Fix Fencin’

Somehow, whenever I want to talk of fixing fence, it comes out wrong.  My mouth can’t ever seem to coordinate with my brain, and “fix fencin’ ” usually blurts out and makes me appear *really* stupid.  Most people around me accept my fault(s) and pretend they understand what I mean.  I’m grateful for that.  Occasionally they make fun of me and wound me to the core, but, whatever, I’ll get them back someday.
On our trip around the allotment the other day we came across a section that needed repair.
Vernon to the rescue.
Actually, I *like* “fix fencin’ ” and would have done it, but Vernon doesn’t know how to work my camera…
FIX FENCIN’ 101
Find a stretched out, broken, loose area of barbed wire.  This usually isn’t too tough… take into consideration, elk herds, deer, stupid bulls, irritated cows, snowdrifts, old and rusty wire, and you pretty much have a fence to fix!
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Easy enough… see the loose wires to the left of the photo?  That’s where we work.
You must, however, gather your supplies which includes an old can (coffee or paint can) which holds rusty staples, rusty nails, and those little loopy things that hold the wire on metal posts like these… uh, I don’t know what they’re called.  I’ll delve into that later.  This is also a great place to carry your hammer or fencin’ tool.
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The most important tool is your wire/fence stretcher.  This is an amazing tool… believe me that wire is gonna be TIGHT!
Place the fence stretcher on the wire… and give the handle a crank or two or six.  The wire pops and sings and becomes tight, like the virgin fence it once was.
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Now take your Leatherman (or fencing pliers if you have ’em) and cut the wire.  Your fence stretchers will hold the wire in place so you can make the repair.
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Make little loopies on each end of the wire.  Loopies, of course, being the correct old cowboy term…
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Insert a new section of wire to connect the loopies… get it hand tight, so you don’t lose your tightness.
Release your fence stretchers and you’ll have a refurbished, nice, tight fenceline.
Back in the day, cowboys knew that this barbed wire would be the end of their lifestyles.  That open country would be chopped up and the life of the cowboy would be over.  Yes, the land has been chopped up into smaller sections than the open grazing of long ago.  Yes, a cowboy spends more time than he wants “fix fencin’ “.  The old time practice of day herding is long gone because of this wire.  But the rancher couldn’t make it without barbed wire these days.  A cow learns to respect a good fence.  And it is *so true* that good fences make good neighbors!  Someone with poor fences will have livestock that doesn’t respect a fence, and will cause lots of trouble for himself and his neighbors.  And really, on a day like today, with meadowlarks singing and elk and antelope surrounding you, “fix fencin’ ” doesn’t seem like a horrible job!
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Everyday OOPE

OOPE photos from Saturday… when everyday should be like this!
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Johnny consults his book… making sure #452 had calved… and how old the calf was… whether we wanted to take her along or leave them behind for now.
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We kick the pairs across the highway… you can tell we get tons of traffic here as Lucas decided this was as good a place as any to take a break… Don’t worry… he was safe.  We can see for a mile and a half in either direction… and don’t forget, I had to be on horseback in the middle of the road to take this photo anyway!
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They are mothered up and moving along, not too much for an ambitious cowdog to do, but pant in the “heat”.  We are so NOT USED to 65 degree weather!
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See, I told you this was a picture perfect day…
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The little babies did start getting tired at the end and they wanted to lay down and rest… no sirree!  Not allowed!
We made good time, had a good sort, had NO WIND… it doesn’t get much better than that!

Strut Your Stuff

Well, I have OOPE photos from yesterday.
 
I have fence fixin’ photos from today.
I have wildlife photos from today.
I have scenery photos from today.
Rarely do I have so much to talk about and so little time and space…
The morning began with Lucas and I helping Johnny kick heifer calves out into the pen side of the corral in order to feed the MGA that will synchronize their cycles for AI’ing.  On the walk back home, I heard Vernon yelling… and saw some of his heifer calves out in the cows by the calving shed where they didn’t belong.  Lucas and I headed over and sorted off what we could and ran them back where they do belong.  Vernon showed up later and chased the last wild two back into the lot as well.  The next assignment was fixing the electric fence that they had torn down.  I smashed my thumb hammering an insulator back on the post… not a good way to start your day!
Feeding puppies, cleaning house and showering up for a trip to town for a bridal shower for a neighbor girl finished my morning.  The afternoon was spent with puppy lookers and a leaf rake.
Finally this evening, Vernon suggested we drive out through the badlands, checking that gates are closed and the pipeline is working since we turn out critters this week.  It was unbelievably dry… I thought there’d be at least mud holes everywhere, but for the most part, the mud holes were dry.
We saw wildlife…
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Like this antelope doe…
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and lots of her compadres…
Birds, like this Western Meadowlark…
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but best of all… this…
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Sage chickens strutting!  One of my favorite sights and sounds of Wyoming…  Too bad I didn’t take my video camera to catch the sounds of their mating display… very unique and distinctive.  Listen to it on this page… halfway down on the left side is a link…
The area they use is called a lek… and they return to these leks, year after year.  The most intense strutting takes place at sunrise, though a lesser “dance” occurs at sunset.  The males strut their stuff, wooing females into their harem.  This was one of the things my dad first showed me when we moved to Wyoming when I was a kid.  NOT THRILLED with getting up at the crack of dawn, my attitude changed when we watched and listened.  The males would puff up their air sacks and the plunger-like sound surrounded us.  I am so grateful my dad drug me out of bed when I was 12.  I think of him everytime I see this… and whisper a thank-you he cannot hear – but he knows…

If Everyday Was Like This…

We sorted and sent another 34 pairs out into the allotment today.
A day of sunshine and barely any wind.
A day of yellow bells and blue skies.
A day of not too cold, not too hot… a Goldilocks day.
A day when the pairs stayed paired.
A good day on a good horse.  What did Winston Churchill say? “There is something about the outside of a horse… that is good for the inside of a man.”
Vernon’s quote for the day… “If everyday was like this, everyone would want to be a cowboy.”
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More OOPE photos tomorrow… and maybe an OOPE video!

From Big Sis to Li’l Momma

Three weeks ago, when the puppies were born, Dally was a confused soul.
She wasn’t sure what happened, but she wanted to be part of it.
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It earned her some whippings from Elsa.  But Dally is a persistent gal and her sympathetic hormones seem to rage full bore.
Each time I took photos or checked on the pups and Elsa wasn’t there, Dally was brave enough to sniff, then lick, then watch in amazement.  She wanted more.
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I was there when Dally first made her move.  Elsa had left, knowing I was there to watch the pups.  Dally zipped into the straw house and settled in, stretching out to let the newborns climb into her belly searching for nipples.  They willingly obliged her, attaching themselves in a unified search for nourishment.  All I could say was…. “OW!!!”  Eleven pups trying to get milk from dry teats just seemed like pure pain to me.
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Then Elsa returned.
It wasn’t pretty.
I quickly told them to take it elsewhere, they were stepping on puppies!
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Elsa resurrected her dominance.
Dally quickly submitted.
But Elsa let her stay.
That astonished me.
We had moved from “Stay over there and watch.”  to “You can be here, but behave!”  If a baby bottle had been available, this is where Elsa would have handed it to Dally and told her to BE CAREFUL.
I continued to track this development, amazed that Dally would encourage the dry pacifier sucking of the pups.
“Do you think Dally will have milk come in?” I asked of friends and relatives.  They all told me no…
Guess what.
Within a week of nurturing these pups, Dally’s four back teats are producing milk.
Not a lot.
She can handle four pups though… and does with happy abandon.
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She is quick to admit they are Elsa’s pups and she is just a babysitter.  Elsa continues to remind her of that, just in case the temptation to steal some permanently would broach Dally’s mind.
I’ve begun to help out some… a little udder balm seems to relieve Dally, who now, like Elsa, seeks comfort away from the pups on occasion.
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Today the pups got their first real meal of dog food mush.  I’ll see if this tips the balance they’ve created.  I doubt it.  They have worked out a good deal, with no interference from me.  I’ll leave it to English Shepherd logic… it seems to have worked so far!