Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

On the Ranch Journal
by Cris Paravicini

May, 2001

Ranch horses
The buckin' string
"Oh, Happy Spring!"
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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...

Tuesday, May 1 - May Day
Wednesday, May 2 - Tornado speed winds
Thursday, May 3- Snowstorms or firestorms?
Sunday, May 6- Little Milkmaids
Monday, May 7- Babysitting the drag tractor
Tuesday, May 8- Angels in the Outfield
Friday, May 11 - They're Here!
Saturday, May 12 - John graduates!
Sunday, May 13 - Mother's Day
Monday, May 14 - Dixie Chicks come to town
Tuesday, May 15 - Great chicken names
Wednesday, May 16 - Lonesome Lobo
Thursday, May 17 - Horseshoeing & branding
May 18-24 - My how time flies!
May 25-31 - Skinny times

Journal Diary
May 1 - May 17, 2001

May Day

Last heiferTuesday, May 1 May Day! Baskets of flowers! Sunshine! Long, warm days! Lazy evenings! Happiness playing leapfrog! I think not! Great to dream, though... Actually, violent windstorms have found where we live and have been incessantly tormenting the countryside for several days, and the thermometer is still giving us the cold shoulder, and it's dry as a bone, and everything is normal in Sublette County!
   Milkcow Daisy May is happy as heck...grafted the bum calf today. This "deal on wheels meal plan" just had to come to an end!
   Last heifer (for a while) calved, and before midnight, at that...Favors abound!

Tornado-speed winds

Wednesday, May 2 Very cold, tornado-speed winds...blowing 5-gallon water buckets off corral posts...making drifts out of dirt, manure, and bits of old hay...rattling barn doors...lifting tar paper from rooftops, raising hair on the dogs backs...and stealing hats from irritated heads.

Snowstorms or firestorms?

Thursday, May 3 Oh, wow! Ten inches of snow reported in Southwest Wyoming with 4-foot drifts! Boss and wife are down that way to help sister with calf branding project...had to abort and reschedule. School cancelled...Interstate 80 closed! Oh, Happy Spring!
Now, I realize that technically we're in a drought situation, but this kind of relief was not ordered. So, let's discuss our options: Do we want to lose our calf crop to snowstorms or firestorms?

Little Milkmaids

Sunday, May 6 Rudy started dragging poop in the Home Meadow. I escaped and drove to Sharin'Pinedale for supplies; you know...a ton of dog food and a snack for the husband! My brother-in-law's brother and sister-in-law brought their kids to try their luck at milkin' the cow. Young Daisy May's first, little milkmaids (besides me). Thumbs up, smiles, and extra treats, little Daisy cow! You were so patient with the ambitious squeezing and pulling of your tender parts!

Babysitting the drag tractor

Monday, May 7 Over in the Cora Valley, the guys replaced an irrigation culvert (a flume, we call it), spanning the width of the Beeline slough. The ditch irrigates some high ground that's hard to get water across. As for me, I got stuck babysitting the drag tractor...Usefulness has many definitions...

Angels in the Outfield

Tuesday, May 8 Turned the water loose on the Horse Creek meadow. Will try to grow some wild hay on this plot of ground. Finished dragging "fertilizer" in two of the Home Place fields. Dogs helped out this afternoon. Huge mistake...Big Dog Bo, distracted by upset mama cow... Big Mama tractor driver distracted by tight-bagged cow... Ran up on Big Dog's leg before I even knew what happened... Big Dog yelped as he was sucked beneath the Massey's front tire... I ripped the gears into reverse... Very sick, scared feelings engulf the Big Mama... My poor Bo dog! But, lo and behold...one of us had "Angels in the Outfield!"...No damage done...only a slight limp...so very lucky... Like hitting a rhino with a tricycle, I guess. Finished that patch, called it a day, then crept to house...One small field left to drag...without the dogs!

The chickFriday, May 11 Rudy hollered through the darkness, "You gotta get up and come help me." It was 4 a.m. I mumbled back from far beneath the feather comforter, "Which heifer is calving?" He replied, "Just hurry and get out here." I grumbled, "Yep." In the dining room, the incubator was humming along, and therein, was the cutest little chickie! Aw right! Now we're doin' something right! I didn't even mind being called out to witness this birth!

Later in the day (day 20), Chick Number Two needed help in the hatching. The success rate of the hatch was now in question. Number two is way too weak and sleepy!

By day's end, I decided to open the rest of the seventeen eggs. During the "operation," Chick Smile and say cheese!Number Three slowly but surely decided to join the other two. About one-half of the eggs had been fertile, but the fetuses had died at varying stages in their development - probably due to the "desert" conditions in the incubator. Way poor percentage rate! I surely hope the kindergarten kids will have better luck; they are now "cookin'" 36 eggs in two incubators in their Pinedale classroom. Not one, real, mother hen volunteered to help out this year, darn it! And meanwhile back in my living room, beneath a glowing heat lamp, 3 little "Dixie Chicks" are scratching, scurrying, and bootscooting to the Cajun music on the tape deck. Dogs guarding chickens growing - and all - in my house! What'll it be next?

Guarding the Dixie chicks

John graduates!

Saturday, May 12 Yea! After eleven hours on a big, monumental, round-trip, road event, we "helped" son John graduate from college! Comes away with a BS degree in Chemical Engineering (Environmental Option) (the mom simply holds a "BS" degree!). The world awaits!

Mother's Day

Careful pleaseSunday, May 13 Mothers' Special Day! So let's celebrate! We sheared sheep...BIG, fat, pet sheep...lots of greasy wool...smells bad...a few keds (I call 'em ticks). Project sure cut a hole in a perfectly beautiful day. But, I can't think of thing we'd rather be doing! Uh, hummm!

Dixie Chicks come to town

Monday, May 14 Took the three "Dixie Chicks" to town for the kindergarten kids to "babysit" Shearing sheepfor a few days. Individual names for the three, little, feathered poultry are forthcoming...
Helped the mom-in-law open her summer home.

Great chicken names

Tuesday, May 15 Willows are blooming and spilling perfume into the spring air. I just love when they do that!
   Received special email from kindergarten kids: Dixie Chicks get dubbed... "Goldfish, Brad, and Midnight!" Great chicken names...couldn't have done better myself...
Finished shearing sheep...tromped wool fleeces into a big gunny bag...
Clouds rolled in...Whoa! Evening showers? Bless the Heavens!

Lonesome Lobo

Wednesday, May 16 Wind blowing again...Rudy helped our good neighbors with their heifer branding project. Our own is scheduled for Saturday.
   The lonesome lobo, responsible for wild maraudings and many young livestock deaths in our area, has met his demise. The wolf was recently found dining on a road killed elk; traps were set Rudy shearingby Wildlife Services and the predator, subsequently, was euthanized upon capture. Peace falls over the valley once more, but I have mixed emotions about his death - none of them happy, though the creature ripped and tore at our livelihoods. The transplanted beast knew no better, his bad behavior - but - some folks did...

Horseshoeing & branding

Thursday, May 17 Horseshoeing happening here on the homestead...Pro horseshoer, JB Bond, tacked iron all the way around two of our top cow ponies. JB recently won 3rd place in an Idaho horseshoeing competition. Very good at what he does!
   Did some baking for our branding meal; retrieved the US Mail; milked the cow; grabbed the eggs; threw cat food at the barn cats; took a swipe or two at a "mutant" patch of lawn grass (How in the world is it, that grass can grow so fast in the front yard, but nowhere else on the ranch?); struck a match to the evening kindling supply, then I watched a lovely sunset: Oh, yes, that magical moment...when the darkness chases the daylight through the willows and over the sage-covered hillsides...when the sleepy sunshine slips between the cracks of fading gold and evening blue...and for just a tiny heartbeat...when time is captured breathless and peacefulness beholds perfection..

My how time flies

Lamb in schoolWeek of May 18-24 Wow! Time flies...especially when it's (she's) running from the wind and cold! Picked up the "Dixie Chicks" from school on Friday. The kindergarten kids had lots of fun feeding the three chicks worms, breadcrumbs, and grass. Now it was time for them to return to the ranch...
   When I did the evening chores, I discovered that the first set of lambs had been born down in the willow patch - and three days earlier than the earliest date of arrival! How does this happen? The lambs appeared to be full-term and were strapping, big, buck lambs, and frisky as butterflies. Nephew Joe, Niece Cindi, and I gathered the twins onto the 4-wheeler, then coaxed their nice mom toward the corral to spend a couple of nights in the "horse trailer motel" - safe from the wind, the night chill, and the curious, big-footed heifers. (You'll recall, last year I lost a lamb after a cow stepped on its hip and broke it. Danged luck!)
   We branded our calves on the 19th and helped my cousin and the neighbors do theirs on the 20th, 26th, and 28th. On the 20th, the weather dished out every imaginable option it had up its Branding crewcoat sleeve...wind, cold, rain, and snow. We managed to get the branding done by early afternoon, though.... By the time I got home, two more ewes had lambed. I put them both in the lambing shed, out of the cold wind...
   A friend stopped by to pick up a mare I aim to sell. She wanted to try the 6-year old mare in her round pen to see how she moves and works for her. The mare has Branding smokegreat potential as a barrel horse and/or brood mare. Her family lineage has many AAA racing accolades...
   The friend decided to buy the young mare. I'm glad, as I believe they'll make a great team! Friend says she might work with some of the young high school rodeo team gals to see if the mare will pan out for one of them to use on barrels, poles, or breakaway roping...
   Late in the week, I watered my neighbor's trees; we hauled yearling heifers to the Cora Valley; had a load of pig feed delivered for an upcoming project; had a great time entertaining some summer friends and their children (rode JJ, the John Deere, and the 4-wheeler; milked Daisy May; captured barn cats; ate Fruit Loops with the Dixie Chicks; and held the new lambs)...
   Between cow wranglings, we're trying to scatter irrigation water to the freezer-burned fields. Hot ironBut, the weather is so cold and windy that the moisture is being sucked from the land like a thirsty kid drinking Kool-aid. Yep, we're in a serious, crossbred situation around here...sort of like Sublette County being the foster child to Antarctica and the Sahara Desert. Jokes aside, things are looking grim around here...
   Sent all the dull, sheep shearing cutters and combs back to Ottumwa, Iowa to Steve's Sharpening Service for a "tune-up" for next year. I'd found Steve's business on the Internet earlier this spring when we were gearing up for our yearly shearing project, and I was very glad that I had made this discovery. Steve does excellent work in the sharpening department for any type of clippers - animal or human. His turnaround time is quick as a wink and his prices are especially reasonable. So, if you're dull and rusty, check out Steve's web site at: http://showcase.netins.net/web/slwddw/ .... or email him at slwddw@netins.net .
   Charlotte and GardnerTook a quick trip to the Cora Valley to snap a few pictures of some of my cousin Charlotte's classic, antique automobiles. One car in particular, a Gardner, caught my eye. Pretty snazzy set of wheels! Originally, it had belonged to a kindly pioneer gentleman from Pinedale, Frank Korfanta, who used to drive it in all the town parades.

Skinny times

Week of May 25-31 Although drought and skinny times are heavy upon us, it looks like we might get a bumper gooseberry crop. Now, go figure that. Will be nice to make some syrup and jelly and wine with this sour, little berry. Lots of sugar required!
   Moved two bunches of cows and calves to the Horse Creek summer pasture. Good luck this summer, cattle. On the way back to the barn, we had to ride across the new highway mat that's being laid down. No other way to get home! The crew wasn't too happy with any of us as the shod horses cut deep divots in the warm oil. Had to run the big roller back and forth to erase our signatures. Sorry about that, fellas!
   Three chicks hatched in the Kindergarten room, so I delivered chick starter and a heat lamp to the kids. With our low percentage rate of success, the teacher and I are going to have to sharpen up our incubation skills for next year...
   On May 31, I uninstalled SULFNBK.EXE from my computer so we wouldn't catch that danged, rampant virus! Got ahead of that one, by golly!

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 is a writer and photographer for The Sublette County Journal newspaper, where you can find more of her accounts of life on the ranch. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 2000. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.

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