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Mirror KB Ranch

Tales of the Twin Wranglers  

May 2008

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May 28, 2008

Six days have slipped by us since we last made an entry in this blog.  We had a little rain early on since we last wrote, an' then it was so unsettled that it would switch from sunshine to clouds with wind then back again so fast we were flip floppin' like a fish out a water, tryin' to decide whether or not we might want to wear short sleeves or a jacket.

Memorial day was fairly nice. Mostly cloudy with a bit of a breeze, but also moments of sun. We spent part of the day replacin' several fence rails an' three rotten fence posts in the post an' rail fence in the south pasture, along the lane.  While we were usin' the post driver to pound the posts into the ground, Sage was barkin' out all kinds of orders. We've come to the conclusion that she's a lot better at barkin' orders than followin' our commands so she must be this outfit's straw boss. Actually the post driver makes a lot of racket as it beats the posts into the ground an' it must frighten her a bit. We've noticed that anything she's is afraid of, she barks at. Now in truth Sage is pretty responsive to most of our commands an' so is Otter. They're not perfect but on the whole they're both pretty darn good.

After fixin' the fence we worked in the office on the computers to create designs that relate to Robert Fuller's career in Television an' movies.  We're also settin' up webpages that will provide Robert Fuller fans access to a variety of products with these designs....all with Bob's full consent of course. After sittin' at the computers for a good length of time both us an' the dogs had a need to get back outside to do somethin' more physical, so we decided to take a hike up the west ridge.

We put old Quiver outside to wander 'round the house with the hopes she'd take care of business before she circled the house. Since we weren't goin' to be gone all that  long, we left her outside to enjoy the nice weather, while Otter an' Sage tailed after us up the ridge.  When we got up to what we call the flat, a fairly good sized level area part way up the ridge, we stopped where mom is laid to rest, an'  introduced her to Otter an' reacquainted her with Sage, then headed along the trail along the edge of the flat.

Moseying along the trail we could here Quiver barking down below. That got us worried since Quiver rarely barks an' when she does it's usually cause she's in some sort of fix an' needs help. So we decided to head back down to check on her by way of the ski slope. By the time we got down to the house Quiver had quit barking, but we could find hide nor hair of her. Both of us circled 'round the house enough times to ware a path then checked 'round the barnyard, in the shop, under the dump truck, every where we could think, but we just couldn't find her.

Finally Quiver started barkin' again.  Trackin' the sound we headed off past the barns an' found poor Quiver down in the crick in the north pasture.  Pretty much blind by cataracts, she'd wandered through the open pasture gate, gone out past the barns an' had stumbled into the crick where she' was unable to get herself out of.  In the water, she'd obviously become tangled up with a fallen cottonwood branch, for it had pulled off the belt that we keep 'round her flank to aid us in liftin'  her up when she can't get up on her own.

When we pulled her to dry land, Quiver was shiverin', possibly from nerves but also from the water that's still pretty icy from mountain snow melt. Once we had her back on solid ground we put the flank belt back on her an' helped her back to the house where we put her in the bathtub for a warm bath. Sage was determined to get in the bath too so once we finished with Quiver, we gave Sage a bath too. Otter placed his feet up on the edge of the tub an' thought it over some then decided not to join in on bath time....besides he jumps in the water tanks every day after playin' ball so he didn't need another one.

It was a beautiful day today. Started out a tad bit nippy in the 30's but warmed up into the 70's by afternoon.  Early on in the day after mornin' chores, we worked for a time on the Robert Fuller designs, then saddled up two mares (Flicka an' Tempo) an' rode out to get the mail. Tempo who we barely got started trail ridin' last summer was goosin' a might as Kim saddled her up for the first time this summer so we started out on the ride doubled up on Flicka for a little ways then Kim slipped off Flicka an' rode Tempo the rest of the way out an' back home.

Tempo settled down an' did a fine job even with the two dogs doin' their best to rattle her as they crashed through brush, an' dove into the crick that meanders along the trail. Then they'd bound out of the water to shake off their saturated coats next to the horses. One time, drippin' wet Sage galloped by the horses then threw herself to the ground in the middle of the trail to roll in the dirt. Both horses thought that was a might strange sight an' weren't all to sure they wanted to get any closer 'till Sage got up waggin' her tail with a big happy dog smile on her face.

After we got home we rode both horses 'round in the south trainin' corral a bit, just as refresher lessons on respondin' to leg pressure - side pass, turns on haunches, an' such. This evenin' as a batch of dark clouds rolled in to the valley from the southwest,  we vaccinated all of the horses, then treated  each of 'em with a paste dewormer. Yep, another fine day.


May 22, 2008

Been busier 'n a horse's tail in fly seasn, an' keepin' up this here blog is like countin' spots on an Appaloosa....it's a challenge for sure.  By the time we have a few moments to write we've pretty much forgotten what all we'd been doin'!

Spring harrowing is done.  We finished with the east pasture a few days ago, though we could harrow the pumphouse pasture too, but it really doesn't look like it needs it....besides part of it's under water right now.  With the long cold spring we had the mountain snow hadn't begun to melt 'till a week or so ago. Now it's meltin' faster 'n an ice cube under a settin' hen. On top of the mountain snow melt we've had some rain so all the rivers, cricks an' ponds are flowin' out over their banks. So far we have no major flooding on the ranch.  The next few days our temperatures will be much cooler - down in the 50 degree range an' there's more rain in the forecast, but not enough that the meteorologists think will add to any further floodin'.

At any rate, besides harrowing pastures, we've been tussling with fence repair.  Every winter the elk end up tanglin' with the fences as they come in to feast on the horses' hay.  Se, we re-stretched fence wires an' spliced broken ones in the south pasture along the west line where the elk drop down off the ridge, then did the same with two interior fence lines that the elk trampled as they moved from pasture to pasture. Though not the fault of the elk, we also had to replace several fence posts that were rotten.

Today we tackled a section of wood rail fence back behind the barns. Yesterday mornin' the darn cows plowed through it in their attempt to get to the grass growin' 'round the horse barn. We left the cows to graze it down an' simply opened the gate to the rest of the barnyard an' 'round the house.  We'd forgotten all 'bout the broken fence so come evenin' when the cows headed back to their pasture they looped right back out through the fence that they'd taken out in the mornin'.

Sage an' Otter happily helped push the cows right back through the openin' they'd just come through. Sage in particular loves her job, but if it weren't for the fact that the cows knowin' where they belong, she'd likely have 'em scattered in every direction an' run as far as Texas. The savin' grace is that when we call out,  "That'll do" both her an' Otter will back off the cows, well sometimes anyway.  If "that'll do" doesn't work, a sinister growl will generally put an' end to their over zealous enthusiasm.

On top of all the harrowing an' fence work, we're tryin' to get all of the horses' hooves trimmed...a few at a time. The other day we trimmed two more mares so now we only have 8 horses left to trim.  Looks like by the time we get the last ones done it'll be time to trim the horses we did first...all over again.  We were contemplatin' it a bit an' decided that ranchers are like dogs fixin' to lay down, they just keep goin' in circles.  We get up each mornin' to do our chores an' go to bed each night satisfied that we'd accomplished what needed to be done that day, but danged if the next mornin' we climb back out of bed to go outside - rain or shine to do the same job all over again.


May 17, 2008

Just as we have the past couple of days, this mornin', we turned the cows out to graze 'round the yard an' barnyard.  We've shut the gate to the northeast field to allow it to get a good start on growth before the cows graze on it, so in order to take a little pressure off of the north pasture where the cows are now, we like to let 'em loose to graze 'round the yard.  They do a fairly nice job of mowin' the lawn for us, though the picnic table an' benches tend to get flipped over on occasion as the cows barrel under 'em to snag a mouthful of grass.

Since our Black Angus-Dexter cross bull, Sota, (pronounced Shotah) has been in the corral we've kept a bale of hay handy in the barnyard so's we can easily fork hay to him.  To protect the hay from the elements we throw a tarp over it. The tarp is held in place with a few old tires. This doesn't keep the nosy cows from havin' a go at the hay, but they first have to roll the tires out of the way.

The other day while the cows were loose to graze, we busied ourselves at our computers, toilin' over a photo submission an' also attemptin' to write our first western novel. When we glanced out the window, we saw Onoki, the red baldy cow was placidly grazin' in the back yard, but somethin' just didn't quite look right about her. On second glance we realized she was wearin' a strange black collar 'round her neck!  It didn't take us but one guess where Onoki had tangled with  the tire, but how she managed to get it 'round her neck does puzzle us a might. 

cow with tire around her neck

How do you like my new look?

cow with tire

Kari to the rescue

Just to prove we aren't makin' this up, Kim grabbed the camera while Kari went out to see just how stuck the tire was.  With the first tug, the tire jammed behind the cows considerably large ears, but with a second good yank, the black collar mowed the ears flat an' slipped off of Onoki's head as easy as a kitten can jump over a caterpillar. The silly cow never showed any concern 'bout the tire hangin' on her neck, nor was she bothered when Kari jerked the tire off.

Anyway, yesterday we made a quick run into town to mail off an order we'd received for a trailer hitch cover, an' wanted to put a small check from an equine magazine publisher in the bank.  Since it feels like spring 'round here now we fetched home a batch of Petunias for our wine barrel flower beds.  Also got a few pretty little plants called Silver Dusty Millers to plant out in front of the cabin.

When we got home from town it was too hot to work in the sun plantin' the flowers so headed out to harrow a section of the south pasture instead. After a dinner of popcorn an' salads the flowers had our full attention....well, part of our attention since Otter insisted that we throw a ball for him to fetch, while Sage just wanted to be involved in what ever we were doin'. She kept peekin' into the barrel planter sniffin' at the flowers. We kept expectin' our little helper to pull up one of the newly planted flowers an' run off with it. She didn't, but at one point she did swipe a plastic container that still held two unplanted Petunias.


May 15, 2008

Dandelions are bloomin' in the lawn an' the hummin'birds have returned so reckon we can say that spring is officially here!  It's hard to guess how many hummin'birds are swiggin' down the sugar-water we've put out for 'em, but there are at least ten so far.  We've put one feeder out, but will likely have to put another feeder out to fill the needs of 20 or more birds. Think there are s'pose to be two species in our neck of the woods, but we only can remember the Rufus which dominate our area.

The weather was still unsettled earlier in the week. Damp days with cool temperatures an' a bit of a wind that kept it feelin' a might on the chilly side.  If we get to workin' hard, we warm up enough to shed our jackets, but as soon as we stop to rest the jackets are pulled back on. Both Sage an' Otter run an' play so hard that they're always runnin' to the cricks or ponds to cool off.  Otter even likes to take a dip in the horses' or bull's water tank for a cooling swim.

Otter taking a dip in the horse tank

Otter coolin' it in the horse stock tank

The past few days we've spent a good deal of our time bent over trimmin' hooves. Managed to trim four horses earlier in the week then this mornin' we pulled Bo-k, our 24 year old few spot leopard geldin' an' Banner the 23 year old black roan mare out of the south pasture so they wouldn't wander out with the rest of the herd to graze. Otherwise we'd not likely see 'em again 'till late afternoon. 

First we trimmed their hooves while the dogs attempted to involve us, or maybe the horses in a game of ball by droppin' a tennis ball at our feet.  Payin' no heed to the horse or where they were walkin', a couple of times one of the dogs would ramble right underneath the horse we were trimmin'. Luckily neither horse kicked out or spooked. 

Of course both dogs enjoy feasting on hoof trimmin's, though Sage usually isn't all that hungry so she'll hide a stash of trimmin's in a hollowed out space under the cabin. Later they'll show up one at a time on the front porch.  When we were groomin' the horses to prepare to ride 'em out to get the mail, Sage actually had the notion that she could nibble the chestnut right off of Bo-k's hind leg! Again, Bo-k stood still an' let her nibble away at it. What a nutty pup.

It was a nice ride out to get the mail.  This was our first real ride with the dogs followin' us. Otter hung so close that he was nearly underfoot an' seemed to be worried that we'd manage to sneak away without him knowin' it, for he kept peerin' up to check that we were still in our saddles an' hadn't somehow vanished. For a dog that we just recently adopted he seems to be more attached to us than Sage. We wonder if he has been abandoned in the past, so is now anxious 'bout losin' track of where we are.

Sage on the other hand was runnin' here, there an' every where, doin' her very best to unnerve the horses.  One moment she dart up the ridge into the trees to come crashin' down through the underbrush at the horses the next.  Another favorite caper was to vault into nearby water, be it the crick,  a pond, or swamp grass. Then she'd charge out of the water an' wait until she was next to one of the horses to shake. Once free of excess water she'd gallop ahead then flop down smack dab in the middle of the trail to roll in the dirt, then lay their lookin' much like road kill. As we rode up she'd leap to here feet an' be off once again.

After we'd returned home an' each picnicked on an orange and a handful of Cheese-its, we headed out to harrow the north pasture. With both of us operatin' a tractor, each with a chain harrow draggin' along behind, the job goes fairly quickly. But, the dogs proved to be a problem. Otter was pretty much glued to one or the other tractor as he was with the horses, an' Sage darted every where, often cuttin' in too closely in front of the tractors for our comfort so we ended up chainin' 'em both up in the shade of the back yard so that they could watch us harrow but would stay out from under the tractors' tires.

All in all the day was terrific so come evenin' we took off our hats to it.  Yep dad, it was a mighty fine day!



May 12, 2008

Had a hard rain the other night, an' yesterday was dadgum chillier 'n a banker's smile with a mighty breeze barrelin' down the valley an' intermittent showers of rain.  We worked in the office for awhile toilin' over a photo submission an' also decided to finally start writin' a novel....but both, us an' the dogs soon became bored.

Lookin' out the window we saw that though the wind was still blowin' mightily, there was a lull in the rain, so we slipped into our bright pink MSU Rodeo jackets an' headed out to fill the ruts that the tractor gouged into the ground at the south pasture gate this spring.  Kim an' the dogs loaded into ol' Red, the dump truck, while Kari drove the tractor out to the dirt bank where we filled the truck with a gravely mix of dirt, sand an' rocks.

On the way back Kim drove the tractor an' Kari took rein of ol' Red, then we both worked at shovelin' dirt into the ruts while the dogs goofed off.  They ran, rolled, an' tumbled, chasin' each other in circles 'round our job.

Sage and Otter at play

A distractive attack from the rear

Sage and Otter at play

Then go for the juggler....I've got you now - cry woof!

Sage thought it a wonderful game to jump into the dump truck an' climb the slope of the half raised bed to the top of the dirt...her version of "Dog of the Mountain."  Otter leaped into the truck once but found too slippery for his taste of fun.

Sage and Otter in the dumb truck

Otter is much faster than Sage so she spends a good deal of time chasin' his tail, but if she manages to take the lead she ends up gettin' bowled over.

Otter and Sage at play

Aha...now it's your turn to cry woof!


May 10, 2008

Lately Sage must be goin' through the equivalent of the "terrible twos" in us humans.  The other day when Kari dialed-up to get on the Internet, the line was dead. Tryin' several times with no better success we finally started pokin' 'round under the computer desk to see if we could figure out what the problem was. Eureka, we found the problem!  While Sage had been under the desk, pretendin' to nap, she had evidently chewed through the phone line.

Luckily dad keeps a stash of such kind of electrical stuff in the house, so we dug through the office drawers an' found a replacement phone line that would work. The next day Sage was really bad for we found that she had chewed up the power adapter on dad's Maxtor external hard-drive. We can't find a spare cord to replace this one. Checked at Radio Shack in town an' they didn't have one either so we searched on-line for one.  It would seem that this particular hard-drive is made in China so when our search brings up a web site for the Maxtor storage unit, it's got lots an' lots of information on it, but it's all in Chinese.

Sage also continues to pester Quiver, our debilitated 15 year old Border Collie so we've been checkin' 'round at the local pet adoption agency, Kootenai Pets for Life. On Wednesday we drove to the Libby town park to meet with a couple gals that foster pound rescued dogs. They brought three dogs with 'em for us to see.  Of the three we decided to give four year old Ozzie, a chocolate Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, a try.

Otter, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sage of course wasn't too keen on the whole adoptin' another dog idea. She was somewhat afraid of the dogs so barked ferociously at them but would skitter away from them if they came near her.  Still we thought that Ozzie - who we've now renamed Otter, might turn out to be a good playmate for her if only she would give him a chance, so we brought him home with us. Otter sat on the bench seat while Sage glowered at him from the floor of the van.

Once at home, we were kept busy with the pet vac.  Right off the bat Otter had laid claim to his new territory by liftin' his leg on various pieces of furniture. Since we didn't trust him, the first night we put Otter in a crate down in the kitchen area, but he whined an' barked 'till we relented an' let him sleep up stairs with us.  It's a nightly ritual for Sage to wake us up to be let outside, but Otter didn't wait. He'd left us a range of mountains an' a large yellow lake to clean up off the bathroom floor.

The next day Sage continued her grouchy way with Otter, snappin' at him for every little thing. She even tugged on his ear a time or two. This wasn't goin' well an' we were beginin' to consider that gettin' Sage a playmate just wasn't goin' to work out.

Yesterday we loaded the two dogs up in the crew cab pickup an' drove to Kalispell, through a spring snow flurry, to fetch home the Kubota tractor - which had been in the repair shop the past three weeks. While in the big city we also stopped at the ranch an' farm supply store to purchase a bunch of fence posts as our stockpile at home had dwindled down to only three spare posts.

Otter settled down in the back seat, while Sage slept between us up front.  Once or twice Sage would climb into the back with Otter to scold him just for bein' there, but as the long day trip wore on she became less snooty toward him. We stopped at McDonalds to have a hamburger, an' the dogs shared a McChicken sandwich.

Once we were home, we got the tractor off the hauler, then unloaded the fence posts while the dogs went for a dip in the pump house pond....crazy dogs, it's not even warm out! Then back inside the house we sat down at our computers to catch up on emails an' such while the dogs stretched out on the floor to nap. Pretty soon Sage was tired of resting an' wanted to play so as usual she went over to pester ol' Quiver. Quiver's answer was, "no leave me alone!"  Of course Sage rarely abides by any thing Quiver has to say, but this time she turned away an' walked over to where Otter lay nappin'.

She poked  an' prodded at him with her nose, then dropped to the floor in a playful yet submissive gesture. It worked slicker 'n calf slobber. Sage an' Otter were soon bouncin' 'round the office havin' a grand time. It looks like this scheme to get Sage a playmate might just work out after all.

Oh, nearly forgot to brag on Sage. She's sort of redeemed herself for chewin' up the power cord. Yesterday evenin' one of the yearlin' heifers was out in the east horse pasture so we opened the gate an' Sage helped herd the heifer into the barnyard. She kept after the heifer, but called off fairly well when we told her "That'll do."  But still we had to get the heifer into the cow pasture an' we didn't have the gate open yet. 

Kari told Sage to sit an' wait while she opened the gate, then called Sage to come help move the heifer back toward the gate. Kim blocked the path where the heifer might try to turn back toward the horse pasture. Sage was aggressive enough to get the heifer movin' but didn't continue roustin' her when she was headed toward the gate, though she stayed on the heifer's heels.

We're thrilled that Sage did so well, but ain't fools neither.  We know that Sage doesn't grasp the idea of direction of travel quite yet. More 'n likely she'll head the cows in the wrong direction a time or two before she figures out where we want 'em. Still, we're proud of our little pup!


May 4, 2008

Looks like we've gone an' crossed the border into another month already, but at least this time we can rightfully say that spring has arrived in the northwest corner of Montana.  A few days ago we did have a snow flurry, but it lasted all of maybe 5 minutes.  All of the snow has melted off the valley floor, but plenty of it still clings to the ridges around us.  The forecast is for possible rain in the next day or so, but from what we gather it looks unlikely that we'd get enough to wet the whistle of a mountain chickadee.

Course now, if spring rain does set in, there is fair likelihood that the Fisher Rider will flood. This is due to the fact that its been so cool this spring that the mountain snow pack hasn't begun to melt, neither has the snow on the ridges over lookin' our valley. With our daily temperatures warmin' up to a toasty 58 degrees the ridges are beginnin' to thaw out an' if we get rain on top of the regular melt, the rivers will be runnin' deep enough to wash the tip of a moose's ear.

Though the pastures have begun to turn green with fresh forage for the stock, what grass we have is still shorter 'n an ant's back, so the other day we put the last of the round bales of grass hay out for the cows, then folded up the gigantic tarp that we'd used to protect the hay while it sat in the barnyard.  Sage did her best to help, though at times she'd pull the tarp in the wrong direction which would effectively undo any headway we'd just made.  Then we tackled the job of cleanin' up the pile of hay twine that we'd tossed under the cattle chute ramp durin' the winter. 

The blue twine that held the 4x3x8 foot bales of alfalfa hay together is heavy duty twine so we wanted to keep a supply of it on hand just in case we ever need to tie somethin,' or perhaps someone up.  While we sorted an' untangled the twine, we'd meticulously hang each strand over the corral fence with the idea of keepin' 'em from gettin' all tangled up again.  Of course Sage had to get involved.  Ever so often she'd snatch the end of one of the twines, pull it off the fence, then prance 'round us shakin' it like a whipped snake.

On Friday we worked at replacin' all the old an' broken fence rails in the barnyard/east pasture fence line as well as the horse breakin' corral.  The job went relatively easy since Sage found more interest in rompin' 'round in the pond an' crick than workin' with us, though ever so often she'd mosey over to check on our progress. That must make her the ramrod of this outfit.  While we do the work she goes fishin'. 

Then again, yesterday the three of us worked together to take apart, then store the round bale horse feeders in one of the unused horse stalls for the summer months.   We ended up with way more help than we needed.  In each pasture we went to, the horses would approach, curious to see what we were up to an' were probably encouraged with the idea that they just might get a horse cube for their inquisitiveness.

Since we didn't want so much help we offered no treats to the horses.  All they got for their curiosity was a snap at their noses from Sage who had decided that we needed to be protected from the nosy beasts.  Kneelin' on the ground while we coaxed the stubborn nuts off a the darn bolts that held the feeders together, Sage would use our backs as spring boards to launch herself at the meddlesome monsters.  It amazes us that with so much help, we actually managed to get the job done at all.


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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