May 31, 2012

Our Nest is Blessed

Holidays often mean a trip past the house for us. Our broker is really great about arranging things for us that way so that we can sit at home during the down time instead of out on the road somewhere. So, this past weekend we took a load of potatoes from Idaho to North Dakota, stopping at home for the Memorial Day weekend.

There's a few things to share about that little break, but this post is just about one special thing, or rather two.

Do you remember our last pass by the house, the one where I found Gemma on the neighbors land and had to rescue her? It was just a couple of weeks ago. You might also remember I discovered that while visiting the horses I was under surveillance,...
...and soon discovered the reason why.

While we were home this past weekend, Malcolm and I got in the jeep and went out into the pasture to see how things were progressing.

The nest is on the tip of a hill. It's not a large hill, but it gets steeper the closer to the top you get. Steeper and more prickly.
This is a massive nest. It is around perhaps three feet in diameter, and close to a foot and a half or so tall. When we were visiting a couple weeks ago, there were 3-4 white eggs with brown speckles. We were delighted to find that during our absence, our nest was blessed with two babies who appear to be doing very well.
Judging by their size and the fact that they are feathered and have open eyes, I'd say they probably hatched shortly after we found the nest. We didn't stay long. Mom and Dad were pretty distressed that we had invited ourselves up. But I just had to see the chicks and get some pictures.
If you look under the wing of the chick on the right, can you see the #3 chick? I'm not sure what's going on, if it's a late hatcher, or another bird like a cow bird or someone smuggled in their egg. Surely hawks wouldn't tolerate that?!? Regardless of what or who it is, it's only the size of a small chicken chick, mostly naked, and eyes still closed. It was barely moving, and seemed pretty weak.

And then there's egg #4.
Dud? Or another late comer? I'm not sure.

I feel pretty confident in pointing out, though, that chick's #1 and 2 are obviously going to dominate the parental attention. I think 3 and 4 are doomed. 

I've been working on identifying what species of hawk these are. I only ever get to see the parent's from beneath as they take flight as soon as they see us, even from a great distance. But based on what we have seen of the parents, the nest structure and location, and the egg, which helped a lot, even though I'm sad it didn't hatch, Malcolm and I think these are Ferruginous Hawks. If you know differently, I'd love to hear from you!

Maybe I can get a closer look at the parents when we're home in a couple weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing how much the chicks have grown too. And this time I'll remember to take binoculars out with us.

If they are Ferruginous Hawks, then it is extra exciting to have this nest! Ferruginous hawks are the largest hawks in North America. They are also a "species of concern" in Montana. They build nests that outrank even eagles nests in size. Because the nest is on the ground, these chicks are in great danger of being discovered by coyotes or other predators, which makes me worry. The Ferruginous hawks have a life span of about 20 years, but I read on one sight that most don't live much past the age of 5 or 6 years, and chicks have a 60% mortality rate. That's all very depressing. On a happier note, during breeding and chick raising season, they feed almost exclusively on prairie dogs, of which we have an abundance! So the surplus in food should help ensure their survival, and maybe as an extra return, they'll thin the prairie dog pack a little!  No one would be complaining about that. Well, maybe the prairie dogs will, but their opinion quit counting a long time ago.

I'm so thrilled these young ones have joined us! And I feel so blessed to have been provided with the opportunity to see them and their parents. This particular species of hawk are non-migratory and tend to use the same nesting area, sometimes even the same nest. I hope we'll have the honor of hosting their young ones for many years to come.

Another website, in case your a bird fanatic like me. I love this website. It's rich in information, and they have recordings of the birds different calls so you can hear them to help with identification.

There's a couple other things to share about the weekend, but that will have to wait for the next post. This one had to be exclusively for our babies!

May 25, 2012

From Bend to the Border

I hope your not tired of eastern Oregon after my last post, because I have more pictures from another trip.
 On Wednesday, we loaded fertilizer in Halsey, OR. That's south a bit from Portland. After loading, we headed east on US20. We hadn't driven that first section of 20, over the mountains, before, so I was stingy and just enjoyed the scenery without taking pictures to share. Oh, and what scenery it was! I doubt we'll ever go that way again, because it was pretty winding and we lost time. But it was also very scenic, so, though you probably won't ever get to see it here, I do hope you'll get to see it in person one day.

"Over the rivers and through the woods." That was on the Oregon Scenic Byway signs, and I thought it was cute and appropriate. Eventually we came out of the woods into Bend, OR. From that point, it was all old territory. Old, but never dull. As you read last week, I love eastern Oregon.
 The section between Bend and Burns is wide open and empty. You can look out the window and clearly see why they call this the high desert. But don't take "desert" and associate it with "devoid of life." This land is rich in plant and animal life. Grass may be a bit sparse in places, but sage brush and cedar shrubs aren't, and there's still enough grass to support some cattle ranches. As far as wildlife goes, it's out there. Antelope, coyotes, deer, and even wild horses. I've never seen the wild horses, but as you approach Burns, you pass the BLM wild horse corrals, so you know they are out there. I've also seen the pictures on the blog Life at the Rough String. Yep, this is Rough String country! If you've not been to Karen's blog, or if your hankering to read more about life in eastern Oregon, the Rough String is a great place to start!

I didn't get pictures in Burns because school was letting out and traffic was kind of heavy so I stayed busy with that. But it's a neat little town in an oasis in the desert. The fields around Burns turn into wetlands in the Spring, and though they weren't as saturated as they were a few weeks ago when we went through, there were still plenty of water foul hanging around to admire.

A little ways east of Burns, the landscape starts to change. Those blue hills that were visible in all directions on the horizon between Bend and Burns are suddenly very present, and not just hinted at by distant vistas.
 Every few miles, you find yourself deeper into the hills.
 It's some rough country, but they still have farms and ranches here. They are just have a few more miles stretching between each other than they do in greener pastures.
 There will be gaps in the hills where the farm and ranch homes are. And then the road tucks back into the rocky hill passes.
 Eventually the hills start to thin out and its farther between the passes

 About 30 miles before you get to the border, the road passes through the second town it keeps company with, which is Vale.
 Thirty miles later Oregon says goodbye.
 ....and Idaho welcomes you.  We stopped at the rest area on the border to let the girls out and enjoyed the view looking back into Oregon.
And then it was time to look ahead, towards the east.

From Bend to the border is a trip of about 260 miles. Beautiful scenery stretched out between two rural towns, a great way to spend the day on the road.
 We delivered in Colorado the next morning. Our week, from last Saturday morning to present. As you can see, we've had a more varied route than we did the previous week.
Today we delivered in Twin Falls, ID. We're supposed to load potatoes and take them to North Dakota next, but they don't want to load us till in the morning. An entire day to.....catch up on sleep.....and more entertaining, an entire day to go SHOPPING! I just happen to know where there's a good size parking lot in Twin Falls that's within easy walking distance of a Barnes and Noble bookstore and a few other shops. I've had a "let's go shopping" bug nibbling at me the last few days. So Malcolm and the girls are going to sleep, and I'm going out on the town!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

May 19, 2012


There are different ways to truck. Some drivers go all over the place, a different load every time. That would be us.
Some drivers are "regional" drivers, meaning they do different loads but stay mainly in the same part of the country, such as the southeast, or northeast, etc.
And then there are drivers that are "dedicated," and those drivers mostly do the same load (sometimes a little handful of loads) over and over and over again. Just the same destinations, back and forth, and back again.

This past week, we got to pretend to be "dedicated" drivers. It wasn't our plan to try it out, just the way the broker needed the loads run. Apparently there was a shortage of fertilizer in Idaho, and so we, along with several other trucks, spent the week going back and forth hauling in their fertilizer for them.
It isn't easy to see I know. I had a hard time getting my reflection out of the picture. But the green line is our route.
We started last Friday in Stockton, CA on the port. The fertilizer is brought in from overseas and they unload the ships cargo into warehouses there. Some of the port buildings are in the old Rough and Ready Naval base that closed in 1996. It's neat to go in there and see the old buildings and warehouses.
After loading, we'd head north to Sacramento, and then turn west on I-80 and drive into the Sierra Nevadas, crossing Donner's Summit, dropping down past Truckee, CA and making our way towards Nevada.
still a little bit of snow up top

back on the bottom, almost to the state line
Have you ever noticed how sometimes the landscape changes dramatically at state lines? Clearly geography played into the determination of boundaries and territory lines when such things were being determined. When you cross into Nevada, the mountains almost immediately fall away and appear only in the rear view mirror. There are a handful of large hills when you get east of Reno, but they are short lived. After that, it opens up onto the high desert.
It is so dry here this year! It's terribly dry at home, but as we've been driving around these past few weeks, we've come to recognize that eastern Montana is not alone. There is a serious lacking of the color green in most of the western states we've been in so far this spring. Nevada usually is rather brown and tan, but there should be a little bit of a green glimmer in there this time of year. It was missing.

At Winnemucca (try saying that fast several times), we turned north on US95. This two lane highway stretches in a nearly straight line for 120 miles before veering off to the east.

This is a long stretch of empty highway. There are only 2 towns in the 120 miles before the road bends east. They are itty bitty towns that the highway just shoots straight through with hardly a slow down.

Long valleys of cattle country and hay farms stretched between rocky mountain ranges.It's beautiful and open, vast and empty. You'll pass a sign that warns "Next gas 100 miles" and later "Open Range next 130 miles." I love it!

When the road does bend to the east at Burns Junction, a little intersection with three boarded up buildings and a weigh station that's open randomly, you still have another good 100 miles or so of open empty land. And one and a half more towns, the larger being Jordan Valley, before you get back to "civilization." There is a cafe at Jordan Valley that we enjoyed meals at this week. The JV Cafe had excellent home made soup, and other things to enjoy as well.

Malcolm and I really like this part of Oregon. We have discussed it numerous times and feel that if we ever have to move again, if we don't go back to TN, we'd like to live in southeastern Oregon, maybe somewhere around Burns or Jordan Valley.

The last stretch of road takes us over some steep hills and past an Idaho weigh station, and 20 miles later we pull into Nampa, ID where we delivered the fertilizer.

The whole run was 586 miles one way. Between last Friday and this morning, we did it 4 times, bouncing empty the entire distance back to Stockton to reload. Easy driving through beautiful country, and I'll look forward to being out there in the Oregon outback again soon. But for now, we're grateful for something different. It was time for a change. Apparently we're not ready for dedicated driving. It was getting a little bit old.

After delivering this morning in Nampa, we're headed east to the other side of Idaho. Got a load of potatoes waiting on us that have a date Monday morning with a french fry cutter in North Dakota.

Before I go, a sneak peak at the "new" truck. This is the '99 W900L Kenworth we picked up in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago.
 It's being tweaked at the shop in Billings. It's nearly ready to come home though. So far the plan is to probably take it out for it's maiden voyage towards the end of August. That is, unless anyone walks up and offers to take the gray truck off our hands. Anyone interested?

May 16, 2012

Growing Up

My sister's baby is growing up so fast! I just finished reading about all her recent accomplishments.

Ava Grace hit her 4 month birthday last Friday, and is more beautiful every day. I love all my sister's posts and pictures. And this most recent one was chock full of precious photos to commemorate Ava Grace's recent milestones. So I had to share.

My Lens on Life

Some of her faces are hilarious. She must be quite the character!

May 11, 2012

Out of Title Ideas

Henry's Lake, ID
I want to thank everyone for your kind thoughts and encouragement. The blogging community is truly blessed with a lot of wonderful people!

Among the comments there were questions concerning the new truck, and trucking in general, and I promise to get to those. I really do enjoy the questions. It gives me ideas for what your interested in knowing about.

This week has been a blah week. We had good miles and made good money, but it just got off to a gooey start and really hasn't climbed the hill very far above the mud hole it started in.

We left home Sunday morning and arrived in Grand Forks, ND by 5:00 to deliver our potatoes. Of course there were trucks in front of us and we didn't get out of there till nearly 11:00 that evening. There have been a lot of potatoes going to Grand Forks.

The next morning, we loaded more potatoes in Cando, ND and headed back to Idaho. A short distance from our pick up we stopped to grab a Subway sandwich in Rugby, ND, which is apparently the geographical center of North America.
While we were sitting in the truck eating our lunch, another truck pulled off the road into the parking lot. Let me make note here that we were the only truck in the rather largish parking lot. In other words, I want to clarify that there was LOTS of room! This other truck proceeded to swing around behind us so that he could pull in next to us. Trucks like to park in a neat orderly line, right next to each other, even if there's lots of space. I've never fully understood this, as given the option, I'd rather have peace and quiet around me. But regardless, I conform, as this truck was doing. And as he circled around behind us, Malcolm was watching in the mirror, and said "He's going to hit us." And about that time the truck started rocking.
In the great big trucking world, that particular company is notorious for, shall we say....issues. Reports are that they turn their drivers loose on their own with minimal training and experience, and the result is not hard to guess. That first winter of my driving, when we were going through western Yellowstone on a bi-weekly basis, it seemed like there was a Swift truck in the ditch nearly every trip. But I digress....

This incident was no big surprise. We all tend to give Swift a wide berth when possible. Anyway, the driver was nice enough, even though he asked Malcolm to ignore the damage, (which Malcolm wasn't about to do). He had dragged his trailer for several feet, the whole time scraping against the corner of our trailer.
There were a couple more marks like this one further up the corner.
After a few days of not hearing from Swift, Malcolm contacted them, emailed in the pictures and repair estimate that we'd gotten, and waited. A couple hours later there was an emailed reply.

"Good day,
I am not going to consider that estimate.  Its cosmetic at best. I am willing to make an appearance allowance.
Excuse me?
Let me ask you, if Swift had backed into your car and scratched it, would you expect them to pay to have the cosmetic scratch repaired? Or would you be ok with driving around with a scratched door. I mean the car still runs, doesn't it?

My feeling is, maybe Swift, with their hundreds of trucks and trailers, and their hundreds of drivers who ding things up on a daily basis, doesn't mind having dented and scratched equipment. But Johnson Trucking works mainly with one truck and one trailer, both of which we pay for and take great pride in. We have an exceptional safety rating with the DOT because we haven't gone around backing into vehicles or running off the road. I challenge someone to look up Swift's safety rating.
And perhaps the trailer still works even though it's damaged, but it looks bad. And equipment that looks bad draws the eye of the DOT. It also devalues the trailer, the trailer that we pay for, which I already mentioned.

Sadly, as our insurance agent informed us, the huge corporate trucking companies are self-insured and can pretty much do what they want. It really is rather infuriating! He's working on it for us, and hopefully can make some progress with them. Time will tell. But really, would you stand for that?

Moving on...

We left ND in time to enjoy a beautiful evening in eastern Montana...
...complete with a spectacular sunset...
...and were in Idaho to deliver by morning.

We reloaded potatoes and headed back to Grand Forks, driving all day and all night and pulling in around 5:00am on Wednesday. We were there all day long. There were about 17 trucks in front of us and to top it off, the conveyor had broken down. We were there until 7:00 that evening.

Fortunately (? I think ?) our reload was a 24 hour place. So we skipped over to Devil's Lake, ND and got loaded up. Another all night drive, along the nearly same route. At Bozeman, MT just before turning south towards ID, Malcolm ran into some snow showers. But the rest of the day was glorious, weather wise.
rustic cabins near Henry's Lake, ID. I'd love to know their history and to take a closer look
Today we're in California. Stockton to be exact. We delivered this morning, and are now reloading fertilizer. We had a leisurely weekend ahead of us, roughly 600 miles to a town southwest of Boise, ID, until Malcolm thought he'd ask if we could deliver tomorrow. I've got to talk to him about not doing that. (just kidding) So looks like we'll go up there tonight, turn around and come back here, and do it all over again, At least it's nice driving through empty rugged eastern Oregon.

I'll be glad when this week is over. I'm hoping our spirits lift and things go more smoothly next week.

In happier news:
Some people have asked how Paris is doing after her incident last November. If you recall, Paris and I had an accident that resulted in a rather badly broken leg for Paris. It was a very traumatic event (more for me than her I think) and a slow healing process. After 6 weeks in a cast the bone had barely started to seal back together. When we went back in...March?...she was given a clean bill of health. There are still a couple small spots where the bone has not yet grown back around the steel pin, but the doctor felt that given time, it should. And in the mean time it won't be a problem for her.

For the most part, it's like the accident never happened. The doctor apologized that she's slightly bowlegged now, but most days I can't even tell. The only indication that anything ever happened is that our little acrobat, whether due to lack of confidence or the injury, can no longer jump to great heights like she used to. Eight out of ten attempts to jump onto the bed fail. I'm thinking this isn't exactly a bad thing. She hardly even tries, and that's that many less possible accidents waiting to happen. But aside from that, she's her same old lovin' life self, back to enjoying her usual beloved chores such as folding laundry and helping to make the bed.

I told her she needed to apologize for mooning everyone in the video, but she said that's just part of her personality and if her public loved her, they'd accept her for who she is.

May 6, 2012


I learned a few lessons this weekend. Let me share them with you.

Friday evening we loaded potatoes in northeast Idaho. We were last in a line of about 20 trucks when we pulled in and it was about 5 hours before they got to us.
They were supposed to stop loading at 6:00pm. By 8:00, when they finally got to us, it had gotten windy and stormy. There was lightening and thunder, rain splatters on the windshield, and it was getting dark fast. There were 3 more trucks behind us, and thankfully they had committed to finishing loading all of us.

Malcolm drove us over the gravel short cut to US20, and then I took over around 10:00pm or so. Up through Yellowstone country and then east across Montana. Malcolm took back over 40 miles east of Billings around 4:00am, and I went to  bed.

An hour later, he woke me up. We were almost to Miles City and he had been thinking how silly it was to go deliver in Grand Forks that afternoon and then sit there till Monday morning when we could go home. And was that ok with me? If we just went home?    (as if he needed to ask)

After that, sleep was a lost cause. I maneuvered through the entire day on 1 hour of sleep. The cup of coffee while visiting around the in-laws kitchen table helped.

We had arrived just in time for bottle feeding. I'd made friends with these little ones while we were home the previous 2 weeks, but apparently a week's absence is just long enough to become a stranger. At least the twins weren't shy.
 Of course their excitement wasn't about my return. It was more over the arrival of breakfast.
 This little red one is so cute. I have a thing for red calves. Unfortunately he's a bull.
 In fact, out of the 6, only one is a heifer, and that's one of the twins. So no bottle babies will be staying on this year, unless another one joins the group. But hopefully everyone else will stay in the pasture.

After feeding, we headed inside where I flipped through my quilting fabric and patterns. Just looking because it's fun to look. Then I went next door and helped my mother-in-law get lunch started. A friend had come over to help work on the basement remodeling, and so she was going to fix lunch for all of us. Which was a lifesaver for me, since I had no groceries really that went together, part of the cause for my inability to return to sleep that morning. My mind wouldn't focus on sleep, but instead kept returning to the issue of what I was going to feed us that day. As it turned out, lunch was D.E.L.I.C.O.U.S! And even better with the fun conversations and visiting going on around the table.

Lunch well on it's way to being ready, I noticed the rain had stopped for the moment, and decided to slip out the door and go see the horses. No trip home is complete until I've been out to visit and check on everyone.  After 5 months in the corral, they were finally out on grass.....and no where to be seen.
 The pastures are rather vast (or rather it seems so to me having grown up where farms were 20-30 acres), and so you have to go looking for the horses, something I don't mind at all. I always enjoy excursions into nature. I'd ride around out there all day long exploring if I could. And really, I could if I'd let myself, but I'd be missed by Malcolm and the girls.

I got distracted several times along the way. First I noticed that the spring wildflowers are finally making an appearance.
 And then I stopped to watch a lone antelope who was watching me. He got tired of watching before I did, and headed off in the other direction.

 I continued on my way, looking off into the horizon for white spots that would indicate the presence of painted ponies. Still didn't see them anywhere, but I did spot this pair of hawks acting strange.
 And then I saw the reason why. They had a nest nearby and I was under surveillance.
 I was tempted to climb up and see what was in it, but I was on a mission and worried the rain was going to catch back up with me.

Ah HA! There they are! In the very back corner, of course!
 That is a scene I so enjoy! So I parked on the side of the hill and just soaked it in, while everyone kept an eye on me to see what I was up to. After a moment I quickly realized something wasn't quite right. But before I could go investigate, I had to get the initial visiting over with.

My boy had finally stopped eating long enough to notice I was there, and he was making fast tracks up the hill to come see me.
 Ignoring Sky just sets you up for a lot of harassment. He doesn't understand not being the center of attention. So you just have to love on him before anyone else. And then he only makes a slight nuisance of himself. He will be your constant shadow and sticking his nose into everything you do, regardless of how much you love on him, or push him away.

 His gray is really starting to show this year and he's put on a lot of size this past winter. I'm hoping to have him at a trainer by the end of the summer. Maybe we can have our first ride together in the fall!

 Greetings taken care of....with everyone because by the time Sky was done, the others had congregated around us....I finally got on to the problem I'd spotted from the hillside. And here she is....
....Miss Problem, in the neighbors pasture.
 And not too terribly upset over it or too interested in coming back home.
 She grew a lot this winter too, especially her main and tail! She is now 10 months old and still very much the princess of the pasture. Maybe she was expanding her territory, and felt a need to be princess of the neighbors pasture too.

It wasn't hard to find how she'd managed her little migration. And here is where Ranch Lesson #1 was learned.

*Never Ever Ever go visiting with the horses without a halter and lead rope, just in case.

Gemma is compliant enough that I'm pretty sure I could have led her over the lowest spot or at least to the gate down the way. But she was convinced the grass truly is greener on the other side of the fence, her new side, and wasn't interested in being led with my arm around her neck like she usually is willing to go along with.
 Halter and lead, don't leave home without it!

Why does it look like she's trying to convince big brother to join her in her new kingdom?
 I had no choice but to head back home for help and just hoped that the other 6 wouldn't take it in their minds to defect to the neighbors country. As I drove away they were lined up at the low spot in the fence gazing across at Gemma who was contentedly grazing on her new found "better" grass.

Almost home, I had to stop and open a gate to pass through, and this is where Ranch Lesson #2 kicked in.

As I was struggling with the gate, the four wheeler sputtered and died. *sigh*
Turned the key and nothing. The screen didn't even light up. No sputter, no whir, no click...nothing. (I'll fill you in on what the actual lesson was here in a moment)

So I hiked home, probably about a mile, in muck boots, which really aren't designed for long distance walking. They are a bit bulky and heavy. However, when I had to walk across the stream I was very thankful for the muck boots as I still had dry feet when I got to other side.

I was about 1/4 mile from the house when the pickup pulled out and headed towards me. Finally, I'd been spotted.

My poor husband, my knight in shining armor. By the time he'd changed shoes and we'd collected a chain and halter, the rain had started to drizzle lightly and the wind had picked up a little.


I left the camera at home and so there are no more illustrations for the rest of the story. Wish I'd taken one back out. Our first stop, riding double on the other four-wheeler, was the horses. They'd moved down the fence line and were closer in to the buildings, and conveniently standing near a gate!

Malcolm stopped back from them, and I walked in, and climbed across the fence to get Gemma, who had followed them on her "greener grass" side. My horses may not have a lot of skills or knowledge, but they are all very good about letting you walk right up to them and put a halter on them, something I'm eternally grateful for. It was no big issue to halter Gemma and lead her to the gate, where Malcolm was, by this time, waiting for us. The only difficulty was that the gate was standing in a large area of ankle deep mud and Gemma (nor I) really wanted to go in it. But we convinced her to come on across. At some point between my leaving for help and returning, she had tried to cross the fence, resulting in 4-5 fresh ugly red slashes across her chest.

 I know in the prim and proper world, horses are never, ever fenced with barbed wire. But in the realistic world we live in, our horses share pasture with cattle, and so it's all fenced in barbed wire. And yes, it results in the occasional cuts and scrapes. I'm sure some will take issue with me over this, and I don't necessarily like it either. But, like I said, our world is realistic, not perfect, and so am I.

Gemma's cuts were ugly, but not terribly deep. They'll heal and she shouldn't have scars. If I were home, I'd probably get something to put on it just in case, but I'm not and she'll be fine. She's not the first to get cut, and it probably won't be her last cuts either.

Horses happily reunited, we headed on to the next project, but before we got there, I showed Malcolm  the hawk nest. Might as well make the trip enjoyable if we're out there anyway. He wanted to hike up to it, so we did. It was a short climb. There were 4 speckled eggs, a little larger than chicken eggs. Again, no camera, and I'm disgusted with myself over it. But when we return for branding in about three weeks, I bet there will be chicks. We're planning a return trip to see them.

And then back to work. We drove to the back corner where I got my next ranch lesson, something I'd been asking him to show me just a few days prior as we were riding along in the truck one day. There are a number of blogging ranch women whom I read and they all go out and fix fence by themselves. If they can do it, then so can I, or at least this was what I was explaining to Malcolm, if someone (ahem....HIM) would just show me! So, presented with the perfect and necessary moment, Malcolm showed me how to patch together a broken fence. I'm not very strong, but it didn't look to hard, and I figure I can at least patch them together until some serious fixing can be done, should the need arise.

Back to Ranch Lesson #2

On to our final mission, and as he was pulling up to the dead four wheeler I'd abandoned at the gate, he'd already asked me some question concerning what I was doing when it died. And then he asked me if I had flipped the engine power switch.

The what?

Lesson #2: All four wheelers have a "cut engine power" switch on the handle bar that is bright red and hard to miss, and apparently is really easy to accidentally hit, at least it is if you are me.

Sure enough, it was in the off position. Flip the switch and the silly thing starts right up without even a sputter.

Oops! That was a little embarrassing!

But thankfully a very easy fix, and he had to come out in the rain anyway, to fix the fence and help me get Gemma back home. I told him he was my Knight in Shining Armor (or rather muddy jeans). He told me that I was his little airhead (in a loving way, not ugly).

Afterwards, we returned to the house to join in a dinner already in progress. It was very good! Then we relaxed at home a little while. Later we went out for some target shooting, but it had gotten really windy and cold. So he went back to the house, and I went to the barn with my mother-in-law to feed the bottle calves one more time. We watched a little TV and went to bed. I was ready for some sleep. It was a really nice day, despite of, or perhaps because of the mishaps. I wouldn't have been outside for nearly that long, or gotten to spend that time with Malcolm if things had gone otherwise. And really, my walk to the house after the breakdown was very pleasant. You see and hear so much more when your walking and not on a four wheeler!

So from hence forth, I'll not leave the house without a halter and lead (if I'm heading to horse country), my camera, fencing pliers, and Malcolm!  Ok, well I might leave Malcolm behind. I can always go fetch him if the need arises, so he doesn't need to come every time!

We pulled out this morning to finish the trip to Grand Forks, ND.
The clouds have cleared and it's been a lovely day. We arrived in Grand Forks about an hour ago and it's in the mid-70's over here. Just a lovely Spring day! We'll unload and drive 120 east and north tonight so we'll be ready to reload in the morning. We're taking another load of seed potatoes back to the town in Idaho where we picked this current load up.