasture, wandered across it an' leapt over another fence line into the east pasture. He then wandered northwest an' hurdled the next fence into the north cow pasture.  From there we don't know just where he went since that's when we broke off our surveillance.

bull moose

Bull moose with a small nub of new antler growth

Now that we've altered the fence line that ran 'round the barn, our task of the day - actually the day before yesterday - was to finish takin' down the post an' rail fence an' fillin' holes that the posts had created.  The posts an' rails that were worth salvagin' we stacked in the barnyard, though used a couple of the rails to replace dry rotted rails in the round pen.

Yesterday we took the tractor an' the dump truck out to get a load of dirt at the cut bank down near the highway.  We'd seen a nasty hole - more like a long narrow trench - in the south pasture an' worried that a horse might step in it an' break a leg so packed it with a few shovels of the dirt, then headed over to where the remains of the old mare lay. She had died suddenly just before last Christmas.

We'd tried to dig a grave for her with the backhoe but the ground was so frozen that it proved to be more than our little rig could handle. The only alternative was to drag her body through the deep snow, out across the east pasture an' push her into a natural depression to leave her to be taken care of by nature. But now that it's summer we wanted to properly cover what was left of her.

The coyotes had scattered her bones hither an' yon, so our task wasn't goin' to be simple.  Our exploration of the area recovered all but one of her front legs, an' after a while of searchin' for it we finally had to give up. There's just no tellin' how far the coyotes, or other animals of prey, may have hauled it.  Once we'd placed what we could find of the mare's bones back into the depression, we backed up the dump truck an' covered her with the load of dirt. Goodbye Etta, thanks for bein' our horse. We miss you.


June 17, 2008

We had set out on this trail to write something everyday, then finding that impossible figured we'd at least ride in twice a week. Reckon we'll just have to be happy if we can manage addin' somethin' to this blog-diary once a week, if even that. Of course pullin' our recollections of past days out of our hats is goin' to be a challenge, but we'll give it a go.

So, lets see....Think it was last Friday us an' the dogs loaded up into the dump truck an' headed out the forest road in search of a large flat piece of shale  rock to set our outdoor (above ground) campfire/grill on.  We've found that the thing gets so hot that the grass beneath it ends up burnt, which isn't all that bad  'cept that in times of drought we worry that it could cause a wildfire. So, off we went to look for a rock.

At Teepee crick we stopped to have a picnic, then drove on a ways more keepin' our eyes peeled for the perfect rock. It wasn't too long past our lunch stop that we spotted the rock...in fact there were two layin' 'long side the trail. Happy with our find we went to pick the rocks up an' found 'em to be heavy as a Brahma bull. 

We hadn't thought to bring along cables an' ratchets, but behind the seat of the truck we did find a few tie-downs an' a webbed ratchet we use when haulin' hay so figured that we could put 'em to use.  Backin' up to the rocks, which were slightly up the bank side of the road, we raised the dump bed so that the tail end of the bed dropped close to the rocks. Then with the rocks bundled in the ties we used the webbed ratchet to slide the rocks onto the slanted tail gate. This was a slow process that dragged on for a good while. 

To position the truck so that our plan would work, we had to parked it so that it was perpendicular to the trail, thus effectively blockin' the trail had there been any traffic. As it was, our luck was runnin' on the high side of fair an' we managed to skid the two monstrous rocks  far enough onto the dump bed that when we lowered the  bed the rocks were safely restin' on the end of the tailgate.

Once we returned home with the rocks, we loosened 'em from the ties an' used the tractor's front-end loader to lower 'em to the ground....somehow we managed it without chippin' off any major piece of the shale.  Either of the slabs of the two shale rock would have sufficed for our intended purpose, but we only need one to do the job. After a short discussion, we chose the one to use for the grill, then took the second rock  an' dumped it in amongst a pile of other rocks that we've collected in the past. Eventually we'll have a pretty good rock quarry pert near right out our back door!

Saturday we worked at splicin' a broken fence wire 'long the east line of the north cow pasture. We also had to replace two rotten fence posts an' tightened up other wires that were saggin' loose like the skin on a Bloodhound's upper lip.  Come evenin' we headed into Libby to go watch the bull ridin' that was goin' on at the town arena.  We wanted to get photos that we might be able to use as designs for our sublimated products. Below are a couple photos we captured of the action.

bull rider

This cowboy goes for a handstand

fallen bull rider

Two bull fighters move in to draw a bull away from a fallen rider

bull rider takes a dive

Another cowboy does a handstand dismount

On Sunday we spent more time workin' on fence. This time the post an' rail fence that keeps the cows from gettin' into the barn area.  After ponderin' things over a bit, we decided to sort of change the fence, so put in two new sections of post an' rail fence, one at the northeast corner of the horse barn an' the other at the south west corner.  By usin' the horse barn as part of the fence, we were able to slightly expand the cow pasture yet it will cut down on actual up keep of the fence line. Though we have the new fence in place we still have to take down the old fence line which we'll get to it in another day or so.

Yesterday we spent a good long while in town. Since the insurance payment was due on the white van we wanted to get to town an' drop it off at the insurance agency so's not to be delinquent.  We'd normally drive the white GMC van but decide to give the old brown van a run for a change.  In town after handin' over the check to the insurance agent we stopped at the bank to put in a few bucks we earned from The Horse magazine for use of photos in latest issue. We reserved goin' to the grocery store for last since we wanted to get milk an' ice cream.

As we came out of the grocery store with our plunder a fella in a nearby car pointed out that our left rear tire was flat....but he thought that maybe we could make it to Les Schwaub.  On closer inspection we could hear the air hissin' out of the tire like an angry snake so knew that as flat as it already was it wasn't about to get us even 20 feet down the road. Makin' an' about face we toted our frozen foods back into the store where the grocer kindly put 'em in one of his freezers in the back of the store for safe keepin' while we went back out to the parkin' lot to kick the dadgum tire.

With the help of a nice young cowboy from Minnesota we got the flat tire on an' replaced it with the spare which was nearly flat itself, but held enough air to get us down the road to the tire outfit. Due to the fact that the tire was as bald as a vulture's head, an seein' as how the van is all wheel drive we ended up havin' to purchase four new tires. It was gettin' to be an expensive day! Anyway, eventually we were able to head back to the grocery store to pick up our frozen foods then headed for home.


June 11, 2008

Ten days have galloped on by us since we last rode down this trail. We've stayed busy with photo submissions to equine an' farm publications as well as filled a large order for t-shirts.  Also attended a shotgun weddin'. 

Our neighbor's oldest daughter (who is attendin' vet school) got hitched to her beau this past Sunday. Generally we're not ones to go to weddings, but these folks are ranch people an' know how to put on a weddin'.

First off, it was held outside even though the temperature was a cool 50 degrees an' the sky threatened rain.  Takin' our places on bales of hay, a few members of the bride's high school band played here comes the bride, while the bride, escorted by her father rode two of their Paint horses across the field.  Once at the altar they handed the two horses over to two of the bride's maids who lead the horses a short distance away to graze, while the bride took her place beside her husband to be, an' her father took a seat on a bale of hay.

bride on horseback escorted by father

Escorted by her father, the bride rides to the altar

bride's maids wrangle horses

Bride's maids double as horse wranglers

Under a polished log pergola of cedar boughs an' elk antlers, the preacher, dressed in blue jeans and an old fashioned cloak rambled on an' on like they all tend to do, praisin' the good Lord, then throwin' out a few kind words 'bout the two that were just 'bout to get hitched an' warnin' 'em of what they was 'bout to get themselves into.  It was all really well done, stern.... yet not too serious.  One of the young ring bearers added a little entertainment to the occasion when he crept over to near by brush to relieve himself instead of usin' one of the portable bathrooms that were provided for the cause.

bride and groom at altar

Beneath cedar boughs an' elk horns, bride an' groom are hitched

After the bride an' groom poured together colored sand (white an' forest green) into a vase, rings were exchanged - his a simple gold band, hers a beautifully designed gold band with a small button of elk antler instead of a diamond....these are really our kind of people! After the ceremony the bride an' groom mounted the two waiting horses an' galloped back across the field.

retreat of bride and groom on horses

then gallop off together

Followin' the weddin' ceremony there was a barbeque, then with the bride still decked out in her lacy white weddin' gown, she led folks in a skeet shootin' contest, as well as a long distance shoot. Luckily the rain that threatened to put a damper on the weddin' ceremony didn't materialize 'till the next day or so.

bride with shotgun

Bride is ready to do some shootin'

bride and groom skeet shooting

Bride an' groom aim at flyin' clay targets

Yesterday it rained pert near all day long.  Our high didn't go above 42 degrees so though we had rain in the lower elevations, there is new snow on the mountains an' about half way down the ridges. We didn't get any real chores done, but not due to the weather.  Sage was scheduled to be spayed so we drove into town early in the mornin', to take her to the vet.  Instead of drivin' back out to the ranch, then havin' to turn 'round an' come back to get her in the afternoon, we decided to spend the day in town.  Dropped a check off at the bank, picked up some groceries, had the tires on the van rotated, went to the feed store, then padded our bellies at McDonalds.  With more time to kill we purchased a few things at the hardware store an' also at the Sportin' Goods Store.

By 3:00 in the afternoon Sage was groggy but ready to come home. For the next ten days we're s'pose to keep her quiet which wouldn't be too hard if "quiet" meant vocally, but the doc doesn't want Sage to jump, run or romp....yeah right!


June 1, 2008

The days are slippin' by as so fast that we wish we could rein in so's there'd be more time just to enjoy each day.  Been still workin' on fence repair...course we'll be at it on an' off all summer long. The other day we replaced three broken rails in the post an' rail fence along the lane to the house. Kari made the mistake of droppin' her gloves on the ground while workin' an' when she went to put her gloves back on there was only one glove.

We knew there was a very slim chance that the glove had walked off on it's own, 'less we were in the middle of some horror film. Since the day wasn't all dark an' gloomy we figured that wasn't the case, so we both looked at Sage, who was rollin' in the grass nearby.  

"Sage, where's the other glove?"  Showin' Sage  the single glove that Kari still had we asked her to find the missin' one.  "Find the glove Sage, find it."  Sage nudged the glove with her nose, as if to confirm what it was that we were lookin' for, then turned, an' headed off toward the south corral.  A tad bit skeptical, we watched as she poked her nose 'round a small area of the corral as if she were in search of somethin'. 

Now we weren't sure if Sage was just messin' with us or if she was actually on a quest for the missin' glove, but soon enough she stopped, picked somethin' up off the ground, an' came back to us.  It was the missing glove!  Of course we expressed our gratitude with a heap of syrupy hugs an' praise.  We may not be able to prevent her from wanderin' off with our gloves in the first place, but at least now we know that we can expect that she can fetch 'em back to us when asked.

Yesterday we repaired the back wall of the bull shed where Sota the bull had barreled through it two weeks ago to get to the cows.  Since we'd planned to put him out with the cows in just another two weeks, we decided to let him stay with the cows, so put off our repairs until yesterday.  We'll have to line the inside of the shed's back wall with some sort of pipe panels so that next spring it won't be so easy for the ol' bull to take out the wall.

This mornin' we'd let the east herd of horses loose to graze 'round the yard, so with 'em so handy, we decided to trim hooves.  We worked on two mares while dark clouds drifted slowly in from the southwest. Then we clipped all five of the east herd of horses' bridle paths an' whiskers. We like to keep all off our horses' bridle paths clipped during the summer months.  It makes it lots easier to halter or bridle the horses, an' besides, they look much more kept an' neat for photos.  The last few times that we've ridden out to fetch our mail we've clipped the horses that we're ridin', so slowly but surely all the horses are gettin' clipped an' trimmed. Looks like we just might get 'em all done 'fore it's time to start all over again!

Oh, before we rein out of here - to go make a trailer hitch cover ordered from a gal in California - we wanted to recount a recent tale 'bout Sage. As you might know, each mornin' the first thing Sage wants to do is go check the corn bin for mice. When we go out to the cabin, she'll run to the corn barrel an' wait for one of us to remove the lid so that she can peer down inside to see if we have a mouse.  There usually is at least one, sometimes three. While we trap the mouse in an ol' peanut can, Sage will run out the cabin door to wait for us to release the mouse.

She always acts as though she's tryin' to catch the mouse either by snappin' at it or stompin' a front paw down on it...but rarely does she succeed. Well, the other day when the mouse leapt out of the peanut can, we were surprised to see Sage catch the mouse in her mouth.  Sure wish we could have filmed it.  Her expression was so silly

Crouched an' ready to spring at the mouse, Sage lay there, her eyes darted back an' forth, as though she couldn't quite grasp where it had got to.  You've probably had that feelin' before, you know the one when you're aware that the pencil you're lookin' for is close to hand, but you're not quite sure exactly where it is, then you find it right in your other hand, or tucked away over your ear? 

Anyway, it took a few moments, but Sage finally realized where it was.  She opened her mouth so tentatively that we could almost imagine a cartoon mouse trapped inside her mouth, crankin' away at a car jack to pry her teeth apart so's to escape. Once Sage opened her mouth, quick as a blink, the real mouse darted for cover under the log cabin wall.


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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