Saturday, January 31, 2009

When Animals Attack

We are gentlemen ranchers, we are told, which means we get up late and are never in any hurry to get things done. Like our fall roundup. We started it in the fall, but just finished the last few animals yesterday. Their mama's just hadn't wanted to comply and we had to set up a round pen of panels and coax them in with some hay. Not too much of a problem really, except for a mule who thought the hay was all for her. I tried coaxing the mule out with some hay, but she wasn't having it. She saw ALL the piles in the round pen and kept chasing cows and calves out. Fortunately, for us, my hubby knows how to toss a rock and one well placed on her rump was all the convincing Ms. Riley needed.

So now we had a pen full of cows and calves. Maybe 20 all together. Seeing how the trailer we borrow (perhaps another one of those gentlemen rancher traits in that we don't own a trailer)would not hold all those animals and we didn't need the cows anyway and all of the calves are well over 6 months by now, we cut out the cows and left the pen full of calves. No problems. Smooth as silk. Mark backed up the trailer and we proceeded to load the calves. The last to load was a little heifer that was a tad slow. Well, really slow might be a better analysis. And this is when the excitement began.

The excitement might have began because someone, other than myself, prodded the poor little slow heifer with the long handle of a car wash brush (we couldn't find the cattle paddles, shaky thingy ma-jigs), or it could have been because at about this time a dog proceeded to jump out of the truck. A dog who loves to think she can herd animals and she was followed by another dog who definately knew better. All we know is that about the time the little heifer put her last little hoof into the trailer and we were latching the gate, all heck broke out. Our usually placid cows, who had been patiently and calmly standing outside of the pen, turned into an angry mob ready to roll the truck and trailer over and spray graffatti all over the place. We have never seen anything like it. They were ramming the trailer, panel, truck; a couple even jumped between the trailer and the truck over the hitch. Although I think she was chasing the dog. I at first laughed and then one blew snot all over my face and I realized she might head butt me for reals. Mark began hollering to put the dogs away, who I think had triggered some attack predator response in the cows. I ran like heck to open the tailgate and had the camper shell door hit me on my backside. Smokey jumped in first while Cait ran further away to draw the mob with her, I think, then she hightailed it back and leaped into safety. I hunkered down in the back of the pick up bed too, under the cover of the camper shell, while some of the cows mooed and glared at me. I actually almost wrote growled at me, for that is how I remember it. But cows don't growl, do they? After the dogs were put away, Mark ran to the truck and we drove away, taking the calves with us.

Here is the scene of the crime, later in the day. I was too scared to actually take photos when it was happening. I would never make it as a journalist!

I wondered why these cows raised such a ruckuss. They had never done so before and we have caught them in this way in the past. But maybe that was the problem! They remembered where we hauled their calves and what we did with them.

Here is Anna giving her first piercing to one little guy. Do you think he likes it? This is Katelynn, Anna's friend, looking rather cute while she holds the handle to our big bander. Mr. Chapman is below placing the rubber tubing around this little fellows unmentionables. Then they crank and crank and crank until it is good and tight. We haven't been cutting any calves for about a year. They seem to do much better with banding. We have a little bander with small bands for the young ones we catch in a timely manner and the big bander for the bad boys who hide out in the hills until their voices are very deep. Off course now their voices will soon move to something a tad higher. If you get my drift.

Katelynn also kept the needles loaded, but we couldn't get either girl to give vaccinations. They said, "needles scare me!" But apparenly not hot irons. Look at her smile...I think this gal likes to inflict pain. Branding is actually the only thing the animals bawl about. But still Anna smiles.You can't see her, but she is still smiling.
Well, she is only sort of smiling here. Maybe she is having second thoughts after the deed is done. I dunno, but she looks intense. Mama donkey has some second thoughts about the happenings going on around here. Apparently, some very dark thoughts!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Post with No Name

I fell in the water crossing Salmon Creek to check on some cattle. I am not much good on jumping from from rock to rock. The sound of the creek, the swirl of the clouds, and the moss covered rocks did me in. Luckily it was shallow and only my pride was hurt. The hike was steep afterwards and I did notice my heart pounding, but not my cold, wet feet.

We tried out all the suggested names and we seemed to feel that Frank or Frankie fit him best. He has a certain frankness. Thanks Momma Em for the winning suggestion. When Frank finishes his duty here he might need a visit to the islands. Thanks for all the other suggestions. Some really made us chuckle. Gandalf was a name that came in close to winning, we love the Tolkien Trilogy, but after getting to know Frank better we realized he isn't really so wise. He looks the part, but um, not so much really. He just follows Flower around. She is definately in charge. Frank isn't so sure what to do with all the freedom either. We often see him standing along the fenceline. He seems to want to be fenced in. Get used to it, Frank. The animals roam mostly free on these acres.
Like this crazy sheep that wanderered here from somewhere else.
Normally the sky to the east of our house does not light up. This was a rare sunset in which to make note of. I have been very aware of the sunset this last week, because it is my cue to head to the barn and herd my chickens into their hen house.

Eric may be the bold, but he ain't so good at locking the chickens up at night, and somehow, during our absence, they took to taking things into their own wings and finding a new place to roost. If I am late in herding them, all but 2, are up sitting on the wire on top of the hen house in the barn. I have tried all kinds of ways to unroost them; rocks, sticks, curse words, (just kidding about the curse words, mom). The other evening I was poking a stick up through the wire to encourage them to do the right and safe thing and come into the house where I could lock them up from the predators and I began wondering about what they thought of the discomfort I was giving them. They sure squawked and complained. If only they could understand me, I thought. And then I pondered how this might be how God, or if it is more to your liking, a higher order feels with us. Sometimes I feel the prod of a stick and I am just not quite sure which direction to take!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

First Date and Billy Needs a New Name!

He looks a little confused as to why his behavior on their first date was not a hit! Apparently this guy needs some dating advice and he also needs a new name. Mark found this free billy goat on Craig's list and gave it to me for my birthday yesterday. Did I mention it was free. What a guy. I mean goat. Actually, I love that he was free. This billy, who came with the name Little Man, (who is anything but little), has been apparently passed around our county taking care of the lady goats. He is a really cool looking goat with his big horns and goatee. And he doesn't smell too bad either; kind of spicy and exotic and so far he has been very respectful of people. I think I was told he is some kind of dairy goat that begins with the letter N. Not that it matters. I am just glad that Flower will have a 'friend'. And hopefully we will eventually have some little kidds running around the ranch. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Lodgepole guessed correctly! We were in the tourist town of Sayulita in the state of Nayurit in the country of Mexico which, of course, is located on the continent of North America.

We rented Casa Zorro, nestled on a hillside in the north end of town. The previous photo was NOT Casa Zorro. Got you, didn't I?! We stumbled upon this villa while walking along a secluded beach a few miles south of town. Our home for the 10 day visit was nice, but not that nice! Our's did though have a wonderful view of the ocean and each night our lullaby was only the sound of the surf.
Here is the part of the panaramic view we had from our balcony.
This view became very familiar as we walked the half mile to town each day. At night, on our return walk, the warm lights shining in the darkness were just as breathtaking. And we stopped often to enjoy them and to catch our breath from the steep climb!
The north end beach was only a short walk from where we stayed, and as you can see it was not crowded with people. Although, at times, it was crowded with birds that flocked there to catch fishes. It was fun to sit and watch their antics as their cries and the ocean's roar filled the silence. The south beach, right in town, was a bit more congested. Beach chairs, palapa's, restaurants, bars, surf and boogie board rentals filled the space, not to mention all of us touristas. This section of beach was also very safe for swimming and so most of the children played here. We tried surfing, and even successfully stood up on a few of these easy waves.A short walk to the south of town, through the cemetary brought us to Playa de los Muertos, or beach of the dead! This area was a nice place to snorkle. This photo was taken from there looking back toward the town. It was truly a dog's life; lazing in the sun, socializing at will, eating and drinking on the beach. And the dogs were everywhere. They would follow you around like they were your own and then they would see a friend and head off to new adventures. All of the dogs were well fed and seemingly very content. We aren't quite sure what the deal was with this poor little pigeon but the juxtaposition of these two caught our eye. Here was a man bringing his horses to the beach for the day. All of the horses we saw for hire were very well cared for. For about 20 dollars an hour (although everything is negotiable in Mexico!) you could ride. The cabelleros would ride around with their string of horses on the beach trying to catch someone's, usually a gringa's, eye.
While we were there turtles hatched out for release. They seemed so tiny compared to the sea. Good luck little turtle.
The sunset seemed a fitting farewell.
We also took the opportunity to take a boat ride on the Bay of Banderras, by Puerto Vallarta, to snorkel at one of the islands of Las Marrietas and also to view the humpback whales that were mating in the bay. It was amazing to hear the whales exhale as they came out of the water near our boat, and hear the gasp of awe from the onlookers as their tail came out as they sounded. While we got some wonderful video of the whales, (which I can't load due to our internet speeds), we did not get any photos.

We took this trip with some very dear friends of ours, and we all especially enjoyed hiking along the roads, beaches and through the jungle to the neighboring towns and secluded beaches.

Adios Mexico! We enjoyed our stay.

Friday, January 9, 2009


No guessing if you know... that means you JO!

Global Quiz

We are in America in a state that starts with the letter n, one time zone earlier than our house, and outside the jungle comes down to the ocean. The town is known for surfing. Where are we?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our Horizon

A view of Bear Buttes from the ranch. I am told they were named thus because of the grizzlies that once roamed here.
Do we not continually pass by blessings innumerable without notice, and instead fix our eyes on what we feel to be our trials and our losses, and think and talk about these until our whole horizon is filled with them, and we almost begin to think we have no blessings at all?

-Hannah Whitall Smith

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pardon me...

...if I talk with my mouth full! But the masters are home and they came bearing gifts of sweet smelling alfalfa hay. (WAYYY better than frankincense or myrrh!) This cow, #13, needs a name. She is a good mama. Last year her calf was born in January and grew to 500 pounds by June when we sold it. This year she had twins late in November. She says it is not rude to speak with your mouth full if you are eating for three!
This cow needs a name too. She is a bad mama. Well, not immoral, but she is late in having her next calf and she has been told that her number is on the list. The cull list. So sorry. It is kind of odd, now that I am thinking about it, how human society kind of frowns on a fertile woman who pops out a baby yearly, but for cows it is good. Very good. Have you met our Rastafarian sheep? They are funny looking and they don't belong to us, so don't nag us about how they should be shorn. They belonged to a neighbor, we are told, who no longer lives around here. So, they apparently heard about how restorative this place is and came here to live out their lives.We actually have thought of shearing them, but we think they might get eaten by the lions, or tigers, or bears. Oh my! Well, maybe not the tigers.Hay, hay, hay. Here they come. One little toot and a holler and the horse herd comes a-running.Stormy is always in the lead as the alpha mare. As you can see, Riley the mule, is right behind her.
This is Tono. He was happy to hear that his friend and owner, Casey, just delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl named Trinity Ann. Welcome to the world Trinity. Tono awaits.
Shy Anne is Eric's and she is a sweet and shy mare. I might add that all the definitions of shy apply, and you have to always be on the ready when you ride her. That is my Buddy in the background. He really looks like a mule in the winter with his light muzzle. Last, but certainly not least, is Sweet William! If you follow our blog, you will recall that his previous owner had changed his name to Billy Bob, because he could be quite the rascal. Well, it seems somehow most folks who frequent this place combine the names in a unique way and call him Willie Bob. It fits his life here. For while he is mostly a gentleman, he also has a stubborn streak. We honestly adore this horse and have found him to be a perfect mount for many of our friends. Eric's friend, Brian, loves this horse even though he had sworn off horses for 13 years. Apparently Willie has found a home.
Although the cats, dogs, goat, chickens, cows, horses, and wildlife get top billing, the humans really do run the ranch, and we thank all of our human friends who help or who run the place while we are absent.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Every moment a gift; Every life a miracle

Today begins a new year. There always seems to be a hush, an expectancy, an open room beckoning on this day. When I was younger it scared me. "What would the new year bring?" I asked myself. Now I breathe in and breathe out and worry less. No weight of glory or dread rests more heavily on this day. It is a gift like every other and we, here at the ranch will try to keep hearts, and minds open to its wonders and make our decisions with the realization that the consequences of today's choices are carried into our tommorrows.

As for blogging, we have made the decision to post a little less. I have caught myself getting a little too OCD about the whole thing and my inner thoughts have sounded too much like a post. LOL! This last year we aimed (I actually mean I aimed, Mark rarely plans!) at posting every other day and succeeded with 195 posts in 2008. This year I will aim at posting weekly. In all likelihood we will post more, but being a bit goal oriented, I will always have a new post up on the weekend... in case you're checking and we hope you are checking. Why you might be checking we often ask ourselves, but nonetheless, we are glad when you do.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." - The Bible/ Numbers 6:24-26