November 23, 2011

An Illustrated Recap of November...

...because it would take too many words to tell it all. Well, there will be a few words, maybe quite a few, but I'll keep it to a minimum as best I can. You know how "wordy" I can get sometimes.

We were home for a little more than 3 1/2 weeks.

There were some early mornings...
...and some late nights.

 After our trip to Helena to pick up Reba and Fancy, the next big event was rounding up cows...

...sorting in the corrals...

...and loading the calves up to go to their new homes.
 Over the course of 2 1/2 weeks, we hauled cattle 4 days, taking calves to the scale in town, the rest of the calves to the sale barn near Belle Fourche, hauling "open" cows to the sale another day, and bringing home 4 loads of bred cows from summer pasture. In all, we ran about 1200 miles just shufflin' cows around from place to place.

 Aside from cow business though, there were other things going on. Friendships were formed....

...some more reluctantly than others.
And old friendships were rekindled. Judy from Loves Ranch Life and More made the trip to Baker to have lunch with me one day, and on another day my mother-in-law and I went to a neighbor's for a short visit and to get some of her wonderful home made soaps.
I just love these soaps from Pure Prairie Soap, and the lady who makes them is a delightful person! I was so glad to finally meet her and get to visit, and my mother-in-law enjoyed getting to catch up with a friend.

Back at home, there were crafting successes....
...and cooking failures.
my sister's carrot cake runeth over. Delicious taste, stinky mess in my oven!
 Injuries were mended...

...and lots of pampering of the princess commenced to make her feel better.

And just because the calves were shipped and another years "crop" was in the bag, that didn't mean outside work was over. Maintenance is an on going chore, and often requires some creativity. My caption for this picture? How many men does it take to change a light bulb?
  The answer? Two! If they have a bucket of tools, a step ladder, a semi trailer, a tractor to lift them up, a woman to run the tractor, and a dog to wait patiently in the warmth of the tractor and out of the wind. Smart girl! Some chores take team effort, no matter how small they may seem.
 We also made time for some outdoor recreation while the weather was still nice! A motor had been recently acquired and fitted to the S.S. JMBAR Cruiseship, so we had to take it out for a test run before it all got packed up for the winter. It sure beats rowing!
 And of course, Gemma got a few lessons worked into her busy schedule. The dog and I are her best buds! She's even started to whinny at me when she sees me coming and meets me half way.
 It's sweet, but I sure hope our friendship doesn't take on similarities to her bond with Lucy. I had a surprise opportunity to catch my future cutting horse (?) at work. I'm not sure her play partner was enjoying the game as much as she was.

I appologize for the racket. I was standing at the gate where all the mama cows were congregated looking for their missing calves. They sure can raise a ruckus!

The last week at home, my mother-in-law and I made a total of four trips to Belle Fourche, SD for Paris's leg injury. That's about a 3 hour drive there and another three hours back. So we had lots of visiting time. We also discovered a neat quilting shop and a very pleasant coffee house across the road. On Friday we had our last vet appointment during which I became concerned that Paris couldn't come with us after all. The vet needed to change her splint bandaging once a week, and there were already sores forming on her leg. Turns out hairlessness is a disadvantage when your wearing a cast!

I was very frustrated because I'd been counting on taking her with us, and now it didn't look promising. BUT...our home town vet whom we adore (but who isn't set up for the little guys yet, thus our trip to Belle Fourche) had Malcolm and I, and Paris, come to her home on Sunday, where she spent an hour going over the process of taking off the dressings, medicating the sutures, and re wrapping and splinting the leg. I was leery of being responsible for it, but she assured us that we could do it without problems, and also reassured me that the splint is actually just a secondary support. In fact, if the sores persist or get worse, we're to take the splint off and leave it off. All that metal in her leg (see earlier pictures in this post) is what's actually supporting her while the bones heal. And it all gets to stay in there too. Little Paris and her new bionic leg.

The last days at home provided some beautiful scenery...

...to be enjoyed from the window as I baked cookies for the girls, wrapped Christmas presents, and gathered our things together for re-packing the truck.

It was a busy home time, lots of work, a little play, a few traumatic moments, but even with problems and being tired, it was just good to be home!

We left Monday morning, loaded near Timber Lake, SD and headed south towards Colorado.
 Leaving home is always a bit bitter sweet. We hate to leave, and yet by the end of these long breaks, we feel compelled to be productive again. Home time was great, but really, it's not so bad being back in the truck.

 Especially knowing in a few weeks we'll have more time off, and this time it will be for a Tennessee Christmas! We haven't seen my family since April, and we haven't had a Tennessee Christmas for a couple of years. I CAN'T WAIT!
Mom's beatiful garden under a rare TN snow last winter

November 14, 2011

Update on Paris

Just a quick update on Paris, but first a huge thank you for all the well wishes. I was over-whelmed to open my email when we got home this afternoon and find so many thoughtful and heartfelt remarks.

Paris's surgery went well, and her doctor was pleased with the procedure and the result. He said that she's resting fine now. She will have to wear her splint after surgery, which he wasn't anticipating but b/c of how the bone cracked down the length, he wants to give it extra support while healing. So she gets to keep her cool hot pink cast!

We get to bring her home tomorrow, but he wants to see her again the end of the week. Another trip to Belle Fourche!

More good news:
Malcolm talked to our broker this morning, who was understanding and the load we had was very flexible. We are home until further notice, at least the end of the week, so we can see Paris through her ordeal and hopefully take her with us when we leave in a few days.

SO: Paris is good, we get more home time, Malcolm now gets a few days to play since he worked the e.n.t.i.r.e. time we were home and is worn out, AND my mother-in-law and I discovered a delightful little coffee house and fabric store while killing time in Belle Fourche! We're all feeling better today!

November 13, 2011

A Bad Ending

We're having a bad ending to our time at home. After 2 busy, but uneventful weeks home, we are all set to leave for work again. Or at least we were until yesterday morning.

It all started early in the morning as we were preparing to haul a load of open cows to the sale barn. I thought, rather than leave the girls home alone all day, I'd let them come with us and stay in the semi like they are used to doing.
In their excitement, Carlie Jean caused an incident.
You know how she loves to run. And in her running frenzy, she tripped me. And as I fell, I dropped Paris. As much as she screamed I knew instantly there was something wrong. So as soon as I got my breath back from falling flat out on my back, I scooped her up b/c Carlie and Ella were intensely interested in what was wrong with her. Her little leg was just flopping around, so it was obvious what the problem was right away.

Because we're in ranch country, it's hard to track a vet down on a normal day, but try and do it in the fall on a weekend. We ended up just having to take Paris to Belle Fourche, SD with us and to a vet there, 2 hours away.

When I picked her back up the nurses had french braided her hair and told me they tried to match her outfit and so gave her a pink cast. She was obviously very well pampered while at the vet.

Turns out her little tibia is snapped and fractured further down so that a simple splint and cast won't do long term.
The temporary fix has made things...complicated.
She is being quite the trooper, not crying and seems not to hurt unless she turns it wrong. But she is sad to not be able to bounce around like normal, and it's hard to keep her confined but that's the only way to keep her still and quiet.

Brief little visits to her grand-people's house have cheered her and I think she's liking all the extra attention.
But tomorrow morning, we have to drive back to Belle Fourche early and she has to have pins and wires put in her leg and stay over night.
Malcolm and I may, if it will work out, stay a few more days. But a load is already lined up and if it can't be rescheduled, we'll have to leave Paris behind and she'll be staying with her grand-people for an unknown length of time.
I'm doing ok with the break, but the idea of leaving her is upsetting. I know all our bloggy friends would want to know about Paris and her situation. I'll keep you posted and fill you in on the good parts of our home time later on. In the mean time, thoughts and prayers are appreciated for tomorrow. I know she's just a dog, but for me, she's my baby, and even though I have three, Paris is my first and favorite. She has a special place in my heart. I'm not looking forward to the days to come!

November 3, 2011

Last Weekend...

...we hit the road again. Not in the semi, but in our pickup. We just can't seem to stay off the road!

We left home at 5:45am on Friday morning and by sunrise, we'd already stopped in Baker, coffee-d up, and were well west of town!
Eighty miles west of Baker, we hit the interstate, stopped in Miles City for something to eat and fuel, and then continued west. By 10:30am, we were pulling into Billings.
This was not our final destination, but we did have a lay over here.
We had some errands to run in Billings, a couple of business appointments, and a quick visit with a friend. Bless her heart, she came out to meet me even though she was a bit under the weather, and then proceeded to let me drag her around town, playing taxi cab for me, and she didn't even get lunch out of the bargain! No time! She must be a true friend and quite a trooper!

By Friday evening, we were appalled that we hadn't even finished half our errands and we were out of time. Stores and offices were closing. A friend from Nebraska was delivering a few horses to the Billings Livestock Commission for their big monthly horse sale. So we met him there and then went to dinner. And then found a hotel and fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

Saturday morning we were on the road by 6:00am, headed west again before sunrise. The day was just beginning to show light and we were already nearing Bozeman.

We had about 3 1/2 hours of driving to our destination. We stopped in Three Forks, MT to have breakfast at WheatMontana's main store and warehouse. And then turned north. Do you know where we were headed yet?
Malcolm presented me with a gift he had snuck into the truck. He had gone to a special store...
...and bought me a special gift...
...to commemorate the purpose of our special trip. As if this trip wasn't gift enough!
Any ideas what we were up to?

I had no idea that our destination was so close to Three Forks. It doesn't take any time at all to get up there!
Eight hours of driving in all, from home to Helena, and  then we were there all of 45 minutes before turning around and heading back east.
"What?" you may think. "Why on Earth would you drive all that way and not spend time there? What were you two up to?"

Well we were able to make it such a quick errand because we'd done our shopping two months ago. The merchandise was already chosen, signed over, and paid for. It was just waiting for customer pickup. But first it wanted to finish it's breakfast.
Meet Fancy (above) and Reba (below). Sorry, they are too distracted by strange men and breakfast to look at the camera. 
You may have noticed their pictures over in my sidebar, listing them as members of our herd. We acquired these two lovely mares a couple months ago from Roy and Cindy Swanby of Rocky Mountain Paint Gallery. They have some lovely horses, but I'd fallen for these two, and Malcolm got tired of me drooling over their pictures, and gave me the go ahead. So in early September the deal was done, but we didn't have the chance to pick them up till last weekend. I was so happy to finally be bringing them home. Bouncing in the seat happy and talking Malcolm's ears off about random things. (I get chatty when I'm happy and hyper.)

And so we loaded them up into our trailer which still had a lot of cow poo in it from a few days before, and it was obvious that was a new smell to the girls. They were fascinated, especially Reba. But they loaded so nicely, despite the strange smells and unfamiliar surroundings (Malcolm had a large air compressor strapped in the back section of the trailer that they had to walk past). Clearly Cindy has done a great job starting her colts and keeping her herd in tune!

We were headed back east with our herd additions in tow. It was an uneventful trip, thankfully, and by 3:00 we were back in Billings. We finished up the "have to" errands that hadn't been done the day before, and at sunset we were pulling out headed home.
We were home by 10:00, unloaded the pick up, and were in bed before midnight! Sleeping at home...there's nothing like it!

Sunday morning we rushed through breakfast  so we could go visit with the girls and introduce them to their new world.
I originally thought I'd keep them in the corral for a while till we got acquainted better, and also give them a chance to get to know their new herd members, but the corrals were going to be a busy, noisy place in the coming days. So we opted instead to just turn them out...

...into what may be the biggest pasture they've ever seen. They seemed a bit overwhelmed at first, but soon settled in to chowing down.

Friendships have been slow in forming. Fancy is the kind of gal that falls to the bottom of the totem pole and gets picked on, so she's not easily approached for friendship. She has rebuffed both Dawn and Gemma's invitations, and by all appearances seems to have decided that since she's in a new place, she's going to set down some ground rules from the start. She might even turn into the top dog. Time will tell. I figure they'll all
work out their new roles and friendships over time.

It was a good trip, even with the early mornings, and its good to have them home at least!
We enjoyed looking out the window and seeing them grazing happily all day. Sunday was a nice relaxing day at home.

And then Monday was another really early morning...
...but that's another blog post for another day. Right now, I have horses to go play with!