Feeding the cows and calves after the storm this weekend. They were so happy for food and the calves were excited for a cozy bed.
You know, some people get excited about black and white border collies, but not me. I love being different. I like to stand out. For example even though I am from East Tennessee I don’t root for the Vols. Oh no, I’m a Bama fan. Mostly because I wanted to go against the norm. Same with dogs. I want to stand out, to be seen. When we are trailing cows I can easily spot my dogs among the dogs. It’s just in my nature I guess.
Well I started with Joe. He is my male. I have to also mention that he tends to think he’s human. If you are around him long you will notice his distinct personality. Unlike most border collies he is a people dog. He wants love and attention. He has a pain threshold that is above the norm and therefore he must be monitored or he will destroy himself to work for you. In the past two years he has broken a front leg that required a confinement (that he enjoyed emensly), he has had allergic reactions to the sun, a growth has developed in one eye, so he is on constant prednisone. Two weeks ago he had three teeth pulled. Let’s just say life for a cattle dog is hard at 8 years old he is starting to age. He no longer can trail and must be put up when we trail near the house, because he will show up and work through the pain to do his job. He is such an amazing dog not only as a pet and friend, but also a top notch working dog.
Next we have Tink. She is Joe’s daughter. She has tremendous instinct and has been an amazing cattle dog. She has his personality, but is more timid to people. Her one vice is thunder. Oh my, when it storms you defiant her inside. When we have not been home and a storm has come up she has literally ripped every screen trying to get in. She likes to venture and lives attention. My daughter used her in dog classes through 4-H and she did great. She has become the go to dog for my husband since Joe’s retirement.
Last is my dog Jipsey. Oh dear where to begin with this one. She has drive and determination that goes beyond the norm. She can’t wait to work cows and lives for feeding time. At this point she is still living inside because her work ethic will take her away from the house. You either give her cows to work, or she will find some cows. They will may be ours or the neighbors it need not matter. If they are in sight, they need to go somewhere. At a little over a year, I just love her. She is progressing nicely with commands and is really starting to transition into wanting to please me with her work rather than just work.
I’m waiting for her to come back into heat to breed her with Joe. I have several people waiting for these pups and with Joe’s advancing age, it must be done soon.
Well these are our reds. Our joy and our love. Cattle work could not happen without them. They are as much a part of our operation as the people on horseback.
This is on our mountain property. We summer the cows from the north ranch and the yearling heifers here from June – October.
Can I rant a little? Well of course it’s my little blog, in my little world. We live on miles, I mean Miles of dirt roads. It’s awesome. Who doesn’t love a good dirt road. No one comes down our road unless it’s the UPS driver or oilfield traffic. Basically we are in our own little civilization here. What could be better? What could be bad about it right? Wrong.
Dirt roads bring dust. Not really an issue until there are 30 or more semi trucks delivering water to the wells. Let’s just say going slow is not one of their finer skills. I will say dust I can handle. It could be worse.
Oh wait it is. Next comes mud. That’s right when the snow melts as it has this last few days, it seeps into our tired deprived ground and creates a wonderful layer of slippery goo. If mud bogging was a skill, let me say I am up there. I can rooster tail with the best of them. Well mine is not on purpose, but I can do it. Mud also creates ruts. Deep truck rocking ruts. When the road is driven on over and over and then the mud dries the ruts are deep. They pull your tires in and keep you in the tracks. It can rattle your teeth at times let me just say. I could slow down a little more, but I am also racing something. Usually it’s beating the clock to get somewhere on time.
Well yesterday our road had basically dried up. You could walk outside with out the need for muck boots. But that tricky mother nature, she loves me. I can tell she does. Last might it started raining and it rained, and it rained. So that it was a muddy, sticky, gooey mess outside.
Today was vet day. Yes I scheduled all four dogs to go in and see my amazing Dr. Root. (aka best vet ever). I let the dogs in at about 4:30 am when the rain got bad. Of course my Jipsey was already in, snuggled up on our bed. It’s awful I know.
When the kids were ready, I went out in my trusty Muck boots and started the truck and spread out a sheet on the back seat. I could not have my dogs getting the truck muddy. I then realized that one of the kids would have to sit on back with the dogs. So I devised a plan. Yes, it’s possible. I decided to carry each dog individually out to the truck, so that they would not have muddy feet. Oh my gosh. The three females were no problem. Our big red and white border was different. Since breaking his leg in half. Yes completely compound fractured and completely disgusting. He has healed, but in his confinement of about 10 months, he has gained some weight. Now he is a large dog anyway.
Let me say I am small. Yes, I will admit I am vertically challenged. At 5 foot 2 inches, this dog is about as long as me. So you can just picture me trying to carry this dog in slippery gooey mud to the truck and once there I had to open the door. My goodness that was a task. I am surprised we didn’t fall and both of us roll in that muck.
We made it to the vet. The kids made it to school. They even remember to switch shoes before they got out of the truck. Oh the life!
We went up to check on the cattle on the mountain. Looks like they faired the storm just fine.
I resigned from teaching in February of 2013, to stay home and help on the ranch. I had taken a leave of absence the year before to see if my mind could handle not teaching. There is something about teaching that enables your mind to always grow. New challenges and learning from the students keeps my mind busy and active I know it sounds weird but if I’m not doing something my brain aches. I feel like I have to learn something new all the time and challenge myself.
Well I found that with ranching there was lots for me to learn and time to begin new hobbies. Oh and also the fact that I needed to be the taxi for my growing kids. At times I wish I was teaching, I think life was less hectic then. But kids will grow, and need taken to various activities and if I was teaching, well they wouldn’t get to go.
We raise red angus cattle and use border collie dogs to help with just about every aspect of life on the ranch. We had three awesome dogs. They worked great. However when we moved cows it seems I was always left with no dog, because they are extremely loyal to my husband. Yes, he can tell them to stay or even just leave one. But the moment they hear a command he gives ton another dog, they too must go over to show themselves, how dare they be left with this boring lady. So alas I am always alone and darn it sometimes you need a dog to get those cattle moving.
In November of 2012, I flat decided I was getting a dog. Not just any border would do, I wanted a registered red and white. So I found Abingdon Border Collies out of Oregon. I ordered my little Jipsey and she flew into Casper.
At three months old she is working with no fear. Now that’s great. However she is my puppy. That means special treatment. Yes, she sleeps in our bed. Oh, she is bathed often and really doesn’t care for the delightful scent of oatmeal that her doggie shampoo gives her. But she gets it anyway.
She has had her moments in training. Her first big trailing of yearlings she just didn’t know where to be so she chased yearlings till she ended up right in the middle and then was so mesmerized by all the yearlings around her, she just laid down. Yep, smack dab in the middle. When those of us on horseback got to her, she was wide eyed and just lost. It was the funniest thing. Of course she hadn’t really mastered commands, so getting her back to me wasn’t going to happen.
She also has a passion for chasing anything near the house. She must be watched like a hawk. My husband came in a couple of weeks ago carrying fencing stretchers and told me “your dog is tied up outside, you have two gates to fix. “. Yes, my sweet dog chased our long horns and the kids cow calf pairs from 4-H through two pastures. She can definitely cause a wreck.
Well yesterday we moved 200+ pair on the mountain and she did a darn good job. We had some really snotty mommas who were not real excited to have this dog chasing them. They took her more than I can count, but Jipsey just circled around and put them into the herd. The more she works, the more she is coming into her own. Plus she stays with me and that is the best.
She is the sweetest little thing, and a very aggressive working dog. However like all dogs sometimes she is just a pain in the tail.
Well as everyone is probably aware we had a huge storm move through Wyoming this past week. It hit Thursday night and took our power with it. We ended up with about a foot of snow, and drifts as high as 5 feet. We had a crew of 7 hunters staying with us. It was definitely a challenge to cook meals, clean dishes, and provide water with no power.
I have a new appreciation for the generations before me that had no running water, no indoor plumbing, and no cooking stoves. I feel I am pretty resourceful, but that was hard. I did manage to cook soups, biscuits with sausage gravy, and at last I went to town to take hunters I came home with the absolute best pizza that I have ever bought. Yes, after two days I was tired of heating up water to wash dishes. It takes forever. The first day we melted snow. Let me say, it takes a lot of snow to make a full pot of water.
We are hoping to have power by Wednesday. That is pushing 6 days without power. We do have the generator that can power portions of the house. However the large generator that runs the hunting house and our water pump is up on the mountain. So we are making do.
On Sunday we hijacked my friend’s house to do laundry, and for the family to take complete showers. I have never been in a shower that felt so good. Just to have water come out of the pipe was utterly amazing.
I know it happens all the time, but we have been so spoiled with our generators that I have taken for granted all the things that make our life so much easier. Even the simple task of washing hands becomes difficult when holding a bottle under your chin, so that it will run over your hands.
In the midst of all of this there has been one great blessing. My children have had the privilege of no TV. They have done their homework, read their books, and then played. Yes! Actually played without looking at a screen.