On the Ranch Journal
|August 1 - Wildfires
August 2 - First day of haying
August 3 - Spanky
August 4 - Dog manners
August 5 - Tramp's education
August 7 - Where only a tractor can tame
August 10 - Fires
August 12 - Major metal fatigue
August 14 - Fires everywhere
August 16 - Halfway mark
August 20 - Dog Clinic
August 21 - Wild Wind Whippings
August 22 - Confused Wild Critters
August 25 - Finished Horse Creek
August 26 - Blind Bull
August 27 - DONE haying
August 28 - Chores
August 29 - Catch-up
August 30 - Friends
August 31 - Something BIG in the coop
Tuesday, August 1 Still hot, dry, and smoky!
Many fires are burning in our neighboring states, and several forest fires,
caused by lightning or campfires, are raging in our own mountains. The
sunsets, though, have been awesome! Winds have stirred the wildfires into
great columns of swirling smoke that dance before each setting sun. This
evening, old Sol looked like a giant, inflamed eye peering through the
veil of smoke. Its somber, burning stare made the river look like a long
crimson-red ribbon. Despite my burning eyes and the tangy smell in the
air, the painted atmosphere is beautiful.
Wednesday, August 2 Our first day of haying. We started mowing hay in the Cora Valley. Really stirs up the meadow-fresh scent of clover and timothy. We'll roll up the cured grass into 3/4-ton round bales within the next couple of days. And every evening for the next 3 - 4 weeks, we'll listen to that old, familiar hum of grinding sickles and watch the sparks fly as the sharpening stone smoothes the nicks and blunt edges from each sickle section.
Thursday, August 3 More clouds forming,
but quite windy and much cooler. The gusts will further dry out the countryside
- but - maybe the wild wind is just trying to blow in a rainstorm; I can
hear the mournful lowing of the West Wind and smell its sage perfume as
it curls its way through my window screens.
Friday, August 4 Nice rain during the night!
Put us out of the hayfield for most of today, but welcome any time!
Saturday, August 5 The Education of Little Tramp: Tramp and I headed off to the County Fair this morning. I know. I should have been in the hayfield, but I just couldn't miss the working cowdog clinic today. And as I scanned the crowd of dog lovers, who had gathered in the new, awesome, climate-controlled Ag Center, I could see that other folks were equally interested in this event. They brought along their big dogs, little dogs, good dogs, misunderstood dogs, dogs that knew the ropes and those that didn't. There were polite nippers and flesh eaters, and hounds of bloodlines that I had no idea would even be interested in a sheep or a cow. Yep! But, we all had one thing in common: We loved dogs! And we had but one goal in mind: Have fun while learning more about what's really going on between the ears of our dogs.
Our instructors - Stan Slagowski of Manila, Utah and Mark Henderson of Deer Trail, Colorado, both dog trial winners, working stockmen, and experienced clinicians, had traveled a great distance to give this clinic.
I was impressed with Stan's opening demo. With only a special whistle that sounded much like a lonesome curlew with the hiccups, Stan sat on horseback at one end of the arena and put his award-winning dog, Dot, through a series of effective maneuvers on three head of range yearlings. By using varying whistle chirps, Stan coached and encouraged Dot to quietly move the cattle toward him. "This is a working partnership where neither one of you is on your own," he emphasized.
Throughout the morning, the level of excitement for the dogs was tightly wound - much like turning a bunch of country kids loose at a three-ring circus or herding them into a classroom on their first day of school. While Stan gave lessons on the cattle, Mark and his good dog, Birch, commandeered the sheep pen, where we each waited for our turn to stir up some well-fed, sporting sheep.
At home, I had "untrained" Tramp's natural instinct to dizzily circle the critters, then run 'em over the top of me. Because I figured that most of the time we'd be driving cattle down the trail - away from us and not to us, I had happily proceeded to break up what I saw as a bad habit.
I learned, however, that there is a time and a place for "circling thewagons," as I shall call it - times when you want to stop and mother theherd or shift directions or bring a handful of livestock into the bunch from the sides. But, the main thing I gained from the day (and what I feel is most important) is to get good control and respect from your dog - bond, if you will - before showing him much livestock of any size. Especially, though, do not rush his training sessions.
When it was Tramp's and my turn to enter the sheep
ring, the little stray was asked to circle the sheep a few times. Then,
in an effort to drive the ewes and lambs toward us, Mark stepped into a
stance that caused the dog to make only half-circles behind the flock.
Tramp actually did a
The entire morning seemed to "fair"ly well bounce right along. I'm glad I played hooky from the hayfield, because I got to meet and visit with lots of nice folks and learned much from two knowledgeable men who were willing to share their expertise. And it sounds like more of this exciting, heel bitin' action might be happening at the Sublette County Ag Center - when the work's all done this fall!
Monday, August 7 Yes, we're heavy into
haying, and about now, we start recalling all the past seasons of the hay
and the many hay crews that have passed over these hallowed fields. In
fact, one of our former, little lady hay hands emailed me the other day.
What she said was so beautiful, I just have to share it with you.
Beth wrote, "Around this time of year, my heart goes
Yes, many hay hands have come and gone over the years - young ones, old ones, men, women, boys, and girls. Each one always touches a special spot in our hearts. And hopefully, as each hay hand heads into his or her next adventure, somewhere down the road, each will carry along a little piece of our hearts.
Please read my story-poem - THE LITTLEST HAY HAND - about a young boy, who one haying season wanted a job so badly, he could hardly stand it.
Thursday, August 10 Fires burning all around
us in our mountains. We can see all of them as they start up, from our
vantage-point in the hay meadows. Watching the little curls of smoke awaken
and swirl skyward, then become angry, out-of-hand wild fires makes us feel
very helpless. Lucky for us, the valleys and meadows are still green and
damp from the summer's
Saturday, August 12 One of our mowers, a Super C Farmall, keeps breaking down. It's nearly ready for retirement - old, brittle, and petrified with major metal fatigue.
Monday, August 14 Despite lots of sunscreen, the hay hands' lips are splitting and bleeding and noses, peeling. Even the full moon's face appears sunburned from the heat and smoke.
If not for the fires and smoke, though, it would be considered a nearly perfect hay day - hot, dry, lots of sunshine, and not too much wind. Prime hay-curing weather.
I went to get the mail at dark-thirty, tonight. To the East, I could see an enormous red glow from the Half Moon Lake fire. Then, on the way home, to the West, a fiery ball loomed on the horizon from the Upper Hoback/Blind Bull fire. And there's a "bonfire" spitting flames to the South of us, too...
Wednesday, August 16 Seems we're burning up. And what a waste! All that firewood, fence posts, housing material, and wildlife - up in flames and smoke - and especially, the risk of human life as hot shots and smoke jumpers walk and jump into the eye of the flame. Thanks for their extreme efforts!
Dang, with all this smoke and heat, I feel like a bug in a smudge pot or a turkey in a smoker. But, we Sublette County dwellers are tough old birds, and we ain't done yet!!
...On the bright side, we're just past the halfway mark with our haying effort and are "clipping" right along...
A big boar
Monday, August 21 At the crest of evening tide, a strong wind threatened to blow the hay windrows into the next county. But, we fooled it - only had about ten rows raked ahead of the baler, so Rudy quickly caught up and put 'em in such a form (1/2-ton bales) as to defeat the wind's wild whippings.
Tuesday, August 22 I'm raking beside Horse Creek today. The poor creek has dried up in many places, but springs do intermittently feed it, keeping the livestock and wildlife's thirst satisfied. Currently, about 150 antelope don't know whether to sit tight or pack up and head south. They'll bed down in the fresh grass stubble and chew their cuds for a while, then jump and run like their tails are on fire. Might be, with all the fires surrounding us. Not only the antelope, but all the wild creatures seem confused and scared by the smoke, fires, shriveled food sources, and vanishing water. Their instincts, though, appear to be guiding them to the last fresh blades of hope in the valleys. This fall, it seems we'll be sharing our meager waterholes, hay crop, and pasture grass with the wild game. Been there and done that before. Wouldn't turn 'em away even if we could. Desperate times.
Saturday, August 26 By dusk, a heavy, woody smoke from the Blind Bull forest fire rolled silently across the valley floor, swallowing everything in its path - sage, willows, cottonwoods, milk cows, chickens, kids, dogs, and the hay crew. But, shortly, a glowing orange and copper sunset made us forget our burning throats and watery eyes, and our pitifully dry, Dry, DRY countryside.
Sunday, August 27 Yea! We finished raking
and baling this afternoon beneath a bank of foolishly dry, but teasing,
black clouds. Just have some round bales to stack and we are done, Done,
DONE haying! Yes!
Tuesday, August 29 Again, stacking bales, cleaning and freshening dog kennels, hen houses, and barns. Dusting forgotten furniture, folding piles of clothes, and fixin' supper for the stacking and bale hauling crew... (Check out the new section: RIB-STICKIN' RANCH VITTLES!)
Wednesday, August 30 At dawn, overcast
skies and dripping dry rain. But, it is promising to be a set-in drizzle...perchance!
Thursday, August 31 Still raining! Big
puddles! Yes! Fires begone!
|The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles
northwest of Daniel, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, Wyoming. Cris can be
reached by e-mail at: email@example.com.
Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted,
Cris Paravicini, 1999-2000. Drawing of Daniel Schoolhouse by Teresa Shenefelt.
No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer.
Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.