October 4, 2016

The Nebraska Amazon

Here it is Fall. Nearly time to bring the cows home from Summer pasture, and I'm still fixing fences.
There is one last pasture in our rotation, and we are about a week away from putting the cows in there. The heavy rain and flood water washed fences out of that pasture too, so someone needed to fix them... Oh me, me! Pick me!

Last Spring the Ranch Hand dropped of some wire panels to fix this ravine. We got busy. Now the panels were buried somewhere in here. You see the long yellow patch of grass in the middle of the picture and the tiny bit of green above it on the right side? That's where they were, last place I checked after walking through all this tall, wet grass.

And after discovering a porcupine hiding in these weeds I wasn't too enthusiastic about it. I know you can't see it, but I did and I didn't think a face full of quills was worth a closer look.

There were the panels, grown over with grass and it took quite a bit of work to get them out.

I did get the fence repaired.

But only after fighting off "stick tights," (Tiny burs that stick to you.)

Poison Ivy,

Spiny bushes and thistles,

And stinging nettles.

All while trying to focus while being surrounded by wild marijuana. I didn't post a pic because I don't want the authorities thinking I run a high fencing crew... (Me and the dog.) Plus I'd have phone calls coming in from all across Colorado for free help to fix my fence.

I used these tools and my bare hands to complete this high tech job. No pun intended. Ok I was wearing leather gloves too...

I hiked out unscathed but Badger didn't. Apparently there were cockle burs in there too.

I was zooming home on the 4-wheeler when my pocket started vibrating. Of course it was my phone with a message from the Ranch Hand telling me there was another spot I needed to check. Of course I turned around and checked it. Of course it was ripped up by the flood waters too.

Of course I fixed it like a good fencer lady would. Even... though... you can... hardly see it... in this pic.

Finally it was time to head home. Badger got into some bad stick tights on this side of the canyon. He didn't care for me curry combing them out either.

We peeked in on the cows on our way through.

Nothing like completing a task without too much opposition.

August 7, 2016

More Tender Mercies

We lease close to 2,000 acres of canyon pastures for the summer and fall months of the year. These are separated into five different pastures owned by four different entities. We have spent more time building and fixing fences this year than any other year. It is long, hard, tiring work. Even after all the time put in we still had problems and ended up putting all our cattle together instead of running them in separate groups.

While we were gone on a much needed family vacation our area got ten inches of rain in four days. Needless to say the nice windy creek that ran through the heart of the canyon pastures turned into a raging, furious river. It tore out all fences that crossed it's path. Creek walls caved in as it ran more than ten feet high in some places. Small gullies or draws in the canyon now became easy outlets for rushing water, taking with it trees and debris from all over. Luckily for us at the time our cows were all in the only canyon pasture that didn't have the creek running through it. It gets it's water from a windmill and a solar well.

We'd planned on moving the cows the day after we got home from our trip. After surveying the situation we had no where to put the cows. All the fences crossing the creeks were gone from the other pastures. The Ranch Hand had to go to work that next day, so he hired someone to help us. Between two adults and two boys we got two fences built so we could turn the cows out to fresh grass. This we did on a Wednesday. I'd been out to check the cows Thursday and then we all went back on our horses on Saturday to get a good look at them. On the way to the pasture we discovered 17 replacement heifers in a large alley way, not in the pasture they were suppose to be in. I wondered if I was losing my mind and simply forgot to shut the gate. For once that was not the problem! The gate was shut and the fence into the alley was secure. After returning the heifers to the correct pasture we decided to ride the fence and find out where the rest of the cows were. Just a few hundred yards down the fence line we came to a huge area where water had washed a bunch of dead trees into the fence. Some posts remained, some wires were still connected, but stretched way beyond the fence line. The fence was FULL of dead cedar trees cut down last winter. It was a huge mess. The wires were way above our heads, stuck in the piled up dead trees. This was easily accessible for cattle to walk under. We hadn't checked the entire fence after the storms, simply assuming it was only the creek crossings that needed attention. We were wrong.

We were astonished, taken back, and had to come up with a plan. The Ranch Hand took two kids back to the horse trailer to head home and get the tractor with a grapple to remove the trees while I took two other kids to look for the cows. We discovered they had indeed gone under the fence into a thousand acre pasture. A pasture that had fences torn out that lead into other pastures with broken fences that lead to who knows where! Luckily we found them relatively close to the broken fence. Except the fact that there were trees, and brush and canyon to cross to get back to the fence. It seemed nearly an impossible task for this mother and two kids, one eleven and the other seven. But we'd never know unless we tried. And try we did. We had them on a side hill, just one last draw to cross before the opening in the broken fence when the Ranch Hand returned. Somehow, through all the trees and with only us three we got them back into the correct pasture. We were able to get a count and they were all there. WOW! We thought they must've only gotten out just before we got there, seeing that they were fairly close to the break in the fence. We knew it was a blessing from the Lord. However the plot thickens...

Today, Sunday, the Ranch Hand and I rode the 4-wheeler down to check the other creek crossings and the cows. As we rode through the thousand acre pasture we noticed something out of sorts. There was  cow manure just a couple days old clear down in the bottom of the canyon. There were tracks going to water and crossing the creek. Our cows had not been in that pasture for a month. The tracks we saw were from out cattle that had gotten out earlier in the week. "So what?" You say. Well let me explain something more to you.

Never have our cattle all stayed together in these canyon pastures. Even today when we checked them they were spread out all over the place. The fact that these cows, calves, and bulls traveled completely across the pasture, crossed the creek and back to the place we found them all in the same group is not mere coincidence. Not luck. It was a blessing from the Lord. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles calls those special blessings trailered specifically to our needs, "Tender Mercies."This in our mind was no doubt a tender mercy. There is just no way this ever could've happened without divine intervention. 

I wanted to share this with you because I know that life is hard. We've been going through a long, tiresome refiners fire for a while now. But I know that if we keep the faith, keep moving forward, and trust in God, those blessings will come. Those tender mercies will be suited just for you, and me. When you recognize them as such, you will feel a closeness to your Heavenly Father that you've never felt before. You will know that somehow, someway, amongst all His children, He is mindful of you, your life, your circumstances. He will bless you in ways that only you need. I know this is true and I stand all amazed at this truly tender mercy that has been extended to our family during our time of need.

August 4, 2016

Repairing Flood Damages

 With the cows out of grass in their pasture we had to get right to work fixing the fences that the flood water tore out so we could move them. Thank goodness the kids have been working for someone building fence this summer and he was willing to help me out while the Ranch Hand was saving other farmers and ranchers from the financially destructive side of cancer. He felt so bad leaving for work Monday, knowing full well all the projects for the week. At least he knows it will get done, or mostly done. :) I do what I can. I'm just grateful I had an experienced fencer to show me how to fix something like this. Now I think I could get the other crossings on my own.

 One wooden post in solid ground.
 The boys twisting in a couple of "anchors" to hold wires down without a post. They are usually screwed into the ground or they are something heavy buried deep under the ground. Which brings me to something I've been dying to tell you. Sometimes these anchors are also called "dead mans" I was out walking fence line checking fence sometime this summer and a few of them had been pulled up from the upward pressure on the wire. If you were someone listening to conversations between ranchers you'd wonder what the heck we were talking about. When the Ranch Hand asked how the fence was I said it was fine, but that a couple of dead mans had been pulled out.... Ok, I thought that sounded silly! Gross maybe... ranch lingo!
 Ok, I let them do all the water work, crossing the wires to the other side. Nice of me to let them cool off, I know. Actually it was very hot and humid that day I kept dipping my hat in the water.
 Two buddies cooling off. I hope they stay friends forever.
 Part of this fence is a bluff. Cows could push through it if they really wanted to. But with the deep water and steep sides, that's unlikely.
 Hooray for fixed fences!
I was busy trying to get cows in and missed most of this fence, but it looked great to me. This river used to be a pretty little, windy stream. Huge sandbar now.

I was able to call the cows in but had a heck of a time catching the ones I wanted. Since the fence was done our friend helped us out by catching the three orphan calves who lost their moms in a lightening storm. We just missed getting the injured bull, but it's almost time to take the bulls out of the herd and we can get him later.

The cows are happy to be out eating fresh grass again. The canyons are pretty, but they sure are a lot of work.

My three new babies. And the cow we are fattening in the back.  And my finger in the picture... sorry about that!

I got everything done that HAD to be done this week. The Ranch Hand will be home tomorrow and maybe, just maybe there will be a tiny bit of time for us to relax, maybe. :)
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