Sunday, August 30, 2015


I bought a used tractor last week. No more pulling hay bales on pallets!    The tractor is a John Deere 5420.

Early morning this past Saturday I drove it home. The top speed is about 17 to 18 mph.  I've been so busy with the irrigation pipes I haven't had a chance to do anything else with the tractor.

I did check and the tractor will just fit in the pole shed with about a foot to spare.  That's good as the tractor has a block heater and the pole shed has electricity.  I just need to find time to clear out one of the sections of the pole shed to drive the tractor into.

For more info on John Deere 5420 tractors:

I also bought a new bale spear for the tractor.  I brought the bale spear home using the pickup.  While the salesman and I lifted the bale spear into my pickup, I had to use a couple of boards to slide the spear from the pickup to the ground.  I haven't had a chance to test attaching the spear to the tractor.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cattle, less cattle and gophers

On Tuesday Dan's cattle left and so did my steer.  There was no extra grass for Dan's cattle so he sent them to the livestock auction.  I sent my steer too, for one less mouth to feed and because he was leaving in the Fall anyway.

The previous weekend Dan brought me a replacement board for the loading corral from back when his cow, "Auntie" broke it.  Monday I nailed the board in the loading corral to finish the repairs from the abuse the cattle made on it this year.

Evan came and got the cattle.  I didn't know when he was going to arrive and had to hang around much of the day as he didn't arrive until 3 pm.

The cattle loading went smooth and Evan was in-and-out in a little over 20 minutes.  I was concerned that "Auntie" would have a fit and not load but, while reluctant to go down the loading corral's runway, she followed the other cattle into the trailer.

Evan's new trailer as the cattle are leaving.

For a few days Buddy would go back and forth between the middle pasture where the cattle were and the south pasture.  Monday morning Buddy and all the cattle were in the middle pasture.  A little over an hour later Buddy and all but five cattle were in the south pasture.   The grass is greener in the south pasture.  I was going to move the cattle in a few days but they took the matter in their own hands.

The other five cattle stood at the fence wondering how the rest of the cattle got into the south pasture.  I went out and opened the gate to let the five cattle join the others.  Some cattle went through the gate right away.  Several didn't.

The red cow was more interested in looking at Daisy than walking through the nearby gate.  Only when Daisy came over to me by the gate did the cow follow, then walk through the gate.

Some pocket gophers have moved onto the ranch.   I trapped all but one in the south pasture.  Once the cattle came into the south pasture that put an end to trapping there.

I have lost two pocket gopher traps.  I suspect coyotes have taken the traps and the caught pocket gophers off to a safe place to sit and work on getting the gopher out of the trap.  That has happened to me in the past.  Often I find the empty traps in trees nearby.  So far I have not found the two missing traps - there are more trees in this area and I haven't had extra time to search for the traps.

I have a number of pocket gophers in the hayfield.  I trapped three so far.  I have four or more left to trap.  It is harder to trap them now.  The ground is hard to dig and the pocket gophers are suspicious of the traps and often fill them with dirt.  That seems to be common this time of year.

I have trapped 23 pocket gophers this year - one more than all of last year.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Reins, not stirrup

The other night when I wrote about the Indian Relay races I mentioned a rider got hung up in his strirrup during a horse exchange.

Umm... he was riding bare-back.

He got hung up in the horse's reins, not stirrup.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

More rodeo

Donna's daughter and son-in-law weren't able to come to the rodeo at the NW Montana Fair on Saturday so Donna and I used their tickets instead of letting them go to waste.

Saturday night's rodeo was the finals of three nights of rodeo action.  This rodeo was longer at about an hour.  A few more competitors in each category.  

Bucking bronco rider

Mainly the reason the rodeo was longer were the Indian Relay races.  Instead of just one Indian Relay race there were two of them.  There were also two bareback riding races - one for the men and one for the women.

The horses were wild and high spirited in all the Indian races. Because the riders were riding bare-back the riders often were holding on for dear life and some riders fell off.  Those horses kept running the race without them.

The Indian relay team is four people:
  1. The rider
  2. the person who grabs the incoming horse as the rider gets off,
  3. the person who holds the second horse and positions it for the rider to jump on it, then catches the horse when the rider comes in again after circling the track,
  4. the person who holds the third horse and positions it for the rider to jump on it.
Even after the horse has been ridden it remains in the team's 'staging' area while the race is going on.   As all the teams' staging areas are near each other along the fence the transfers can be tricky as horses are milling around.  The rider has to find his team and next horse while avoiding the other teams and horses.  He has to jump off his horse and both feet must touch the ground before he jumps onto the next horse.

The first Indian relay race must have been the "B" team as the riders often had trouble making a smooth transfer between the horses.  One guy was drug around by his horse as his foot was caught in the stirrup.   Other riders hopped and hopped and hopped before mounting their horses who were taking off to join the other horses racing.

The "A" team of riders were better in the transfers.  Only one rider's horse got away from him.  The winning rider jumped off his horse on the second transfer, made one or two hops across the ground and jumped high on a rearing horse and held on the horse's neck as it came down on all four feet and took off at breakneck speed.  With such a smooth and quick transfer, and a fast horse, no one could catch him.

I think the Indian riders were the best part of the rodeo.

The starts are chaotic.   The horses mill around as they won't keep still.  The starter (holding the orange flag in the photo) tries to start the race when the horses are close to one another.  That doesn't mean the horses are all facing the right direction.

And they're off!

One of the transfers for the "pink" team coming in.

The "pink" team rider leaving after he made the transfer to a new horse.

The winner of the "A" team race.

Here is a 29 second video during one of the Indian relay races:


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cattle, dog and rodeo

Yesterday I wrote about the irrigation pump.  Also on the same morning (Thursday) Dan brought over a large square bale of hay for his cattle.  With the drought and lack of grass it was past time for his cattle to leave.  He hasn't a place for his cattle currently so he will ship them Tuesday to the auction held on Thursday.  To tide his cattle over until Tuesday he brought over a bale of hay for them to eat.

I helped him unload the bale from his trailer.  We wrapped a chain around the bale and hooked it to one of my railroad tie posts and drove off pulling the bale off the trailer.

Then we needed to separate his cattle from mine.  Dan had to go, so a little later when the cattle came to drink and check out what Donna and I were doing to set up the irrigation pipes, I let the cattle into the part of the corral without the hay.  Then Donna helped me sort the cattle out.  Sometimes we got one of Dan's cattle through a gate into the part of the corral with the hay; other times we herded some of my cattle back out into the hayfield.  Whatever was easier at the time.  A number of cattle didn't want to cooperate.

I also left my one steer in the corral with Dan's five cattle as I plan to sell the steer.  The sooner the better as it will be one less mouth to feed and because cattle prices are dropping weekly.

My steer

Dan's cattle

One of Dan's cows is a black cow with a white face.  She is 8 years old, so an older cow than the other cows. The only cow without a calf.  I call her "Auntie".  She also reminds me of a Japanese kabuki player.

"Auntie" likes being near Buddy the bull so she often paced the corral Thursday afternoon looking for a way out so she could join the herd, who I now let into the middle pasture where there was more grass to eat.  Thursday evening for over an hour "Auntie" bellowed and bellowed calling to the herd.  Thankfully she got over that and has stopped bellowing.

Adding to the busy Thursday... while we sorting the cattle Donna's dog decided to wander off.  After the cattle were sorted I ended up searching for the dog.  The dog is deaf so I couldn't call for it.  I checked three neighbors' properties and no dog.  Some time later when working on the irrigation pipe I saw one neighbor return home.  Once I got over there I found the dog outside his building/house.  The dog had gotten inside the neighbor's living quarters, ate a lot of his dog's food, jumped up on a bed, threw up, then went to sleep.  My neighbor was remarkably okay about it.  He is a good neighbor.

Friday night Donna and I went to the rodeo at the NW Montana Fair in Kalispell.  When we left for the fair a very strong cold front came through.  The winds howled and blew everything not nailed down.  We had to swing back home as it began to rain with no end in sight.  We had to go back my house for me to get a coat. Of course, recently, the few times it was annoying to have it rain, it rains. 

The rain had let up by the time we got to the fair. But when the rodeo started it began to pour.  The cheap seats seen in the following photos emptied of most of the people.

The rodeo is spread over three days so each of the events (bucking horse, team roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding) only had a handful of competitors each night.

A highlight was an Indian Relay Race.  Tonight six teams competed.  All were native American teams.   The race is three times around the track.  Each time around the track the rider rides a different horse bareback.  After each lap the rider jumps off the horse and runs over to another horse another team member is holding for him and jumps on that horse to race another time around the track.

It seems like chaos.

Some of the horses were pretty wild. As you can see in the following photo one horse finished the race without its rider.