Mirror KB Ranch
Tales of the Twin Wranglers
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March 18, 2009
Winter is really begin' to over stay it's welcome! After two days of below zero temperatures, the mornin' of the 13th started out at a not so chilly four degrees above zero. As we rose from our beds we looked out our bedroom window to see the cows had left their night beds an' were driftin' across the pasture to the regular winter feed ground close to the barn. But one cow was missin'. It was Lady, the big Hereford cow.We suspected that she might have calved an' since four above zero is pretty darn cold, we rushed out to check. Sure 'nuff we had a brand new calf on the ground - a cute black baldy heifer - curled up shiverin' in the snow, an' her little ears were pert near froze stiff. Wrappin' her in a towel we put her on a toboggan that we'd thought to bring along with us an' headed for the house. Lady scarcely considered taggin' along, chosin' to remain under the fir tree where she had calved, while waves of contractions worked to expel the placenta.
Kari towel dries the heifer while Sage checks out the new kid.
|At the house we gave the frosted heifer a lukewarm bath in the
big guest bathtub, then towel dried her off an' left her to nap under a heat lamp. Meanwhile, we went back out to move Lady to the barn area, but
the stubborn ol' fool refused to leave the area where she'd last seen her calf.
We'd managed to move the cow half way to the barn, before she turned back on
us. We hazed, we cursed, but could not convince her to leave the calvin'
By this time the calf was warmed up an' ready to nurse, so we switched to a new tactic. We put the calf in the Kubota bucket then drove out to where her mama stood her ground - across the pasture under the fir tree. The tractor vibrated an' jerked as it slowly forced it's way through the deep snow. It was a rough ride for the calf but Kim held her safely in the bucket an' we finally made it to where Lady waited. For a few minutes we let mama an' baby bond, then loaded the calf back onto the tractor bucket.
Maneuverin' the tractor backwards through the snow, followin' the tracks we'd previously made, we headed to the barn. Though we moved slower 'n a snail on crutches there was a time or two we thought we were about to lose mama cow. Each time Lady stopped to look back across the pasture an' bawled for her calf, we'd halt our dawdlin' parade an' let her nuzzle the heifer. "Yep, your baby is still here, keep a comin' ol' girl, keep a comin'." Well, eventually we did make it, an' with very little trouble got both mama an' baby into the barn corral an' bedded in a stall.
At this point we thought all of our troubles were behind us, but that wasn't so. Though Lady's milk bag was full, for some reason no milk would spurt out of her teats so the calf could get nothin' to eat. Ultimately we figured out that the teat plugs (a waxy substance that usually falls out of the teats quite easily) had probably become frosted due to the sub zero temperatures that we'd had recently so were now firmly stuck.
|The little heifer was hungry so we quickly warmed up a
pint of milk that we had on hand in the fridge an' offered her a bottle, which she
drained in short order. Not knowin' how long it might take for Lady's
milk to let down an' push out the stubborn plugs, we made a quick dash into town to buy a few
more gallons of milk.
For the next day an' a half we bottle fed the calf every four hours
'round the clock. She proved to have a good appetite an' generally attacked
the bottle with an eagerness equaling that of a bone dry cowpuncher wearin'
out his boots on the saloon brass rail
It was 'round 'bout the end of the second day our little heifer refused to take the bottle. This concerned us 'till we noted that one teat was no longer swollen...she was finally gettin' milk from mama...yahoo! Still, we continued with scheduled support with the bottle to be sure that she was gettin' enough nourishment, but after bein' snubbed three times in a row we quit worryin' so much about her. Today we noticed that a second teat has now also opened up for business.
Gee, we kind of miss our time bottle feedin' the new little calf... even on the wintry night jaunts. With snow flakes silently fallin', the bottle of warmed milk in our hands an' the eager calf tuggin' at the nipple, our nightly trips out to the barn seemed rather magical. Guess it's fittin' that we've decided to name her, Magic.
At right, Kim bottle feeds Magic.
March 11, 2009
Though we had a hint of spring early in the month, winter has made a serious comeback. We've been gettin' snow, snow, an' more snow since last Saturday an' this mornin' it started out at a nippy twelve degrees below zero. Forecasters tell us that temperatures will be warmin' up again as the week progresses through the week-end...could get a little more snow or maybe even a bit of rain.
Anyway, with the accommodatin' sunny weather earlier this week we were able to band an' ear tag the new bull calves, then turned 'em back out to pasture with the rest of the herd. Our dog, Otter is fascinated by the new calves. If their mamas allow it, he'll tag along after a calf, sniffin' it here 'n there, his tail waggin' from side to side. He must be one of those who claim that the smell of a newborn babe is awesome.
"How do you make this thing work?"
Otter buddies up with a newborn calf.
Though we did get a light snow early in the week Friday the 6th turned out to be a beautiful sunny day an' not too cold considerin' that it started out in the teens. But with few clouds to block the rays of the sun, it pert near felt balmy....so we saddled up two of the horses an' enjoyed a long awaited ride. First we rode around in the north cow pasture a little while, then reined the horses out the ranch gate an' rode out to fetch home the mail.
(left to right) Kari forked on Solo
Twin Wranglers enjoy a winter ride
Just as we returned with the mail, a neighbor from the ranch south of us pulled in on his four wheeler. He'd been wantin' to come over to photograph the elk so we'd invited him to ride along with us on the tractor at feedin' time. He only had one of those point 'n shoot throw away cameras so we knew we'd have to get him pert near as close to the elk as a new born colt will shadow his dam.
So we told our guest to stay on the tractor until we'd fed out all of the hay. This was mainly for his own safety, but also we hoped that the elk wouldn't pick up on the fact that we had a stranger amongst us. The elk were a tad bit more nervous but still we were able to get him much closer to the herd of elk than he had ever thought possible. He was thrilled to be able to capture the elk on film, but was also captivated with the idea that he was so darn close to actual wild elk. Jokingly he asked us if we were a wildlife park instead of a ranch. Sometimes we wonder 'bout that ourselves.
March 3, 2009
A winter storm blew in with more snow an' a raw wind two days before we crossed the border into March. It was a bitter day even though the thermometer read twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit - above zero. Performing as weather vanes the horses dropped their heads an' turned tails into the blustery wind. As the snow slowly melted off the horses' backs icicles in turn, grew from their bellies an' flanks.
Then on February 28th, after a nippy night of ten degrees Fahrenheit, the clouds gave way to a bright sunny day. As the mornin' sun crested the brow of Kenelty Mountain, to our east, a glow of warming sunshine slowly worked its way down the south face of Coyote Ridge. In the north cow pasture, still below the reach of the sunshine, a herd of elk browsed on tender branches in a grove of young aspen trees. We managed to snap a few quick images before the elk moved out across the field an' headed off to bed down in the shelter of alder an' cottonwood trees along the Fisher River.
Now that we've got a good start into March spring seems not so far off - though we do still have a fair amount of snow on the ground. Nonetheless the "sound" of spring is in the air. What is it about spring, that makes us so much more aware of the voice of nature an' life that surrounds us? Besides the murmured moo of mama cows to their newborn calves, the few birds that had wintered over here seem to have composed a new song, or maybe its just that they are bein' a bit more vocal than they'd been throughout winter. A few days ago we heard a flock of Canada Geese fly over. Their honks grew loud then faded as they passed over. Guess they determined that our place was yet much too white with snow, so they didn't stop to rest as they so often do. Early each mornin' we like to lay in bed an' listen to the wild turkeys chuckle an' gurgle to one another as they feed on bits of alfalfa hay leaves that the elk have scattered 'round the haystack in the barnyard.
Now you'd think that just 'cause we're crazy 'bout horses that we'd like to
listen to the whinny of horses....but in truth we don't. When horses
whinny we know that somethin' is up an' it usually means that one or more of the
horses are out of place. As an example, a few nights ago the horses
started whinnyin' 'round about three-thirty in the mornin'. Our first thought
was that one or more of the horses had probably knocked down a fence rail so had
gotten out of the pasture an' were now in the barnyard tryin' to pull the tarps
off of the stack of alfalfa hay in preparation of an early mornin' feast.
The whinnies were not from the loose horses, but from their buddies who hadn't
managed to escape the pasture with 'em. But this was all conjecture on our
part an' for some reason it just didn't seem right to us. Though we hated
to leave our warm beds, we knew that we'd probably not sleep until we found out
what was up with the horses. So up we got an' out into the darkness we
In the south pasture we found five horses, where there should be eleven. The beams of our flashlights when aimed toward the haystack found not a single horse. Okay, they weren't tryin' to get to the hay, so where were they? Lookin' back at the unhappy group in the pasture we realized that they were lined up along the west fence line, then we heard the unmistakable sound of hooves. Our absent horses had managed to get out of the pasture somewhere along the narrow dirt road that bisects the ranch an' provides access to national forest land to the public. They'd probably wandered up to ranch gate, which they found to be closed....so then continued driftin' on up the road a short distance. Not really wantin' to leave home, or their pasture buddies, they were headed back when we heard their hoof beats.
Before we got out to the ranch gate the missin' horses were standin' on the opposite side waitin' to be let in. We counted as we let 'em through. They were all there. They galloped on past the other horses who where anxiously waitin' for their buddies to return an' headed right for the haystack. The horses that had been left behind in the pasture to fret an' worry could take it no longer, so barreled through a section of the post an' rail fence in haste to unite with their buddies, who were now busy circlin' the haystack like a gatherin' of vultures.
Dang! now we had to fix the fence where they broke through, plus go find out where the horses had slipped out of the pasture in the first place.... But, we weren't inclined to work on fence in the middle of a cold winter night, so just left the horses loose in the barnyard an' headed back to bed. The next day we replaced the broken fence rails then found where the horses had gotten out.
A long while back a tree had fallen on the wire fence, but we hadn't ever bothered to repair it since the tree worked quite nifty as the fence. However, over time the tree had rotted, becomin' less an' less of a barrier, but still the horses hadn't attempted to climb out over it. The high number of elk an' deer, drawn in to feed on the hay with the ranch livestock, have created a well defined trail over what is left of the disintegratin' tree. Obviously the horses had followed the trail. Reckon its 'bout time we fix that section of fence, but for now we blocked it with more timber we'd found nearby. If winter will ever come to an end, an' after the elk move to higher ground, we'll spend a good deal of time patchin' fences.
Ride the February 2009 Tales of the Twin Wranglers
Ride the January 2009 Tales of the Twin Wranglers
Ride the December 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers
Ride the November 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers
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Ride the Aug-Sept 2008 Tales of the Twin Wranglers
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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
Mirror KB Photography & Gifts
1132 Arabian Lane
Libby, MT 59923-7982
Phone: (406) 293-6586
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