Subtle Signs

Mother Nature continues to tempt us with thoughts of springtime.
They may be subtle.
They may be minor.
But they exist just the same.
The warmth of a 40 degree day actually *feels* warm.  The sun has a strength to it that has been lacking.  Makes you want to lay down in it and dream.
signs1
Delicate lacings of ice are all that covers last year’s dry grasses on south facing slopes.
signs2
Though the snow still rests heavily on the mountain… a wind blown south facing slope is the place to be!
signs3
The trails through the deep snow on the north sides of hills are softening… and they lead to the dry south slope of the next hill.
signs4
The ice covering the Nowood has fallen out… at least up here by my house…  leaving ice flows to be buffeted by current and sunshine…
signs5
No green grass yet.
No babies.
No summer bird songs.
But it’s coming.  I know it is!

Axe-ident

I spent yesterday afternoon huffing, puffing, and swinging an axe.

In November, when the first snow fell, we weren’t thinking about calving.  We were thinking let the cows and horses graze unimpeded.  Which is great.  Which works fine until February.
February… when the electric fence wire we laid down in the summer is now buried beneath snow and ice.

Sometimes you can give it a good yank, and the wire will pull through the snow.

Sometimes you drag your boots through the crusty snow and the wire will magically appear.
Sometimes the wire will disappear under 4 inches of ice and then is when your axe makes its appearance.  That is what Vernon and I were doing.
I have a smaller axe than Vernon.
It is lighter weight.
It is more dull.
Thank goodness for small favors!
Because in the middle of a swing, Dally darted in to see me, and I connected with her skull.
I felt the contact, knew I had made *serious* contact.
As she ran yelping up the hill, I said a very bad word, threw my axe to the side, and started to call her back to me.  Between her yelps, she heard me, and circled back down the hill to my side.
I anxiously looked her over, knowing that blood should be pouring from *somewhere*.
I couldn’t find anything on first inspection, though the red mud on her paws teased me with its resemblance to blood.
As she and I both calmed down, my fingers searched deeper through her fur and I found it.  A nice neat gash on the top of her skull.  About an inch long.  No blood.
OH, MY GOODNESS.
If I’d had the bigger axe,
if it’d been sharp,
if one of us would have been a split second either way, I’d have hit her in the eye or nose or cut off a paw or broke her spine.
If I was chopping wood and taking a full swing instead of the smaller ones you use when chopping ice…
Sympathizing with the massive headache she must be experiencing… I told her and Elsa that maybe her mom could make her feel better.  And I swear, the instant I said it, Elsa walks to Dally who is laying pitifully at my feet, and begins licking the wound.  She continued for a good 5 minutes.  Dally visibly relaxed with the ministrations of her mom.
This morning when I first woke up, I checked on Dally.  I could tell someone had licked her head again.
English Shepherds… Basic Emergency Care providers!
Vernon said he wondered if a lobotomy would help her behavior in any way… dearsweethelpful husband!
She’s OK.
I, however, will be teased about taking an axe to my dogs… probably for the rest of my life!
I wonder if this will make the hair grow back in white, like scars do on horses.  If so, her little white blaze will have a short zig at the very top of it, a perpetual reminder of the axe-icents that dogs can freakishly undergo out here on the ranch.

Neighborly OOPE

We helped the neighbors vaccinate their cows.  It was the perfect opportunity to share more OOPE photos that show a different setting!

First of all, notice anything different?
her1
Yup, our cows used to look like this when Vernon and I got married.  We had a straight Hereford herd too.  As the years passed we felt the market wanted more cross breds and got into the Angus cattle as well.  Now it’s hard to find a red cow on our place!  Our neighbors, however, have stuck by their Hereford roots!
As often happens on OOPE photos, my telephoto button was accidently pushed… thanks to gloves and cold fingers.
The accident actually provided some neat shots.
Like this.
her2
And this.
her3
Not so much this…
her4
But on the other hand, I like this…
her5
Just because I love this dark mahogany color… it is also found in willows… and if I was brave, I’d paint a room this color.
Our neighbors had a calf… a preemie…  and I HAD to get a quick shot of him.  Because we don’t get red babies anymore… and they are SO CUTE!  And how can you not love something that just can’t keep its tongue in its mouth where it is supposed to be!
her6

Meanwhile… Back at the Ranch

I’ve taken a bit of a detour lately, focusing on my hobby of pysanky.  Thanks for putting up with that… and I may include a photo of the next egg or two I create, just for kicks, in the future.  Sharing what keeps me creative is definitely part of my life…
But, I figured it was time to get back to the ranch and ranchlife!
This time of year routine becomes the norm.
Vernon spends his days feeding cattle.  He hauls grain to the heifers in the lot behind my house.  Johnny grains the heifers in the lot by his house.  Vernon and Johnny meet up, load the tractor with bales of hay, and go off into the various fields to feed hungry bunches of cows and bulls and a smidge for the horses too.  Johnny then continues to the other place to feed with the bale feeder… and Vernon pitches hay to the calves in the lots.  Every day.  -45 degrees or 45 above.  Wind, snow, overcast, or icy.
It is a rhythm that can become either suffocating or a welcome foundation to base your days upon.  It depends on your attitude.  The procedure rarely varies for weeks.
Next week change will come.
Next week we bring the heifers up by my house to prepare for calving season.
Next week we’ll string electric fence.
Next week we’ll vaccinate the heifers with ScourGuard.
Next week we’ll keep a close eye on them.
Soon we’ll have babies.
Soon we’ll lose sleep every night.
Soon we’ll watch joyful calves frolic with tails held high.
Soon we’ll enjoy one of the best parts of ranchlife… getting nice calves on the ground, healthy, happy, and captivating!
Until “soon” comes… chores are waiting.  So is Lucas.
choredog