Questions and Answers – May 2015 Edition – Part Two

Kris:  How about an Eden update? I’d love to hear how she’s coming along.

Eden is a pistol, and I rarely keep up with her.  She is definitely a gopher hunter, she’s usually covered in red dirt and wet from snow or dew on plants or rain…  She’s quite good at the Paper Plate Training, although translating it out past getting a Really Good Treat hasn’t happened yet.  Dally has her quite intimidated although Eden is by far the fastest and athletic of the two!  If/when she chooses to ignore Dally’s perpetual bossiness, Watchout!  She and Lucas are definitely bff’s, she fawns all over him and gets him to play.  She’s also great buds with Brandon’s Gemma and Daniel’s Tuff, playing, running, typical puppy business.  She’s fairly good with the grandkids, of course, she has been around kids since she was born, so that helps.  She’s not upset by their squealing or actions, but she does need to keep out of their faces!!!  Her faults?  I can’t keep her in the yard, which drives me insane, but she’s an escape artist, and my fence isn’t that good, but it’s always worked for Lucas and Dally.  When they are all three together, they are a barking, running, chasing crew everytime someone drives by my yard.  If I put Dally away, it’s much better, but it’s Eden that runs at front tires and scares me to death.  I block the fence and someone drives by and she escapes and chases and ugh, I just am beside myself.  If I’m outside, I can get them to ignore vehicles 90% of the time, but if I’m inside or gone, yup, they’re a horrid pack.  She’s 10 months old, so her teenage period is in full bloom and I believe that… she’s ignoring me, and I just keep reminding myself of all her good qualities!!!

Joanne:  Do you have a favourite horse you ride when working cattle.

Well, I really only ride Panama.  We’re kind of horse poor, and we don’t have many replacements if everyone rides.  We do have some “top horses”, the ones that get used the most…  Daniel has Zip, the black horse, and Big Rooster.  Brandon has Rio, the blue horse, with Peanut as backup.  Vernon rides Rosin, the buckskin, with the Brown Horse for back up.  Tess has Punch and Victoria has Alice.  Let’s see… I think that’s it.  If anyone else rides, like Johnny or Megan or Matt, then you can see our backups get used up!  My favorite horse to ride was Willow.  He was a slow walker, you had to pedal to get somewhere in good time, but put him on a cow and he was ON.  I enjoyed that immensely!

Rosemary:  Here in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California we really didn’t have any sustained winter weather at all: temperatures were much warmer than normal, and there was very little precipitation. Did you experience a typical Wyoming winter?

Well, I think overall it seemed milder.  We didn’t have extended periods of REALLY COLD, though we did get some, it just didn’t last.  Seems like the snow came and stayed… I really should have asked Johnny what his records show.  He’s been keeping weather records for 30+ years now!

Marilyn:  Kind of off the usual topic, but I am wondering how the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s affected your ranch back in 1980? (ack! that is 35 years ago and sure doesn’t seem possible).

Well, I guess I should have asked someone, but that was a year before I came to the ranch, so… uh… I don’t know!  I’m sorry!  I remember fine ash dusting our cars in Casper, but living in town, it didn’t bother us any…

Liza:  You’ve talked about different groups of cows. Are these groups stable? I mean, do the same cows stay together all the time, or does membership shift around? Does adding new cows to a group change the dynamics?

Cows have “pecking orders” and cows have friends just like dogs and horses and probably most herd animals.   Membership is chosen by us, either by age (like heifers) or sex (like steers) or tag colors (yellow ones go to one pasture, green to another, and that helps pick which bull goes where).  Taking older cows or sick cows away will change the dynamics, so will adding in the new replacement heifers every year.  They work it all out though.  Sometimes if you want a cow to hurry up, it may just be that there’s a “higher ranking” cow in front of her, giving her the evil eye so she doesn’t come too close, and being aware of the relationships and behaviors will help you cowboy a little bit more efficiently!

Susan:  I had asked this question on an earlier post, but maybe this is the better time to ask it. You had posted about a couple of cows that were babysitting about 25 calves and I wondered how long the sitter sits, how far away the cows go, do they have some sort of pecking order to determine who is watching the “kids”, and how long a sitting job lasts. I just think it is so very interesting that cows use a daycare system!

Well, they’ll sit for an hour or two… depending on what the mommas are doing.  They may be grazing or going to get a drink.  The cows could be over the hill or a mile away.  Some other cows might come back and “relieve” the babysitters, but they’ll all come back when it’s time to nurse their babies.  Momma and baby have the instinct to go back to the last place they saw each other or nursed, so rarely does a separated pair stay separated too long.  Deer and antelope do this, too… and I imagine other critters do too.

Liza:  Is panic catching? Do you ever have the entire herd running frantically in the wrong direction? How do you stop/turn a stampede?

Panic is definitely catching!  It’s instinct, if someone else is running, I should run too!  A real stampede doesn’t happen very often, not the frantic Hollywood version, but they will turn and all head the wrong direction sometimes!  Yearlings are infamous for that, they’re young, ignorant, and full of spunk.  You have to get in the lead and turn the leaders if the first few get by you, pretty quick they’ll split and go around to catch up to their leaders no matter what you do!  Fast and good horsemanship is necessary… usually that’s not me!  The only time I ever saw the entire herd start to stampede was one year when we branded up on the mountain.  We had them in what we call our “horse pasture”, just a smaller pasture to keep them in next to the corral.  Without warning a big Air Force bomber appeared overhead, and not very high up!  It was on training run probably out of Rapid City, South Dakota, but it was so shocking to all the people and all the cows!  As a group the herd turned and ran away towards the fenceline, and we all knew we had lost them!  Surprisingly, they stopped at the fence and we all breathed a sigh of relief!  It was lucky and it’s so nice to have cows that respect fences!!!

Well, hopefully that’s all the questions… If I missed yours, repost it!  I’d hate to leave any question out!


Questions and Answers – May 2015 Edition – Part Two — 5 Comments

  1. Carol,,, I seem to have lost your email…will you contact me at above email to let me know how to pay for the 2 mugs from you? so sorry to bother you with this, Pam

  2. Hi Carol! Of all these years I have been reading your blog – I don’t think I have mentioned a series of books my father loves to you. Your love of western books and all, I think you might like these. The question about your horses triggered the idea.

    They are books written by Ben K. Green. Father swears that he is the same person that was their vet on the family farm back in the 30’s and 40’s in East Texas. I can’t confirm or deny the fact, but wanted to share the books with you. I think Dad has read each of them 10 or more times….. Pat

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