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Mirror KB Ranch

Tales of the Twin Wranglers  

October 2008

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October 29, 2008

The night of the 20th more rain saturated the valley floor while snow plastered the mountains an' ridges that shield our ranch along the Fisher River.  Much of last week continued to be a tad bit chilly, but not wintry. Our lows have dropped into the twenties an' teens most nights.  When the sun finally breaks over Kenelty Mountain the thick ice on all the water tanks begins to thaw an' the heavy night frost melts away.

While we've wore-out a little of our time cuttin' firewood for the kitchen stove, a good stretch of each day has been spent indoors in an effort to beat deadlines.  We're in the midst of puttin' together photo submissions for two farm an' two equine magazines.  Sortin' through all of our digital photos then addin' lengthy metadata to each one that we select, has occupied much of our time. Then research for a planned western novel takes up another good chunk of our day.

Last Saturday our neighbor delivered 28 tons of grass hay in round bales.  Each mornin' the cows eat their fill of hay then wander off to graze for a few hours. Sometimes they stay in the north an' northeast pastures where they belong, but other times they climb through the fence an' graze in the east horse pasture or east river pasture.   By late afternoon they always amble back to the hay before beddin' down for the night under the boughs of a large fir tree.

New hay stacked in the log hay barn has prompted a fresh playground for Sage.  Though she's small she's able to scramble up onto the large round bales of hay, all the way to the top of the barn timbers.  As for Otter, the poor guy's launch ain't no better 'n a fat frog with one leg, so he can't play on the hay unless we give him a boost....an' he's gotten way too heavy for that.

in the hay barn

Kim an' Sage perched high up on the barn timbers

in the hay

Help! I'm trapped in a crevice  an' can't get out


Kim to the rescue

On Sunday we saddled up two horses to spend a bit of time takin' more photographs for one of the magazines we work with, then we reined the horses out across the river for a nice ride.  We started out to take a trail that we often ride, but ended up reinin' the two horses up a new skid trail that the summer loggin' operation had made.  Kim was ridin' our 24 year old mare Banner so when the trail took a steep climb we turned the horses south. 

As we bushwhacked through the forest Kari couldn't resist snappin' a few shots of Kim an' Banner amongst so much gold. While the deciduous trees, have already let go their leaves,  northwest Montana still has a fair amount of gold. The Larch (also known as Tamarack) is the only conifer tree that changes color an' drops its needles 'till spring.

golden trail

lots of gold

Anyway, as we were sayin....we bushwhacked through the forest 'till we rode up to the edge of a drainage. There we reined our horses west an' eventually came out on the trail that we had intended to ride at the start...we just missed the first half of it by followin' the new skid trail.

Today we had two yearling heifers butchered, then in the next couple days we'll probably wean this year's calves.  It's tough to be a cow.


October 20, 2008

If it ain't the cows we're chasin' after, it's daylight.  Come each mornin' bright an' early the day somehow manages to slip its hobbles an' dashes off so's we have to give chase.  The dadgum thing of it is, throwin' a loop over the runaway day is like tryin' to rope smoke.

 It's been a rather cool damp fall so far with quite a bit of wind.  One night the wind barreled up through the valley an' pulled at the corner of the shop roof. It bent a section of metal back so the next day we had to get up on the roof an' tacked it back down.  This time we used ridged roofin' screws so think it'll stay put...at least for a while.  When it's been dry we've kept mighty busy cuttin' up old fence posts an' rails to use for firewood in the kitchen stove.  Last Saturday the cows bulled through a section of rail fence - oh goody more wood to cut up for firewood!  We let 'em nibble at the short grass in the yard while we put a large round bale of grass hay out in their pasture. Then we cut out the two yearlin' heifers an' hazed 'em into the corral.  We'll feed 'em on alfalfa hay then have 'em butchered next week.

Friday we had a gal an' her three year old daughter visit from Texas.  It was cloudy an' a might chilly out, but it didn't rain an' none of us wanted to be indoors so we took a drive up West Fisher to the gold panning area where we had a picnic, of sorts - pickles, nuts, trail bar, an' home grown apples.  On our drive we stopped now an' again to take photos of the Cabinet Mountains, an' little Maggie with the dogs. Maggie loves all animals, Sage an' Otter were no exception.  Little Maggie wanted to be with the dogs at every moment so would grab on to their collars an' did her best to drag 'em around with her.  'Course generally she was the one that was gettin' dragged, not the dogs.  We were pleased to see that both dogs tolerated it all very well.

Cabinet Mountains

Brrrr...it's cold in them thar mountains

Maggie and dogs

But you can keep warm if you cuddle up with furry friends

It rained Saturday so we spent a good part of the day workin' on a western novel we're tryin' to write, an' also selected photos that we want to submit to horse an' farm magazines that we freelance for.  Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day which we were glad to see for a change. With plenty of sunshine we spent most of the day takin' photos for future magazine submission...then took a short ride to snap a few autumn trail riding images.

Kari on Solo

Kari an' Solo Request wade through the Fisher River

Kim on Lakota

Sage trails behind Lakota Vision with Kim forked in the saddle


October 4, 2008

On Wednesday, October 1st, we'd noticed that Sota, the bull, 2 cows along with their calves an' one yearlin' heifer that we affectionately call Fajita, had gone through the fence again an' were grazin' in the east pasture. We didn't worry 'bout 'em so left 'em alone an' went off for a ride on two of the horses to fetch home the mail. We'd plumb forgot 'bout 'em 'till late in the evenin' when we kind of wondered where they might be so we went a lookin'.  Trampin' 'round in the woods along the river we found plenty of sign that they'd been in there workin' on all the tall sedge grass, but we sure couldn't set eyes on 'em.  For all our effort, all we managed to spook up were a couple of nice whitetail bucks.

It was soon gettin' so dark we could no longer make out any tracks, let alone cow pies, so were forced to call off our search.  All night we kept frettin' that they'd crossed the river an' took off for Canada, so early the next mornin' we saddled up two good mares an' reined 'em out in search of the errant mob. Just as we were about to ride out to the northeast corner of the ranch to check for tracks on the east side of the river we spied little Fajita.  Apparently she'd become separated from the others an' was frantic to relocate her buddies. She was gallopin' through the pastures slippin' through one fence after another, bawlin' like she had her tail caught in a gate.  As we rode down through the bottom of the north pasture she circled back in our direction so we reined in an' waited for her.  She loped right up to where we sat our horses, but only stayed with us long enough to gobble down one pellet then took off like a scorpion was a slappin' her backside with it's barbed tail.

It crossed our minds that we should probably shadow her - knowin' that she might just lead us to the mob that had gone astray, but at that point Fajita didn't seem to have any better idea of where they were than we did, so we shrugged our shoulders an' reined our horses on toward the northeast corner an' the east side of the river.  We were relieved to find not a single sign that the cows had crossed the river though we did note that there were plenty of tracks an' sign on the west side so we knew they'd been mighty close.  Fordin' the river again we reined our mounts southward, an' rode along the river, then took a trail through trees an' brush that soon brought us out into the east river pasture.

When we gazed back toward the north pasture we were aware that Fajita had vanished an' that we no longer could hear her desperate bawls.  It didn't take much brainwork to figure out that she'd either found her way back to the lost mob or she had rejoined the herd of cows that remained in the pump house pasture. Continuin' on our southward course we rode on through the east river pasture, passed through a gate an' rode on into the south horse pasture. Takin' a heavily used trail west we soon were able to get a good view of the pump house pasture.

We quickly spotted the section of fence that the bull had plowed through an' were a bit amazed that any cows remained in the pasture at all, yet they were all there, that is except that another yearlin' heifer - Enchilada was grazin' outside of the pasture, but she was stayin' close so we let her be an' rode on in search of Fajita an' the rest that had gone missin'.

We were pretty sure they weren't out in the southwest corner of the horse pasture so reined our mounts back toward the woods along the river.  This time, instead of goin' back through the east river gate we followed a narrow trail eastward that squeezes in between a fence line an' the riprap that keeps the river on course durin' spring flood stage. 

Back in the east river section we continued our hunt,  ridin' carefully in the difficult terrain so's not to be thwacked in the face with alder branches or have our horses stumble over fallen trees that are often well hidden by the heavy growth of brush an' grass.  Goin' slow, we'd rein in our horses ever so often to determine the best route to take an' kept our ears tuned for any tell tail sound of cows breakin' through the brush nearby.  We hadn't gone too far when we finally spotted a couple black bodies headed toward us, an' quickly established that they weren't a bear sow an' cub when we glimpsed Onoki, the red-baldy cow. Eureka...we'd found 'em!

Findin' the missin' bunch on ranch property we decided to leave 'em alone to graze, but first made double sure that all the missin' cows were there.  They were...includin' Fajita who'd clearly done a much quicker job of findin' 'em than we had - Reckon we should have just trailed her after all. Oh well, we'd had a nice ride, forked in the saddle of two good horses, an' we'd accomplished our hunt, so we were happy. Takin' the trail back by the riprap we headed for home via the south pasture. After lettin' the horses loose to graze an' havin' an early lunch we headed out to fix fences.


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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