Questions and Answers: August 2015 Edition

Marilyn M: Is this normal to take your herd to the mountain this late in the year?

We are going later for two reasons.  One, the most important, is because we have so much larkspur on our mountain pasture, we wait until it is dried up and less palatable, hoping that our cows won’t eat any – or at least less.  Larkspur is quite poisonous in quantity, and the loss of a few cows is worth the wait.  The second reason was simply time.  The guys were busy putting up hay, and we wanted to plan it so first cutting was up and there was a short break before we started again.

Irmgard: here’s my question: Except for what I learned here, from you, I know nothing about stockmanship, so I’m wondering: Did you ever try to follow the rules of “Low Stress Stockmanship” as you intended to? Did it not work for you, or do these scenes qualify as LSS? (I hope I didn’t phrase this in a way that comes across as provocative; I’m honestly just wodering, since, to this ignorant city-prisoner, it looks and sounds pretty High Stress! In any event, I figure it must be precisely what you need in a bog situation and with a cowdog-in-training?)

I like Low Stress Stockmanship, and I try to use it when I can.  You’re quite right in that fighting the cows through the bogs doesn’t exactly qualify!  The bogs are at the end of a long hike up the mountain, and the cows are decidedly thirsty.  Part of this is courtesy, we’re trailing through pastures that aren’t ours.  Eating their grass and drinking their water is rude… I mean beyond what they grab as the cows walk by.  The other part is the destination is just a little bit further… if we can get them through the gate, we can drop them and they can eat and drink and not move for a few weeks!  So, yes, we pressure them.  I don’t know the “proper” LSS technique for occasions like this!  I know if we didn’t have dogs, some ornery cows just might camp out in the bogs, evading people on foot… some are sneaky that way!

Judy: Are you still doing your Hugelkultur gardening? If so how was it this season? and how are your chickens doing?

Rats, rats, rats.  I honestly was going to go take pictures for you today… My hugelkultur bed is home to planted raspberries and volunteer tomato plants.  It continues to shrink as it rots and I continue to add a bit of compost to it in spots.  The tomato plants look better than the ones in my garden, thicker stems, maybe not as many tomatoes, but that is because they are behind many weeks of growth since they were volunteer.  My chickens are down to five plus Spot.  Spot hasn’t started laying yet, though I hope she does soon!  She is a very nice little hen, riding on my arm, eating out of my hand, letting kids pet her…

Carole: How about snakes in your part of the country? Do you have problems with them and your dogs/cattle/horses/people? What about wolves? Do they ever attack livestock just for the heck of it or, if you have any, attack just for food? Any big cats hanging around?

We have little snakes and then there are bull snakes and rattlesnakes.  Bull snakes eat mice, and right now, I’m a big fan of anything that eats mice.  Rattlesnakes eat mice too, but they are venomous and, therefore, I’m not a fan! My dog Custer (in the Before Time) was bit on the muzzle by a rattlesnake, but that is the only incident I can recall with animals and rattlesnakes.  Custer lived to tell the tale, although he was a miserable boy for a bit!  Unlike on tv, our horses walk by the buzzing of rattlesnakes, sometimes so close I wonder about them!  Often just an ear will tip back and that is all the reaction they give!  Wolves.  Big Question.  There was a couple of wolves here a few years back… and they killed a neighbor’s sheep, then circled around a few weeks later and killed some more.  They killed over 30.  They were just playing, killing is a game that needs to be practiced, I guess.  I don’t believe in the “they kill just the old and the weak” line.  Mountain lions are always around.  We have so many in the Big Horn Mountains that many licenses are sold every year for hunting them.

Irmgard: You said that sweetgrass is one of your favorite scents, and at one point you sold felted sweetgrass soap… Do you plan to create and sell more felted soaps in the future?

Well, yes.  Somehow I haven’t made them all summer for the little store downtown… I’ve just made a few for presents.  Someday…

Rosemary: I was wondering how many hay cuttings you’re able to do between spring and fall? Do you grow a grass/alfalfa or grass/clover mixture in each field, or are the legumes and the grasses grown in separate fields? The “Time to Wash” post also made me wonder if the silty water comes from a surface stream or channel, or a well?

We do two cuttings.  Some fields may get a third depending on the weather…  The fields are a alfalfa/grass mix for the most part.  The water for the pivot basically comes from the creek, although not directly.  Anyway, yes, the silt is creek silt!

Nancy: how has the size of the ranch changed over the last 100 years ( just In general got bigger smaller broken up ect) also how do you decide what cows are sold each year and how many to sell?

I thought this sounded familiar… I answered this question last month for you!  😉 It’s ok, but I’ll take this moment to encourage people to read my old Questions and Answers posts by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.  Some people never notice those tabs!  The ranch has grown, most of it in its early years when others gave up on their neighboring homesteads.  We sell “open” or non-pregnant cows, or old cows that are losing their teeth.  It’s fairly consistent from year to year… then we have to decide how many we want to keep/replace and sell the rest.  It’s kind of a fluid thing… cattle prices, hay availability, how many heifers the guys want to calve out, etc.

Marilyn: How are the bees doing? And do you have any prairie dogs on your ranch?

The bees had a good year.  At least two hives did… one is pretty weak and I need to check on it again.  The sweet clover was unbelievable, so they had plenty of honey.  We have a few prairie dogs, most are on BLM land.  Prairie dogs are pretty good at destroying grassland, so I’m glad we don’t have very many!

Tom: Was Panama named for Panama Red, of the song? If so I love it!

Funny story… Brandon and I were discussing names and he said how he liked place names for animals.  Somehow Panama was brought up, and I said Panama Red!  Wasn’t there a song about that????  So, later I looked it up on the internet.  “Panama Red” first hit on Google was a variety of marijuana!  I got a good laugh with that… the boys insist I probably heard about “Panama Red” in college.  That is so NOT TRUE!  So, yes, *I* say Panama is named after the song!!!!

Joan: Is that a beaver you were “conversing” with. Was that a beaver dam next to it? I know you have rabbits, skunks, deer, elk and squirrels. What other critters do you have?

That is a muskrat, and he was just swimming along the creek bank with some leaves in his mouth.  That is just the creek bank. Other critters??? Wow.  Elk, deer, antelope, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, hares, wild turkeys, mountain lions, beavers, muskrats, occasional moose and bear, packrats (!), porcupines, uh… lots of birds, game birds, eagles/hawks/vultures… Oddly enough, right here at my house we don’t have grey squirrels… they’re up on the mountain more, or in town!!!

Irmgard: When it says “teams”, what do I have to imagine: two horses, mules, donkeys, steers? Do you know?

(This is in reference to the stories that I have quoted in the “Reminisces” posts)  It would have been teams of horses.  I’m not sure if they were work horse breeds then or not… We had a team of work horses when I first came to the ranch, Buck and Booger!

Carole: Any news on when Longmire might air on Netflix? So scared I will miss it because I have to subscribe to Netflix.

Oh, YES!  September 10th you can see ALL of Season Four on Netflix if you so desire!!!  All episodes will be available so you can binge watch!  I won’t be doing that… I’d like to make it last a little bit… Please rate it when you view it so they’ll do a Season Five!  Since these trailers just came out this week… I’ll share!  Please do sign up and support Longmire, it is QUALITY television. (Plus the episodes are about 20 minutes longer since there are no commercials!!!)

Thanks, guys, great questions!

Spoiler alert with this one!!!


Questions and Answers: August 2015 Edition — 2 Comments

  1. THANK YOU for your answers, especially to my many questions (I really clobbered you with them this time, didn’t I, but you graciously took it in stride–thanks for that as well!). My goal is to one day pass the theoretical part of the City Slicker Cowgirl-Pretend exam, you know… 😉
    At any rate, your answer re. LSS vs. the (neighbors’, to boot!) bog situation is very educational (?educating? ‘scuse my “English”!) and absolutely makes sense (even to me) – I’m glad I asked.
    And, please put me down for 3 bars of sweetgrass-scented, felted soap bars! I absolutely cannot die before I haven’t smelt sweetgrass! 🙂
    P.S. I think I’d enjoy watching Longmire more if, for example, one of your sons played the sheriff’s part. Ha!! (And if I could watch it in English, darnit.) OK, enough already. Thanks and Cheers!

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