Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

On the Ranch Journal
by Cris Paravicini

April, 2001

Feedin the bum
Feedin' the bum
"Fencing summer pastures...dragging poop...prepping for drought irrigation...calving and cow feeding...upcoming calf brandings..."
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Cris Paravicini has lived and ranched in Wyoming all of her life. These are excerpts from her diary of daily life on the family Pearson Angus Ranch northwest of Daniel...

First Week of April - Cora Jack
Thursday, April 12 - Happy Easter!
Tuesday, April 17 - Dragging Pastures
Thursday, April 19 - Calf Adoption Mission
Friday, April 20 - Snow & Lightning Storm
Saturday, April 21 - Wolf
Sunday, April 22 - Egg Day 15
Thursday, April 26- Joe
Friday, April 27 - Egg Day 20

Journal Diary

Cora Jack

First week of April Calves starting to drop everywhere we look...lost one premature calf...we had hauled the poor little fella to the hot box, got him up and going and sucking a bottle...seemed happy and looking forward to life...took him back to the meadow box stall...his crazy mom must have stepped on him in the night...he died the next day...win some...lose some...
Heifer night shifts kicking into gear...going through lots of coffee...mood swings beginning, too... Cows with those inevitable hormone surges are at times ruling the barnyard...One ol' girl comes to mind for all of us, including Cora Jack and the hardworking dog herd. Just think about Jurassic Park, for a moment, and the roar of all those sharp-toothed, man-eating dinosaurs, and you'll get some kind of an idea as to the sound, setting, and adrenaline rush we all felt when Ms. Heifer of the Month decided to save her newborn calf from us - the "block bullies." Now, it happened that she hadn't packed her own lunch, so she fully decided to eat ours, as she bellowed and hooked the boss, then made a rush for the next "volunteer" cowboy; we fully knew she wasn't bluffing. Before long, though, we fooled the irate heifer in a dizzying swirl of confusion and flying manure and finally got her into a smaller corral with her offspring. This, however, did not happen until she'd fully educated all of us. The dogs learned the true meaning of "Git behind!" And each time she'd made a wild run at Rudy and the Boss, they figured out a quicker way to jump into the hay feeder. The only one that stayed "unmoved" by the experience was Jack. Each time she narrowly missed my trusty mount for the afternoon, the befuddled colt seemed to say, "So, Whaaassssuuuppp?" I was proud of that green-broke colt, though. He held his ground like a soldier, but as I sat upon his back, elevated and fairly safe above the action, 'twas I who grew yellow chicken feathers and wanted really bad to follow the dog herd under the bottom pole of the gate, hollering, "Every cowboy for himself!" Didn't do it though. Nope!

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 12 Snow squalls, sunshine, snow squalls, sunshine...all day long...calves arriving in great force despite the nasty weather...most of the mothers doing the birth job and subsequent nurturing duties, unaided.
Moments to spare, so feeling domestic, myself, I started a batch of sticky buns and homemade vegetable, hamburger pizza...Rrrriiinnnngggg!...Rudy on cellphone..."Hey, let me through the gate, will ya?!"
"But, I got dough risin' up fast in here; can ya wait a second? Ya can't? Be there in a second..." (Yep, 'twas a woman's judgment of "a second!" Actually, I'm pretty punctual...most of the time...)
Well, not hearing a word I said, Rudy continues, "...I got one of those huge a straw bales for the hayloft. Help me set it through the loft window. I can't see if I'm gonna tear something up with the tractor loader. And, hey, when you come through the corral, kin ya move that new calf out of the blizzard and into the barn before you climb up the ladder? ...What? You say she shoved you into the barn wall? Is the cow and calf OK?"
"Yep. And I'm okay, too. Didn't hurt too bad. I got the gate shut before she rammed me, again. Nope, she didn't step on the calf..."
"Say, What? The bale's pushing against the main barn beam? Yell louder, will ya! I can't hear what yer sayin' above the tractor! No, don't use the pitchfork handle to pry it over. You'll bust it..."
...Oh, the many uses of duct tape...I love the darned stuff!
...Bread dough ran over onto the countertop while I was gone...but not onto the floor... Main thing is: the straw's tucked into the hayloft...sure makes wonderful barn bedding...warm...dry...cozy for the new moms... Pizza and sticky buns tasted really good come suppertime...Sun's shining, now, as I finish this diary, and son John is on his way home for Easter. Yea!
Here's wishing every one of you a very Happy Easter!

P.S. Oh, did I mention that I've started incubating seventeen chicken eggs. If all goes well (it'll be Baby chicksjust my luck that the rooster was on vacation when these eggs were laid, and after 21, 100 degree/51% humidity-filled days, I'll end up with 17 rotten eggs setting next to Rudy at my kitchen table). Naw! Won't happen that way! Anyhow, I should have some little peeps by April 29 or 30. I need some replacement hens, but my main objective is to test the incubator to make sure that both it and the eggs are working successfully, because the Pinedale kindergarten kids are excited to hatch some eggs in May. They're hoping to accomplish the project via the natural, old-fashioned, "Mrs. Magic" hen method. But, if a hen doesn't get broody in time to hatch out before summer vacation starts, I'll just take some fertile eggs to school and let the children hatch some chicks, artificially. The live-hen-in-the-classroom way, though, is by far the most fun for the entire school! Over the years, many of my setting hens - Sonia, Henrietta, Sassy, Shasta, and Mrs. Magic, to name a few - have hatched eggs at school. I'll keep you informed of our progress or lack thereof...So long, for now...

To the awesome Adams Family from Alabama - A great big "HOWDY!" from good, old, wild, wooly, and a wee bit Western Wyoming!

Dragging pastures

Tuesday, April 17 I held my breath as I drove the little Massey Ferguson tractor across the slimy, alkali-laden, bog-a-jack-snipe path - that we've nicknamed the "Burma Road" - the only motorized route to our Horse Creek hay meadow. I was geared up, today, and ready to "recycle" cow poop dropped from last fall and winter (we grow grass, cows eat hay, they expel it, we drag it...we grow grass, cows eat hay...). I got about 3 stack yards done by 7-ish when Rudy arrived via 4-wheeler to bounce me back to the home front... I'll be returning for 4-5-hour increments of poop scattering during the next few days. Perseverance will get the job done. Many projects are looming during the coming spring days...fencing summer pastures...dragging poop...prepping for drought irrigation...and still...the calving and cow feeding duties and upcoming calf brandings.
Happily for me, on this journey to Horse Creek, the first bog frogs of the season purred beautiful, harmonious lilts just special for me...the first gophers poked their heads out of the thawing ground and started taunting the dogs... Back home, the first batch of new barn kittens were mewing in the hayloft...and the first Jack Snipes were at long last sounding their haunting, evening bug-catching tones - strong wings, purring, upon little unseen ghosts, "woo, woo, wooing" in the cool evening air.

Nice bullCalf Adoption Mission

Thursday, April 19 Traveled south into the historic Fort Bridger country of Southwestern Wyoming where my sister Patty, and bro-in-law JR, live with my niece and nephew, Ben and Jamie. Mission: Pick up a calf that's mom isn't giving enough milk and bring it back to an adoptive mom here in Sublette County. It was snowing and raining hard when my Sublette County niece and nephew, Cindi andPatty's pride Joe, and I departed for the approximately 2.5-hour, 140-mile road trip, but the clouds and dampness gave way to only strong winds and hazy skies just south of Big Piney.
   Patty and JR raise awesome Black Angus cattle and a cavvy of swift, well-bred chariot and flat track racehorses. Patty has Multiple Sclerosis, but accepts it as only an irritating inconvenience and uncomplainingly goes about tending her young children, helping her husband buck bales and haul water for the livestock, running the household, and doing volunteer work at school. She is a fantastic livestock woman, a terrific mom, and an awesome sister. Kids, cats, dogs, and grownups love her. And I greatly admire her strength and courage in the face of the unknown.

Snow & Lightning Storm

Friday, April 20 Mother Nature seemed a bit confused today - dumping an inch or so of snow, then raining, then sleeting...and all the while...tossing out hot lightning bolts and crackling thunder. Didn't last more than a couple of hours, though, and it did warm up enough by evening tide to melt the snow before darkness wrapped its chill around us. The ground is so darned dry that it quickly gulped down every last drop of this moisture, then cried out for more...
   Tramp, my little adopted Border Collie, always freaks out, puts his tail between his legs, and heads for parts unknown when thunder boomers come along. I have to watch him closely so he doesn't run off, and I pet and hug him, and give reassurance that everything will be okay...tomorrow... The little fella must be remembering some pretty awful, nightmarish memories of his past...
   Speaking of Tramp...aside from the thunder...he's really doing quite well since he first won my heart last June...he's plump and shiny, well-disciplined (most of the time), has quit performing dizzy, irritating circles around the livestock (most of the time), and simply works his heart out for me (all of the time). And I'll swear he grins at me each time I commend his sincere efforts and tell him: "Oh, Tramp, you and I are so danged good at what you do best!" He and the rest of the dog herd do have slight horn-lockings from time to time, so I have to play the Alpha Woman part and growl back at 'em: "Knock it off and behave yourselves or else...!" Kids!


Saturday, April 21 We heard last week that a WOLF ate up one of my cousin's newborn calves...right down in the populated valley near his family's ranch buildings and home and four little daughters. The word on the "pecking post" is that the young beast didn't even know how to perform its traditional, seasoned-wolf thing of killing its way up the little calf's body - the infamous hamstring take down and appetizer, followed by the gut-rippin' entree, and finally, the throat and jugular-tearing dessert finale... Instead, the juvenile predator repetitively bit and chewed at the helpless, wild-eyed and confused calf...sort of ate it alive, I'm told...until finally death took mercy upon it. Last I heard, those official folks who are "of the wolf know" were going to "do something" about this outlaw if/when it returns for more veal vittles. You know, I feel kinda sorry for the wolf, though. He fits in around here about like a palm tree in a snow bank or an iceberg at the equator. And sadly, the wolf didn't even ask to be transferred to Wyoming... Lions, wolves, bears, drought, and maybe rabies...what a smorgasbord of challenges we behold. Patty and Dakota
   Rudy and the Boss grafted my sister's orphaned calf onto a cow that had lost her own calf and subsequently decided to share another cow's calf. They gunny sacked the calf with two moms until both cows loved the smell of the sack baby, then they put the scented gunny bag onto the orphan/bum and stuck it into a box stall with the "extra" cow. Now each cow has a calf. Worked like a charm!
   Showed some folks a six-year-old brood mare I would like to sell... Dragged meadows for five hours...almost had to shut down because of a snow storm that began piling up heavy, wet snow on the drag pole...I outlasted it, though... Frogs singing again by dusk... Mended some britches while I warmed up by the wood fire...then Rudy and I did chores and waited for the heifer night shift to drag itself into place.

Egg Day 15

Sunday, April 22 Day 15 for the incubator eggs! Dang sakes! The humidity gauge doesn't seem to be working. Air seems way too dry in the unit. The wet wick isn't responding the way it's supposed to when water seeps into the chambers beneath the eggs. Too much mineral content in our tap water. Corroded the wick, I fear. Oh dear, I hope I'm not cookin' up something rotten in the state of Wyoming...and right beside Rudy's dinner plate!
   Finished dragging at Horse Creek at 7:30 p.m. Yea! Glad that's done! Sure need to ride the colts...
   Picked up my rusty, ol' fiddle after a long, long absence, and tried to scrape out a song - the first one I'd ever learned - Amazing Grace...sounded really, really bad, but still, it made my heart happy and my spirit sing...


Thursday, April 26 Four-year-old nephew Joe dropped in to help Aunt Cris feed a bum calf (our first this season...born from an indifferent, "career-oriented", old, ugly, old, mean, old, hateful, A bravery issueold, irritating, old beast that just up and walked out on the poor, little bull calf during the last storm. Oh, baloney!). Then it was: ask questions; feed chickens; ask questions; throw up hay in the feed bunk for the heifers; ask questions; put Bag Balm on the milk cow's teats; ask questions; drive the alfalfa wagon for the Boss; ask questions; turn the incubator eggs; ask more questions...
   The weather today is beautiful...How does that song go? "Blue skies, nothing but blue skies, smilin' on me. Blue skies, nothing but blue skies do I see!"

Egg Day 20

Friday, April 27 Day 20 for the egg project! Sure wondering what kind of trouble I'm cookin'? Well, we'll have the verdict very, very soon!

Where did that story go?!? The stories from earlier front pages aren't gone. We just move them to the monthly journal pages to make room for the latest diary entries on the front page. See the Journal Index for a listing of all previous front page journal entries!
The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Daniel, Wyoming, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, where she lives along with her husband, Rudy. Historic old Fort Bonneville, built in the late 1800s, is located next to her family's ranch. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 2001. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2001.

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