|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...
March 1 - In Like a Lion
March 2 - Icebox
March 3 - Spring
March 5 - Salt
March 6 - Blackbirds, Honkers and Skunks back
March 7 - Getting the Calving Barn Ready
March 8 - John's home!
March 12 - Project #1 & Unplanned
March 13 - Project #3
March 14 - Mini blizzard kickin' butt
March 15 - Project #5 - Premom Shots
March 16 - Project #6 - Vaccinatin'
March 17 - Bye John!
March 18 - Warmer
March 20 - Rain
The Gypsy Star
Late March - Baby moose rescue
Last Week of March - Don't eat the meatballs
In Like a Lion
Thursday, March 1 Well, good...March came in "like a lion," and now
it must go out "like a lamb?" Yeah, right! But one may dream! 'Twas
cold and windy the full length of the day, with furry, disheveled clouds
clinging tightly to the Wyoming mountain range.
Friday, March 2 Ice box in the morning...three inches of ice on the
waterholes...pleasant enough in the afternoon and evening.
Spring will be
Saturday, March 3 Warming trend...The furry, windswept clouds from the
other day now look like puffy, down blankets warming the horizon...The
fresh smell of spring lingers... Even my son's old black dog, Lacey,
senses that special "air" about us and manages to put some "spring"
into her arthritic shuffle. Amazing how temperamental our weather can
be - from 3 inches of ice one night to just a skim of crystals on the
waterhole the next...Ha! Mother Nature can't fool me...just trying to
trick me into leaving my coat and gloves at the house...Too soon...Too
Spring can't come soon enough, though, for the old horse,
Scoop. He grows thinner each day, though I keep him bedded in prime
hay and offer the shelter of the calving barn each night. I've upped
his ration of grain and "poor keeper" supplements, hoping we can ride
it out till the weather moderates. His spirits are good and he's actually
fairly nimble...seems still to be enjoying retirement and my twice daily
visits to tend his ancient husk...he's earned his keep...
Monday, March 5 Scattered minerals and salt...again...cows eat lots
of this mixture to supplement
their unborn calves and to compensate for the climate stress...Who says
salt ain't good for ya?
Rudy's breaking out more feedgrounds so the ground will
bare up faster and provide dry ground for the newborns.
and Skunks back
Tuesday, March 6 Blackbirds and Canadian Honkers arrived at the ranch
on the same early afternoon flight! The river runway has opened up...ice
fell in last week...Honkers happily hit the river for a bath...Blackbirds
moved into the big evergreen...
First skunk of the season lurking in the hen house...gathered
eggs after dark...stuck my head down near his tail section while closing
the trap door...didn't notice the extra "company" till all was nearly
lost...he didn't spray...don't know why not...missed a good chance to
even old scores...grateful for small favors and skunks named Flower...opened
the door and let him escape into the welcoming arms of the night...dogs
just watched...Blessed be the fat, lazy dogs!
Calving Barn Ready
Wednesday, March 7 A raccoon has been tearing up grain sacks...making
one heck of a mess...set live trap...gotcha! This one is a big mean,
hissing, spitting critter...Fire and hate in his eyes...One of those:
"I'll fight your kids, cats, and dogs!" kind. Rabies' scare in
nearby counties, so we decided to send this big boy to visit his ancestors.
Had to bring in a heavy heifer from her winter grounds.
Another early bonus calf from "somewhere" on the way! And also, Daisy
May the young Jersey milk cow will be calving soon. 'Twill
be a booming Babyville around here before we know it. Seems like we
just finished last year's deliveries...
Cleaned all the frozen manure piles from the calving barn
after having used it as a "bed and breakfast" for Scoop; and Sparky
the January calf and her mom; and the old milk cow; and the barn cats;
and... Yep, it's time to clean "house" and get ready for the real calving
job. Sure wanted to save this "little" job for son John during college
Spring Break, but with the new "lady-in-waiting" arriving today, I had
no choice but to "dig" in. I know, my mess, my business! Now, weight
lifters of America, eat yore hearts out! This kind of job builds really
mean muscles and is danged good for what ails a body. There's no monthly
membership fees, no special gear...and it keeps you outta mischief and
outta everyone's hair. Yep. Earned my beefsteak, mashed spuds and gravy,
tonight...(and with only a little "whine" to go with it, oh yeah!)
Actually though, I admit I had help...the dog herd kept the barn cats
pushed into the hayloft and outta my way...Good hounds!
We'll soon have fresh milk,
butter, and cream!
Thursday, March 8 Son John home for Spring Break. Ah, ha! He
missed cleaning the barn, but I've
saved some other projects especially earmarked for him! I'll feed him
his favorite waffle breakfast and then I'll break the good news to him!
#1 & Unplanned Project#2
Monday, March 12 Project Number One: A typical March day...frightfully
cold with a hefty wind to cheer it on. Not a good day for working with
bare hands, but it's time for the two-year-old stud colt, Sunny, to
become "a really, nice, saddle gelding," as our vet so tenderly described
the castration process. The wind had the lanky colt stirred into brat
status. Wouldn't lead through the board gate. What the heck's going
on, here?! Stubborn colt. Stubborn me. Sunny Boy, you will cross this
threshold come hell or high water! Can't let juveniles get away with
anything. Spoils 'em, don't you know! Then it was slam dunk! Pile drive!
Not Sunny, though...Me... Right into the frozen, smelly, brown turf!
Well, I did tell John not to let him get away. Hang on to that lead
rope, John, no matter what happens. He did.
When Sunny hit the end of the rope, he did a swift about
face. Only problem was, I had my arm around his neck (hang right in
there, Mom!) and when the colt ran outta rope, we accomplished exactly
what physics says had to happen. Yep! Crack the whip! Like a pile of
wild kids on a skating pond, we rattled the old bones. Sure glad the
big son is here, though...made a great anchor when Mr. Colt tried to
abort our plans for the impending "brain surgery"... Now, just where
do all those hard-earned hours of groundwork go when the vet is about
to arrive on a cold, windy day in March?
Well, my game plan always has been: You can't ever let
'em get away with those human-inflicted, barn pet habits...except, that
is...when the vet is about to arrive for major surgery. Try the other
gate...you know, Mom, the big gate down the fence a ways? Don't be a
hero, and besides, you're melting my gloves every time he jerks the
rope through my hands. We don't send you to college for nothin', John.
Yep...Sunny and John won this round, but only because we had to present
a calm colt for the cutting.
Actually, we managed to keep Sunny reasonably at peace
with the elements as the wind blew the girth tape up his neck and around
his ears while the vet determined his weight for the proper dose of
naptime medicine. After sneaking a couple of syringe loads into the
jugular vein, dreamland overtook the chocolate colored colt, and he
took two steps back, sat down, and flopped over onto his left side.
Using a soft-twist rope, the vet took a couple of wraps
and a hooey on Sunny's hind feet, pulled them forward to expose his
manhood, and I settled down on his neck and head so he wouldn't try
to get up if the drugs wore off too quickly. Well, my legs didn't even
have time to lock up and go numb when bingo, the job was done. A whack
here, and a slice there. Proud cut buttons - squealers, gone, and all
the proper cords exacted. Then to satisfy an old wife's tale, each testicle
was tossed ceremoniously to the front of the drunken colt as the vet
muttered a blessing or two about now having a horse that would never
pull back when tied up. Sounds good to me!
I covered Sunny's eyes with my red handkerchief and let
him lie quietly a little longer. We all shot the breeze while the colt
finished his nap...talked about breaking colts to ride (the easy way)...reviewed
what to watch for in the post surgery days, and at last, the new gelding
was ready to face the world again. See what happens when you throw a
fit, Sunny Boy?!
Then, wouldn't you know it...Unplanned Project Number Two...remember
the little first-calf heifer we'd brought in the other day as an early
calver, well, she had started into labor about an hour before the vet
arrived. After getting the vet on his way back to town, I checked her
progress. The water bag was out and I could see the calf's front feet.
She was now getting down to serious labor business, but it didn't appear
that the task was advancing like it should. Okay, I decided. I'll round
up Rudy from his feeding job, and we'd better just help her out and
pull the calf. Oh sure! Four wheeler too cold to start. Fired up the
space heater. Applied direct heat to the transmission of the ancient
quad-runner, and within ten minutes, she kicked over. Drove 100 yards
only to find Rudy done with his cow feeding and headin' back to camp.
"Gotta pull that heifer's calf," I reported, using hand and arm gestures
to emphasize her status. "She ain't movin' it along, at all."
So it went that we eased her into the barn stall, caught
her head, slipped the chains on the calf's basketball player-sized feet
and started working the calf puller. Click. Click. A click at a time. With
each push from the heifer, the calf was being dragged through the small
bony structure. Tight squeeze! No room to spare. Nose. Bald face. Black
ears, but no signs of life. Shoulders scraped through her pelvic region
then the rib cage. Damn! Cow lays down. Jack handle sticks in the stall
floor. Quick! Grab her tail and roll her onto her side. Click! Click!
Click! Faster! Faster! Black baby hips now slipping easier. Gotcha,
you little rascal! Now, hurry! Work on the calf. It ain't breathin',
yet! Clean the mucous from its mouth. Stick a hay straw in its nose.
Flop it around a little to stimulate the heart. Shake it up a little
bit. Good deal...the little black and white heifer calf sneezes, lifts
her wet nose, and begins blinking her long eyelashes. Let the cow up
and step back into the corner. Hold still and be quiet. Whew! The cow
likes the calf despite the pain and trouble it just gave her. She moos
easily like a droning beehive and begins to mother the calf, licking
the wet slime from the dripping body...
Time to wash up for lunch...
Tuesday, March 13 Surprise, John, my most favorite only child...Project
Number Three... We're hauling little square bales from your aunt and
uncle's place in Daniel then we'll lift 'em into the loft for barn bedding.
Good job to warm a body on a brisk, breezy afternoon, doncha think?!
What about your vacation? A change of pace is as good as a rest, yes?
Heavy storm clouds brewing over the Wyoming Range at dusk...
(ok, Project #4 too)
Wednesday, March 14 Mini-blizzard kickin' butt at dawn's early
light...feisty winds...all day snow flurries. Nothing sticks to the
ground...Freezing hardheaded by nightfall...Project Number Four (at
least)...split up a bunch of firewood...
#5 - Premom Shots
Thursday, March 15 Project Five...Gorgeous day...Pushed the
first-calf heifers through the chute for their pre-motherhood shots...
#6 - Vaccinating
Friday, March 16 Another lovely day...Project Six...Rounded
up the big cow herd and sent them under the vaccinating needle, too...Operation
ran smooth as silk...done by mid-afternoon...
Saturday, March 17 Lost our good helper back to the college
scene...Can't imagine why he left so
greatly inspired to study hard and get good grades!
Haven't seen 'em, yet, but I can hear the robins singing
in the willows and the killdeers trilling on the feed grounds!
Sunday, March 18 Days getting warmer...great for little kids,
baby pets, and baby livestock. Balmy days and kinder nights sure make
me want to raise a couple of pigs this summer. We'll see...grain is
so expensive, one can hardly afford to grow out the bacon...maybe Daisy
May will give enough milk to share with a pig or two... Can't beat home-raised
little sis, Teresa, (mom of three-year-old, Cowboy Joe) stopped by to
show us her latest artwork...a pair of majestic Mountain Sheep...to
be donated to a museum fundraiser. Wow! To be able to make lines and
color come together like she does!
Tuesday, March 20 Spring officially begins. Here in Sublette
County, though, it sometimes takes well into June to get the job done.
Maybe this year will be different...
Late March - April 12, 2001
Cloudy and warm, and believe it or not...RAIN! Really drummed
on the rooftops until well after dark. Sounds so nice, but oh, the mud
and slop! Don't whine, Cris...drought relief...
Howdy folks! I'm finally back to the old keyboard. I
apologize for my absence, but lately, it's been like a tornado 'round
here with the calving season heavy upon us and the weather threatening
the same heavy load. I'm sure, though, that it's just like with folks
everywhere; springtime - "weather" it's
the calendar's version or nature's - there's always much work to do.
Yep, lots of stuff happening...days all running into each other...so
bear with me while I ramble about the past couple of weeks, here on
Late March First day of spring...Boss discovered a yearling,
bull calf moose hung up in the barbed wire fence near the river headgate...still
alive... So, while looking over his shoulder in careful watch for the
still protective Mom Moose, Boss decided to end the little fella's misery
and quickly pulled out his handy, dandy, always-in-the-4-wheeler-toolbox
weapon (a pair of fence pliers!), and he promptly cut the wires. The
gangly young moose jumped quickly to his feet and joined his wary mom
in a nearby willow patch...
Next day, the sandhill cranes made their first of the season landing
in the field to the south of us. What a great sound to hear them warbling
and gossiping to each other about their flight from the southlands.
eat the meatballs
Last week of March I mixed packets of powdered dog wormer into
some little, raw meatballs and put 'em into my fridge until the dogs
were hungry enough to be tricked into swallowing this twice a year medicine...I
then left the house to round up some materials to build a new calf warming
box. But, on second thought...hmmm...I spun around and hastily returned
to the fridge where I taped a warning note atop said pan of dog meatballs...
Sure didn't want Rudy to beat me back to the house at suppertime and
start up a nice skillet of stir-fry or spaghetti and meatballs!
Daisy May, the 3-year old Jersey milk cow, finally had her baby! It's
a sweet, little heifer with a cocoa
hide and huge saucer-like eyes. I named her Chocolat after the Academy
nominated movie...Started milking Daisy that evening. Eleven milkings
from now, I'll save the milk for our table. Can't wait for good, home
milk! In the meantime, the dogs, barn cats, and chickens will thrive
on the colostrum.
Hay pile running low...had to buy several semi loads out of Idaho...alfalfa
and straw...livestock feed around our county is in high demand...short
supply... First two trucks loads arrived about 8 a.m...hefty one ton
bales...looks really green and smells nice and fresh. We've never fed
alfalfa to our cows before, so had to work 'em in to it, carefully...
Now, you need to know that we feed some really, good-quality native
and tame hay, here in the valley, but when that first flake of alfalfa
hit the ground, those old mommas surely thought they'd died and gone
to candy heaven! Even though the hay is selling for $115 per ton, we
were grateful to be able to find enough to put us through this feeding
season...if we count every straw...
Cora Jack has come to live with me for a couple of years. He's a nice-looking,
big, sorrel, coming-three-year-old gelding that belongs to my cousin
Dave's little daughter, Andrea. Jack was green started in Utah last
fall and now needs to attend Cris's "Horse Finishing School"
for fine and dandy kids' cowponies. Yep! Cora Jack will stay with me,
until that day when a trusted kid's horse he will be...
Snow...rain...wind...dreary, overcast skies...Still falling below zero
on many nights...Typical calving weather...Feeling right at home! First
calf is born in the meadow during the freezing, wee hours of April Fool's
Day...little fella got right up and nursed its four-year old mom...his
wet hair and hide froze dry by the dawn's early light...Gonna be one
of those years...And to top it off...the doggone Daylight Savings Time
begins, again...Takes me about a week to quit griping about it..
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!